Mako rises to HP Site Flow’s development challenges

HP chose Mako™, an SDK from Global Graphics Software that offers pre-flighting options and streamlines PDFs.
HP Site Flow is a workflow and production automation system for HP digital press owners.

When HP Inc began developing HP Site Flow, an end-to-end workflow and production automation system for HP digital press owners, they encountered several challenges including: addressing the growing personalized market; the need to ‘normalize’ PDFs, given the wide variation in the quality of files entering the system; and the ability to quickly scale up or down to accommodate varying levels of demand.

Read the case study to see how Mako Core™ SDK proved its capability and adaptability by rising to HP Site Flow’s development challenges, resulting in increased productivity and profitability for its users.

Download the case study: HP uses Mako for HP Site Flow

DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY

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We’re back in Lucerne for Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023

The Hybrid Software Group team at Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023

It’s great to be back in Lucerne this week for Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023. We’ve had some interesting conversations and it’s been a good opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues in the industry. But it’s not over yet! If you’re interested in adding a print subsystem to a smart factory or manufacturing line, come and talk to us on booth 45 to find out more about our SmartDFE™.

This year, we’re exhibiting on the Hybrid Software Group booth, alongside our sister companies: ColorLogic, HYBRID Software, iC3D, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron. In this recent interview with Inkish TV, our CEO, Mike Rottenborn, explained how we all work together and what you can expect to see from the Group at Hunkeler Innovationdays:

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Celebrating 20 successful years in Japan

This month we’re celebrating the 20-year anniversary of our Japanese office. We chatted to sales director Hagiwara Yoshiyuki who told us how it all began, how the market has changed and what’s next for his team:

The team from the Global Graphics office in Japan join colleagues at the IGAS exhibition in Tokyo last year.
Hagiwara Yoshiyuki, front left, and the team from the Global Graphics office in Japan join colleagues from Hybrid Software Group at the IGAS exhibition in Tokyo last year.

Tell us about your background. What did you do before you joined Global Graphics Software?

After graduating from university, I worked for a Japanese office computer manufacturer, developing various controller boards, ASICs and semi-custom large-scale integrations. The printer controllers I designed were very successful and widely installed not only in Japan, but also in Europe and Oceania. We were one of the first companies to develop a serial impact printer that prints Kanji characters for the office market. I designed many controller boards and firmware for laser printers, inkjet printers and RIP servers for large format printers. I then set up the Japanese subsidiary of a US company providing PostScript Level 2 interpreter software licenses to printer and MFP manufacturers.

After working with several foreign companies that developed RIP servers and embedded controllers, I established Global Graphics KK as a Japanese subsidiary in 2003.

Tell us about the early days with Global Graphics KK

Initially I rented the smallest room from Servcorp, an office rental company offering fully furnished spaces. On seeing my office, Gary Fry, former CEO with Global Graphics PLC, commented that it was ‘smaller than an elevator’. Over the years I’ve employed more engineers and have changed rooms several times to accommodate us. Today, we are five very talented engineers.

Back in 2003, I offered solutions for the Harlequin RIP® and the PDF creation software, Jaws PDF Creator™. My first customer was Justsystem. We developed the Justsystem PDF Creator, which was sold as a standalone packaging application then bundled as part of their Ichitaro word processing software. Ricoh Ridoc and Fuji Xerox DocuWorks followed.

Today, the team supports a range of products from Hybrid Software Group including, Harlequin, Mako Core™ and SmartDFE™ from Global Graphics Software; color management solutions ColorAnt, CoPrA, ZePrA from ColorLogic; pre-press software for packaging STEPZ®, PACKZ® and CLOUDFLOW® from HYBRID Software; and 3D rendering software for packaging from iC3D.

How has the market changed over the last 20 years? You must have seen a lot of changes.

Yes, there have been many changes:
Firstly, companies that used to develop everything in-house are starting to consider using ready-to-integrate products, which offer a faster time-to-market. Our SmartDFE is ideal for this.

Secondly, the decrease in profits from office MFPs and printers, partly due to less paper being printed to help the environment, means office printer manufacturers are expanding their reach into industrial inkjet printing.

In addition, we’re seeing growth in digital printing, especially printing customized products on demand and in the labels and packaging sector. We’re seeing many new applications, for example, textiles and décor, due to the non-contact printing characteristics of inkjets. Digital inkjet is also growing as it meets many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ways of doing business are also changing, with more cloud-based solutions and there’s also the introduction of 3D printing.

How important is sustainability in print to the Japanese market? Have you noticed a change in your customers’ requirements so that they can meet their sustainability commitments?

From a sustainability perspective, it’s essential that we consider the SDGs when developing new products and it seems to be easier for a company to follow through with their plans when they are linked to those goals. The amount of ink, electricity and iron needed for large-sized printing machines cannot be ignored. Also, as I mentioned earlier, we need to consider new ways of working to eliminate paper usage.

What’s next for you and your colleagues?

We will focus on promoting ready-to-integrate products, such as SmartDFE. In addition, as an ambassador for the Hybrid Software Group, we’ll focus on promoting the Group’s industry-leading products.

What do you enjoy most about working at Global Graphics KK?

It’s said that Japan is ‘the world’s printer factory’ where there are many printer manufacturers. This has certainly been an advantage; I enjoy building on my experience as a printer controller developer and using my knowledge of PostScript to ensure the best outcomes.

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Digital watermarking in print workflows – Part 2 – When to add a digital watermark

In this second post about digital watermarking in the print workflow, author Martin Bailey explains the stages when it’s possible to add a digital watermark.

Digital watermarking is an emerging technology, part of the latest step on the evolution of product identification. Global Graphics Software has partnered with Digimarc, a leader in digital watermarking and a member of our Partner Network, to explore this topic and future developments.

Adding a digital watermark during the design stage

In some workflows the designer may apply digital watermarks to a design by, for instance, using a plugin to an application such as Adobe Illustrator. This is equally appropriate for both steganography and an artwork masking layer, and gives the maximum opportunity for approval of the design with the digital watermark in place, and for any rework to the design that might be requested to realize the greatest benefit from using that watermark.
It will not normally be appropriate for the digital watermark to be added by the designer if each instance of the print requires unique data to be encoded in it; variable data composition is usually performed later in the workflow.

Application of digital watermarking has different advantages and disadvantages at various stages in the design and production workflow
Application of digital watermarking has different advantages and disadvantages at various stages in the design and production workflow.

Adding a digital watermark in composition/prepress

In other workflows adding the digital watermark may be a function of a variable data composition or prepress department. Just as for application by the designer, this is applicable for both steganography and an artwork masking layer. There is a reasonable opportunity for approval of the design with the digital watermark in place. But it would be slower and more expensive to rework the design if that is required at this stage than if the watermark were added by the designer.

If the digital watermark is added in prepress then it can carry both static and variable data. As discussed above, however, variable data is best suited to use of an artwork masking layer rather than steganography, if only because of the amount of data that must be generated and then incorporated into a PDF file when steganography is used for a significant number of unique codes.

But applying even an artwork masking layer in prepress does bulk up the resulting print-ready PDF file with many copies of that layer, each one carrying different data. And it can also slow down processing in the Digital Front End (DFE) for a digital press. An overprinted graphic covering large areas of each piece of output in the PDF file can make it harder for the variable data optimization in a DFE to break the design apart so that it can minimize the total amount of processing required to read, color manage, render and halftone screen the job. (See Global Graphics Software’s guide: Full Speed Ahead: How to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press.)

Late-binding in the Digital Front End (DFE)

A new development in the application of digital watermarking is to add the marks right at the very last minute before the data is printed. In our SmartDFE™, for example, this can be done in parallel with or after the color management and rendering.

Applying the watermarks in parallel with color management and rendering (in the RIP) allows full access to all color channels for the output, while also removing the need to generate a fully resolved “optimized PDF” or PDF/VT file containing all of the variable data further upstream. In turn, this can reduce the overhead of optimizing variable data processing in the RIP. The final result is increased throughput, both in composition/prepress and in the DFE.

Applying marks after the RIP enables even higher performance through the DFE, with the added benefit of providing a more predictable processing speed because the amount of processing required is more deterministic than is rendering PDF. This might restrict the watermark to be painted in only one color channel, though.

Increasing speed and predictability in the DFE allows the use of lower cost hardware in those DFEs, or assists with printing at full engine speed for a larger proportion of jobs.

Late-binding application of digital watermarks will also always occur in an environment where the characteristics of the press that will be used to print the items are known, including resolution, bitdepth etc.

These benefits make this the optimum choice for highly efficient printing workflows for variable data digital watermarks, driving digital presses at full engine speed. The trade-offs are that it’s a little harder to review and approve proofs of the output, and that use for images with steganography is not usually appropriate.

This is an excerpt from the white paper: Optimizing Digital Watermarking in Print Workflows. To learn more about digital watermarking download your copy:

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE WHITE PAPER

White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows
White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows

About the author

Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, former distinguished technologist at Global Graphics Software, is currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT. He is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

Further reading

  1. How to add a digital watermark

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Digital watermarking in print workflows – Part 1 – How to add a digital watermark

Digital watermarking is an emerging technology, part of the latest step on the evolution of product identification. Global Graphics Software has partnered with Digimarc, a leader in digital watermarking and a member of our Partner Network, to explore this topic and future developments.

In this first of two posts, Martin Bailey explains the ways you can add a digital watermark:

A digital watermark may be added in one of two ways:

1. Using steganography
If a product design includes images, whether photographic or generated digitally, data can be hidden within that image data using steganography. Steganography is the practice of concealing a message within another message or a physical object (source: Wikipedia).

In order to hide the data, the color values of individual pixels in the image are altered in a way that is intended to not be obvious to the human eye. The alterations may need to be applied slightly differently depending on the image content and the print technology to be used. This means it’s often valuable to be able to proof a design with the images in place, and to do that either on the printing device that will be used for production, or on one that has been carefully tuned to reproduce color, tones and levels of detail to match that production device.

Alternatively both the printer/converter and their customer can inspect the artwork and verify the Digimarc code using PACKZ® or CLOUDFLOW® Proofscope, professional prepress tools from HYBRID Software. As well as checking for the correctness of the code, this also allows verification that the code placement conforms to the customer’s requirements, and supports a formal approval process.

Reviews of the proofed output may lead to a decision to re-embed the data into the image with slightly different parameters. Systems to automate that adjustment are improving, but the advisability of proofing means that steganography is best used at a point in the workflow where an appropriate review and reconfiguration may be made without disrupting throughput.

Steganography is a very effective technique if the same image will be used on every instance of an item because it can be difficult for a forger to reproduce. But if your goal is to encode unique data in each instance, you’d have to generate an altered image for each one. When you’re producing watermarks for a large number of instances that would mean generating a huge number of copies of what started off as a single image. In most workflows and for most products that’s not a commercially viable approach.

2. Artwork masking layer
The second method for adding a digital watermark is to overlay an “artwork masking layer” that encodes the desired data. This is a pattern of graphics across large areas of the design, making sure that those graphics are sufficiently fine that they are not immediately apparent to a viewer. In practice this usually means something that looks like a sprinkling of very fine dots under a magnifying glass or loupe.

A digital watermark as an artwork masking layer over a plain yellow area of a job.
A digital watermark as an artwork masking layer over a plain yellow area of a job.

These overlays are also very difficult for a forger to reproduce. They have the advantage over hiding data in images that they can also be used in efficient workflows to carry unique data for each product instance; there is much less data to handle for every copy.

This is an excerpt from the white paper: Optimizing Digital Watermarking in Print Workflows. To learn more about digital watermarking download your copy:

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE WHITE PAPER

White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows
White paper: Optimizing digital watermarking in print workflows

About the author

Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, former distinguished technologist at Global Graphics Software, is currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT. He is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

Further reading

  1. When to add a digital watermark in the print workflow

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Streamline your PDF files for optimal press performance

Are you confident that all your print jobs can be printed at full press speed? How do you know at what speed the press can be run for a given combination of print job – RIP / RIP – PC etc.

In his presentation at the recent FuturePrint Tech Digital Print for Manufacturing, David Stevenson explains how, using Streamline™ and the help of machine learning, we can analyze a PDF file and intelligently estimate how long it will take for that file to run through the press. But it doesn’t stop there: David explains how we can then optimize the file to ensure it will fly through the press without compromising quality or color integrity.

Further reading:

Ditch the disk: a new generation of RIPs to drive your digital press

Is your printer software up to the job? The impact of rising data rates on software evolved from traditional print processes 

Future-proofing your digital press to cope with rising data rates

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Addressing real-world software challenges in the print industry

It’s always good to see our technology being used in the ‘real world’; it really helps us to understand our customers’ daily challenges so we can develop software to make their lives easier.

With this in mind, we recently visited Baker Labels, a leading UK trade label printer with over 45 years’ experience in the business. Bakers has three HP Indigo WS6900 presses, an HP Indigo 20000 press, a Truepress Jet L350 UV and L350 UV+LM inkjet press, as well as a Nilpeter FB3 flexographic press.

Managing director Justin Bailey reflects on our visit:

Baker Labels

Global Graphics Software’s technology is used by many thousands of printing companies around the world. We’re committed to innovation and to continue to innovate it’s important that our software developers understand the challenges faced by those companies in the printing industry. I wanted to take our team to an environment where the code they have written might be used.

I set out to find a printing company that shared our values in innovation and would be happy to show us around their facilities. My research led me to Baker Labels, a leading UK print provider for the label and packaging market, who embraced the idea of welcoming us and showing us round.

The thing that struck me immediately about Bakers, was the pride they had in their business and the culture they had built, which clearly radiated as soon as you walked through the door. It was also a bonus to learn that they use PACKZ® and CLOUDFLOW® from our sister company, HYBRID Software, to automate many of their processes.

Bakers also work very closely with HP Indigo in both their label printing business, and BakPac, their flexible packaging business. This meant that our Harlequin RIP® engineers could see presses working that used the technology they had developed deep inside the HP Indigo digital front end. This gave them a sense of real purpose and pride.

HP Indigo 6900 at Baker Labels
One of the HP Indigo 20000 presses at Baker Labels.
Baker’s BakPac digital flexible packaging business prints short to medium runs of stand-up pouches, pillow pouches and printed film for trade customers looking for a high-speed-to-market option for their customers.

Bakers’ domain expertise was clear for our team to see: Jamie Godson did an incredible job of explaining the application of technology and challenges that they face within the industry; Jamie Doogan provided important perspective on commercial considerations; and Simon Chandler shared his perspectives on technical infrastructure necessary to stay competitive in the market.

Feedback from my team was overwhelmingly positive and the energy that they got from the visit will be something that I am confident will continue to resonate within our engineering team, spurring on new ideas to solve challenging technical problems. Bakers’ willingness to engage in such conversations will no doubt help us all to do what we do better and facilitate solutions which may well have a broader market application. 

On behalf of the Global Graphics Software and Hybrid Software Group PLC, I would like to express my gratitude to Steve Baker and his team for their incredible hospitality and willingness to collaborate. It’s meeting people at companies like Bakers that makes getting out of bed in the morning exciting, and it’s no surprise to me that they are as successful as they are. Long may it continue.

Managing director, Justin Bailey, left, with the team from Global Graphics Software and Jamie Godson, Jamie Doogan and Simon Chandler from Baker Labels.

About the author

Justin Bailey, Managing Director, Global Graphics Software
Justin Bailey, Managing Director, Global Graphics Software

Justin Bailey has been managing director at Global Graphics Software since 2018. He has over 25 years’ experience in the document imaging and print markets.

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New guides for best practice in creating print files for variable data printing

Best practice in creating PDF files for Variable Data Printing
Two new guides, one for designers and one for developers, to ensure best practice in creating PDF files for variable data printing are available now from the PDF Association.

When talking with digital press vendors it soon becomes apparent that the only thing more important than speed is quality; the only thing more important than quality is cost; and the only thing more important than cost is speed. I think I’d have to ask M C Escher for an illustration of that!

To focus on speed, what a press vendor usually means when talking to Global Graphics Software is “I need the Digital Front End (DFE) for my press to be able to print every job at full engine speed”, which is a subject that  we’re very happy to talk about and to demonstrate solutions for, even as the press engines themselves get faster with every new version.

But the components such as the RIP in a DFE are not the only things that can affect whether a press can be driven at full engine speed. There are plenty of things that a designer or composition engine can do that can vary how fast a PDF file can be RIPped by several orders of magnitude, without affecting the visual appearance of the print.

Obviously we like it when the files are efficiently built, but sometimes it’s not obvious to a designer, or a software developer working on either a design application or composition engine how they might be able to improve the files that they generate. That’s why we created a guide called “Do PDF/VT Right” back in 2014, stuffed full of actionable recommendations for both designers and developers making PDF files for variable data printing.

Over the years since we’ve updated and extended the guide. The rework in 2020 was sufficiently significant that we renamed it to “Full Speed Ahead: How to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press”.

It’s been very well received, and clearly filled a gap in materials available for the target audience; there have been thousands of downloads and printed copies given away at trade shows.

At the end of 2020 a new PDF/VT standard, PDF/VT-3, was published, and the committee in ISO that had developed it asked the PDF Association to write application notes for it, to assist developers implementing it with more extensive detail than can be included in International Standards. That sounds very formal, but in practice the two committees have many members in common (as an example I was project editor on PDF/VT-3 and I co-chair the PDF Association’s PDF/VT Technical Working Group (TWG)). The hand-over was mainly to enable much more agile and responsive document development and more flexibility around publication.

After some debate the PDF/VT TWG decided that what the industry really needed was a best-practice guide in how to construct efficient PDF files for VDP, whether they’re PDF/VT or ‘just’ “optimized PDF”. Any developer who has worked with PDF/VT-1 should have no trouble in implementing VT-3, but there are still some issues with slow processing of very inefficient PDF files preventing print service providers, converters etc from running their digital presses at full engine speed.

The next step was to agree to do the development of that guide in a new form of committee within the PDF Association, specifically so that people who were not members of the Association could be involved.

At this stage Global Graphics offered the text of Full Speed Ahead as a starting point for the Association guide, an offer that was very quickly accepted. But it was felt that it could be made more accessible if two editions of the guide were produced: one for designers and one for developers, rather than combining the two into a single document. Amongst other things it means that each guide can use the most appropriate terminology for each audience, which always makes reading easier.

We were lucky to have Pat McGrew working with us and she took over as champion for the designer edition, while I led on the developer one.

And so I’m very happy to announce that both the Developer and Designer editions of the PDF Association’s “Best Practice in creating PDF files for Variable Data Printing” have just been published and are available with a lot of other useful resources at https://www.pdfa.org/resources/.

DOWNLOAD
BEST PRACTICE IN CREATING PDF FILES FOR VARIABLE DATA PRINTING – DESIGNER EDITION

BEST PRACTICE IN CREATING PDF FILES FOR VARIABLE DATA PRINTING – DEVELOPER EDITION

About the author

Martin Bailey, CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, former distinguished technologist at Global Graphics Software, is currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT and is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

Further reading

  1. Full Speed Ahead: How to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press
  2. Compliance, compatibility, and why some tools are more forgiving of bad PDFs
  3. What the difference between PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-4

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Processing PDF without in-RIP color management

Twenty years ago it was common to find people RIPping jobs for production print with no color management. Indeed, many print service providers (PSPs), magazine publishers etc actively avoided it as being “too complicated” and “unpredictable”. You might read that as an indictment of their vendors for a lack of investment either in developing good product or in educating their users. Alternatively it might simply show that the printing companies were quite understandably risk-averse because it could be expensive if the client didn’t like the resulting color, especially in an environment like display advertising in a major magazine, or packaging for a major brand.

A decade after that more and more people (on both the buying and the printing sides) grasped the value of color management in print and were using it, but there was still a significant minority that had not managed to make the time to understand it. This is borne out by the uproar when Adobe ‘forced’ people to use color management by changing from using CMYK for the alternate color space for Pantone spots in Creative Cloud to using Lab1, and by the continuing demand for support for PDF/X‑1a, where everything has already been converted to press colorants before the PDF is made.

Now we’re in 2022, and the need for color management is accepted almost universally in print sectors that use an ink set based on CMYK. I phrased it that way because some of the industrial print space (textiles, ceramics, laminate flooring etc) have historically used many inks, but usually job-specific rather than CMYK. Some of those markets will continue to use job-specific ink sets as they transition to digital, while others would find a switch to digital extremely challenging without a concurrent switch to a color managed workflow2.

So, why am I writing this now?

It’s because I still talk to people who tell me that they don’t need to do any color management inside the RIP when processing PDF; they RIP it first and then apply color management.

I’m sorry, that just won’t work reliably and with maximum quality.

There was a time, back in the days when PDF 1.3 was the latest and greatest (which pretty much means last millennium) when a PSP could get away with this approach, because their customers were happy to define all their colors in CMYK and spots. As soon as they used anything else, including Lab or colors tagged with ICC profiles, they’d have to have some fallback to generate CMYK values from that data. It doesn’t need a full color management module (CMM), but they’d need something.

And then along came PDF 1.4, adding transparency. And transparency requires that you can convert colors between color spaces, potentially multiple times. That’s because PDF transparency includes the concept of transparency groups. Each group is one or more graphics that are blended with any graphics that are behind them in the design.

The blending depends on a number of parameters, the most obvious of which are the blend mode (Overlay, Multiply, Hard Light etc), and the blend color space. The result of rendering all graphics that are underneath the transparency group will be transformed from whatever space the RIP holds it in (often the CMYK for the output device) into the blending color space. The result of rendering all the graphics inside the transparency group itself is also transformed into the blending color space. Then the blend mode is applied, to do the actual transparency calculation, and the result is transformed back into whatever color space the RIP needs it to be in for further processing (again, often the CMYK of the output device). The blending color space is quite often sRGB, because that’s the default in a number of popular design applications.

So correct rendering of the transparency will often require color transforms between the color space in which graphics are specified (such as, maybe, an image tagged with an ECI RGB ICC profile), the blend color space (most commonly sRGB) and the output device color space (usually a specific CMYK). That’s just not possible without applying a pretty complete color management process during RIPping. And if you try to take short-cuts you’ll usually get a visually different result, sometimes very different.

Color transformation with transparency requires a full color management capability.

Even so, back in the early 2000s a PSP could avoid the need to upgrade software, process control and operator training by insisting that their customers supplied files in a format such as PDF/X-1a, which prohibited device-independent colors and transparency. But making a PDF/X-1a file from a rich design in a creative application requires a number of compromises affecting graphical elements that were originally specified in device independent colors, or which use transparency. Both risk degrading the quality of the final piece.

These days insisting on PDF/X-1a to avoid the need for color management in the RIP is no longer widely acceptable to customers3. And therefore neither is color managing after the RIPping is complete.

Your check-list is therefore:

  • Don’t use PDF/X-1a. In fact don’t use PDF/X-3 either. Both are two decades old. PDF/X-3 may allow device-independent colors, but both of them force the creation tool to flatten transparency, discard layers and a bunch of other potentially damaging procedures. It’s over ten years since PDF/X-4 was published, and that’s currently the best balance between capability and getting too far ahead of common usage in print workflows.
  • If you’re a print service provider, converter, industrial printing manufacturer or digital press vendor, don’t cut corners; use a workflow that applies the color management in or before the RIP4. It shouldn’t be hard; all the leading RIP vendors (and therefore leading press vendors, because they license technology from the RIP vendors) supply suitable systems.

About the author

Martin Bailey, consultant and former 0CTO, Global Graphics Software

Martin Bailey, consultant at Global Graphics Software, is a former CTO of the company and currently the primary UK expert to the ISO committees maintaining and developing PDF and PDF/VT. He is the author of Full Speed Ahead: how to make variable data PDF files that won’t slow your digital press, a guide offering advice to anyone with a stake in variable data printing including graphic designers, print buyers, composition developers and users.

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Notes
1 – If a spot color will be emulated using process inks on press, then using a CMYK alternate gives predictable color numbers in those inks, but is less good at producing a predictable color appearance. Using Lab for the alternate color space often leads to unpredictable color numbers on each separation, but a more predictable color appearance on the print. There is a benefit to both models, but when it comes to paying for printing the color appearance usually wins!

2 – if run-lengths on digital are long enough to justify warehousing a variety of inks, and changings inks on inkjet presses, it can be reasonable to stay with job-specific ink sets, especially if it’s difficult or expensive to make usable inks for all of CMY and K. As an example, the best Magenta ink for inkjet printing on ceramics is made with gold. Any move to using digital presses for short-run printing more or less requires a fixed ink set to allow for quick job changes without excessive waste, and that typically means CMYK+.

3 – and I say that as the chair of the committees that developed PDF/X for many years, first in CGATS and then in ISO.

4 – There are situations where applying color management in a color server before the RIP can be useful, especially when multiple presses will be used in parallel. This approach brings its own challenges around handling spot colors in the job that will be emulated on press, but can produce excellent results when used with care.

OpenXPS support in the Mako Core™ SDK

I’m excited to announce that Mako 6.6 will support OpenXPS (OXPS) as both an input and output!

But Mako already has lots of inputs and outputs – so why is this one so exciting?

Mako in Printing

Mako, in my opinion, is the premier SDK of choice when it comes to meeting challenges where performance, reliability and accuracy are required. This is particularly so with many printing use-cases.

These use-cases can include handling multiple page description languages (PDLs) from upstream workflows including PDF, PostScript, XPS, PCL, IJPDS and PPML. The only other PDL that was missing, until now, was OXPS.

The exciting part is that having this final PDL puts Mako in a unique and enviable position, as it now supports all common print PDLs, with a single, simple, consistent and clean interface and document object model (DOM).

Formats supported by Mako.
Formats supported by Mako.

Mako benefits

  • Consolidate multiple SDKs for each required PDL.
  • Requires less developer downtime to learn multiple libraries and interfaces.
  • Offers a single point of contact and support for all your common PDLs from a trusted company with years of industry experience.

If you’re interested in hearing more, please get in touch with us and see how we can help with your software challenges.

If you fancy taking a look at some code samples to see what Mako can do, feel free to head over to our developer documentation.

Further reading:

https://www.globalgraphics.com/products/mako

About the author

Andy Cardy, Principal Engineer at Global Graphics Software
Andy Cardy, Principal Engineer at Global Graphics Software

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