PDF In-Depth

Jaeggi on standards, training and PDF University

January 18, 2007


Stephan Jaeggi is a well-known expert in PDF technology in Europe. Before founding PrePress Consulting in 1991, he spent five years at the Swiss Graphic Arts Association, where he supported 1200 members in the transition from traditional prepress systems to desktop publishing. Jaeggi holds a degree from the Swiss Engineering School for Printing and Packaging (ESIG) in Lausanne/Switzerland. He has introduced thousands of people to PDF in his seminars all over Europe. In 1998, Stephan Jaeggi contributed to the famous whitepaper PDF for Prepress. He is also the co-author of the ISO 15930-3 (PDF/X-3) specification and the author of four free tutorials on PDF workflow, and the publisher of a popular PDF newsletter in german language. Since 2000, Jaeggi has been a member of the advisory board of CIP4 (development of JDF specification).

It's a bit of tradition for us to turn to Jaeggi and interview him on all the latest PDF happenings and luckily we were able to track him down in Africa for this e-interview to catch us up on the rapidly changing face of the 2007 PDF initiatives.

Planet PDF: What are you doing right now in the PDF world as far as consulting etc. and how does your role in all that is PDF continue to expand and challenge?

STEPHAN JAEGGI, PDF Guru, Consultant, Author: Besides consulting, I am teaching a lot of PDF seminars in Europe (and also in South Africa) these days. PDF/X is becoming a hot topic in Switzerland since last year. We have founded an initiative called PDFX-ready with the goal to promote this standard among creators and receivers of prepress files. We are publishing best practices and settings for dealing with PDF/X files. We also offer certifications for our members for PDF/X creation and output. Our settings and the certification files are based on the work of the Ghent PDF Workgroup, where I contributed a lot during the last two years. That's why the GWG elected me as their new technical officer recently. I am also a technical expert of the TC130 group who specifies the PDF/X standards. And, last but not least, I am the chair of the XPLOR PDF University, which will take place during the Graphics of the Americas exhibition from Feb. 28 - March 3, 2007 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Planet PDF: What do you think are the strongest features of Acrobat 8 in terms of preflighting, printing, fixing features?

JAEGGI: Preflight is certainly the most important improvement in the area of print production in Acrobat 8. Callas Software -- who is the developer of the Acrobat preflight feature -- did a really good job. The new preflight is more powerful but even easier to use. Besides checking for problems, Acrobat 8 preflight can now also fix certain errors, but there are other more hidden enhancements for prepress users as well. At the XPLOR PDF University, we will have a special class dedicated to the print production features of Acrobat with Lonn Lorenz, who is the product manager for these features at Adobe Systems.

Planet PDF:Do you have predictions for the 2007 year in PDFs and what are some of the most exciting developments that will come about?

JAEGGI: In mid-2007, we expect the official release of PDF/X-4, which allows transparency and layers. These are more demanding features. It will be interesting to see how fast other vendors than Adobe will be able to support this PDF/X version. In Miami, the chair of the ISO working group for PDF/X, Martin Bailey from Global Graphics, will explain the secrets of the new versions (there is also a PDF/X-5 [standard] coming).

Planet PDF: What about Microsoft XPS (Metro) and how it will continue to impact the PDF arena?

JAEGGI: XPS will certainly play a role in the office environment, but I don't expect XPS to take over the role of PDF -- and especially PDF/X -- as the preferred file format for transmitting prepress data. I also don't expect that the traditional CTP vendors will build dedicated XPS output workflow systems. However, I expect conversion tools which allow you to convert XPS to PDF. Such a feature is already built into Acrobat 8 (unfortunately only in the Windows version). We will also have an interesting announcement in this area at the PDF University in Miami. Unfortunately I am not allowed to tell you more at this moment...

Planet PDF: What is your most popular advanced PDF tip or trick for prepress production?

JAEGGI: The best advice is to [correctly configure] your preflight rules. This can increase the productivity and reliability of everybody's PDF workflow[s]. But of course, I have a lot more tips and tricks from my 15 years of experience with PDF. I will teach a special Workshop for Advanced Users on March 3 at the PDF University, where I will share all my secrets. Attendees can bring their files on CD-R or USB stick. We will try to answer any question people might have regarding the use of PDF in print production.

Planet PDF: What do you think is the most misunderstood issue about using PDFs?

JAEGGI: A lot of people still think that PDF is a layout data format and want to edit or even translate these files -- of course [they want to do all of this] in the free Reader -- but PDF is designed as a final page format. It's like a piece of film in the old days (last millenium). Of course, you could scratch something off the film or paste something on it but you would rather go back the original layout file and output a new film. The same is true for PDF. If you have corrections, whenever you can, you should go back to the original file and do the changes there.

Planet PDF: What arenas do you think the use of PDFs will impact in 2007? Where will the growth be for usage?

JAEGGI:A big topic in 2007 will certainly be PDF/A -- the new ISO standard for archiving. I see a lot of interest from government agencies, big organizations as well as smaller companies. Everybody has a problem with archiving -- and storing pages as TIFF images is certainly not the most elegant solution! Of course, PDF/A is also one of the hot topics in Miami. We will feature Olaf Drümmer from Callas Software, who is part of the ISO working group for PDF/A and one of the founders of the PDF/A Competence Center.

Planet PDF:What are some of the problem areas with PDFs that are still most pressing?

JAEGGI:We see more and more files using transparency. Unfortunately, today more than 90% of the print shops can not handle them properly because they either use an old RIP or they have a workflow which flattens transparency before the PDF hits the RIP. Since flattening is always a compromise, you risk [getting the] wrong results. The only good solution for outputting transparency is a PDF RIP which allows direct ripping of transparency. Last year Adobe finally announced its PDF Print Engine, which allows processing of PDF without prior conversion to PostScript. The first installations are expected [within] weeks. It will be interesting to hear more details from Dov Isaacs -- who is one of the brains behind the new Adobe product -- during the PDF RIP class at the PDF University.

Planet PDF: What project are you working on right now in terms of PDF enlightenment?

JAEGGI:As we speak, I am working on the newest release of the output test patches of the Ghent PDF Workgroup. I have developed some interesting new test files for detecting changes of the overprint behaviour in an output workflow. These new output patches will be presented on March 1 at the PDF University by my co-chair Dave Zwang. I am also editing a GWG whitepaper entitled Workflow requirements for PDF/X documents, which will hopefully be published this Summer. Besides this, I am preparing my new PDF seminars. I will cover the new features of Acrobat 8 Professional and do an in-depth tutorial on preflight. Part of this new content will of course also be presented in Miami.

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