Pdf saved with/without Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities

dpierce@packgraph.com

Well-known member
Hi All,
Does anyone know of a definitive way of determining if a .pdf has been saved with or without this having been checked off in the save dialog? If opened in a text editor is there something that is present in one but not the other? -dan
 

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
You can generally disqualify any PDF file that is a PDF/X or PDF/A file of any type. Illustrator's save as dialog simply doesn't allow for use of PDF standards with the “preserve editing capabilities” option. If a PDF file shows as a PDF/X or PDF/A file in Acrobat, it means that if the PDF file was originally saved with the “preserve editing capabilities” option specified, that it was subsequently modified and that you can't count on what would be opened in Illustrator as matching what you see in Acrobat.

Similarly, if a PDF file's creation and modification date/time stamps don't match, it is indicative that the PDF file was modified subsequent to its creation and that most likely, the preserved editing capabilities if originally specified don't match the current contents of the PDF file.

Generally what you will find inside a PDF file in clear text is

/PieceInfo<</Illustrator

which is the header for the actual Illustrator file format within a PDF file. You can search for that with a text editor (but don't resave the file with such an editor).

However, most importantly, the existence of that preserved editing data doesn't mean that it matches exactly what is in the PDF file. It is only valid if the PDF file's creation and modification date/time stamps match exactly and no edits have been made to the PDF objects themselves.

Generally speaking and with many years of experience with Illustrator and PDF, I would most strongly recommend against trying to use a single PDF file for production and as an Illustrator source file!!! Contrary to what many might tell you, PDF is absolutely not the native file format of Adobe Illustrator. Going back to the late 1990s, a most regrettable decision was made within Adobe to make PDF look like the native Illustrator format (it was a marketing decision), but that wasn't the reality. When you save an Adobe Illustrator document as a .AI what is really created is a shell PDF file with no PDF graphic objects, but with the non-displayable, non-printable PieceInfo private data representing the native Adobe Illustrator page objects.

To be absolutely safe, best practice dictates that you save Adobe Illustrator artwork as .AI files disabling the Create PDF Compatible File option. Use the .AI files for subsequent edit work. When you need a PDF file, use the Save a Copy option, specifying the PDF options you need, especially for PDF/X (most strongly recommend PDF/X-4 for anything that might be destined for printing or a mixture of printing and display).

- Dov
 

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
What about EPS?
EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) is an obsolete file format maintained for compatibility with PostScript-only workflows. It doesn't support live transparency or ICC color management (amongst other features). It also “supports” saving Illustrator source files but again, the actual Illustrator source file data is stored as private PostScript comments in the resultant EPS file, yielding a bloated mess! Avoid like the plague!

- Dov
 

Zerge

Member
Hi All,
Does anyone know of a definitive way of determining if a .pdf has been saved with or without this having been checked off in the save dialog? If opened in a text editor is there something that is present in one but not the other? -dan
Hi.
Why text editor, not Illustrator?
..
If you save pdf with Illustrator Editing Capabilities (IEC) — all Layers structure will be saved. Its fully useful file, like .ai, but will be saved only current version of AI. Its important.
..
If you open pdf without IEC, you will see, that all objects united in Clipping mask.
There is only 1 layer with default name, color and other options. Default by yours Illustrator.
There are no custom styles, brushes, swatches, etc. There are no objects outside the artboards.
best practice dictates that you save Adobe Illustrator artwork as .AI files disabling the Create PDF Compatible File option.
Never ever do it!
Worst practice for designers and prepress.
1627547330252.png
1627547311714.png

1627547264181.png
most strongly recommend PDF/X-4 for anything
Never ever do it before you read and understand the file requirements and what exactly is PDF/X-4.
 
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dpierce@packgraph.com

Well-known member
Thanks very much for the comments and info Dov. You've probably heard it all so I won't bore you (for long) but I ask this from a production standpoint. I am often handed off .pdf files for production and then challenged when I request the native art files - usually Illustrator. At the print production stage it can be a far reach to connect to the content creator to discover how the pdf was created. It has happened that I've had conversations with design managers who demonstrate an understanding and can confirm that a pdf submitted for production was in fact saved with "Preserve Illustrator..." and by policy only submit this pdf. The majority of the time though I discover that artwork submission policies are based on word of mouth - my next door neighbor's brothers best friend's dog walker's girlfriend is a designer and she said sending pdf is the best :-}
Especially significant is your suggestion to verify the integrity of the content - creation vs modification.
-dan
**caution, the following content is graphic and may be disturbing to some individuals**
"...well, the pdf is 9MB so it must be hires, why can't you just open it in Illustrator"
"Uh, where did this Illustrator file come from? It looks like the client supplied .indd files." "Oh, I exported pdfs and opened them in Illustrator and resaved them as .ai"
It is only under very specific and rare circumstances that I will save an .ai with pdf included. Production Illustrator files are saved-as .ai, no pdf. Pdf files of any flavor are for visual or soft proof or print-appropriate purposes and never saved with "Preserve Illustrator..."
 

Macmann

Well-known member
What is truly amazing to me is that this conversation could have been copied from a 20-year-old thread on this topic. How is it that there is still not an accepted standard for file submission that is taught in "Designer" school? It always seems that the creative geniuses can't be bothered with trivial things like how are we going to print this monstrosity? Can you imagine another profession, say, plumber or electrician, where you would just make it look good with no consideration as to whether it will work? Oh well, if they supplied printable artwork what would I do all day? :cool:
 

Bill Ward

Active member
What is truly amazing to me is that this conversation could have been copied from a 20-year-old thread on this topic. How is it that there is still not an accepted standard for file submission that is taught in "Designer" school? It always seems that the creative geniuses can't be bothered with trivial things like how are we going to print this monstrosity? Can you imagine another profession, say, plumber or electrician, where you would just make it look good with no consideration as to whether it will work? Oh well, if they supplied printable artwork what would I do all day? :cool:
Good question. I worked in illustration/design for 25 years before I finally got into printing and the rift between the two disciplines in big (and it still seems like there aren't many bridges being built). I still meet a lot of talented digital illustrators who have no idea what the difference between CMYK and RGB is.
 

ReproElectroProspero

Well-known member
Good question. I worked in illustration/design for 25 years before I finally got into printing and the rift between the two disciplines in big (and it still seems like there aren't many bridges being built). I still meet a lot of talented digital illustrators who have no idea what the difference between CMYK and RGB is.
What are the problems folks in prepress are encountering with PDF files? I've worked in print for 10+ years and at all the shop's I've worked at, they've requested PDFs when customers supply their own art. Is it color issues? Most of the shops I've worked at were quick copy shops, where the blue you get is the blue you get. I did work at a larger place that had heidelbergs and they regularly dissected PDFs with PitStop.
 

Macmann

Well-known member
I don't expect them to understand all the nuts and bolts of color management - just the basics of the trade. Resolution, transparency, blend modes, file types, fonts. These aren't new concepts. Not to mention rotating something 12.98745654789541 degrees or scaling a photo 104.236589 percent, or placing a 2GB file a dozen times in Illustrator to make a pattern. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!! You can see the smoke coming from the RIP trying to do the calculations! Creating gradients in CMYK instead of the spot color they are printing in. Text colored CMYK black. Layers with unused content, or not thinking about the need for bleed! I could go on and on. I see these issues in 95% of the work we send to press. Isn't part of good design working smarter? Simplifying complex concepts? Efficiency and elegance?
 

Bill Ward

Active member
What are the problems folks in prepress are encountering with PDF files? I've worked in print for 10+ years and at all the shop's I've worked at, they've requested PDFs when customers supply their own art. Is it color issues? Most of the shops I've worked at were quick copy shops, where the blue you get is the blue you get. I did work at a larger place that had heidelbergs and they regularly dissected PDFs with PitStop.
Transparency issues-where objects on screen disappear when printed- would be the most common for us. Transparency issues with spot colors. Also fonts that don't print correctly. Missing bleeds. PDFs created from Word that have formatting changes that the customer didn't notice before submitting.
 

zevrix

Well-known member
Can you imagine another profession, say, plumber or electrician, where you would just make it look good with no consideration as to whether it will work?

I can guarantee you that when Illustrator file formats start affecting our plumbing, the proper standards will be quickly established.
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
Transparency issues-where objects on screen disappear when printed- would be the most common for us. Transparency issues with spot colors. Also fonts that don't print correctly. Missing bleeds. PDFs created from Word that have formatting changes that the customer didn't notice before submitting.
This.
I've posted about it in another thread.
If you haven't read it - Adobe made it possible recently - to make a transparent, white, overprinting, RGB object.
This renders fine on your screen. When translated to CMYK the object disappears BECAUSE a white transparent overprinting object does not exist in that color space.
So we have a Pitstop processing rule to fix this. Every customer supplied PDF is processed with the rule.
Sigh.
 
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chriscozi

Well-known member
What is truly amazing to me is that this conversation could have been copied from a 20-year-old thread on this topic. How is it that there is still not an accepted standard for file submission that is taught in "Designer" school? It always seems that the creative geniuses can't be bothered with trivial things like how are we going to print this monstrosity? Can you imagine another profession, say, plumber or electrician, where you would just make it look good with no consideration as to whether it will work? Oh well, if they supplied printable artwork what would I do all day? :cool:
I audited a design course at the local community college in 1999 (I was a journeyman film stripper.)
Better than 90% of what the teacher told them about how to prepare their art for commercial printing was incorrect.
I talked to the teacher after the class and he said that was the syllabus and he was sticking to it - "I just like to paint in oils - this is to earn more money."
So there was 0% incentive to change the content.
Seems more things change the more they stay the same.
I will say that recently training new prepress operators (former designers) was enlightening for THEM.
They both said 'Wow, we had no idea how wrong we were about file prep."
:giggle:
 

PeteKincaid

Active member
I think @Dov Isaacs would agree, Illustrator was never meant to be a PDF editor. Nor was InDesign. Our industry is has become PDF-based. Design is Illustrator-based. Adobe with Illustrator has the best design software in the world hands down. However, when you move past design, the best file format for print is PDF. All of the modern-day RIPs are PDF-based. Meaning before the RIP can create the plate Tiffs or Len files it needs to interpolate (convert) those non PDF files into a PDF. I work for Hybrid Software, we developed a PDF editing software called PACKZ. We are not the only company to develop this kind of software. We did this because we could foresee the future of prepress was going to PDF. Why worry about having all the fonts (Mac or Windows), linked images, etc... if they can all be embedded in a PDF and you have full editability, why would you want "native files". In short, PDF is a very powerful file format. But you need the right tools to properly work with it.
 

Bill Ward

Active member
I think @Dov Isaacs would agree, Illustrator was never meant to be a PDF editor. Nor was InDesign. Our industry is has become PDF-based. Design is Illustrator-based. Adobe with Illustrator has the best design software in the world hands down. However, when you move past design, the best file format for print is PDF. All of the modern-day RIPs are PDF-based. Meaning before the RIP can create the plate Tiffs or Len files it needs to interpolate (convert) those non PDF files into a PDF. I work for Hybrid Software, we developed a PDF editing software called PACKZ. We are not the only company to develop this kind of software. We did this because we could foresee the future of prepress was going to PDF. Why worry about having all the fonts (Mac or Windows), linked images, etc... if they can all be embedded in a PDF and you have full editability, why would you want "native files". In short, PDF is a very powerful file format. But you need the right tools to properly work with it.?
And you need customers who know how to create PDFs properly. (Maybe that's what you meant by tools?😉)
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
And you need customers who know how to create PDFs properly. (Maybe that's what you meant by tools?😉)
Unless and until Adobe provides good (not perfect) instructions to users about file prep for commercial printing we have absolutely 0% chance of 'educating' our customers.
I only state this after well more than twenty years of dealing with those customers and realizing that the changes Adobe makes to their software directly impacts customer output and our workflow.
In the last five years, on an average of once a year, we have faced a not inconsequential change to PDF file creation OR display process BY ADOBE.
There is nothing we could have done about it ahead of time and not once did Adobe warn about the changes.

I suppose we should be happy they have given us a year to 'fix' Type1 fonts we purchased (+$5,000) from them previously.
Of course that is only happening because they are REQUIRING you to use their 'online' font repository.
I can't argue their reasons or methods, just the results.
 

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