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One of the key strengths of PDF files is also PDF's achilles' heel:
It's not easy to edit a PDF file. If you want to create a file that
is “bulletproof”?meaning no one can inadvertently damage
the file in the production process”?then PDF is an almost ideal
medium. You can embed fonts and control color and assure
yourself that the file you
send the printer is the file
that will be output.

Unfortunately, we live in
a world that is not nearly so
ideal. The vast majority of
PDF files received by print
providers for output have
“issues.” The fonts may not
be correctly embedded, the
color space may not be correct
for the intended output
(e.g. CMYK where spot color
is intended, RGB where CMYK is intended, or “rich black” where
black only is intended). and even if all of this is correct, there is
often a need to make last-minute changes”?a prospect that can
be extremely painful or even impossible without the proper tools.

Four tools
Lucky for us, however, there's a growing arsenal of PDF-editing
tools on the market that can make working with PDF files
much easier. let's take a look at four of these, including: Adobe
Acrobat Professional, Enfocus Pitstop, Apago PDF Enhancer,
and Callas pdfColorConvert. and while there are also several
third-party products available for helping with the creation of
PDF files, I'll hold these for a future column.

  • Adobe Acrobat Professional: adobe (
    has a couple of different versions of the acrobat product
    that include Distiller. The more you pay for acrobat, the more
    features you get, and a print professional probably should
    buy the complete package. If you are still using acrobat 6, or
    even the standard version of acrobat 7, you are missing dozens
    of production tools. acrobat 7 Pro gives the user several
    tools specifically for print output including the ability to print
    composites, flatten live transparency, fix hairline rules, and
    convert colors to CMYK. The Pro version also lets you optimize
    compression and resolution of images and create large-format
    (aRCH, aNsI, IsO, and JIs) PDF files. Price: $449, for Mac
    and Windows platforms.
  • Enfocus PitStop Professional: Pitstop Professional, from
    Enfocus ( is undoubtedly the most universal
    PDF editing tool on the market. While acrobat Professional
    now allows RGB-to-CMYK conversion and hairline correction,
    it still has issues and these can only be resolved with a thirdparty
    plug-in. Pitstop allows you to add and edit text in PDF
    documents, although it is not a perfect solution due to the
    nature of PDF files. (PDF tends to break up lines of text into
    segments, which inhibits the ability to make changes; also, if
    the complete font is not embedded and is not available, you
    may not be able to make changes if the specific text you want
    to change is not available to the system.)

With Pitstop, you can also: change overprint settings; move,
rotate, scale, or shear objects; change the color of line art; re-
sample images; modify the color space of images and objects;
and change or remove OPI information. In addition, you can
add, modify, or remove spot colors. Price: $599, for Mac and
Windows Platforms.

  • Apago PDF Enhancer: apago ( has
    been creating OEM products for PDF creation and editing for
    several years, but only recently has the company attempted
    to push its products under the apago name. PDF Enhancer
    may become as much a “must have” product for PDF editing
    and management as Pitstop has become, but it does not
    replace Pitstop (and, unlike Pitstop, it's a standalone application,
    not a plug-in to acrobat). The key uses of Enhancer are to
    repurpose existing PDF files for different uses”?you can, for
    instance, create hot folders that will allow you to automatically
    create a high-res file for print output and a low-res file for
    Web viewing, and perhaps a file for printing on your office laser
    printer all at the same time. You can also quickly merge several
    PDF files into one document and put new page numbers
    on the complete document.

In addition, PDF Enhancer automatically gets rid of unneeded
objects and applies optimal compression. The effect of running
a PDF through Enhancer can not only significantly reduce the
file size, but also the amount of work your RIP will need to do.
The program allows you to build customized enhancement
scripts by combining and altering “targets.” The number and
types of enhancements you can make are virtually unlimited,
and the program can be somewhat intimidating simply
because there are so many different ways you can use it. But
the preset tools are very easy to understand and apply, and
apago has a reputation for helping its customers find solutions
for specific needs.

Price: standard edition, $199; Professional edition, $399
(the version you will want); server edition, $999; and advanced
server edition $1999. PDF Enhancer 3.1 is available as a
free upgrade to customers who previously purchased PDF
Enhancer 3.0.

  • Callas pdfColorConvert: From Callas (www.callassoftware.
    com), pdfColorConvert does one basic thing and does it
    simply, quickly, and elegantly: It allows you to convert RGB and
    spot colors to CMYK, as well as making it possible to adjust and
    modify individual spot colors in a PDF document. “Intelligent
    conversion” can also be accomplished by assigning or deleting
    ICC color profiles. It also is a simple matter to convert the entire
    document to monochrome”?a quick solution for RGB “richblack”
    documents created by office programs.

If color conversion is the chief problem you have with PDF
documents, as it is with many PDF production workflows, this
is a relatively inexpensive solution. Converting a document to
monochrome is as simple as selecting the proper rendering
intent with one button click, and then hitting the convert button.
When converting colors, pdfColorConvert automatically creates
a copy of the original document so it is only the copy that is actually
modified. Because this functionality has been automated,
it's virtually impossible to accidentally overwrite the original.

Price: approximately $367 (“??299), Mac or Windows. Callas
has a free downloadable sample version that puts a Callas
watermark on all documents, but is otherwise fully functional.

A justifiable ROI
Adobe is clearly making PDF the format of the future, and it's a
great tool for print production. But editing PDFs can be troublesome
without some added assistance. Tools such as PitStop,
PDF Enhancer, and ColorConvert are great for increasing your
capabilities in dealing with common print-production issues.
Add all those pieces together and you come up with a rather
significant price tag”?but the resultant increase in productivity
could make your return on investment more than sufficient to
justify the cost.

Stephen Beals ([email protected]), in prepress production
for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress manager
with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.



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