Workflow on Parade
It didn't. As with all-digital workflow technology in general, awareness of PDF/X-1a's benefits is high, but industry-wide adoption remains years away. Still, devotees of all-digital workflows and the standards that drive them say adoption rates are climbing.
"Sixty to 70% of the files we've received this year are PDF/X-1a, compared to 30% last year," says Schneider of R.R. Donnelley. "We'll take any [digital] file format, but we're seeing more PDF/X-1a files at our Digital Solutions Centers."
Publishers are driving the change. After moving to an all-digital workflow, Clinicians Group, a Bloomfield, N.J., publisher of medical journals, asked advertisers to submit their content as PDF/X-1a files.
Company officials didn't hold their breath while waiting to see how the new requirement would be received. Instead, they proactively engaged advertisers, evangelizing the business benefits of PDF/X-1a, and helping them master the technology.
"We worked with [advertisers] to convince them you could manage and manipulate the files, and that we could maintain the quality," says John Caggaino, director of production for the company, which publishes Clinician Reviews, Women's Health Primary Care, and 10 other monthlies. "We've had good success with it."
A big factor in Clinicians Group's success: showing advertisers how PDF/X-1a speeds late changes. "We had an advertiser that wanted to change from one three-quarter page ad, to two junior pages, at the last minute," Caggaino says. "In the film world, that would take two or three days. All we had to do was have the art director reformat the materials, and show them to the advertiser. It saved the ad."
Demonstrations like that are key to gaining acceptance of digital workflow among publishers, printers, and advertisers alike, Caggaino says. "When you can show someone why you're asking them to change how they do things, you have a much better chance of getting them to go along," he says.