Price When Reviewed: £80 (base price)
PDF Creator 2.0 is a lower-cost alternative to Adobe’s Distiller, able to turn any file into a platform, browser and printer-independent PDF document through the print menu. It’s a descendent of 5D Systems’ Windows-only NikNak, and now supports Mac OS from the same installer. Last year 5D’s PostScript utilities were bought by UK RIP developer Harlequin, and set up as Jaws Systems.
Why would you need an alternative to Distiller? Money, basically. Acrobat Distiller gives you full control over PDF creation, such as choice of compression types, font handling, colour management and so on. However, Adobe only sells Distiller as part of the full Acrobat package, which costs £180. The main Acrobat application is worth having as it allows you to edit PDFs, add interactivity and alter the security options.
However, if money is tight or you work in a large organization that needs lots of Distillers but only a few Acrobat editors, then PDF Creator can save a bundle. It’s available in single, 10 and 25 user licences. PDFs from PDF creator can be read and printed with the
free Acrobat Reader – it’s on the Digit cover disc.
PDF Creator 2.0 can now output PDF 1.3 files, introduced with Adobe Acrobat 4, as well as PDF 1.2. Unfortunately for Jaws, Adobe’s new Acrobat 5 adds PDF 1.4, which PDF Creator 2.0 doesn’t support.
Not having PDF 1.4 is no real problem at present. It’s only really needed for Adobe’s PDF ebooks, for 128-bit encryption, or for PDFs that preserve Illustrator 9’s transparent layers. Illustrator 9 outputs PDF 1.4 directly, so has no need for an external PDF creator.
Less obviously, PDF Creator files are PostScript 3 compliant. PostScript Type 1 (including base 14), Type 3 logos and TrueType fonts can be embedded. Password security levels (editing, printing and so on) can be set with RSA RC4 security. Another addition to PDF Creator 2.0 is a macro for outputting directly from Word 97 or 2000 for Windows (not Mac). This appears in the File menu and gives you an extended set of Word-specific options such as creating links to tables of contents or footnotes, creating article threads from linked text boxes, or e-mailing a PDF after creation. Acrobat 5 also has Office-specific output, but without such comprehensive options.
PDF Creator 2.0 is installed as a new Print menu option for Windows, or as a LaserWriter item for Mac OS Chooser, which appears in Mac print menus. Unlike Distiller for Windows (but like Distiller for Mac), you can’t get into the PDF Creator settings from the print menu, so you have to go through the standalone Jaws to PDF application, which is equivalent to the standalone Distiller. This lets you select from the three pre-set configurations (Press Ready, Print Quality or Web), or to modify these or set up new configurations and save them. The configuration options are much the same as you get with Distiller, covering file type, compression/subsampling, font embedding, security and reporting. The print menu uses the currently selected configuration.
You can also drag groups of PostScript or EPS files onto the Jaws ToPDF icon on the desktop, and it will automatically batch-convert them.