Adobe, PostScript Printer Drivers ...FrameMaker & Acrobat 4.05

Using the appropriate PostScript printer drivers with the necessary settings is essential when producing high-quality PDFs.

Strange as it may sound, with some of the latest versions of Adobe PostScript drivers, users of FrameMaker (an Adobe product since 1995) on Windows and Mac platforms cannot produce PDFs with interactive features (such as links and bookmarks).

Windows 95/98

The AdobePS 4.3 driver - only when used together with Acrobat Distiller 4 - solved the problem of non-searchable TrueType fonts present in Acrobat. However, AdobePS 4.3 was extremely unstable when outputting large files with Acrobat data and/or many EPS graphics - inevitably "hanging" the computer, forcing you to reboot. The AdobePS 4.3.1 driver, released October 5, fixed this problem.

Note that AdobePS 4.3/4.3.1 cannot be used with Distiller 3.0x in conjunction with TrueType fonts - the output will display boxes instead of letters.

If you use Acrobat Distiller 3.0x and TrueType fonts, use the AdobePS 4.2.4 - 4.2.6 drivers. Main issues with these drivers: a bug where PPDs with PS versions earlier than 2015 cause missing characters and character spacing problems; a 256 page limit, and TrueType fonts will not be searchable.

Windows NT

The Adobe PS drivers for Windows NT are the least mature of Adobe's PostScript driver. Main issues include:

  • Driver is less reliable/stable compared to other drivers.
  • With TrueType fonts, you must use the "Download as Outlines" option (or else output is meaningless, missing letters, etc.).
  • Driver-ATM conflicts might result in Type 1 fonts converted to Type 3 fonts in the PS and resulting PDFs.
  • Symbol fonts might be transferred to the PostScript file as non- symbol fonts (same look, but different names).

The new AdobePS 5.1.1 driver for Windows NT4 (requires SP5), released on October 15, and downloadable from Adobe's web site, claims to improve the handling of TrueType fonts, and fix a few other items. However, it is worse than useless for the production of interactive PDFs from FrameMaker.

A major problem with AdobePS 5.1.1 and FrameMaker 5.x is that the FrameMaker prologue file ( is ignored and not placed in the PostScript output stream. The file includes required procedures related to PDF and color separations.

If FrameMaker's Generate Acrobat Data function is turned on, Distiller cannot process the PS files produced with the 5.1.1 driver (displaying "offending command: FmXX"... messages).

Using the FrameMaker built-in color separation utility is also non-functional with this driver.

Potentially far more serious, after uninstalling the AdobePS 5.1.1 driver and reinstalling AdobePS 5.0/5.01/5.1 - you might suffer from the "Type 3" revenge - where all Type 1 fonts (including Adobe's) are converted to horrible Type 3 fonts. Reinstalling the operating system might be the only "cure" in such a case.

Adobe plans to release AdobePS 5.1.2 "sometime after January 1".


The new AdobePS 8.6 driver was redesigned to work with Adobe InDesign; some of the changes cause it to be incompatible with FrameMaker when producing PDFs with links and bookmarks; in addition, page ranges cannot be printed with FM.

This problem will be fixed in FrameMaker 6, due next year.

In the meantime, FrameMaker users should use the LaserWriter driver included with MacOS, or AdobePS 8.5 or earlier. (Laserwriter 8.6 does not include the InDesign changes and works reliably with FrameMaker).

As InDesign requires AdobePS 8.6, if both FrameMaker 5.5.x and InDesign are used on the same Mac, multiple drivers have to be installed (Laserwriter drivers for FrameMaker,AdobePS 8.6 for InDesign).

Acrobat 4.05

The recently-released Acrobat 4.05 somewhat intensifies these problems for Adobe FrameMaker users on Windows NT and Macintosh platforms, as it automatically installs drivers which are incompatible with FrameMaker, at least when producing PDFs with links and bookmarks.

When installing Acrobat 4.05 on Windows NT, the AdobePS 5.1.1 driver is installed; likewise, Mac Acrobat 4.05 installs AdobePS 8.6 (even though neither is required for Acrobat itself).

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