Something people ask us very often if how long will it take to preflight a PDF file? Sorry to bear the bad news here but there is just no simple answer to this question. PDF is a container and nor the weight nor the number of pages can indicate the length of the preflight operation.
Also some checks like ink coverage are particularly time consuming. Did you know for example preflight software need to flatten pages to compute ink coverage? On the contrary, checking the number of pages or metadata can be done in a blink. Once that said, we can boost PDF Preflight and this is the topic of today’s post.
A) Preflight vs quick checks
Callas pdfToolbox, the PDF preflight software, has a feature called “quick checks”. This is a quick way of checking PDF properties. Quick checks won’t be appropriate every time but can save you a lot of time once in a while.
Checking something as simple as spot color use can be time consuming. Indeed, any software will need to browse through the whole PDF structure to get hits.This can be very long if file counts up to hundred of thousand pages (invoices…) When sometimes you just need a simple info on the file.
Isn’t it possible to check a really specific part of the file ?
This is what quick checks do : retrieve partial yet critical intel on your file. Let’s take a digital cutting file such as labels. Those file need a vector path whose stroke has a specific spot color (“CutContour” for ex.). How to proceed ?
To use quick checks in Callas pdfToolbox, you need to set what you really need. Without going into details, we will grab the list of spot colors with the following command:
As soon has quick check is done, a json object is returned with all required data. For clarity, we only show the useful part of the returned json file.
Here the file has one spot color (“length”: 1) and it’s Pantone 485 C. So let’s use this info! To demonstrate why quick checks are great, we developed three approaches:
- Use of a “classical” check (without quick check)
- Use of a process plan (with quick check)
- Use of a quick check with command line
You can see hereafter the benchmark result in a switch flow.
B) The Game
To see a real gain, we made up a 600 pages document full of vectors. Then we inject the file in the Switch flow. Operations run in parallel so they start at the very same time.
As you will notice, command line quick checks only need 14 seconds to analyse our 600 pages document.
Regular check on the opposite needs up to a minute. Process plan quick check needs a few more seconds. What ? Ain’t quick check supposed to be faster ? But there are when used with a command line. In that case, many libs aren’t loaded and operation is quicker. So you won’t see advantages in using them in process plan most of the time.
Quick checks can boost productivity. Here, 75% time optimization for our task.
Just 4 times quicker !
Of course in some occasions, quick checks won’t help. Sometimes, you will need good ol’ checks to analyse possible paths overlaps or ink coverage limits.
Still you may want to take them into account. Are you flow up and running right now ? But are they flying ? Well they could! What if agileStreams had a look? Get in touch! Maybe a quick check is just what you need to reach your goals!
See you soon.