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GATF Studies the Reality of PDF, Top Five Benefits

Press release from the issuing company

Pittsburgh, Pa., December 18, 2002 — For those who are considering adopting or have recently incorporated Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) into their workflow, the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) has released a study exploring the reality of using PDF files as a means of digital document exchange in the graphic arts industry. A valuable benchmarking tool, The PDF Era: PDF Usage in the Real World documents the experiences of printers already using PDF workflow so readers can learn of the real-world benefits and problems. According to the study, the top five benefits of working with PDF files are fewer cross-platform issues, smaller files, faster system throughput, ability to soft-proof PDF files, and easier preflight. While technological advancements and PDF files have helped eliminate some problems, the study revealed that several "classic" problems associated with creating digital files still persist. The most common problems reported with PDF files from clients included fonts not embedded, resolution too low, no bleed in file, and wrong color space. When asked about the biggest problems of working with PDF files, a resounding 88 percent of respondents noted that "clients don’t make them properly." "This was surprising since nearly half of all participants in the study said that they provide formal training on PDF creation, and 78 percent provide settings to help clients prepare PDF files to their specifications," said Julie Shaffer who conducted the study. The director of GATF’s Robert Howard Center for Imaging Excellence, Shaffer explains that the respondents’ commentary granted insight into how the processing of PDF documents varies by operator and systems. This first part of the study recorded the respondents’ answers to 21 questions regarding their experiences working with PDF files. A full overview of the findings and the respondents’ commentary is included in this report. The second part consisted of a series of six unique PDF test files, some containing known problems, which respondents were asked to output through their prepress workflow system. The files were sent to production department managers of 25 companies that agreed to output the files through their prepress workflow systems. The test revealed that, while not everyone will output the same PDF file in the same way, this is typically due to how the system was set up by the user. Conversely, PDF files created via Distiller generally worked as well as those created with Extreme-based normalizers. The preliminary results of this original research study were presented at the GATF Tech Alert conference in January 2002, a full report is now available. The PDF Era is the latest study in a series of Research and Technology Reports (RTR) published by the Foundation. As an independent, third-party organization, GATF reports are objective and original research studies. Methodology is described in all reports. Heavily illustrated, The PDF Era: PDF Usage in the Real World (ISBN 0-88362-430-3) is a 72-page soft cover booklet available for $129 ($59 for GATF/PIA members), not including shipping. Orders may be placed by contacting GATF by phone at 800/662-3916 (U.S. and Canada) or 412/741-5733 (all other countries); fax at 412/741-0609; or online from the GAIN Store. Mail orders to GATF Products, P.O. Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143-1020. Indicate Order No. 1628.

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