Pre-Flight, Post-Flight & Automation


So there we are early in the morning driving down to the EuroTunnel to attend a partner technical meeting for ADAM software discussing the the process of pre-flight and where it fits into the whole business process flow of our production plants.

Lets first look at the term pre-flight: wikipedia describes it as:

The term used in the printing industry to describe the process of confirming that the digital files required for the printing process are all present, valid, correctly formatted, and of the desired type. The term originates from the pre-flight checklists used by pilots. The term was first used in a presentation at the Color Connections conference in 1990 by consultant Chuck Weger.

By definition it would say that the pre in pre-flight is that process of checking before any actions are performed, i.e. before you create the PDF/postscript and not after you have taken the action….. surely that would be post-flight?

But ok, the term pre-flight has become synonymous with the process of checking your files are fit for purpose regardless of where in your workflow you perform it.

Is this correct? Should we be pre-flighting our files at every stage of the process?
Having spent a few hours yesterday with Esko going through what their latest version of there software and asked the presenter…. Surely if you are pre-flighting a PDF you have already generated the file from it’s original components and thus it would be a post-flight.
He thought about the question for a moment, then agreed that actually that was a good point and something that their Instant PDF product tries to address by ensuring that the source documents are correct before generating a Certified PDF.

What options do you have these for checking those source documents you receive on a daily basis? Well it would appear that the only commercial software available outside of the applications is the Markzware Preflight Professional, another option is Freeflight that is provided by the user community and available here; but the problem is that they are both having to reverse engineer the changes in the design applications.

Both Adobe and Quark have added on the fly pre-flight into their applications, Quark by applying Job-Jackets with the ability to test your design to a profile, where Adobe have chosen to use a live pre-flight based on a selected profile….. Are these any good for automating? Not really……

Markzware seem to be the only ones who allow extensive automation through scripting with a number of workflow tools such as Enfocus Switch being able to send files through a selected set of ground controls to sort the good from the bad.

And what of the future? More and more companies now have to find was to automate their incoming pre-media files which now extend beyond those of just the graphic and design file formats and include formats such as HTML, Flash, Video and 3D. Our applications alone provide us with tools to test the files are fit for purpose, but don’t help us provide fully integrated workflow solutions.

Who will raise to the challenge? Or are the pre-media companies still going to have to create home cooked soup!

Oh and I was reminded not to forget to mention that Flightcheck can be driven by the Enfocus SWITCH products watch the video here.

Author: Gary George

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6 Responses to “Pre-Flight, Post-Flight & Automation”

  1. Rajesh Bhat Says:

    Preflight is very important and is one of the best practices to flight check the inputs and outputs of any process.

    The question asked about preflight and post flight is very good. I would rather see it as preflight rather than post flight. One would always call it as post flight as it has been carried after the process, but my opinion to this is Preflight, its always preflight.

    Before starting any process, one preflights the job – checks if all the inputs are correct to start the process. He should know the next process where the output generated would serve as an input. On completion of the process, the output is preflighted considering the next process and not the process that one has completed. Hence I would rather call it preflight always rather than post flight. Does this make sense?

  2. Jim Wilson Says:

    I agree with Rajesh’s excellent point – if the check is for the next step, then the prefix ‘pre’ is appropriate. It’s still a good discussion.

    Since our group rarely recieves ‘native files’, all of our checks are done at the “post” stage of normalized PDF, using some of the products you’ve mentioned. We often find ourselves in the unpleasant position of trying to educate clients on how to perform a function they insist on performing – only to realize they aren’t interested in the lesson. Like many in pre-media, we have in fact learned to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Or at least a reasonable approximation of one.

  3. Pre-Flight, HTML, Flash, Video, 3D? Says:

    […] George from wrote this article about preflighting, postflighting and Automation. We invite your comments on […]

  4. Pitstop or Flightcheck? - Page 4 - Says:

    […] […]

  5. Halle Says:

    Hey this is a very interesting article! Thanks!

  6. Pre-Flight, HTML, Flash, Video, 3D? | Markzware Says:

    […] George from wrote this article about preflighting, postflighting and Automation. We invite your comments on […]

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