CS Labels’ managing director Simon Smith: "This has been a steep learning curve but a very worthwhile process."
Being at the forefront of technology innovation brings its own pressures. At CS Labels in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, innovation is seen as a point of differentiation, and that spirit saw it become a beta site for Xeikon’s new 30 metres per minute Cheetah press in March. It is, says managing director Simon Smith, 58% faster than other Xeikon presses (CS Labels is the largest reel-fed Xeikon house in Europe with five machines). Therein lay the issue however.
"While we were putting the press in, we also had to consider what we were doing in terms of streamlining studio processes to get the work through more efficiently. We were using a preflighting system but it wasn’t giving us the savings we were hoping for", he told Digital Printer
The company had met MyPressXpert sales director Kevin Caughtry at an EasyFairs event in February, and then spoke to Niall Coady from the colour calibration firm shortly afterwards at a Xeikon Café. In talking, it was recognized that there could be ways to simplify and improve the workflow at CS Labels and reduce errors in prepress.
Following this, MyPressXpert has undertaken further bespoke project work for CS Labels, creating a brand new job management system for the Xeikon workflow from scratch, which interrogates an Excel (.xlsx) file from the client and automatically creates and databases all the label barcodes based on sites and quantities. It has also put in a colour management software system – ColorLogic’s ZePrA colour management server and ReProfiler Digital colour engine – which is helping to improve CS Labels’ management of process control and calibration of the Xeikon engines, providing detailed reporting on the stability of the presses so that maintenance schedules can be optimised. This has been effective to such a degree that in September the label producer stopped using the colour control system that comes with the Xeikon presses.
"All digital presses face the challenge of colour consistency from print run to print run, and we also need to ensure that our presses are optimised to achieve Pantone colours", said Mr Smith. "Invariably we are given a label to match by printing CMYK. We need to get as close as possible to achieving the Pantones consistently and measure how close in Delta E we are. This system has helped us to do that. We are of the opinion that it actually takes it to a different level."
The impact of these implementations of automated preflighting and colour management within the company is that CS Labels is able to cope with higher volumes of work while utilising the same level of human resources. "We are also shortening lead times to get work on press and we are getting far fewer mistakes where files have to go back to the studio", Mr Smith continued. "It has streamlined the whole process for us and allows the studio to move away from more mundane tasks such as putting the bleed on a hundred files – those things are automated now. The system also automates the artwork and sends a proof back to the customer."
"The ideal is that we get a PDF from our customer and it goes straight on press without a human touching it. That’s what we are looking for, and we are making fairly substantial progress."
All progress in this direction is welcome, because in December a second Cheetah press will arrive, and further efficiencies will need to be found.
"This has been a steep learning curve but a very worthwhile process", Mr Smith concluded. "The biggest benefit is that we have been able to make this system bespoke to our unique requirements, rather than buying one off the shelf."
Written by Whitmar Publications
Pixartprinting specializes in providing a range of online print services: small format items (magazines, catalogues, postcards, stickers, labels, flyers etc), large format objects (high resolution prints, indoor and outdoor posters, banners, display stands etc), packaging and much more. Today, Pixarprinting has over 900 000 customers across Europe, receives an average of 12 000 orders a day and boasts the largest range of cutting-edge equipment in Europe. How did they become the leading web-to-print shop in Europe?
At Pixartprinting, they are convinced that the e-commerce landscape has been changing dramatically. They had to cope with a growing product range, bigger volumes, geographically dispersed markets, distributed manufacturing and – on top of all that – demanding customers. Conrado Camacho, Director of Technology at Pixartprinting, illustrates this: "We have to cope with quite some challenges: we need to scale to rapidly increasing volumes, build flexible processes that can pivot on the market’s feedback and adapt to new printing technologies. In the meantime, we must be conscious about costs to maintain Pixartprinting’s profitability." Alessio de Zotti, Manufacturing Software Manager at Pixartprinting, finishes his words: "Luckily, cloud-based computing and partnering with companies that understand these opportunities gives us the chance to scale based on our business needs."
Since 2012, Pixartprinting appeals to pdfToolbox for their production workflows. They have been managing a number of servers on the premises that helps them managing their peak volumes, even though the demand is not stable during the year. With the arrival of License Server, they could finally migrate to a cloud-based infrastructure where they are not bound by a specific set of servers that runs pdfToolbox. Now, they can add or remove servers at will based on the workload.
With License Server, we can quickly adapt to peaks on demand as well as making an optimized usage of our pdfToolbox licenses.
"With this move, we expect to migrate to a system that can automatically scale up or down, based on the needs on that specific moment. This should provide many advantages, such as cost optimization (we only pay for computing power used). With License Server, we can quickly adapt to peaks on demand as well as making an optimized usage of our pdfToolbox licenses", says Alessio de Zotti.
Pixartprinting has always been investing in automatizing its business processes to be able to serve its customers as best one can while maintaining competitive prices. "We are excited to enforce the partnership with callas software, as their automation technology can help us improving the quality of our support towards customers." With License Server, they can now offer their customers quick and easy access to the best printing solutions.
Most of you, especially here in Europe would know about Beuth Verlag as one of Germany’s largest suppliers of specialist information and knowledge and a pioneer in the use of top-quality, long-lasting products and services. In 2019, the publisher adopted callas software’s solutions pdfaPilot and pdfToolbox to automatically process, convert and validate PDF/A and PDF/X files. So how did callas really help Beuth significantly reduce its manual workload?
“As a publisher of standards, norms and guidelines, it is essential that the work that we publish meet our high-quality standards and comply with all legal requirements,”
says Mark Reuter, project manager for policy production at Beuth Verlag.
Beuth Verlag standardizes its files in line with the PDF/A-1b compliance level, which ensures consistent visual reproduction and guarantees that all fonts, formulas and symbols used in the documentation of standards can be displayed reliably worldwide. The files are also structured – a task that is no easy undertaking without some form of software-based support, since errors in this area are often hard to spot on-screen with the naked eye. For example, complex formulas with mathematical symbols, unusual integrals or units may look right within a PDF at first glance but then print incorrectly.
“If we had to go through all our standards manually to look for these errors and others, the amount of work involved would be very substantial”
Out of 40,000 DIN standards, 31,000 were processed and corrected entirely automatically using callas’ tools. Some basic manual steps were required for another 6,000, and the remaining 3,000 required Beuth Verlag employees to examine them manually. Those were mostly PDF files originating from the very earliest years of PDF, whose authors had naturally not enough experience with the format yet. These manual examinations were kept to a minimum thanks to pdfToolbox and pdfaPilot, which offer content-based searching that make it possible to validate and convert publications differently depending on their level of maturity (draft status). With callas’ 2020 releases, Beuth Verlag was also able to automatically generate ZUGFeRD-compliant digital invoices.
Wherever possible, pdfaPilot corrects any errors it may find, such as undefined symbols, CID sets or character widths. Using our technology, Beuth was also able to find an elegant solution to the transparency problem. If our software cannot make the correction automatically, it generates a report. This report attaches bookmarks to errors, allowing to go directly to the source of the issue and intervene manually. As a result, almost 100 percent of printing and download delivery problems can be prevented.
The new releases’ graphical editor also helps with creating Process Plans when documenting workflows, increasing the overall level of transparency.
As well as validating standards, Beuth Verlag started using pdfaPilot to split invoice files via robotic process automation (we wrote a blog about RPA). This typically involves a 500-page PDF that first needs to be divided into individual invoices. Down from an hour, now it takes just sixty seconds at Beuth, as pdfaPilot identifies text phrases and uses them to automatically separate PDF files. The PDFs’ prefixes and suffixes are easier to rename this way, too.
“This is particularly useful for our new PDF/X preflight process, to generate uniquely named file versions with varying resolutions and colors.”
Meanwhile, Beuth Verlag is also using pdfaPilot to convert certain standards into PDF/UA-compliant files.
“Without callas’ technology, we simply wouldn't have been able to do this efficiently enough. Now that we can guarantee PDF/A compliance thanks to callas software’s products, we can process 98% of the claims we receive using software alone. callas and its distributor Four Pees provide excellent support in this field.”
Thank you for the words, Mark.
You can read more about Beuth Verlag here.
Already in 2009, the German state Brandenburg started to publish all laws digitally and used – no surprise - PDF for that. It still is (at least) a nationwide pioneer. In this blog, callas software wants to explain the requirements which are sometimes completely different from e.g. publishing magazine articles online, but sometimes also surprisingly close to print publishing.
The classic, paper-based publication of laws and regulations deals with two documents: The original, which is signed by one or more ministers and archived for long-term and the document, which is published (promulgated) officially in a dedicated publication, in Brandenburg the “Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt (GVBI)”.
The high-level procedure for digital publication is not very different and also creates two documents: the physical signatures on the archived copy are replaced by qualified electronic signatures and the published (promulgated) document is also digitally signed by the issuing authority.
As we will see the most problematic requirement is that the two documents have to be identical in content – even down to the line breaks – but that on the other hand, headers and footers are different on page and on document level. The only way to achieve this is to use the same source PDF for both which is then formatted in two different ways.
Document requirements for laws and regulations are obviously high and this applies to quality as well as to feature richness. Long-term suitability is as indispensable for archival as reliable rendering and accessibility is for the promulgated documents. For PDF this can be maintained using related ISO standards: PDF/UA and PDF/A are mandatory.
Additional requirements are related to the fact that some regulations may contain scanned maps e.g. road construction plans. In order to make sure that such regulations are available to everybody in the state, all promulgated documents are to be printed and made available in local courts. And that adds PDF/X.
Compliance with PDF/UA, PDF/A and PDF/X of a single document is not extremely complex to achieve (https://www.callassoftware.com/en/blog/can-a-pdf-easily-comply-to-more-than-one-iso-standard-at-the-same-time) but there are challenges below the high-level processes described above.
The generation of correct tags for PDF publication always starts in the source program, here e.g. MS Word. A tricky requirement results from the (little known) fact that the state Brandenburg has the obligation to consider the language of a minority, Lower Sorbian. In the tagging structure of the documents, the language change must therefore be defined correctly in the correct places.
From a PDF point of view, the main requirement here is to check the tagging structure, a task which - according to PDF/UA - cannot be completely automated, but for which e.g. callas pdfGoHTML or other free tools are available.
The result of this process is the source PDF, compatible with PDF/UA, PDF/A and PDF/X, which then has to be converted for the two variants that are needed.
The most complex requirements from a PDF point of view arose - somewhat surprisingly - during formatting, because – as mentioned before - the documents for archival and promulgation have to be identical in their core content but have to vary in additional content parts. Of course, any errors have to be avoided and therefore this formatting runs automatically via a Profile in pdfaPilot.
The promulgated version has a document header with the Brandenburg coat of arms, headers on each page and an imprint on the last page. In addition, the pages are provided with consecutive page numbers, even if the PDFs are merged from several original documents. Since the page and line breaks must be absolutely identical in the archival and promulgation documents, the source file must already provide sufficient white areas. E.g. if an imprint is needed on the last page, the page break must be made in a way that the free area is large enough.
A further complexity dimension results from the fact that input documents can be in portrait or landscape format and even – when they contain maps – in arbitrary page sizes.
What had to be created is a complex set of rules for all possible input formats with steps for automated removal of headers and footers, addition of other content such as the imprint, merging of documents and creation of new pages. This has been built as a Process Plan:
Once the formatting has been completed, both documents are signed with a qualified electronic signature – of course in a manual step – and we have a new law or other regulation here: https://www.landesrecht.brandenburg.de/dislservice/public/gvbl.jsp
(Blog title image source: https://verfassungsgericht.brandenburg.de/verfgbbg/de)
The constantly growing demands on formats were no longer able to meet the constantly growing requirements for reliable long-term digital storage of important documents. In addition, there was a desire for a searchable, compact format that was robust and widely usable across platforms. In 2005, an ISO standard based on the PDF format started to write a new chapter in the history of digital archiving of documents: PDF/A. In this blog post, I am writing about how system-independent archiving of project files with PDF/A-3 can be achieved and how the advantages of PDF/A-3 are presented in the form of application scenarios and the different points of view regarding PDF/A-3.
The first part of the standard, PDF/A-1, can be regarded as the classic variant. I will not discuss the regulations in detail here; it is important in this context that PDF attachments, i.e. embedded files, are not permitted. If the second part of the standard is used, PDF/A-compliant files may be embedded. PDF/A-3, on the other hand, allows attachments in any format. This feature led to astonishment amongst users. After all, it is a common opinion in the IT industry that native formats are not suitable for long-term archiving. Doesn't this open a back door to what PDF/A actually wanted to avoid: the 'Format-Zoo' in the archives and thus the loss of control? Wouldn't it have been possible to avoid all the work that had to be done on the PDF/A issue?
First of all, it can be said that PDF/A-3 standardizes the way in which files are embedded in PDFs and thus ensures that they can be reliably found within the internal PDF structure. This is an important aspect because of the many possibilities PDF offers for embedding files, as files can be extracted without having to read the complete PDF file. In the case of electronic invoices, for example, where a machine-readable XML part can be embedded, the processing program is not an application specializing in PDF, but rather, for example, a commercial software. In addition, the ISO standard requires certain metadata that defines the file type of the embedded file, the type of relationship between it and the main PDF (e.g. source file), and the reference point (e.g. document, page, or page component).
Let me come back to the question asked at the beginning about the archive suitability of PDF/A-3: The fact is that PDF/A-1 and PDF/A-2 are "frozen", robust archive formats based on PDF (PDF 1.4 or ISO 32000), while the PDF/A-3 format only contains specifications for the "envelope" and the type of embedding. Thus it cannot be used for "blind" archiving in the same way as PDF/A-1 and PDF/A-2, since the long-term suitability of the embedded files is not guaranteed per se. The justified questions are countered by the fact that PDF/A-3 was already in practical use shortly after its publication. So here, I will demonstrate the usefulness of PDF/A-3 using three practical examples.
One of the strengths and weaknesses of PDF is that, as a "digital paper", it cannot reproduce multidimensional content. Typical examples are spreadsheets, where one dimension, the one that contains the functions, is lost after conversion to PDF. In PDF/A-3, the Excel spreadsheet can be embedded in the PDF so that both a robust archive file and the complete spreadsheet with formulas are available for as long as the application exists. The main advantage of hybrid archiving of Office documents is that the robust, unambiguous representation in the form of a PDF file and thus a doubtless exchange between several parties is made possible. In addition, the archive material is provided at an early stage in the life cycle of the document so that problems (e.g. when fonts are no longer available) are avoided during a later conversion. In addition, the source file can still be "worked with".
The next use case is the hybrid archiving of machine-readable and human-readable documents. The most common example are electronic invoices in which the visual image of the invoice, i.e. PDF/A, is available and the invoice data is additionally embedded as an XML data set. In Germany, this is defined in the ZUGFeRD data model. ZUGFeRD stands for "Zentraler User Guide des Forum elektronische Rechnung Deutschland". The new format will supplement the existing EDI standards nationwide and replace paper-based processes. Similar initiatives can be found in Mexico with "Comprobante Fiscal Digital a través de Internet" (CFDI) and in Brazil with "Nota Fiscal Eletrônica 2.0" (NF-e). The common advantage of these standards, which are based on PDF/A-3, is that the embedded file can be easily processed by machine and at the same time a robust visualization via the PDF is guaranteed. The combination of PDF and XML also enables data exchange and automated processing by the recipient without having to sacrifice the reliability of the paper substitute, the PDF.
The third application example is the archiving of project files such as those currently being archived by Sika, among others. The globally active, independent Swiss specialty chemicals company is subject to strict documentation requirements for new and further development processes for quality assurance reasons. The company's products have been in use for many years. In the event of complaints, Sika must be able to prove its product development processes at any time by means of test results and laboratory reports. This is done by means of project files in which development processes and release reports are documented. The associated workflows, which used to be paper-based, are now largely carried out electronically. For this reason, the resulting documents must also be stored digitally. The chemical manufacturer thus creates a valuable knowledge base in the long term, in which it has stored formulation and product knowledge relating to its manufacturing processes for a long future. The documentations - mainly office files - are to be stored system-independently in such a way that they remain summarized as electronic project files. For this reason, Sika opted for PDF/A-3. Before archiving project files, it must be clarified how to deal with files that cannot be transferred to PDF/A, such as audio or image files. Using so-called blacklisting, for example, it can be ruled out that a conversion software will attempt to convert them to PDF/A at all. Furthermore, rules can define how to proceed in this case.
PDF/A-3 therefore requires additional rules to ensure that the file can be archived. However, with such specifications, archivists and their clients will ensure the reproducibility of documents in the future and take advantage of the benefits of PDF/A-3. What do you think?
FLYERALARM Large Format Printing GmbH provides its customers with advertising technology and large-format printing services. In line with its motto “Individuell nach Maß” (“Made To Measure”), the company handles the widest imaginable range of printing requests on all kinds of materials, from PVC surfaces to textiles. In order to improve its performance when processing printing requests, FLYERALARM has implemented pdfChip from callas software. The print services provider uses this command-line tool in its production process to produce optimized, print-ready PDFs.
FLYERALARM receives print motifs from its customers in PDF format. The production data required is generated using the company's own PHP HTML templates. pdfChip then combines the HTML templates with the customer’s PDFs to create a print-ready PDF file. FLYERALARM was able to quickly benefit from pdfChip's performance and flexibility in its day-to-day business. “pdfChip is a command-line tool, which might not seem very user-friendly at first glance. But because of this, the software actually has the advantage of being easy to integrate into other applications. For example, we use Enfocus-Switch, and it took us very little work to integrate pdfChip into the workflow system,” says Dennis Jünemann. Nine months later, pdfChip received an update to its M version, which enables parallel conversion of four HTML files to PDF, allowing FLYERALARM to increase its output rate. Now, FLYERALARM processes 600-800 jobs every day using callas software’s tool. FLYERALARM also uses pdfToolbox from callas and converts files generated using pdfChip to PDF/X-3.
“For sure, there are other products that can turn HTML into print-ready PDFs,” says Dennis Jünemann. “But none of them can do so at the same level of quality as pdfChip.” Moreover, he says, developing new products has become much easier. For example, FLYERALARM is planning to expand its portfolio to other areas with pdfChip's help.
FLYERALARM is one of the leading online printing companies in the B2B market in Europe, and of the largest e-commerce companies in Germany - but it is still very young. Since 2002, the printing specialists from Würzburg have been showing the world how smart ordering print products can be. FLYERALARM now has over 2,000 employees, and generated a turnover of more than 340 million euros in 2017.
The Debeka Group is one of the five biggest players in the insurance and building-society savings sector in Germany, offering a wide range of insurance and financial services.
Now, the group is introducing a central document conversion solution which will process emails and their attachments as they are readied for long-term archiving. Debeka uses PDF/A as its chosen file format. Every day, it now converts an average of approximately 2,400 emails and their associated attachments into the ISO standard for document archiving. Longer-term, Debeka plans to expand the solution step by step to cover additional archiving processes. In total, the group expects that by the final phase, it will need to convert 300,000 to 400,000 documents into PDF/A every day.
Since 2007, Debeka has used jadice server from levigo to manage incoming conversion requests. This is a Java-based platform with centralized document processing components. Debeka integrated a wide range of solutions into this platform to convert documents into PDF, PDF/A or TIFF format, depending on the specific use case.
Originally, Debeka operated OpenOffice and LibreOffice in server mode for this purpose. “Under this process, we had to accept that the converted documents would not fully comply with the PDF/A standard,” explains Manfred Hardt, a document management consultant in Debeka’s head office. “Aside from that, we also regularly saw various recurring instabilities. We therefore started looking for a reliable solution that could deliver documents that fully complied with the PDF/A standard.” In its search for just such a solution, Debeka came across pdfaPilot from callas software. pdfaPilot is based on the same technology used by Adobe in Acrobat. It offers users a wide range of options for processing PDFs. After Debeka decided to implement pdfaPilot, levigo integrated the associated software development kit into Debeka's jadice server.
Users in each individual department are responsible for deciding which documents to convert to PDF or PDF/A. To this end, the company’s groupware offers “Send email to archive” and “Prepare for display as PDF” functions. If there is a need to first agree documents with other parties, for instance, a traditional PDF file is perfectly sufficient. Only once the document is actually ready for archiving is it then converted to PDF/A. In order to achieve this, the jadice server receives a request to generate a PDF/A file.
pdfaPilot then performs the conversion itself in the background. “We are now ready to switch our entire IT infrastructure to a service-oriented architecture,” says Manfred Hardt. Acting as a kind of monitor before the archiving step, pdfaPilot checks whether documents meet the PDF/A standard and performs any necessary changes or conversion. Michael Karbe, Managing Director at Actino Software—Debeka’s implementation partner—says, “Debeka now uses the PDF/A-1b format, which also ensures that documents can be read by absolutely any system. However, it always has the option of using PDF/A-2 in future, in order to minimize the size of the archived files using the compression functionality integrated into this standard.”
The new service is also used to sample files produced by other PDF/A conversion solutions that Debeka sometimes uses in specific cases, to make sure that these solutions are working reliably. For example, documents coming from Output Management are converted very effectively to PDF/A using its department-specific solution. “While it was theoretically possible to join up our own conversion solution here, it would have unnecessarily broken up the functional architecture of the system in question,” says Mr Hardt. “Ultimately it would not have added any extra value.” However, because the documents created by this solution are still checked by the levigo/callas conversion solution, Debeka still gets extra assurance that these conversions are similarly clean and standard-compliant.
Based on its early experiences, which have been significantly better than those with previous software solutions, Debeka is also planning to use pdfaPilot for other purposes. “Together with Actino Software, we are looking into automatically deleting our company’s internal metadata from documents,” says Manfred Hardt. “After all, we must never hand over sensitive data like employee IDs, phone numbers or other details to third parties.”
PA Digitale SpA is a leading software solutions provider on the Italian Public Administration market. It specifically targets the document and data management sector.
PA Digitale offers an integrated management information system, called URBI Smart that covers all functional areas of management and provides to Directors/Executives a support tool for real time management. Thanks to the availability of static and dynamic data reports it also offers a complete framework for integration with other data sources that is always up to date.
URBI Smart is completely web based, available in the Cloud, accessible from any PC and mobile device, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The PA Digitale software solutions also offer advanced electronic document management, from creation and classification to archiving and digital preservation. These functionalities are available in an integrated Web Portal for a more efficient Public Administration, “closer” to citizens.
With its new WebTec solution, PA Digitale is now not only entering the private market, but also introducing one of the first digital preservation solutions formally approved by the Italian government. callas pdfaPilot enabled PA Digitale to make a big leap forward in terms of management and digital preservation of electronic documents.
“Without a digital preservation service there is no dematerialization of paper workflows. Digital preservation is a key factor for the sustainability of the dematerialization process, to ensure that information and documents are stored in a way that guarantees integrity, authenticity, accessibility and readability.”
May 2014, Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale - www.agid.gov.it
An electronic document, like any document processed by a Public Administration (PA), must be classified, sorted and sent to an archive. Moreover, any Public Administration document is considered a cultural heritage and, for this reason, must be preserved according to government laws.
Public Administrations as well as private companies are obliged to manage the digital preservation of documents in various areas, where law requirements are in effect or imminent. Such documents are for example: electronic invoices, daily PA register protocols, administrative records, contracts, and any kind of document including a digital signature. They are all electronic documents and for this reason subject to digital preservation.
Within the private sector especially for financial accounting documents requirements exist enforcing digital preservation by Italian law. Digital preservation has to deal with the protection of legal validity, authenticity, integrity, reliability, availability and immutability of electronic documents.
PA Digitale’s preservation software solution is developed with the latest innovative technology, including callas pdfaPilot libraries for PDF/A document management. callas pdfaPilot allowed PA Digitale to design a software able to convert any document (generated from any management software on the market) to always-valid future-proof PDF/A documents, ready for the digital preservation process.
“The particular methodologies and technologies used to design and realize our systems also allow us to perform maintenance activities, software updates, etc… without any service interruptions. These features, combined with the web based access mode optimized for mobile devices, allow us to ensure access to the system in any place at any time.”
Explains Fabrizio Toninelli, Administrator at PA Digitale.
This was achieved by replacing the analog model with the digital one and by changing the management processes with the digital preservation objective in mind. Thanks to the callas software solution PA Digitale drives its customers in the right direction.
The callas pdfToolbox Server, isn’t that the workflow package that is especially suitable for larger companies? “Could be,” says Ronald van der Meer of Pim Print in Roelofarendsveen, “but we control our production with this software and we are very happy with it.”
Pim Print’s current premises, a former bulbshed, are bursting at the seams. Expansion on a recently purchased building plot nearby is in the pipeline. The company’s founder, Pim van der Meer, started his company in 1982. Ronald van der Meer - no relation - joined the company in 1997, and he became its co-owner in 2012. “The biggest change was without a doubt the digitization of our production and the arrival of a number of SRA3 volume printers and two wide format inkjet plotters. We took our most important decision four years ago by putting our money on web-based selling”, says Ronald.
Pim Print employs seven people. Some of them work on optimizing the company’s five webshops so that the company and, more importantly, its products are easier to find. Others are working on further streamlining of the workflow.
“Of course, our webshops are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We process hundreds of jobs each day, with all their associated administrative tasks. This is only possible with strict automation.” Ronald, a veteran in the printing trade, was trained at the Graphic Lyceum Rotterdam. “The graphic trade cannot do without IT. Fortunately, I am fascinated by these possibilities. When we found that web-based sales were increasing, we started searching for software that could relieve the prepress by automating the checking procedures. That is when we discovered callas pdfToolbox Server. Wifac, our local reseller, supplies us with the consumables and they understand automation, workflow and printers. If we have really in-depth questions, we can always count on Wifac for advice and support. This is essential when you run a 24/7 company. callas builds highly flexible tools, allowing for a wide deployment of the package. Of course, we had to enter our products and profiles in the database ourselves. This was a tough job, and we worked hard on it from early November to late December. Since January of this year, our production runs entirely on callas pdfToolbox. Because of this, we have minimized our margin of error. If you place a job order today, you will receive it the following day. Guaranteed.”
How does it work? A customer places an order via the web. When he sends us the confirmation, the customer attaches the job in the form of a document. “callas pdfToolbox Server provides the preflight, and our Content Management System generates and sends an invoice to the customer by return. The customer settles the invoice immediately, for example via iDeal. No humans are involved in this process. The callas software checks - and, if necessary, corrects - the job on bleed, inserts cutting marks, provides smoothing, calculates the correct color space and places a barcode, so that after printing, the job cutting or print finishing can take place without manual adjustments.” This reduces the workload and brings peace into the organization.
callas pdfToolbox Server is based on the Adobe PDF Library and includes advanced color management functions and on-board imposition. It takes the workflow to the next level with the use of hotfolders. Processing thousands of files is done without supervision or with minimal visual inspection by an operator. A command line version and a full SDK for developers are available.
“In order to have a fully functioning automated workflow you need to invest in knowledge and time. You are on the right track when you can let the software perform all kinds of repetitive tasks. Many printers are still burdening themselves with the idea that the press or printer should be the centre of the production. But not in our case. Automated production has the most pivotal role to play. This is what creates peace.”
Pim Print had a terrific first month and also February 2014 is looking fabulous. “Customers who want to have printing done, always search on the web for the cheapest option first and then choose the easiest solution.” Customers will find that there is more than just flyers. Posters, banners, magazines, stickers - there are many possibilities.
“A real runner is our man-size print. We pondered over how we could offer this product for a reasonable price, including postage. This applies to all products. You don’t start thinking about how to make something when you have already sold it. It all should be strictly arranged in advance. That way you can offer an attractive price with fast delivery times, and still earn from it.“
Ronald van der Meer is not finished yet. “The goal is to take on more projects with the existing team. The focus lies on further tightening of the workflow and even better findability of our sites. Moreover, we are going to work with affiliate networks, third-party websites that promote our work, for which they get paid. It seems simple, but this too should be carefully arranged. In addition, we will delve deeper into the possibilities of callas pdfToolbox Server. I think there are a lot more tools in that box that we can take advantage of.”
With the rising amount of new publication channels on the market, publishers not only need to publish content but also manage it. This has lead to a significant growth in the demand for content management solutions over the past years. Additionally publishers are more frequently looking for self-service environments to reduce the in-house cost of supporting their clients. This explains the success of the solution Penthion brought to the market, a self-service solution for the entire publishing process that provides complete and integrated automation using callas pdfToolbox Server for certifying their PDFs.
In June 2012, Penthion started evaluating callas pdfToolbox; the main reason was their involvement in a pilot project for a big customer who had a strong preference for the callas software solution. Based on their evaluation of the technology and their experience with the callas organization itself, they decided to not only use pdfToolbox for this one project but forge a closer business relationship with callas software. “We decided to replace our own PDF checker with callas pdfToolbox as this is a more economical solution for us. It also provides us with new features, improved efficiency, updates and better technical support” explains Mr. Tjepkema, Owner and Managing Director of Penthion Media Technologies. The first integrated solution went into production at the beginning of 2013.
callas pdfToolbox Server was integrated into Penthion’s online Ad|Portal delivery platform. The Ad|Portal upload module is their digital gatekeeper for publishers. Using the Ad|Portal advertisers can upload PDF files, which will be checked and - if possible - fixed instantly and converted into certified PDF files using the integrated callas technology. callas pdfToolbox Server does it all in the background: automated high quality preflighting and reliable automatic correction of PDF files. It speeds up job turn around times and significantly reduces error rates. Jan-Peter Tjepkema continues: “Uploading ads has never been more simple than with using the Ad|Portal. It also supports the workflow of the publisher and sends automatically generated emails to advertisers. It manages deadlines and will act according to these. With the integrated pdfToolbox Server, the Ad|Portal supports the upload of print and/or online material. And of course we can handle ready-made material or material ready for setting.”
The use of the Ad|Portal gives the publisher more time to spend on sales instead of tedious material handling. The pro-active approach of the Ad|Portal always means that both publisher and advertiser are in control.
“Our main challenge remains convincing publishers that there is a market out there and that there is still plenty of money to be spent and earned”, concludes Jan-Peter Tjepkema. “We are constantly striving for building sustainable solutions with our customers and our biggest opportunity is providing a pay-per-use business model. In this model we earn money when the publisher earns money without any major initial investment. It's in fact a turnkey solution.”
callas pdfToolbox Server automates and standardizes the process of file delivery and reception. For print, publishing, advertising, packaging and design companies, it offers the most comprehensive solution for automated high quality preflighting and reliable automatic correction of PDF files through the use of hot folders. Fully multi-processor aware, callas pdfToolbox Server easily scales with their customer’s needs and built on the Adobe PDF Library it provides rock-solid processing. A command-line version and full developer SDK are available when it’s necessary to provide closer integration. From the developers of Adobe® Acrobat®’s Preflight technology, pdfToolbox Server offers comprehensive, yet easy to use:
The optional DeviceLink set provides easy repurposing of files for different printing conditions.
Since more than 15 years Penthion Media Technologies operates as an A-Z supplier of automation solutions for both magazine and newspaper publishers. They offer a complete and integrated automation solution for the entire publishing process. Penthion works daily on optimizing and professionalizing automation processes. They do this by listening carefully to the needs of their customers and by closely following the developments in the market. Their solutions are user-friendly, scalable, time and cost saving. Penthion is the exclusive supplier of all products from the Finnish company Oy Anygraaf in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Penthion is privately owned and located in Assen, The Netherlands. For more information, visit the website: www.penthion.nl.
callas software finds simple ways to handle complex PDF challenges. As a technology innovator, callas software develops and markets PDF technology for publishing, print production, document exchange and document archiving. callas software helps agencies, publishing companies and printers to meet the challenges they face by providing software to preflight, correct and repurpose PDF files for print production and electronic publishing. Businesses and government agencies all over the world rely on callas software’s future-proof, fully PDF/A compliant archiving products. In addition, callas software technology is available as a programming library (SDK) for developers with a need for PDF optimization, validation and correction. Software vendors such as Adobe®, Quark®, Xerox®, Hewlett Packard® and many others have recognized the quality and flexibility provided by these callas tools and have incorporated them into their solutions. callas software actively supports international standards and has been participating in ISO, CIP4, the European Color Initiative (ECI), Ghent PDF Workgroup, FOGRA, AIIM and BITKOM. In addition, callas software is a founding member of the PDF Association and in October 2010, Olaf Drümmer became its chairman. callas software is based in Berlin, Germany. For more information, visit the callas software website at: http://www.callassoftware.com.
Established in 1988, Envision is one of the largest Danish advertising agencies. Spread over two facilities in Aarhus and Copenhagen, the company employs approximately 120 people. Being a full service advertising agency, they cover all aspects of the communication process, from concepts and strategies, to media planning and execution. To support the creative department, the company also has its own in-house production unit.
The production of a weekly promotional flyer for Danish Supermarket, one of Envisions biggest customers, triggered the idea to look for an automated image enhancement solution. With an average of 110 pages, and approximately 10 images per page, or roughly 55.000 images per year, the need for automatic image enhancement became a necessity. Chris Mikkelsen, premediachef at Envision explains: “With 16
photographers working for the company, we receive a lot of images that need to be processed and enhanced. Before using Claro Premedia, all image adjustments were done manually, and getting a good quality was very time consuming. You can imagine the very high pressure on the shoulders of our 4 image designers. So it was quite obvious we had to do something to lighten the workload and improve efficiency at the same time.”
By using Claro, the average image quality improved dramatically, especially sharpness is a lot better than what you get in Photoshop®. Our image designers love Claro.
When looking for a suitable solution, Envision came in touch with Thomas Holm from Pixl. As a well known Danish color management consultant, he advised Envision taking a closer look at Claro. A demo version of the software was installed. Chris Mikkelsen: “At first, Claro did not fit the bill perfectly. Internally, we only work with TIFF images, but processing TIFF images with LZW compression was initially not possible. So, we made a temporary workaround converting images using a Switch solution. But with too many intermediate steps, the solution was not fast enough for the high number of images we wanted to process.” When a new version, supporting TIFF images with LZW compression, was presented at drupa 2008, Chris was given the green light by the management to go ahead with Claro Premedia.
When correcting images manually, forgetting to apply a necessary enhancement like sharpness can happen to even the most experienced image designer, not Claro. Corrections are always performed to the same standard, over and over again. Standards you can configure and change depending on the output requirements. Chris Mikkelsen comments: “Claro is a wonderful application: it’s like getting a second
opinion on every image. For now, our image designers still check every image after it was corrected by Claro using Elpical Claro Inspector for Photoshop®. The side-by-side viewing of original and processed versions of an image, also gives less experienced image designers the ability to learn from it. What’s more, even if you don’t entirely approve the suggested enhancement, it’s always a good basis to work from.”
After having worked with Claro Premedia for almost a year now, Envision is not only very pleased with the solution, but also the cooperation with Elpical has been excellent.
Thanks to Claro, we deliver a better quality, and handle more images in the same amount of time, without having to invest in extra manpower.
Chris Mikkelsen concludes: “By using Claro, the average image quality improved dramatically, especially sharpness is a lot better than what you get in Photoshop®. Our image designers love Claro, because now, they can spend more time enhancing delicate fashion images, while the rest of the images are adjusted automatically. Thanks to Claro, we deliver a better quality, and handle more images in the same amount of time, without having to invest in extra manpower.”
Elpical Software, an international company with offices in The Netherlands and Germany, develops and markets software solutions for automating image production, manipulation and optimization as well as image workflow processes in general, based on extensive image analysis technology. Elpical, established in 1997 by a management buy-out of the Electronic Imaging department of Victor Hasselblad AB, is a leading specialist in digital image enhancement and management.
Elpical‘s key products include Claro Premedia, Claro Single, Claro Layout, 4LeafClover and EmailManager. Elpical is an ideal partner for software suppliers and integrators who want to integrate Elpical technology into their own applications, Elpical has concluded an OEM agreement with, among others, OCÉ© for the enhancement of embedded images inside PDF documents.
Showpad enables companies to turn their tablets into sales and presentation tools. It allows controlled distribution of content that is always up-to-date, follows company-branding rules and provides in-depth usage feedback. The platform provides a win-win for sales reps, sales and marketing managers and customers.
The majority of the content being uploaded to the Showpad platform consists of PDF documents. To use those in the most optimal way on tablets, they need to be properly optimized and Showpad was struggling to convert those PDF documents that didn’t fully comply with their exact PDF standards. That’s when callas pdfToolbox came into the picture. Peter Minne, Co-Founder & CTO at Showpad: “We needed a solution that would increase the number of files we could optimize, allow extensive tweaking of the optimization process, return feedback on possible PDF issues, and offer better performance.”
Showpad runs a cloud-based Online Platform as a central clearing house to upload content and administer their solution. The pdfToolbox engine from callas can easily be integrated into such an environment using the CLI (Command-Line Interface). It provides a full range of functionality to optimize PDF documents: quality control, fixing potential problems, creating preview images, impositioning… And it runs on all major platforms including Mac, Windows and a number of Linux and Unix flavors. Peter Minne continues: “We installed the pdfToolbox CLI early in 2013; the fact that it supports Linux was a real benefit to us, allowing us to stick with the operating system we are most familiar with”.
If necessary pdfToolbox CLI can easily be moved between platforms, as installation and usage are fully platform independent. On top of that it can scale with an online platform, supporting load balancing in environments where volumes are high or response times are critical and can be installed on owned servers or virtual servers at companies such as Amazon. All the while pdfToolbox is built on industry-standard Adobe PDF Library technology and provides the same robust quality control capabilities as found in Adobe Acrobat itself (the preflight plug-in for Adobe Acrobat Pro is developed by callas).
“An additional important benefit,” explains Peter Minne, “is that most of the work in testing and further development of the advanced optimizations for PDF documents can be done on our desktop machines. We simply create configurations using pdfToolbox Desktop and send them to the server when we’re convinced they will do the job. Very convenient.”
These remote configuration and administration capabilities of pdfToolbox Desktop were one of the most important features when pdfToolbox 6 was released. They allow pdfToolbox Desktop on Mac and Windows to act as remote client to a pdfToolbox Server or CLI running anywhere on the network. In a cloud-based environment they can overcome the need to perform all testing and configuration tasks on the server machine itself, often resulting in significant time gains.
Expanding development horizons on a wide range of supported platforms, the well thought-out commands, easy installation and comprehensive documentation make it a breeze to get started developing with callas pdfToolbox CLI for all levels of developers.
Customers can rapidly integrate the very highly performing, industry-standard PDF preflight and correction tools into any type of solution from truly versatile web applications to submission platforms. pdfToolbox CLI provides the thorough and comprehensive processing required to complete any solution, meaning the sky’s the limit as to what needs to be built.
From web applications running on UNIX based platforms to file submission systems using the latest PDF/X standards; from enterprise level document management systems to any other kind of PDF workflow - whatever the requirements, callas pdfToolbox CLI provides stable and proven PDF technology.
Showpad is a Mobile Sales Enablement application aimed at drastically improving the sales effectiveness of any enterprise with a sales team. Their technology enables businesses to create and manage a tailored sales and presentation app, distribute content to tablets and get insights in user activity and content usage. With the Showpad App, sales reps can easily present and share content, gather contact data and collaborate with co-workers. Showpad is a privately owned company established in 2011. Headquarter in Ghent, Belgium with offices in Germany and the United States.
Soar Printing, an Auckland based company that was founded back in 1920 as a family busi-ness, is considered to be at the forefront of the printing industry in New Zealand. Soar Print-ing now employs over 70 people and they offer an extensive range of services, from short run digital printing to long run offset printing and large format poster prints. Within their specific industry segments, the Soar divisions are market leaders utilizing the latest technology to de-liver the best possible result. They are constantly evaluating and adapting new technologies that will add extra value for their clients. This is especially true with their commitment to en-vironmental issues and the ongoing policy of sourcing the most environmentally friendly pro-cesses and products.
“The printing industry has changed radically since we started out but one thing has remained the same – behind every single job is a customer who wants it done right. Soar Printing under-stands this. It is the heart of our culture. It guides our investment in new technologies and it helps us to continually evolve our business. We need to grow with our customers’ business and be aware of the trends and opportunities they are facing globally. From the smallest print job to the most complex, we want our customers to have the utmost confidence in our company” Fred Soar – Managing Director Soar Printing.
Soar Printing mainly focuses on printing for commercial business such as marketing material, business forms, Point of Sale display items and packaging. They can count brand names like Nestlé, Estéé Lauder, ASB Bank, Telecom New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Sky City Casino amongst their clients.
“We’ve noticed a big change in the printing industry over the past few years” says Fred Soar.“Print runs are getting shorter, and printing has been substituted by other means of mar-keting communications such as social media and online marketing. We at Soar Printing try to adapt to these new trends by making sure we can offer reduced setup costs, taking care of short-er runs and offer more RIP print services”
Anticipating this new trend in the printing industry and entering a new market, Soar Printing wanted to offer a WEB2PRINT solution for people who know how to use Adobe products and how to create print ready PDFs. Soar Printing was looking for a way to provide instant quot-ing and instant preflighting to people and at the same time remove the cost of quoting, pre-flighting and job creation.
With callas software the first WEB2PRINT model has been setup as an independent store-front, targeting new customers throughout New Zealand.
The ease of setting up preflighting with callas software offers them to further streamline the preflighting process internally. So it is not only an online tool, but also an application used in-house. And all this can be done with only one pdfToolbox Server.
The geographical distance between Soar Printing and callas software did not cause any issues. “The fact that callas software is situated in Europe and we in New Zealand created no problems at all. The model was developed over 6 months. Early problems were quickly lined out and some-times the time difference made it easier because the problems were solved over night. It was an interesting way to work.”
PDF2PRINT is a print upload portal build with callas pdfToolbox that allows preflighting and correction. It is an affordable and fast way to do easy print jobs without sacrificing quality. PDF2PRINT uses the newest digital and offset machines for highest standard. In order to offer amazingly low prices, Soar Print has kept a standard range of products that can be ordered through PDF2PRINT which include business cards, flyers, postcards, brochures and posters.
What happens in the background, when a customer orders through the PDF2PRINT button? The file appears on Soar printing’s server with the order and the price that was ordered at. This file is then automatically transferred into a job ticket in the reminder system. Once this is done, the production can be started. In the background, calculations are running to work out where the break is between digital and offset printing for each product and price accordingly.
Depending on those calculations, the order is printed either on an HP Indigo 5500 digital printing press or on a Heidelberg Anicolor press.
The callas software was installed about a year ago and was launched earlier this year. Soar Printing started a marketing campaign, which includes online marketing and direct market-ing, to attract new businesses. So far, there has been a lot of traffic on the website, a lot of visi-tors, a lot of sightseeing and orders are coming in.
In the future, Soar Printing is looking to expand their web to print products. Their next in-vestment will be more business-to-consumer oriented, offering online design options to ena-ble customers to do both design and order online.
“My web developers and me had a look at a few products but we felt that callas software fitted the bill best” , states Fred Soar. “It’s quite easy to use and it gave us what we want. What really stood out was the ability to set your own preflight parameters to your own work environment and the option to provide error messaging as well as other options for auto fix” he concludes.
Founded in 1958, London based F.E.Burman Limited is a well known supplier of high quality short run printing and digital media services. However, for numerous British publishing houses, F.E.Burman is also a synonym for rock solid web-based production tools. The company supports its customers in a variety of print and data handling tasks including magazine production, handling advertising mate-rial, and commercial print and mailing services. Clients include publishing houses such as Condé Nast Publications, The Guardian Newspaper Group, the British Medical Journal and The Economist.
Before investing in pdfToolbox, F.E. Burman already gained some experience with pdfInspektor (a callas PDF preflight solution, now integrated in pdfToolbox). They used it to check incoming PDF files in Auditor, an in-house developed web-based tool for publishers. Auditor centralizes the final stages of checking and distributing PDF files, allowing publishers to manage their publications more effectively. Andy Psarianos, F.E.Burman director in charge of development comments: “With Auditor, it takes editors only a few seconds to check complex PDF files. Running in the background, pdfToolbox checks every single PDF file, and depending on the type of application, some basic things like hair-lines, spot colors and transparency are fixed automatically. Files that aren’t suitable for printing are immediately identified, and detailed reports help editors and employees to quickly identify and solve eventual problems. Before, our prepress employees often had to open defective files manually, find the problem, and then attempt to correct it. These time-consuming procedures and costly problems definitely belong to the past. To put it bluntly, it’s the most accurate preflight engine we ever worked with.”
When F.E. Burman started to develop web-to-print solutions for their customers, the in-house development team quickly realized that tasks such as PDF creation, PDF checking, online proofing, color management and imposition, had to be fully automated in order to flawlessly and timely process the vast variety of incoming files. Andy Psarianos explains: “Creating a good-looking and user friendly front-end is one thing, but making sure that the back-end is capable of processing all the incoming files is another. Let me give you an example: For Savills, a global real estate service provider with more than 80 offices worldwide, we created more than 200 different templates to choose from. Things like layout, imposition and paper are different for most templates, so manual intervention is no option. We knew callas had a solution that fit our requirements, but we had to see it with our own eyes. After some extensive testing, and comparison with other solutions, pdfToolbox was unanimously elected as the winner. Our previous experience with pdfInspektor, and the fact that these products are very accurate and extremely easy to integrate played an important role in our decision.”
F.E.Burman Reception Desk Installation and implementation was very fast. In just a matter of days, the in-house development team was able to automate the complete web-to-print back-end process. They no longer have to worry about selecting the appropriate print queue or imposition scheme, and thanks to the intuitive user-interface, creating a new or modifying an existing workflow is like a walk in the park.
Andy Psarianos Andy Psarianos concludes: “pdfToolbox allows us to build some very powerful and sophisticated products. It’s like putting a Formula 1 engine in our web-based products. We have processed literally hundreds of thousands PDF files through the software, and I honestly can’t recall of one instance where we ever had to question the accuracy of the system. The quality of the imposition and preflight engine is outstanding and the software is extremely user friendly with clear instructions on how to use it. Implementation by our in-house development team was therefore very easy, fast and successful. Thanks to the increased speed, repeatability and accuracy brought in by pdfToolbox, we help our clients work faster and more effectively. And in the end, isn’t that the real purpose of any solution or business.”
Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG wanted to achieve greater transparency, uniformity, security, and compliance in its document storage. With its decision to use consistent electronic long-term archiving in PDF/A, the company is very much following the current trend. Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG was looking for a flexible, powerful, and stable solution. Today, pdfaPilot from callas software, provider of powerful PDF technologies for publishing, print production, and document archiving, is used for the fully automatic conversion to PDF/A of the 30,000 or so order-related documents that arise each year. Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG will therefore be able to give up its physical archive and benefit from the advantages of long-term, uniform, digital storage.
Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG is a subsidiary of Stuttgart-based Daimler AG. As a sales and marketing company with around 400 employees, the company is involved with the registered brands for passenger cars Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and ‘smart’ and the Mercedes-Benz and FUSO brands for commercial vehicles. For the many documents produced during order processing for vehicle fleet business with suppliers and dealers the company used a document management system in conjunction with its system for order processing, but this did not include an archiving function that enabled documents to be stored electronically in compliance with legal regulations. Instead, the scanned documents were saved in image format and the original documents archived on paper. This resulted in duplicate data retention and a large amount of space required for the physical archive.
In October 2011, when Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG decided to replace the order processing software, one requirement was that the documents should only be archived electronically. It was clear that the company should use PDF/A, the most suitable format for long-term archiving, in order to meet legal requirements. The search began for a suitable product to put this into practice. “We wanted to offer users the most flexible solution possible. We also needed the conversion to PDF/A happen in the background within the application. We were therefore looking for a stable solution to convert image formats and MS Office documents to PDF/A,” explains Fabrizio Tuena, IT - Business Consultancy & Service Management at Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG.
The analysis of the market resulted in comprehensive tests on three products that made the shortlist – one of which was pdfaPilot from callas. “We were particularly looking for reliable, compliant conversion to PDF/A format and good performance,” says Fabrizio Tuena. “And of the three tools we tested, pdfaPilot turned out to be the most reliable.” The company chose the pdfaPilot Software Development Kit, the programming library that can be integrated easily and flexibly. During subsequent implementation, various questions relating to installation in a multithreading environment were quickly clarified. Tuena states: “The collaboration with callas was competent and very fast, from sales consulting and implementation right through to support for the ongoing project.”
Document-intensive processes are common at Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG: The company uses them to commission its suppliers to alter vehicles to meet customer requirements – e.g. including interior fittings for commercial purposes or labeling them accordingly. Dealers then take on final tasks such as handover including registration of the vehicle with the authorities. All order-related documents such as the contract, orders for bodies, delivery documents etc. are scanned and uploaded to the new order processing software. There, pdfaPilot converts all documents to PDF/A, thus making them ready for long-term archiving.
The documents are then given a digital signature to meet the legal requirements regarding proof of immutability. Finally, the documents are archived in a document management system from OpenText.
The project has been concluded in February 2013, and Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG is very satisfied with the results. “Because conversion is fully automatic, no manual intervention is required. In addition, pdfaPilot is a flexible solution that permits a wide variety of scan formats,” concludes Fabrizio Tuena.
Entry-level PDF/A support, standalone, inside Acrobat or fully automated as Server version
For businesses and government agencies, archives and libraries, that store and long-term maintain documents, callas pdfaPilot is the professional desktop tool to validate and/or create PDF/A-files. It turns all kinds of PDFs into ISO 19005-1 conform PDF/A documents:
With pdfaPilot it is a snap to check whether your documents comply with the PDF/A standard. And if they don’t, callas pdfaPilot contains a wealth of tools to bring them in line. Working as a plug-in inside Adobe Acrobat or as a fast standalone application, callas pdfaPilot offers the broadest PDF/A support on the market in the easiest package. callas pdfaPilot works on single documents or – using its batch functionality – on complete folders at a time.
To process higher volumes of files or to free up operators by hands-off automation, callas pdfaPilot Server provides just that. The hot folder interface lets you setup different watched folders that automatically pick up files and process them. The engine inside callas pdfaPilot is fully multiprocessor aware so it takes advantage of all of the speed available in your server. Additionally callas pdfaPilot Server has load distribution capabilities to enhance performance by using multiple servers. Both the Desktop and Server version run on Mac and Windows. A command-line interface and a full developer SDK are available when closer integration or more fine-grained control is of the essence. With their additional availability on many Unix flavors, the CLI and SDK allow painless integration in a wide range of operating environments. Other supported platforms are Sun Solaris and IBM AIX.
The Rosendahls group is a company with a rich tradition and roots going back to 1902. Located in Copenhagen, Odense and Esbjerg, it has offered a comprehensive range of services in the areas of communication, publishing, warehousing and distribution for more than a century. Rosendahls is on top of new developments and continues to be a technology front-runner to support its customers. As many of those customers traditionally come from public administration organizations, Denmark’s embracing of the ISO PDF/A standard had a direct impact on Rosendahls.
PDF/A, the ISO standard for PDF files to be stored in long-term archives, has been steadily increasing in importance, especially for use by governments and public administrations. In April 2011, the Danish Ministry for Economics, Innovation, and Education decided to require accessible PDF/A documents as the compulsory format for all public sector documents. As a full-service provider, it was important for Rosendahls to be able to convert existing documents to PDF/A and check compliancy with the ISO standard when needed.
The standardisation by the Danish government on PDF/A didn’t take Rosendahls by surprise. While HTML was still the required format for agencies, Rosendahls already saw the European trend towards PDF/A. It started looking for a solution to support this upcoming standard early; the corresponding market research culminated in a visit to the 4th international PDF/A conference in Rome in the fall of 2010. The conference provided a wealth of information and access to experts from the different technology vendors with PDF/A technology.
“This is when we decided to use pdfaPilot by callas software”, Jens Bjerre Kirkegaard, Document Accessibility Specialist at Rosendahls, recalls. “Our requirements for creating valid PDF/A files were best met by pdfaPilot, which also offered convincing reliability and an easy-to-use intuitive operation”. Rosendahls faced additional challenges because it had to be able to provide accessible PDF/A files, which requires support for the technically ‘more challenging’ parts of the PDF/A standard known as PDF/A-1a, but pdfaPilot easily meets those challenges. “On top of that,” continues Jens Bjerre, “callas pdfaPilot offers a range of additional features such as splitting PDF documents or creating hand-outs for example and those come in very handy in our daily use”.
callas pdfaPilot is ideal for the demanding workflow at Rosendahls because it supports direct conversion to PDF/A from a wide range of formats such as Microsoft Office, Open Office, Postscript and a variety of image files. It is built using the same technology licensed by Adobe for Adobe Acrobat and provides seamless scaling for large-volume environments. The fact that so much of the work can be automated gives Rosendahls additional time for the manual steps required for accessible conversion.
For the media services provider who often receives individual documents from many different sources – which creates very different requirements opposed to high volumes that always have the same structure – the ability to automatically convert to and validate PDF/A is particularly important. “We convert either to PDF/A-1a or PDF/A-2a“, Kirkegaard explains, “We usually have to process Word, InDesign, or PDF documents, and callas pdfaPilot automatically resolves many stumbling blocks for us. E.g. it checks for and removes unnecessary metadata, marks or corrects incorrect color spaces or embeds fonts retroactively”.
The fact that the pdfaPilot can ‘repair’ problematic documents or – if this is impossible – recreates them completely from scratch, saves Rosendahls a lot of time and work. But there is still a lot to do for the accessibility specialist Jens Bjerre Kirkegaard: “Provisioning of accessible documents is a demanding and often finicky task which requires a lot of know-how and a few manual steps”, he explains. It is impossible to setup a completely automated workflow, especially when receiving diverse and often-problematic native document formats. But here as well pdfaPilot comes to the rescue by providing manual editing of metadata, colors, images and many other PDF properties.
For challenges surrounding PDF/A and accessible documents Jens Kirkegaard benefits from the fast and competent support of the callas distribution partner Actino Software. “Media service providers such as Rosendahls are often confronted with the fact that customers want their heterogeneous documents provided as PDF/A files but they have no idea how complex the required work really is”, Actino director Michael Karbe explains.
Since the installation of the first version, Actino has been supporting their customer Rosendahls reliably and has worked closely with callas software to resolve any questions or problems that arose during the project. callas software integrated all improvements into further development of pdfaPilot. “The continued development of the PDF/A standard also requires adjustments to the PDF/A toolsets”, Dietrich von Seggern, Business Development Manager at callas software explains. “We are highly dedicated to this area and thanks to constant updates to pdfaPilot, we can ensure comprehensive implementation of all requirements and therefore provide optimal conformity.“
Rosendahls recently migrated to the latest version of pdfaPilot: version 3.0. This version allows embedding documents inside a PDF/A file and implements support for the PDF/A-3 standard. This allows Rosendahls to embed all documents belonging to a certain project or file inside their accessible PDF/A documents. And whenever they want to take advantage of PDF/A-3, the solution is ready for them.
Accessibility and creating accessible PDF files is a topic that really drives callas software and its sister company axaio software. The InDesign plug-in MadeToTag was created by axaio software to simplify and speed-up preparation of Adobe InDesign documents before they are converted into accessible PDF/A files.
Jens Kirkegaard explains its importance: “Accessible PDF files require a clear structure and this is accomplished by adding tags to the PDF. These tags provide additional information about the structure and order of text, provide alternative text to clarify what embedded graphics represent and can discriminate between real content and design elements. These tags are essential for good accessible documents.”
Using axaio MadeToTag, which is now in public beta, it becomes much easier to quickly and reliably add those tags to InDesign documents. Once the document is then converted to PDF, it becomes a high-quality accessible PDF/A document.
“The effort involved in converting agency documents to barrier free PDF/A documents depends on the complexity of the layout. Sometimes one simply reaches the limits of the cost-benefit ratio. For my work, it is a considerable relief to know that a lot of the steps which previously had to be completed by hand are now done by callas pdfaPilot”, Kirkegaard explains.
The PDF/A trend is really taking off in Denmark, so Rosendahls is expecting a major increase in its future order volume. Thanks to callas pdfaPilot and the service from Actino Software, they are already well prepared and equipped for it.
When legislation and practice converge, complying with the regulations is simpler. That’s been the case with the deeds that firms deposit with the Chambers of Commerce Companies’ Register - computer documents that from this year on have to be produced in PDF/A format. Infocamere carries out systematic compliance checks on them using procedures from callas software’s pdfaPilot application, which has been entrusted with the prompt validation of the files sent to the Register.
Michele Piva, Head of Marketing for the document area of the Italian Chambers of Commerce IT department: “We’re dealing with a standard that was already widely in use before the Ministerial Decree (of 10 December 2008 sanctioning its use) came into effect, exactly because it derives from the PDF which firms had been widely using for some time”.
Of the possible candidates for the long term archiving of electronic documents the PDF/A won out over XPS (XML Paper Specification), TIFF G4 and JPEG. “The PDF/A – Piva adds – was set as the standard ahead of the legislation. Infocamere has invested in it both for the necessity of making available documents that must keep their legal integrity and value over time — considering that the elimination of paper is a must in public administration — and because it considers that, as it is a reinforcement of the PDF, the shift over to it could be taken for granted”.
And the statistics are indeed showing this: whereas from the beginning of March to the middle of April already 47% of the deeds presented to the Companies’ Register were compliant with the new measures, the documents deposited in the following month and a half achieved a format validation of over 58%.
“Looking in particular at company constitution deeds, the most frequent type received in total by the Chambers of Commerce among the over 580,000 analyzed in the period under consideration (excluding the documents classified as ‘other deeds’) turns out to have been in PDF/A compatible format. And for a good 89 of the 105 Chambers the percentage of valid ones is over 80%. This is the proof that the adoption of the PDF/A is being generally and rapidly confirmed over the whole of Italy”.
According to the ISO 19005-1 standard, PDF/A offers a mechanism “for representing electronic documents in a manner that preserves their visual appearance over time, independent of the tools and systems used for the creation, memorization and rendering of the files”.
In other words, the PDF/A files are self-contained and, since they incorporate the information (content, colour, image, text and so on) necessary to display the document, they do not require any additional data for its correct visualization. However, exactly on account of this property, the format must exclude determined functions allowed in normal PDF files such as transparency and multimedia content, and cannot include macro-instructions or rely on links to external resources.
The validation check
“In order to facilitate the file production operations — continues Piva — we have also chosen the blandest compliance to the standard – which corresponds to the sub-category PDF/A-1b, for which no explicit logical structure is needed. Despite this we have noted that there are some recurring errors: on the one hand, the poor indexing and aggregation of the deeds attached to the form; on the other, the widespread habit of creating a copy of the document which then doesn’t have the original’s representation (and its metadata) and so loses its validity”.
As well as all this, the possibility of visualizing a document “in PDF/A form” is not in itself synonymous with standard compliance: “It happens — even with Adobe Reader 9, which provides this indication — a source of a widespread error. Thus the only way to ensure adherence to the standard is the validation control”.
To check this it is necessary to use products such as Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro or pdfaPilot from callas software. The alternative is the free service, accessible from the tools section of the WebTelemaco site, which employs the same pdfaPilot tool used by the Companies’ Register office and which enables the validation of any document whatsoever supplying the result online, complete with details of any non-conformities encountered.
Negative outcome — rejected form
“For our validation procedures — explains Piva — we have used the server version of pdfaPilot, which the application we’ve developed makes appropriate calls to, determining the correspondence to the PDF/A-1b specifics. A good number of the people we work with, from service professionals to notaries and accountants, get a great deal of benefit from the tool on WebTelemaco. And, once we’ve received the files, we regularly repeat the checks. If the outcome is negative, the form is rejected”.
“The management application was created over the space of three months from the approval of the Ministerial Decree and required an investment of around 30,000 Euro. An expense which has already been repaid by making available a standard that guarantees long term document validity and integrity: a guarantee of uniformity to a defined standard and, therefore, also of quality. Among the further benefits, apart from the return on image, is the improvement of cash flow, since compliance to the standard ensures that homogeneousness which is a key element for its subsequent conservation and concession — on payment — to distributors and information agencies who use it for commercial purposes”.