SAN FRANCISCO (08/29/2000) - The days of galley proofs and last-minute changes at the printer are gone forever in modern print publishing: the name of the game today is direct-to-press, which requires near perfect preparation of documents to ensure the printer won't have trouble generating output from your electronic files. Serious problems, such as a missing font, can render printed results unusable; even subtle errors, such as trap misregistration, can dramatically reduce final print quality. Adobe Systems Inc.'s InProduction 1.0 aims to give your prepress files a good once-over before you launch them to the Heidelberg.
InProduction is a set of five Acrobat 4 (included) plug-ins for preflight analysis, trim/bleed specification, color conversion, color separation, and in-RIP trapping. You start with the preflight tool, which analyzes your document using a set of predefined rules for the destination print device and reports problems so you can fix them. Preflighting catches leftover annotations, missing fonts, non-CMYK colors, margin overflow, and overprint density problems. A common problem when producing parallel online and print documents is having residual HTTP links in the print version; InProduction finds and eliminates them. Other problems require rerendering the PDF from original production files, after which you can rerun the preflight as a final check.
Once your document gets a clean bill of health, you're ready for the final touch-ups. InProduction's trim/bleed tool lets you specify trim and bleed boxes to ensure clean edges. The color converter changes any existing color system to CMYK; knobs and dials let you fine-tune colors using ICC color management.
If your page-layout program doesn't generate trapping, you can use InProduction's support for Adobe in-RIP trapping to automatically trap during the RIP process: you specify either pages or regions on a page where trapping is required, and the PostScript 3 destination device automatically computes the necessary trap offsets. InProduction's color separator tool generates CMYK separations and lets you preview them as overlays to check trapping, whether it's pregenerated or in-RIP.
Color Sep Preview InProduction lets you preview color separations as overlays so you can check color combinations to verify proper registration and trapping.
Because the tools are Acrobat plug-ins, they integrate well with an existing PDF production workflow. But although Adobe bills InProduction as a workflow-management tool, the application doesn't really manage workflow in the sense that graphic artists expect: it lacks tools for multiple users working on the same document in a production sequence. For example, there's no way to see at a glance what prepress changes have already been made to a document.
A log of operations performed on a file, and the ability to lock certain attributes to prevent inadvertent changes, would make the program more useful in a multiperson shop. But if you're a single user bringing postlayout files to print-ready condition, InProduction provides everything you need.
PROS:Excellent workflow automation; supports Adobe in-RIP trapping; color separation previews.
CONS:Lacks multiuser workflow management tools.
List Price: US$899
Advice:Everyone in direct-to-press production knows how even minor document glitches can gum up workflow. InProduction's preflight tools let you catch the most common workflow gremlins, and its support for registration marks, trim, and bleed boxing makes it the perfect final step before sending your work out for printing.