Want Less Work, Better Quality and Lower Costs?
Buying printing these days is simple as well as complicated, depending on the area you're considering. Prepress has become simpler as the PDF/X-1a format is now the preferred standard for page files. Prepress price lists at printers are now just a few line items—long gone are the hundreds of items dealing with film. But, as we all know, just because it has become easier to buy prepress and submit PDFs doesn't mean that workflow problems don't exist.
InDesign has made significant inroads to become the front-end system of choice for two basic reasons: ease of creating PDFs and the inclusion of international symbols.
But with every new application there are new problems. One publisher recently noted that files created in the latest version of InDesign offered in Creative Suite 2 cannot be read with the version in Creative Suite. His freelance designer started using the newer version, and the rest of the staff couldn't edit his layouts.
Problems with new software releases can be detected in advance by asking your printer. Most publication printers immediately test all front-end software releases and can warn you of glitches.
Bob Wiemers, operations director, magazine division, Boy Scouts of America, suggests giving Acrobat Pro to editors instead of just Acrobat Reader. It allows them to correct type errors found at digital blueline stage, even on a PDF. "Why re-open the layout in design software and re-PDF for a simple folio change, typo or key code change?" asks Wiemers.
He also suggests that production managers learn AppleScript (or make friends with a scripter) and OS X 10.4's Automator. Many repetitive tasks in production can be automated. As an example, Wiemers says, "Automatically send an e-mail notifying the color specialist when a file is dropped into a 'Ready for Color OK' folder."
Wiemers cites another example: "I found a script that exported my Excel-built production schedule to iCal. I was able to quickly find the weekend and holiday conflicts, and then publish the schedule so the entire division could add it to their calendars."