Adobe to unveil its second edition of PDF Print Engine
The PostScript era may at last have shuffled off its mortal coil, as the next generation of Adobe's printing workflow and reproduction system for PDF gets set to roll out to OEMs this summer.
At one time -- longer ago than it sometimes seems -- the software print engine of the modern world was based around PostScript, and Adobe was on top of the world as the champion of that format. The first editions of PDF were perceived as not so much an encapsulated PostScript but as an abbreviated alternative to it, mostly for ordinary text documents. But as that standard evolved into the format of choice for Web-based brochures and marketing literature, its capability to reproduce images and graphics eventually exceeded that of PostScript.
But a great many printers and printing networks remain PostScript-bound. The modern alternative to that situation has been the Adobe PDF Print Engine; and this morning, the company announced the release in July to OEM partners of PDF Print Engine version 2.
As Adobe explains it (PDF white paper available here), the key virtue of PDF Print Engine -- expanded in this latest version -- is its support for the variable data publishing (VDP) model. Veterans of the PostScript era, and users of still-active PostScript printers and print engines, are familiar with the fact that the old standard renders graphic data in a fixed resolution. That resolution can be scaled, but there's only one; and whenever raster-based images of one resolution are blended with vector-based images at another, one or both get re-rendered to the new output format. The result isn't always pleasant.
In addition, PostScript rendered colors opaquely. So the illusion of transparency was achieved by re-rendering -- again -- content through software, to a best-guess estimate of the equivalent color values of the blended composite. When multiple sources were blended together, and those sources each had their own independent color models, those blended color estimates could often be flat wrong.
PDF Print Engine is resolved to eliminate those problems by adopting what Adobe calls a "color-managed workflow." Given the right applications software support or the right printer hardware support, Print Engine 2 is theoretically capable of providing a full preview of how it resolves the blending of image sources using multiple resolutions and independent color models, in one cohesive model that can be adapted and modified in progress to customer tastes.
In tandem with this morning's announcement, manufacturers including Agfa, FujiFilm, Kodak, Heidelberg, EFI, and Xerox announced they will soon be offering products supporting PDF Print Engine 2.