PDF/X-1a:2001 turns 15 !

Posted by Scott Tully on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 02:16 PM

Tags: knowledge


Fifteen years have passed since the creation of the industry's first PDF/X-1a:2001 file.

How do I know this?

I was there, August 20, 2001, in Toronto, Canada two years and a thousand miles away from my first Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards (CGATS) Subcommittee Six, Task Force One meeting, eager to report the news.

Five weeks earlier, I had cleared what was [my] the last barrier to creating valid PDF/X-1a files. I was working on a custom pdfmark [ a snippet of code to be executed by Adobe Acrobat Distiller ] that would embed specific key-value pairs and dictionaries required by the PDF/X standard. I say 'working on' because success was not immediate, it came in increments, increments of frustration and elation. Keep in mind, there were no plugins or applications that created PDF/X, there was only Apago PDF/X Checkup, an Acrobat plugin that verified PDF/X. I was alone on the PDF/X frontier, making a map as I moved ahead. Through trial and error was I able to resolve the syntax in my pdfmark, enabling Adobe Acrobat Distiller to produce valid PDF/X-1a:2001 files !

As every reader should know, the "X" in PDF/X stands for exchange. As a PDF/X creator, I now needed a receiver, a person - organization who would verify and process the file for print. I contacted fellow PDF/X advocates Brad Mintz of McCann-Erickson and Kin Wah Lam of Time, Inc.. Together, we resolved to run a live print test where Brad provided the electronic files for a two-page Lucent advertisement, I [ The LTC Group - North Haven ] produced both a TIFF/IT-P1 and PDF/X-1a version of the ad, and Kin verified the files and scheduled the press time at R.R. Donnelley - Torrence.

At about the same time, I was in contact with another printer, Banta, coordinating the delivery of a 2-page, perfect-bound advertisement for our customer Ralph Lauren - POLO. As I was discussing the Computer To Plate capabilities at Banta, I informed my printing peer that my company was capable of delivering PDF/X-1a and asked if he would be interested in receiving the ad as PDF/X-1a.

On August 17, Kin formally announced the successful print test, establishing the facts of the 'first' with printed samples and a letter. I was unaware of delivery of Kin's package as I was on my way to the airport and a weekend in Canada. I had everything with me. I was armed with the actual test files and the emails exchanged in the process of conducting the test, ready to share them with my CGATS colleagues on Monday morning.

 Print Test Signature

PDF/X-1a:2001 print test signature

Note: Small 'dots' indicate file type. "P" = PDF/X  "T" = TIFF/IT-P1 

As you might imagine, the work involved in creating an international standard is both time-consuming and deliberate. While not exactly law, the process does share many of the elements of lawmaking, most notably order, procedure and conduct. My own standards baptism occurred when I attended my first CGATS WG6-TF1 meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL in early 1999. I had no prior experience and had never even heard of Roberts Rules of Order.

So here I am, two-plus years later, a seasoned CGATS veteran patiently awaiting the adoption of the meeting's Agenda. Or so I thought. I must have been fidgeting like a percolating coffee pot, eager for release, when SC6-TF1 Chairman, Martin Bailey recognized me:

[as recorded in the Minutes]

"Tully reported on the successful creation of the first PDF/X-1a file, in cooperation with Time, Inc. and others. The file was also created as a TIFF/IT file. It has been reported that the printed PDF/X-1a file is indistinguishable from the printed TIFF/IT file. The first live add to be printed will a Ralph Loren add to appear in Dirt Rag Magazine, and will be printed by Banta."

Upon my return work, I oversaw the distillation, proofing and delivery of '7195RLX_F01Dirt.pdf' -- the Ralph Lauren - POLO ad. In recognition of the significance of the ad [file], (2) additional Kodak Approval proofs were made. I had them matted and framed, one for my boss and one for the plant's Managing Director.

[ I inherited this one in February 2011 when I became Managing Director of the North Haven facility ]


The industry's first PDF/X-1a:2001 ad printed without any fanfare or difficulty, appearing in the October 2001 issue of Dirt Rag Magazine. We can only imagine how many PDF/X-1a files have been created and printed since...?



Happy Birthday PDF/X-1a:2001 !

To our Northeast and Mid Atlantic customers

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Fri, Nov 02, 2012 @ 02:25 PM

Tags: support, knowledge, DAM Systems, Xinet How To, Linux

As our region recovers, we hope you and your families are safe and sound. Our thoughts are with the communities that have been hit the hardest. We want you to know that NAPC will stand with you as the recovery effort continues.

Your systems have been designed for resiliency and should come through just fine upon restoration of utilities. We'd like to offer some common suggestions on re-powering equipment to minimize the effort required to get back in business.

Once you're back in the building and ready to start powering up the systems, work from the outside in-

Power up the Tape library, fiber and ethernet switches.
If bound to directory services, make sure the DCs and DNS servers are up and running
If your raid has multiple chassis' daisy chained off the head unit, power those on first, and wait for them to come up and settle down to a steady state (usually a few minutes)
Power on the Raid controller, and wait for a few minutes again, until it's settled down and is fully up.
Finally, power on the Production server.
Your Portal server can be turned on at any point through the process.

Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help you through this crisis and recovery.

10Gb networking and DAM

Posted by Rob Pelmas on Wed, Jun 03, 2009 @ 09:56 AM

Tags: knowledge, how to, DAM Systems, Portal, workflow

We're a bunch of performance geeks here. We've been tweaking blocksizes, stripe, and interleave settings on disk since SGI first gave you access to 'em. Tuning and re-tuning SWAP size, location, type is in our blood. A few percentage points here, double digit gains there, all without more capex. Gotta love it.

Now, anytime a paradigm shift in technology comes out there's a steep cost differential to it, right? 10Gb networking had only a tiny little blip of time when it was out of reach of the masses, which is a refreshing change. You can kit out most servers with a card, an acceptable managed switch with a 10Gb port or two, for a very reasonably cost.

Why go to 10? Our desktops have had Gb cards for what seems like forever, and very fast CPUs. With just a couple 'power' users you could swamp the networking capabilities of a server. Of course, a handful of years ago disks could only cough up 150Mb/sec or so of sustained data, so network tended to not be the gating factor in server  performance. Modern disk starts at well over 300Mb/sec, and if you stripe or otherwise use some common sense design principles you can achieve multiples of that.

 Xinet and NAPC both use the 1 to 6 rule for users and performance: with 6 retouchers (or 'power' users), you can assume 1 of them will be accessing the server at one time. 12=2, 18=3. It's a rough rule of thumb, but one that seems to stand up over time. 12 heavy hitters can thus drain 120Mb/sec out of a server, which is the better part of 2 1Gb cards bonded together. Add in the other users, doing layout, OPI printing (yep, some folks still use an OPI workflow), and Portal access, you've got a saturated pipe. 10gb gives you a good 800mb/sec of access speed, which will sate all but the most demanding organizations needs for data.

Next of course, we can talk about teaming 10Gb interfaces! (insert evil chortle of delight here).


So, how can Xinet help me do. . . . .?

Posted by Brian Dolan on Wed, Apr 01, 2009 @ 11:27 AM

Tags: Xinet, Elegant, knowledge, Dalim, Dialogue, Creative Banks, nTransit, how to

Being in the position that I’m in affords me the opportunity to travel and see many of our clients around the country.  I love working with all of you and you all have your own unique personalities as well as challenges in your respective environments.  Something I want to share with you all is a question I’m often asked, “How can I make Xinet do more for us?  I know it can do X, Y or Z but I only use it for (fill in the blank) and want to do more with it!”  Usually the next questions is, “How do your other clients do it and how are they using Xinet?”  Well, let’s start with the second one. . .how DO other clients work with Xinet.  This is a hard one since all of you use it for different reasons and have unique needs even though many of you are in the same business. 

So, how do I make it do the trick your asking?  Get to it already would ya!

A couple of things to think about before I can suggest anything:

1) Listen to your clients (internal and external)- You know your company and how it ticks better than us.  Yes, we at NAPC all have been around the industry for a long time and bring plenty of knowledge to the table but. . .you're the one hearing the conversations in meetings or through the hallways with questions like, "How can we share out assets to client X but not allow them to do or see Y", or "How can I automate the process of creating multiple PDF's from one print command?", or "How can I customize the interface so it looks like my clients brand?" or "Can I do . . ."  You get the point right???. . .if not, the point is you know your world better than we do so listen to your user community and then start thinking about how to solve their challenges with the tool set at hand. And if the current tool set doesn't accomplish the needed task, then there is most likely a plugin or a solution to make it do the trick like Creative Banks or Elegant or nTransit.  Xinet is an open product so customizations can be done and probably already have been.  Ask us-we'll be happy to help.

2) Be creative yourself- it's easiest to hear from someone that says yeah, we did this thing and it really rocks or ask us to replicate something that was done before but think about how to do "it" yourself.  You may be in IT or work in some IT capacity but that doesn't mean you're not creative!  You are-you just have to find the time to sit down and think about it. I know, I know, easier said than done as we're all super busy but if you want to really do something, you'll make the time. 

3) Is my idea even possible? Look, all technologies have their limits so if you want Xinet to make your coffee (not too strong of course!) AND fold your laundry, you might be pushing it.  So, this is a good time to ask NAPC as well as look at the Xinet manuals.  Seriously, look at the manuals.  I know a lot of you depend on NAPC for the knowledge to be handed to you and we don't mind that at all.  That's what we're here for!  Although, you might be better served by reading up on the technology you manage.  Right!?!?!?!?!?  You've all heard RTFM or to be politically correct I should say RTM but whatever, you get the point.  I've been to plenty of training classes, received lots of great advice from others in and out of the industry but my best resource to date has been the manuals.  Read up everyone!

So really, those ARE my suggestions.  Listen to your clients, be creative yourself in coming up with ways to solve the challenge and do your research by speaking with us and reading up on the Xinet manuals.  Seriously, you all will be waaaay better off in the end if you put the time into it.  Again, I know you're all busy but this is important stuff here right?!?!  Just like working out, which I do all the time! :), it takes dedication and Xinet is no different.

Also, after working the three steps above first, you'll be able to better answer your first question yourself,  "How can I make Xinet do more for us".  And if not, again, we're here to help with suggestions and industry knowledge to get you to where you need to be.

Bottom line, be proactive with learning this stuff . . .it'll really help you in the long run.

Oh yeah, one more thing on this subject, work closely with the people that have a hand in Xinet.  If you're more on the creative side of things, create the relationship needed to work together harmoniously with your IT staff.  Contrary to popular belief, they are truly there to help you, not hold you back even though sometimes it may seem that way.  And, if you're in IT, be open about this stuff and the ideas that may come your way.  Don't start with "No", think about it and be creative in helping solve the problem or challenge at hand by working closely with your clients.  Can I get a "Kum ba ya!"

Any way. . .two quick things before I get off my high horse. . .

1) Dialogue ES is around the corner.  If you're familiar with how Dalim's Dialogue currently works then you'll probably be happy to hear how it's evolving.  This week Dalim is releasing the internal beta so I'll get my hands on it and write another blog entry just on that subject later but some quick things to mention:
The interface has changed quite a bit.- this is good stuff guys and gals. . .totally revamped and much more slick.  Again, more to come later.  As far as functionality, it's totally rewritten from the ground up and now has a database behind it.  This can open up all kinds of possibilities, think about it.  Linear versus non-linear workflows.  So now, instead of having user a, b, then c approve or reject a document, it can be more of fluid approval process and not so much in a linear fashion as it is now.  Also, once a user approves or rejects the document, that action doesn't have to stop the process as it does now in a multi-user approval process.  In other words, if user a rejects the document, user b or c can still approve or reject it themselves versus how it is now.  In the current version, if a user in an approval workflow rejects the document, it's done, that's it.  No one else can approve or reject it using the built in approval tools.  That changes with ES.  New icons for statuses, new list views to easily see all users status, new interface, etc.  Lots more to come there.

Any way, thanks for taking the time to read our blog and I hope you all stay tuned for more from NAPC.  We're dedicated to making you successful!


For more info go to www.napc.com

Push the Xinet Envelope

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Mon, Mar 23, 2009 @ 10:08 PM

Tags: database, knowledge, webinar, workflow

So here I go a blogging away. I'm not too sure of how to start because usually I'm following an agenda of some kind, or a question to start with. Someone has a problem or a challenging workflow to configure. Blogging is more free flowing, I guess... We'll see.
I do a lot of training for new clients and there is so much information to absorb that they can easily become overwhelmed & overloaded. As they get use to the system they'll Venture further (pun intended) and start looking for cleaner ways to use their new system. But not many will make that leap and really push the limits of what they can get out of it early on. There's way more power under the hood.
The problem I find so often is that people have an idea of what the server can do but aren't sure how to get there. And that stops them. At that point, the thing that most often drives them is a client request, or the boss (every one has a boss...) saw a Webinar about some cool widget and wants it created. Is it done yet?
When I was in Printing, I worked for a guy that always said,
"If I wanted it tomorrow, I'd be asking for it then. I want it now!"
Then the calls start coming in in earnest. Which is great for me because now I have something to dig into. A new challenge. But I wonder how do we get people to push the envelope before they get the push themselves? It's training, and it's knowledge. NAPC runs Webinars' all the time on different applications, from FullPress, the Venture database, to Dalim Dialogue or the Xinet Uploader. Sharing the knowledge is driving the train here!

Do you have an idea for a Webinar you'd like to see. Tell us. Got an idea for any Trigger automations, let me know. If you can conceive of it, we can build it... well, I'm looking for the stuff we can build out-of-the-box. Custom stuff comes later.