The first of a series of International Standards for the exchange of digital data using Adobe's publicly available Portable Document Format (PDF) has been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard, ISO 15930-1:2001, Graphic technology - Prepress digital data exchange - Use of PDF - Part 1: Complete exchange using CMYK data (PDF/X-1 and PDF/X-1a), is based on an earlier standard developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Committee for Graphic Arts Standards Technologies (CGATS). The standard is revolutionizing the exchange of material between providers and publishers/printers in the graphic arts industry.
This International Standard defines a data format, and its usage, to permit the predictable dissemination, by transfer of a single file, of a completed page to one or more locations as CMYK data, in a form ready for final print reproduction. This file must contain all the content information necessary to process and render the document as intended by the sender. This exchange is platform and transport
independent, and requires no prior knowledge of the sending and receiving environments. Thus, it is sometimes referred to as "blind" exchange.
The standard defines a specific use of Version 1.3 of PDF. In order to achieve a level of exchange that avoids any ambiguity in interpretation of the file, it identifies a limited set of PDF objects that may be used and adds restrictions to the use, or form of use, of those objects, and/or keys within those objects. It includes two compliance levels, PDF/X-1 and PDF/X-1a,that differ only in their allowed use of OPI references and encryption, which are allowed in PDF/X-1 but not in PDF/X-1a.
It is also unique in that it demonstrates a new style of cooperation between the owner of an industry specification and the activities of an international standards body to formalize the use of certain aspects of that specification.
Until recently, the most reliable file exchange format for graphic arts applications has been TIFF/IT (ISO 12639:1998, Graphic technology - Prepress digital data exchange - Tag image file format for image technology (TIFF/IT)). It will continue to serve the industry well, but it is requires that all graphic objects and text must be converted to raster data before data can be exchanged using TIFF/IT.
PDF/X-1 is the result of a joint effort between ANSI CGATS and ISO TC 130. This work was initially started by CGATS in its development of an ANSI standard (CGATS.12/1-1999). That work was transferred into ISO TC 130 (Graphic Technology) where international cooperation further refined PDF/X to become the current International Standard.
Other standards in the PDF/X series under development include Part 2 for "partial exchange" and Part 3 for blind exchange suitable for color-managed workflows. The PDF/X family of standards is intended to meet the need for a standardized file format that will support reliable exchange of files containing object based elements, typically used in many page creation programs, in addition to raster data.
A number of industry vendors have participated in the development of this standard, and implementations are already available. Copies of ISO 15930-1 (PDF/X-1) are being made available for $50.00. Members of NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies receive a 10% discount. The report can be obtained by contacting the NPES Publications Department at 1899 Preston White Drive, Reston, Virginia 20191-4367, telephone: 703/264-7200, fax: 703/620-0994, e-mail: [email protected]