33 years ago, Adobe kicked off the desktop publishing revolution with PostScript, which delivered graphically rich content to any printer or graphic arts workflow. It took page objects, text, images and overall layout geometry and converted them into rasters (pixels). PostScript launched Adobe into a leadership role in graphic arts, as well as the software industry.
When Adobe invented PDF in the early 90s, designers and prepress operators were early adopters, since it employed a richer imaging model than PostScript. PDF also made sharing and collaboration easy, since the free Adobe Reader was on everyone’s desktop. PDF quickly became the preferred format for exchanging print-ready content in digital form, and preparing it for final output.
By the mid-2000s, print had to compete with new forms of digital media and designers were pushing the envelope with powerful new tools in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. However, many attention-getting effects were being compromised upon output, because PostScript couldn’t handle them very well, transparency for example. This opportunity was the genesis of Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE) 10 years ago.
APPE was a boon to printers and opened the floodgates of prepress productivity by faithfully rendering graphically rich PDF files, including those containing live transparency, mixed color models, gradient blends, and other complex effects. It also offered assurance to designers that their artistic vision would be accurately reproduced on press, without unwanted surprises. By raising the bar on reliability, the PDF Print Engine increased the confidence level, and reduced the stress level, on both ends of the dialogue between designer and printer.
Version 1 of APPE was optimized for Computer to Plate (CTP) workflows, and was incorporated into the leading offset prepress solutions, accelerating the migration from PostScript to PDF for commercial printing. Version 2 added optimizations for digital printing that leveraged innovations in inkjet technology, liquid toner and nanography. In 2013, Adobe launched version 3 of the PDF Print Engine, which introduced the “Mercury RIP Architecture”, a framework for running multiple instances of APPE in parallel to accelerate high-speed digital print production. With version 3, APPE also took a market-leading position in the rapidly growing large format segment.
Today, Adobe announced the availability of version 4 of PDF Print Engine. APPE 4 will enable printers to increase workflow efficiency, and capitalize on the profit potential of new innovations in the $800 billion commercial printing industry. APPE today powers more than 150,000 print production facilities, bringing to life the creative visions of designers around the globe.