01 May 2017 Digital Printing Technologies

PDF 2.0 brings promise of consistency

There should be no more inconsistent rendering as PDF 2.0 sets out to eliminate choices in how to interpret a file.

A new version of PDF is on its way. The specification for PDF 2.0 will be published later this month followed by adoption across the spectrum as Rip vendors and then application developers get to grips with the improvements and opportunities it offers.

The great promise, according Global Graphics chief technical officer Martin Bailey, is greater consistency of printed output because the PDF 2.0 has eliminated the ambiguities and inconsistencies that exist in PDF 1.7, the current version. He calls the step to the new version “evolution not revolution”.

It is the first full version of PDF to be created since Adobe handed the specification to the ISO in 2008. The technical committees responsible for agreeing and publishing ISO standards have influenced PDF 1.7, but not from a clean sheet of paper which it has been able to do with PDF 2.0.

The gradual nature of the step will mean that existing Rips and tools should work with PDF 2.0, but to gain the full benefits, first the Rip and workflow should be upgraded and then the creative tools. If a customer starts to supply PDF 2.0 files, a PDF 1.7 workflow will warn that it does not recognise the version of PDF, but should process it.

The big driver behind the new specification is about increasing accessibility with support for large print and braille. This will be welcomed by government organisations, healthcare and financial corporations which will be using PDF 2.0 across the board. This will be where printers can expect to encounter PDF 2.0 files for the first time.

But there are other advantages, to be included in workflow applications like JDF. The output intent can be set per page of a job rather than for the whole job, meaning that a designer can specify uncoated body pages within a coated paper cover as a single job and have this understood by the Rip. This will help in running digital presses printing and collating on the fly.

The increased clarity around colour spaces will also help consistency of output across different devices, litho to digital to flexo perhaps where different Rip suppliers have been involved. Each will now have fewer choices to make about interpreting the colour elements. “File will be processed more consistently by products from different vendors,” says Bailey.

This will also help printers and publishers accepting PDF files of adverts from different agencies, or where the multiple jobs are ganged to a single sheet. The PDF/X standard to print specifications is being updated to take account of the new options, says Bailey, and ought to be complete later this year.

There is greater support for object level halftone screening, useful in flexo printing where it is not unusual to have different screens for text, graphic and image areas of a job or for different spot colours. Colour handling is markedly improved he adds: “It includes what a lot of people have been asking for. Output should be much more consistent.”

Global Graphics itself has been working towards inclusion of PDF 2.0 within the V12 release of its Harlequin Rip and within the PDF development community towards creation of test files that will validate the work before being released into the wider community.

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The specification for PDF 2.0 will be published this month, promising greater consistency of output across different Rips and digital presses. There are also improvements to aid job ganging, screening and support for different media in one job.

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