Online preflight and layout validation software service


We’re going to develop online preflight service for printing companies and I’m contacting people to understand problems their businesses have.

My assumption is that frequently users upload layouts for print in incorrect format (wrong canvas size, no bleeding offsets, low resolution images inside, RGB color space used, etc.) and printing companies have to spend some time to manually go through all uploaded files, find issues and ask customers to fix is. Which will lead to tons of emails, manual work and eventually will do pre-print and proofing process very complicated and resource consuming.

I’m just wondering if it would be interesting for your business to have an automatic layout checking system on your website. With such system you can automatically check layouts uploaded by users without wasting time on coordinating and sending emails and files from the printing house to customer and back.

User just need to upload the layout file during the ordering process, and our service will check it (and probably event fix some fixable problems for you if required).

With such tool you can automate checking of different print products like: business cards, flyers, posters, booklets, brochures, etc.

What exactly it will be possible to check in such service:
  1. The size of layout.
  2. Will find images with DPI that is low for Print.
  3. Will understand if bleeding requirements are satisfied.
  4. Will check if layout is in CMYK color space (and if required will convert it to it with correct color profile and provide you a thumbnail to show for your customer).
  5. Will remove “overprint” attribute where it’s necessary
  6. Will convert text to curves in PDF files (if font is embedded in the file).
  7. Will check the number of points in curves and return a warning if this number exceeds some limit.
  8. Will convert input file to ready to print PDF file.

I assume that it will work like a custom file uploader that you can integrate on your website and configure which validation profile (which can be specified in backoffice application) will be used for particular product.

I assume that this service will be performed on subscription model to access API and we will charge some small commission for each download of validated ready to print PDF.

I’m not going to sell it to you right now, just asking if you find such service useful for your business and all industry. Probably you even know existing solutions available on the market or can suggest some features I’ve missed in my explanation.

Any kind of feedback will be appreciated!

Thank You,

Does these all above things work with design tool or you asking for all those who dont have online store and handling all things manually?
I'm talking abou print store which for example prints flyers with custom deisigns, which are uploaded by user just like PDF files through printing company website. Of course I know that there are a lot of web2print solutions which provides some kind of product designer tools which helps printers ensure correct PDF for printing, but at the same time, I believe that there are a lot of companies that doesn't allow their customers to use this design tool, but offers to upload ready designs instead. I believe this case it valid for a big printing companies, when they receive hundreds of orders from other companies (like advertising agencies) and they want to minimize their efforts on routine PDF checks.
I believe this case it valid for a big printing companies, when they receive hundreds of orders from other companies (like advertising agencies) and they want to minimize their efforts on routine PDF checks.
I would say most; if not all, print companies handing the volume you are referring to are using some kind of automation engine for their prepress workflow. If you are looking for actual names of this kind of software; in addition to most manufacturers having "something", Esko and Enfocus are big players, but a simple web search for prepress automation will give you a pretty extensive list of companies in this space.
Hi, to be honest unfortunately this is not a new one but still from what i have found so far - there are still rooms for improvement. I have been running a web to print solution called EditandPrint in Australia, have been dealing wit a lots of printers around australia and at the same time running online printing business called pivot printing and yes you are right that pre-flighting the customers artwork is one of the most common and the biggest issue they are dealing with. Especially how easy it is now for customers (not a designer) that does not have any knowledge about printing can order their prints online. I also have been asked multiple times about integrating a backend software or a module i can integrate on to our system that have the ability to pre-flight the customers artwork. I can only give you a suggestion or ideas from what i have received so far.

The idea is more about pre-flight module for customers uploaded artwork - to warn the customers about the points about final press ready artwork

1. most common issue will be colour mode (RGB & CMYK) - having a warning that RGB will not be the right option for prints will be great
2. artwork bleed - non designer usually don't even know about bleed and it takes time for the printers to get back to the customers to let them know about the bleed (issue is different printers have different bleed requirements and also different products also have different bleed requirements)
3. artwork size - the trimmed size and also the safe area for text (not too close to the edge)
4. how are you going to deal with finishing / extras - such as foiling - spot uv, etc - as it needs a different layers to set up
5. also how about multiple pages as well. - it needs to be able to calculate colour pages and black and white pages.

That's what i have so far that will be an interesting one if you can find / create a solution for this.
Hi, Pivot Printing, thanks for reply!

I was wondering because we already have online vector editor solution which generates ready to print PDFs, but it appeared that it's very often case when people send their own artwork (without employing online editor) as PDF files to web2print companies. And, as I understand, validation of these PDFs is a quite a big issue.
What I was thinking about is creating of some "smart upload component" which can be embed to the web2print company page. Actually it will not provide only uploader funtionality.
Let me describe quickly, how I see it:

1. Customer (web2print company) can register in our service and setup some products there (by specifying size, bleed options, dpi limits for images, etc.).
2. At the same place Customer can create some predefined templates using our online vector editor (
3. Customer will place a widget on his page by referencing a target product ID.
4. When end user open a Customer's site he will see a widget offering him to upload his own art work or to create new product by modifying prefedined templates.
4. If user select to Upload his own PDF he will be asked to attach PDF file which will start a preflight wizard. Durring this wizard we will identify common issues like wrong color space, no bleed, or low dpi of images. And what is more important we'll offer user to resolve this issues automatically. For example if we understand that attached PDF is in RGB color space we'd convert it automatically to CMYK (using a ICC color profile specified by Customer) and display converted version to End User. Or other case: if there is no bleed, we'd magnify sides of product to extend it with bleeding margin, it doesn't guarantee good quality, but in some cases it will work. Also we can warn user about low DPI in images inside PDF.
5. If user select to work with predefined templates we'll just display him templates to select and open our editor, he can do modifications and save his product.
6. In both cases user will have a preview of saved product.
7. Then user adds product to cart and proceeds with checkout on Customer's website.
8. When Customer is going to print the product he requests ready to print PDF by querying our API. And we will charge him some fee for every product.

That's a short description of the problem I see. And my main questions here are:
1. Am I right that this problem exists and web2print companies are ready to pay for that?
If #1 is true, then next questions are:
2. Is pay as you go model is a good?
3. What would be the fair price for such services?

Thank you for your help!

Understood your whole workflow and i can confirm that pre-flight customers uploaded artwork is a big thing - most of the time it does not takes much time to fix the customers artwork - the problem is more about fixing the artwork and get the approval of the fixed artwork due to the colour change from RGB to CMYK, or if there's no bleed with an image at the edge of the artwork which means that the image needs to be enlarge (sometimes causing an issue when it's involve an important part get cut off), and many more therefore fixing the artwork itself can be tricky by doing it manually - having an automation process will definitely a better solution but at the same time it needs to be painless, and seamless process for both the user and the customers in relation to the process itself - by process i meant by below for example:

1. if customers uploaded non press ready artwork
2. system ask whether they want the system to fix the artwork automatically (extra charge may involve)
3. when click yes - system will fix it and generates the preview for them to approve
4. then goes with the rest of the ordering process.

In my opinion the tricky part is more about :
1. showing the customers why their artwork is not press ready (size, bleed, colour, etc..)
2. are you going to cover press ready for SPOT UV or finishing (e.g. some printers required the SPOT UV or foiling area to be a certain colour and set up on a different layer)
3. showing proof to the customers for them to approve to reduce the amount of customers complaining about their image got cropped or whatever happened during the automated fixes
4. does the app only accepting PDF? as we have couple clients uploading word document for some reason - or JPG
5. with your workflow does it takes the user outside of the site? as that can be a problem

If you see this page below :

this is the stage where customers needs to upload their artwork and at the moment the only thing we can do is to give as much as information necessary to the customers before they uploading the artwork - if your widget can solve the pre-flight issue that will be awesome and yes in my opinion web to print company are willing to pay that (as most of them and i also charging the customers for fixing the artwork). In terms of the payment module i think offering both payment such as Pay as you go and subscription could be a good solution to cover the new comer that still have small amount of orders and also big fish that have lots of orders coming through the system.

Last thing is about your vector editor - which is awesome by the way. We have a different version of online editor

Basically the same as yours, where user can create design online and generates press ready artwork. Even with this one we're still having issues from the customers that still placing a text outside the trim area (this needs to be idiot proof) with guides and warning when they uploaded low resolution images and warning to check the back side, etc.. as well.

Hope that all make sense and give you a bit more information
Thanks for detailed reply!

2. I didn't think about SPOT, UV or finishing. I think we should start with very basic prototype and only then add advanced features.
4. I can accept all popular formats like PDF, TIFF, JPEG (I'd just convert it to PDF in my workflow). Don't sure about Word document.
5. No the component will be incorporated to the client's website as iframe and end user, so we won't redirect end-user to other site.

Do you remember some concurrent products on the market that offer such services? I know only Printler - russian company which offers pretty much the same service but without online editor and template library, they have only layout validation service.

I saw your editor, it's very good. Now we're working on adding CMYK colors support to the editor, which will be very useful for printers.
no worries,

I agree, simpler the better to start with. However, at least it needs to cover all of the basic (size, bleed, colour, fonts, images) which you already covered anyway.

Yes, PDF, TIFF, JPEG is quite common in printing industry - but again as now everyone is online where printers can directlly dealing with anyone (meaning mums and dads around the corner) which we got from time to time a word document. Talking about accepting JPEG - how can you pre-flight the fonts? as it has become an object?

That will be really great to have the components directly embedded on to the site - i would be really keen to see how it works on relation to the whole processing from user uploaded their files, then generates the report of the issue, options to be fixed automatically by the system which will triggers the charge to the user (admin can mark up your prices) then go straight to the cart and payment - admin will received the final revised artwork.

Yes - we were looking at pitstop from enfocus (different module than what you are talking about - but same idea).

Thank you, and i also like your vector editor which our current editor does not have.

Do you have a rough idea about the charges yet? or where are you at currently with the project?
JPEG is raster image, so there is no need and no way to check fonts, I think for JPEGs we'd just convert it to CMYK PDF as image and check DPI and margin.

Thanks for reference! I'm still on very first stage, basically only thinking how to organize the project. I'll update you as soon as I have some info. You can always reach me in Skype, my nickname is andrew_zol
Hi, probably someone from here can suggest other places where I can talk to the web2print companies community? it would be great to hear thoughts from more people, they definetelly will suggest some necessary features I miss for such software.


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