Letter from ISO TC 130 to Print & Graphics Industry Experts interested in PDF/X

A letter to all Print & Graphics Industry Experts who care about the future development of PDF/X

While PDF/X, the ISO 15930 series of standards first published in 2001, has not really been a major focus of the activities of the PDF Association so far it is relevant to many members of the PDF Association, and to their customers. PDF/X has reached a very mature state and is widely used, the latest revisions have been published in 2010 as PDF/X:4-2010 and PDF/X-5:2010. In addition, the PDF/VT standard, built on top of PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-5 has been released in 2011.

Time never stands still though, and with ISO TC 171 SC 2 working on the next major update to the underlying PDF standard itself, PDF 2.0, to be published as ISO 32000-2 once completed probbly in late 2013 or early 2014, the questin is how does this impact PDF/X. From my ow point of view it definitely does impact, as PDF 2.0 will have a number of very interesting additions, for example definition of black ploint compensation, page level outout intents, support for spectral color data, information about ink lay down order in output intents, and a number of other features.

Along similar lines ISO TC 130 just sent out a letter to all Print & Graphics Industry Experts who care about PDF/X and its future development, and as I believe the topic is important enough to make as many people as possible aware of it, I am re-publishing the letter from the chair of ISO TC 130, Wg 2, TF 2, below. If you would like to get involved but are not yet familiar how participate in ISO standads work, please get in touch with me by email or use the contact form on this site.


Letter from: ISO TC 130/WG 2/TF 2

Print & Graphics Industry Experts,

You are receiving this communication because we believe that you have had prior involvement with or expressed interest in the work of TC130 in the area of PDF/X. ISO TC130 WG2/TF2 is responsible for development and maintenance of the PDF/X standards which effectively govern the creation and consumption of PDF files, the lingua franca of print publishing workflows.

We need to gauge you and your organization’s interest in our ongoing work.

To be quite blunt, participation in our sessions at the last threeTC130 Working Group meetings (April 2011 – Berlin, September 2011 – Berlin, and April 2012 – Indonesia) was at best underwhelming. There were clearly issues working against us including the protracted and volatile WG3 meetings running in parallel with our sessions, the reticence of many of our sponsoring companies to pay for overseas travel, personal priorities, as well as a perception that there is nothing particularly critical that WG2/TF2 needs to address now.

We are not hearing any loud cries from the print industry demanding updates to the PDF/X standards. However, the industry is only now beginning to digest and start serious use of the PDF/X-4 (ISO 15930-7) and PDF/X-5 (ISO 15930-8) standards as well as the PDF/VT (ISO 16612-2) standard based upon PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-5. This presents us with an excellent opportunity to be not simply reactive but rather proactive in addressing the issues and trends that we have good reason to believe will become serious issues within the next three to five years.

A few simple examples:

(1) PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-5 (and PDF/VT) are based on Adobe PDF 1.6. All newer PDF subset standards are now based on ISO 32000-1 PDF. Within the next year or so, we can expect ISO 32000-2 PDF to be ratified. There are new features within ISO 32000-2 that may make good sense for us to utilize in PDF/X.

(2) Other PDF subset standards including PDF/A (for archiving) and PDF/UA (for universal access) are gaining significant traction. Although it is currently possible to have a PDF/X-4 file that also complies with PDF/A-2b, perhaps we should consider whether we should extend our PDF/X standards to automatically provide for compliance with one or more PDF/A or PDF/UA standards. This could avoid the need to generate separate PDF files for print versus archiving and/or accessibility.

(3) PDF files are increasingly being used both for print and for display. A PDF/X-4 file may be optimal for print, but may look dull and lifeless on a computer or tablet device. Another area of

concern is the issue of RGB “office” PDF files that typically print dull and lifeless. How can we address these issues in a standard?

(4) Color management – formalization of support for CxF, black point compensation, and page level output intents.

(5) The concept of “print” is expanding to areas such as “printed electronics” and “3D printing.” To what degree is PDF in general and PDF/X standards in particular relevant to these advancing technologies?

If you are representing an organization that create, RIP, or otherwise process PDF files for print, your organization has a significant stake in our discussions. We invite you to participate in our meetings.

We will be meeting face-to-face on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at the next ISO TC130 meeting in Chicago,

We are also planning teleconference sessions on Monday, July 16, Monday, August 6, and Tuesday, September 4 at 6:00am Pacific Daylight Time (8:00am Central Daylight Time, 9:00am Eastern Daylight Time, 14:00 London Time, 15:00 Central Europe Time, 22:00 Japan, and 21:00 Beijing). These teleconferences can be accessed via http://my.adobe.com/isaacs/ from which you may participate via VOIP on your computer or enter a phone number which Connect will call back at no cost to you for voice communications.

We would greatly appreciate your returning the attached form to Debbie Orf dorf@npes.org at your earliest possible convenience indicating whether you wish to actively participate in our work, simply want to be copied on the proceedings, want to be removed from our lists, or if there is someone else in your organization that we should be working with.


Thank you and I look forward to your ongoing participation.

Dov Isaacs Chair, ISO TC130WG2/TF2

About callas software GmbH

callas software finds simple ways to handle complex PDF challenges. As a technology innovator, callas software develops and markets PDF technology for publishing, print production, document exchange and document archiving.

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