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A new ISO task force has set to work on producing a PDF standard to guide production workflow decisions. The task force has been set up in response to requests from transactional printers, who have found they are limited by the current PDF/VT standard, to be able to include media selections and simplex/duplex controls in a PDF file.   The new standard, which is expected to be published in early 2018, will make it possible to describe what a final printed piece is supposed to look like.
“When PDF/VT was written we were perhaps a little overambitious in making assumptions about what people would do in creating PDF/VT files and what the press vendors would do in consuming them. In practice, nobody is using what we put in there because it’s too difficult and complicated,” said Global Graphics chief technology officer Martin Bailey, who is chairing the task force.
“The PDF/VT Competence Center in the PDF Association suggested making a simpler model and the more we thought about it, the more we realised there was value outside of variable data. So we took the discussion into the ISO graphic arts committees and there was overwhelming support to do that.” He added: “The standard will enable graphic designers, file creators and buyers to describe how their final work should look without having to specify the details of the processes required to make it.
“We are adopting the ideas that were used for intent structures in JDF, which is essentially a way of describing what a final printed piece looks like. So you can use media intent to say ‘I need 100gsm plain paper for this component and 200gsm card for this component’ and essentially assume that a pre-press workflow or a DFE on a digital press can translate from what the final printed piece needs to look like to how to actually make it.
Bailey said the first goal for the task force is to produce a standard that covers most of what general commercial print would require.