Electronic Publishing

Electronic Publishing Investigates the Power of PDF Technology with a Little Help from Printing Services Online

Printing Electronic Publishing

PHOENIX: Electronic Publishing system, a national trade journal, recently asked our Operations Manager, Henry Harkness, for his opinion about the value of the portable document format, as part of an article that appeared in the August 2000 issue. The larger article discusses PDF/X, PDF/X-1, PDF/X-2, PDF 1.3 (Adobe), and a variety of other PDF technologies. The text of the interview with Harkness, cited with permission of Penwell Publishing, follows:


Is PDF good enough for today’s commercial printing workflows? Henry Harkness, operations manager at Printing Services Online in Phoenix, Arizona, says “yes.” Printing Services Online does mostly black-and-white corporate work, but three or four jobs per week are in four-color. “For our black-and-white jobs we either get all PDF or distill them to PDF right away, so we are virtually 100-percent PDF,” he says.”

Any remaining problems with PDF, Harkness says, have nothing to do with the software. They’re in the skill level of the users. “A lot of our customers still use Microsoft Word and Microsoft products for desktop publishing, and that creates a lot of problems,” he explains. “But, when we get someone who knows how to prepare the file, PDF is far superior to any we’ve ever used.”

Printing Services Online, a $2.2 million shop, uses a variety of plug-ins, including Quite Software’s Quite A Box of Tricks , to deal with issues raised by the creation of desktop publishing documents. “We get the files in, preflight them, and run them through our imposition software,” he says. “We use ScenicSoft’s Preps, so we drop PDFs into that and impose them, and it’s a clean process.”

In about half the cases, the PDFs don’t have the fonts embedded, or users embed nonembeddable TrueType fonts, so the workflow can vary from job to job. “But as tricky as PDF can be, PostScript was worse, ” Harkness says. “Anything we can do to speed up the process is really a help—and PDF is a big help.”