• Price When Reviewed: 199

  • Pros: Utility for detecting and correcting expensive mistakes before submitting PDF documents. Now supports InDesign, QuarkXPress, Acrobat and OS X PDFs.

  • Cons: Relatively expensive, though some printers supply it free to customers. Can’t create new profiles or actions. Doesn’t support PDF 1.6.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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Instant PDF 3.0 is intended to ensure that PDF documents will output correctly in a professional production cycle. For print, its core function is to run pre-flight checks for items that cannot be printed (such as RGB colours, too-low resolutions, JavaScripts, and multimedia clips). For the Web, it looks for non-RGB colours and too-high resolutions.

When files pass the checks, it embeds a validation certificate into the PDF so subsequent receivers know that it’s good to go. The high-end Enfocus PitStop pre-flighter, as well as some pre-press systems from Agfa, Creo, and Fuji, can read the certificates.

The program can validate and convert PDFs into the print-specific PDF/X subsets, which have strict rules that exclude anything unprintable. These include PDF/X-1a (2004), PDF/X-3 and the even narrower ‘Ghent Workgroup’ PDF/X-Plus sets.
Where the earlier versions ran as plug-ins to Adobe Acrobat, Instant PDF 3 is a standalone application. It’s supplied with plug-ins for Adobe Acrobat 6, InDesign CS and QuarkXPress 6 to export Certified PDFs via Instant PDF. It adds a Certified PDF link to the PDF button on the Mac OS X print menu. Enfocus says it will add support for the new PDF 1.6 format soon.

Instant PDF 3.0 has a new user interface based on PDF queues, which are combinations of pre-flight checking lists and ‘actions’ such as automatic correction of some faults, file re-saving, viewing and optional automatic delivery of PDFs via email or FTP.

A comprehensive list of pre-flight profiles and actions is supplied so you can build your own queues, but a production house could supply new ones. Queue creation is easy, with a clear step-by-step icon workflow and live contextual explanations of every choice.

Instant PDF cannot create its own profiles and actions, but these can be created by Enfocus’ main pre-flight application, PitStop Professional.

Queues, profiles, and actions can be transferred on disk or via email, or you can post them on a Web site hosted by Enfocus (www.certifiedpdf.net). Extra queues are available from this site, too.

The most common reason for job failures or rejection is incorrectly created PDFs – Acrobat Distiller and other creators are notoriously user hostile. Instant PDF 3 helps prevent potential errors at source. It’s comprehensive, yet easy to use.

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