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Berlin, September 16, 2011: The ISO committee for PDF/X formally known as TC 130 WG 2 TF 2 today completed a full day of work on the next version of PDF/X in Berlin.
Among the topics discussed were the needs of the packaging industry whether for more accurate definition and processing of multiple spot color inks, the handling of non-print elements like cut or fold lines, or the use of layers. In order to properly address these issues in a future version of PDF/X much more direct involvement from the packaging industry is necessary though.
Another question was whether and if so how to protect PDF/X files while they are being exchanged over unsafe communication channels like email. While it is possible to encrypt and password protect PDF files this often creates interoperability problems, and as a consequence so far has always been prohibited for PDF/X files. Some experts proposed to simply put a PDF/X file as an attachment inside yet another PDF file and then to encrypt that container PDF file. Even in that case though it would be preferable to have a common approach consistently used across the industry.
Other proposed extensions for a future version of the PDF/X standard deal with instructions for late stage processing steps like sharpness enhancements or channel preserving color transformations.
A tight working schedule in the form of bi-weekly web conferences between the two face to face meetings held per year has been agreed on, in order to get the most important aspects addressed while at the same time the PDF committee finalizes and published the next version of the underlying PDF format PDF 2.0. The update from PDF 1.7 to PDF 2.0 will be the first PDF format update carried out completely by an ISO committee after Adobe had handed over the PDF format to ISO, and its publication is expected for the first half of 2013. The next version of PDF/X will be based on PDF 2.0.
All those who believe an improved PDF/X standard should take into account their specific needs, and who wish to make sure that their needs are addressed well in the next version of the PDF/X standard, should provide input to the ISO committee accordingly. This is especially true for PDF/X users in the packaging industry. The author of this article will be more than happy to take in any feedback and forward it to the PDF/X committee.