Editing a Normalized PDF in Illustrator


Well-known member
Recently we had a situation where the customer lost their original AI files. For whatever reason, we no longer had them either. All that was available were ESKO Normalized pdf files. Out of desperation, they used the Normalized files to make edits in Illustrator. Ultimately we ran the job without issues. Obviously this is not a valid workflow. In your opinion, how dangerous was this?


Well-known member
Not very dangerous - we edit normalized in our workflow - if possible.
But this does allow only modest editing.


Well-known member
We use the Data Exchange plugin all the time to export Normalized pdfs for Esko. Forgive me esko_pdl, but I was unaware it also converts Normalized pdfs to editable AI files? I will have to give that a whirl in the morning.


Well-known member
It'd be quite dangerous.

We runned into trouble doing this because the normalized pdf carries Esko metadatas that can lead to misunderstandings.
My only advice is not to directly edit the normalized pdf but to copy-paste the graphics in a brand new AI file.

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
Someone using my name in vain (if not on-line)? Sorry, wasn't aware of this thread and nobody contacted me directly. ☹

To be very, very clear about this. Adobe Illustrator is not, repeat is not, repeat yet again is not a general purpose PDF file editor, regardless of whatever high-priced plug-ins you buy. Simply stated, the Adobe Illustrator imaging model is a only a subset of the entire PDF imaging model and as such, there is quite a bit of PDF that Illustrator (and expensive third party plug-ins) simply have no capability of handling. One example, is that Illustrator cannot handle mixtures of color spaces. PDF files certainly can have multiple objects in multiple color spaces, i.e. CMYK, ICC color-managed RGB, LaB, etc. Opening such a PDF file in Illustrator results in everything being converted to some particular CMYK or RGB — in 99.99% of cases, you really want that. And there is nothing that any plug-in can do to get around that!!!

Note that these comments refer to PDF and especially PDF/X-4 files in particular. For better or worse, I have no idea whatsoever what a “normalized PDF for Esko” is. If it is a dumb-ass PDF 1.3 file in CMYK+spot only with no transparency and no overprint, maybe you can get away with murder by opening with Illustrator. 🙄

- Dov


Well-known member
As Dov and I stated - limited by your subset of tools and the issues to be resolved.
Your normalized PDF SHOULD have the color space issues worked out for your workflow and this SHOULD be a
non-issue when using Illustrator. (Dumb-ass PDF 1.3 aside)
We don't have an Esko workflow. We don't aspire to editing our 'normalized' PDF's in Illustrator.
The only time I can remember using Illustrator in this way was to repair a 'pattern' that borked and couldn't be edited in any other application.


Well-known member
To be clear, editing an ESKO normalized PDF is not our typical workflow-we were in a jam. I'm not sure why ESKO uses that format but even they are moving away from that clunky beast. Thanks for chiming in Dov.


Well-known member
Esko is moving from "normalized pdf" to "pdf+" - even this is their own.
Them pdfs are both filled up with metadata for Esko software - then nothing new.

From Esko documentations:
What is the difference between regular PDF, PDF+, and Normalized PDF
Both PDF+ and Normalized PDF are to a large extent regular PDF files that you can open and edit
in any other PDF editor or reader. However, PDF+ and Normalized PDF files also contain additional
information, available to any Normalized PDF or PDF+ compatible editor. Both file formats also
implement specific limitations and specifications.

source: https://docs.esko.com/docs/en-us/automationengine/21.03/userguide/pdf/AE_PDF_Formats.pdf


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