There are no hard and fast rules regarding the creation of artwork. Use what tools you are comfortable with, but please take the time to learn new software and ask yourself which program works better for the task ahead.
We use the software packages Corel and Adobe CS Suite featuring programs such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Adobe created the postscript language and the PDF file format, therefore it makes sense that as a group who relies on PDF compatibility we should back the Adobe offering.
Other software packages your likely to come across are:
The industry leader in print layout for many years. Quark is now fighting back against the Adobe challenge . We will review the latest version as it becomes available and track any issues regarding PDFs created from it.
Macromedia Freehand and associated packages.
Please be aware that Macromedia has been bought out by Adobe and production of Freehand has discontinued. It is still a good layout program but care should be taken when creating PDFs directly from it.
This powerhouse of PC desktop publishing has been around for many years. The file formats created by older versions of Corel Draw can sometimes be a problem. The recent version is very good.
Microsoft Office These industry standard packages of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher are now far better than they were five years ago. Still they are not originally designed for process printing (apart from the later versions of Publisher). Care should be taken when dealing with these documents. Like Quark the latest version of Publisher is due for review and guidelines will be issued in the near future.
SOFTWARE - UPDATES and COMPATIBILITY
Every effort is made to make sure that our RIPs are fully compatible with all the latest design software. The very nature of the software industry dictates it is not always possible to have a fully compatible system simultaneous with any new software releases.
When a major software house (say Adobe) offers an update to the marketplace it causes a knock on effect through the print industry. All the third party software suppliers of Plug-Ins, Extensions etc. have to make sure that their product still works and is not redundant.
The same is to be said of all the hardware. If you run a printer with a RIP engine you'll need to make sure that any software release will be fully compatible.
The usual scenario is that software patches are released and updated and released again and so on. It usually takes the best part of six months for everyone to get back in line with each other.
Likewise MKM Signs has to test all new software with the many different facets of the business. Pre-Press support will log any issues you have with any new software and try to resolve any problems. We all like to use the new software as soon as possible but it is sometimes a good idea to let other people iron out the bugs before we commit to any new software package.
Once a new piece of software has been evaluated, a release will be sent to the network confirming that we now support this new format and that we are happy to use these files on a day to day basis.
If necessary we will update the PDF settings and release any new guidelines regarding use of the new software and its file formats.