• Price When Reviewed: £599.95 plus VAT, £450 (upgrade)

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InProduction is a versatile preflight checking, fixing, colour separation, trapping and printing utility for PDFs created by Adobe Acrobat. It can detect most of the common PDF errors, fix some automatically and flag up and explain others so a human operator can solve them. Typical users will be pre-press bureaus and printers working with PDFs for professional printed output. They can use InProduction to check and fix PDFs arriving from their customers or in-house design studios. Production staff in a publishing office or design studio could also use the checking and fixing functions to ensure that only ‘clean’ PDFs are sent for print – so it’s disappointing that there’s no support for scripting ‘pipelines’ from hot folders. The InProduction package is supplied with a full copy of the latest Acrobat 4.05, including the Distiller program used to create PDFs. The plug-ins are loaded by the installer, and a new InProduction splash-screen shows on start-up. If you have an earlier copy of Acrobat 4.0x, you can save £100 and just buy the InProduction upgrade. InProduction has five main functions: Preflight, Separator, Trim/Bleed, Colour Converter and Adobe In-RIP Trapping. Preflight looks for potential problems in the open PDF, and prepares a report based on a profile you’ve called up for that type of job. Not everything that can be detected is a problem in every file, so the report can be set to ignore some things, and to report others as either a Note, Warning or Error. Adobe supplies some profiles, but you can modify these or save new ones. Some problems (such as unembedded fonts) can be fixed by selecting the Fix All button, others may need manual intervention using the other InProduction tools. Colour Converter is a colour-management tool that lets you convert RGB, CMYK and greyscale elements within a PDF into CMYK based your choice of ICC profile. A typical function would be converting Microsoft Office documents to printable CMYK or spot colours. Separator controls CMYK and spot colour separation channels. You can choose printer PPDs for printer-specific options, convert unwanted spot colours to CMYK or merge similar spot colours into one channel. A print menu gives much more control variables than the average printer driver. Trim/Bleed solves any confusion over crop and printers marks generated by the original layout program by removing them, taking the page down to its true size, and then adding new, consistent marks if needed. Art Box is new – the PDF equivalent of a clipping path in EPS. If a PDF with an Art Box is placed in a compatible layout program anything outside the Art Box is clipped away. In-RIP Trapping doesn’t do any trapping itself, but lets you set up a full set of instructions for a PostScript RIP with In-RIP Trapping and embed these into the PDF when you re-save. InProduction is a bit of a mixed blessing. The price means that only heavy-duty, PDF-using production and pre-press departments are likely to be interested. They’ll certainly find the automatic fixing after preflight very attractive, yet the lack of batch processing for this stage is a frustration.