Scrivener Windows View Research

Mako exports to PDF/X-1a using macOS and iOS for Scrivener

Paula Halpin // January 25, 2023

PDF/X Case study

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Literature & Latte’s best-selling app, Scrivener, is a software tool for writers. It’s used by novelists, screenwriters, lawyers, journalists and students to create long writing projects which can be exported to self-publishing platforms, such as Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.

THE CHALLENGE

“The challenge was exporting to PDF with our macOS and iOS versions,” explains Keith Blount, the creator of Scrivener. “Certain self-publishing platforms, such as IngramSpark, require PDF files in PDF/X-1a format to ensure the book will look the same printed as it does in the PDF. We have to use Apple’s PDF export frameworks and code, and unfortunately, they don’t support PDF/X-1a.

“We got a few requests on our customer support and forum pages asking if we could support that format,” continues Keith. “We were keen to solve this issue so we could offer the best experience for our authors across all platforms.”

Keith continues: “We tried a few options but there were no other solutions that would work. In the end, the only way we could help our authors was for them to have a paid copy of Adobe Acrobat. They could then open the file and convert it, but that meant they needed extra software to do it. We realized if we were to fix this problem, we needed to find a company with extensive experience in providing software for print.”

THE SOLUTION

Keith noticed that a self-publishing app called Vellum, made by 180g, could export to PDF/X-1a. The team at 180g confirmed that they were using Mako Core™, an SDK from Global Graphics Software built for multiple platforms including macOS, iOS and Windows, that offers several prepress features including conversion, file analysis, optimization and supports multiple PDF ISO standards including PDF/X-1a.

Keith contacted Global Graphics Software and the same day sent some sample files to test Mako could convert to PDF/X-1a. Being happy with the result, the Mako product manager offered Keith an evaluation. “The sample code worked perfectly for us; it needed a little bit of modification but essentially Mako did all the things we needed, so it was very simple to implement it into Scrivener. It only took a few hours to integrate,” explains Keith.

THE RESULT

Scrivener Windows ToolsThe team now receives fewer customer support requests and there are no more new messages on the forum. By implementing Mako into Scrivener, authors can submit their files not only to IngramSpark without any warnings, but also to the many other self-publishing platforms that require the PDF/X-1a format.

“Mako was an easy, simple solution, both with the framework provided and the support,” continues Keith. “We also have access to the Mako product manager whenever we need him, which will be a great benefit, especially if we require any future product enhancements.”

ABOUT LITERATURE AND LATTE

Literature & Latte is an independent software company founded by writers for writers. The company’s story began in 2004, when, after years of dreaming about the ideal software for writing his novel and thesis, Keith Blount decided to teach himself to code and create it himself. Two years later, Literature & Latte was born, releasing the first version of Scrivener in January 2007. The company’s headquarters are in Cornwall, UK, but its small team now spans the globe. The company’s aim is to continue to bring together familiar writing processes in ways that aren’t possible in the analogue world.


Global Graphics Software develops innovative core technology that is used by manufacturers and software developers in digital printing solutions. An expert in PDF since the early days of the format, Global Graphics has always taken an active role in industry standards setting bodies and associations and today, our Distinguished Technologist …

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