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Was told Export to PDF does not work

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David Wirch
Was told Export to PDF does not work
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:38:06 pm

Our IT person just told us that Export to PDF, with any settings or presets, does not work in InDesign. He said that it was only meant as a quick fix and that Adobe never meant it as a finished solution for making pdfs. He said that when one Exports a pdf, there is no guarantee that fonts or images will display correctly.

This of course shocked me and my officemates so we pressed him and said we had been making pdfs for years in this way without issue. He said that the Export function only works if the pdf will stay in your local workgroup and otherwise theres no guarantee the fonts and images will display correctly.

He then added that the only way to make sure a pdf will display correctly is to Export it to .eps and then distill that file in Adobe Distiller into a pdf. He said this is the case whether in a large workgroup with a font server and image servers, or at the home studio of a single designer on a single Mac.

How can any of this be true when Adobe invented the pdf format? How could the most visible way of creating a pdf from their flagship layout software be implemented as only a partially working feature? I realize that companies release software and rely on users to find bugs, but this seems like too big and basic of a feature to release unfinished. Also, if the reliable way to make a pdf is to export an .eps then distill as my IT man says, wouldn't Adobe have combined those steps into one reliable menu command? If anyone has insight into this issue, it would be appreciated.



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Tim Cole
Re: Was told Export to PDF does not work
on Jul 8, 2008 at 12:16:51 am

Your IT guy is about as mistaken as someone could be. Creating and EPS and then distilling it creates a much, much less intelligent PDF than what InDesign can do via its own native export function, and is now a rather archaic way of doing things.

InDesign actually uses Acrobat's own libraries to do its PDF export. Any problems with a PDF exported directly from InDesign will have much more to do with user error than with anything else.

InDesign's native PDF export enables the PDF to be optimized in a way that dumping out flattened PostScript to EPS does not. You lose many, many things (like color management, editability, etc.) when you produce a PostScript version of the file. Adobe recommends using the native export function and configuring the settings in a manner appropriate to your workflow.



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David Wirch
Re: Was told Export to PDF does not work
on Jul 8, 2008 at 5:06:21 pm

Thanks a lot for your insight. Now I'm looking for more specific detail so I can be prepared to refute these arguments against the Export function next time they arise. Can anyone suggest where to learn about how InDesign embeds fonts in exported pdfs and any potential pitfalls? I'm interested in what can happen when there are different font formats in the original layout (TrueType, OpenType, Type 1, etc.) and whether that affects whether the resulting pdf can be viewed on other platforms and other situations. I realize that fonts can either be embedded or not in a pdf at the creator's discretion. Basically: if I make a pdf via export on Mac at my big fancy printing company, who exactly in the world is not going to be able to view and print that pdf properly?



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Tim Cole
Re: Was told Export to PDF does not work
on Jul 9, 2008 at 4:16:54 am

Basically: if I make a pdf via export on Mac at my big fancy printing company, who exactly in the world is not going to be able to view and print that pdf properly?

The short version is that InDesign and Distiller do it the same way. The only issues of which I'm aware are a) CID encoded fonts, and b) a relatively obscure bug in an earlier version of InDesign where a the fonts in a placed PDF file might not make it into a PDF made of the parent document. There could also be issues with corrupt fonts or font conflicts on an OS level, but that's not an ID or Distiller problem.

CID encoding is used for non-ASCII character sets, and Distiller will use CID as well as ID's native export, so there's no difference there. No one using even a relatively recent version of Acrobat or Reader should ever have a problem seeing those fonts.

Problems would occur if you try to hand off a PDF with CID encoded fonts to an old or dodgy system that doesn't recognize CID encoding...which would be very bad form given that CID has been a part of the PDF spec for years, and years.

There should be no problems going Mac to Windows or vice versa using Acrobat and Reader.

If you (or your IT guy) have problem files that seem to defy what I've written above, we'd love to see them.



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Mike Moqu
Re: Was told Export to PDF does not work
on Oct 2, 2008 at 4:31:07 am

Guys,
one thing to take into consideration is that exporting eps files can resolve many issues, often easily overlooked by team when in a rush for deadline - such as transparency or font issues.
As EPS cannot handle many of the things that PDFs do that cause big press RIPs to 'misrepresent' the print we can avoid little errors by using eps from indesign and distilling with distiller.

I was put onto inExport from http://www.mymacmac.com recently for this as these days so many variations are coming through in our supplied indesign jobs (outsourced) - had to change to eps just to check over everything that extra time.

cheers

Mike m


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