Help Us Stop Stupid PDF Syndrome

Too many PDF files suffer from a permanently debilitating defect. Help Adobe stamp out Stupid PDF Syndrome.

9 Responses to Help Us Stop Stupid PDF Syndrome

  1. OMG you guys are certifiable ultra mega Nerds! Right on! Keep up the good work! And let us all be finally free from flattening, triumphant in transparency, lets be R, and B and G for as long as we possibly can! Save Our Layers! PostScript is Post Mortem! (or am i crossing a line there…).

    [TC: Yes…we are ultra mega Nerds. That’s why we work here.]

  2. David Broudy says:

    heh… as long as your printer has our normalizer in front of Mr RIP 🙂

    I’m all for it but I can’t even get some of our own people to understand the benefits. grrr.

    [TC: Yeah, well hence the need for the PSA. Talk with any print provider using the APPE, and they’ll tell you how much it’s changed their lives. They’ll probably be the ones who evangelize it the most.]

  3. James Wamser says:

    I agree with Tim, as a commercial printer we love the PDF Print Engine and do evangelize it!


    [TC: Thanks James…and grateful PDF’s all over the world thank you.]

  4. Lynn Grillo says:

    I’m sending a donation to my printer tomorrow.

    [TC: Thanks Lynn…if only there were more out there like you…]

  5. Dan van Loon says:

    I’m more interested in Stupid IND Instability Syndrome which has hampered my productivity. Come on Adobe and Apple. When do we get THAT vaccine?

    [TC: Hi Dan, You’ll get it as soon as Apple delivers it in an update to Leopard. They’re working on it now.]

  6. Peter long says:

    Tim, funny. But I’ve long given up fighting people who can’t/don’t use the latest and greatest, for whatever reason.

    Who’s to blame? Timid IT people who can doom an organization, software that is old and “breaks” with the latest and greatest are a couple.

    Or it prints most times but not always and you find out that they used an older version of acrobat.

    What to do? I’ve really never understood why, given Adobe owns the process, that they don’t have an acknowledgment/error screen that comes up when viewing or printing mismatched pairs. Old software/new file, or old file/new software. Why pretend the problem doesn’t exist?

    This is a user’s problem, but perhaps adobe can be part of a solution, instead of just putting the onus on the users. People will not always keep spending money for updating. A long time ago acrobat should have had this built in.

    So, cute, but for a real solution, look no further than yourselves.


    [TC: Hi Peter, I’ve been sitting on your post for a few days, hoping to be able to put together a reply with enough technical information to address your comments. I’ll probably be able to do a little more along these lines next week at DRUPA, but, in the meantime, a short reply:

    We neither own nor control the whole process, either at the content creation end, or at the imaging end. A PDF can come from anywhere…distilled from Postscript or generated directly from document data using PDF creation libraries, either from US or from a third party vendor.

    An output device can use an Adobe RIP, but there are also a lot of third party RIPs out there as well…and a third party, Postscript Level 1 RIP is probably not going to do you the courtesy of alerting you in advance that it’s not up to the job of rendering your InDesign or Illustrator CS3 file correctly.

    So, as much as we’d like to be able to solve everyone’s workflow problems ourselves and usher in a people’s workflow utopia, that goal remains a pipe dream given the technical and market realities.

    That said, the PDF Print Engine is big step in utopian direction in that it removes Postscript conversion (and all its potential pitfalls) from the workflow.

    Removing PS translation from the process enables designers to just design in InDesign and Illustrator (building files using the PDF object model), and not have to worry about that work dumbed down into Postscript. Whatever they create in those apps goes directly into an unflattened PDF file that then gets ripped directly, with no flattening, no translation, into separations…with trapping and whatever else done in-rip.

    So, the tools are all there now for safe and sane workflow from design to output. We’re getting very enthusiastic feedback from service providers that are using the PDF RIP now (see my interview with James Wamser as an example), because they’ve personally experienced the night and day kind of change it can make to getting their customer’s work out the door in a trouble-free manner.]

  7. joecab says:

    My father was a victim of SPS and I’ve never quite gotten over it. Bless you for making people aware of this serious problem. It’s spreading at a terrible rate and we have to start acting on this NOW, people!

    Is there a place we can send donations?

  8. ColinF says:

    Tim & Rufus;
    Thanks so much for the inspiration. You’ve convinced me to find a local SPS 5K Upload benefit event this spring. I’ll spread the word to friends and family for sponsorship and ask for ICC Profile support. Maybe, with some practice, I’ll enter the 25K Upload next year!

    RGB all the way!

  9. Many of us in the CMS (not color management systems, the other CMS, Content Management System) vertical have been smelling something stinky in the publisher vertical – and like a dead fish, the head stinks the worst. The very people who have been charged with creating content are the same people demanding some of that content to be crushed. Let me go on record here – I personally hate that document creators like newspapers and magazines insist that people convert their Adverts into “stupid” PDF files, and while I grasp why we are here at this time and place (due to mistrust of reliable conversion of transparency settings and “other things”, we need to move forward and stop this practice.

    This is the opposite of what 508 compliance spirit is – where we exchange PDF files that are in a condition that ‘enable’ people to translate a PDF so the user can ‘read it’ if they are disabled (deaf or blind) – in addition, smarter minds would of course want to preserve text as text if we wanted the content to be translated into a local language.

    That magazines insist on PDF/X-1a is also opposite of what all magazines are really about – enabling a wider audience to access the content they worked so hard to compile.

    When I worked for AGFA, I spent a great deal of time passionately pleading to publishers and commercial printers that we all upgrade our prepress systems to enable PDF files to be processed. This required we ‘prove’ that PDF files could be created in a way that they could trust. My main mission in life was to replace the practice of exchanging TIFF/IT and CT/LW files.

    This change in the industry demanded a fundamental shift in the way we created these file (so they could be exchanged reliably) – but with a focus on making these PDF file reliable for PRINT.

    That was a big step, but now, it is time to make the next one.

    While it remains to be seen exactly how well Adobe has done to overcome the reason why the industry created this “SPDFS” – the new Adobe PDF Print Engine 2 may be the start to recovery – at worst – this is a step in the right direction. Like most change, it will take a while.

    I love to quote Schopenhauer here (although, many attribute versions of this to Gandhi)

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

    Smart and Rich PDF are not “Flattened”

    [TC: Spot on, PDF boy. Schopenhauer, were he alive today, would agree. Nietzsche would extol the notion of the über-PDF, and Sarte would have written “Flattening and Nothingness.” Based on what the printers themselves are saying, the APPE is living up to its promise, and they’re its biggest evangelists. Hopefully we’ll be able to skip the ridicule and violent opposition stages, and just skip to the self-evident workflow part…]