Would you please explain gate keeping, file submission and validation services?

The new trends such as gate keeping, file submission and validation services are helping magazines, newspapers and advertising agencies to track the possible errors in the files and correct them before they reach the printing stage. Would you please explain these services?


Collaboration is the big buzz word this day, and there are lots of software products out there to facilitate interaction between printers, buyers and designers. Even something as basic as Acrobat 7 professional can now be used for collaboration. PDF proofs can by send back and forth with "sticky-note" messages to track all of the changes or comments anyone makes.

The sophistication of the products really depends on how much value you put on the ability to collaborate. In a typical high-end collaborative workflow, jobs can be uploaded to a remote server and automatically flight checked on submission. The printer can set up a list of rules for examining the files to make sure all the fonts, images etc. are there. The person submitting the file gets an e-mail with a report of any problems that may exist. If it passes, the file can then be automatically sent to the next stage of production, while the printer gets an email notification that the file is ready to process.

Perhaps a PDF proof will be generated and emailed back to the designer and/or buyer. Larger files can be uploaded to an ftp site that automatically sends out an e-mail acknowledging receipt to everyone who needs to know. Permissions can be set to determine who can see the proof and what they can do with it. All comments and changes are logged into the system automatically with date and time stamps. The file can be zapped back and forth to any number of parties to get their OK. Each collaborator will probably have their special color coding for any comments they may have.

It takes a bit of work and money to set up one of these systems, and it's important to be able to administer permissions and notifications so the right information gets to the right place. Most of the major pre-press workflow companies now have systems that can be used to create this kind of collaborative experience. There are also on-line services like Printable.com that have these options built into their workflow. There are also file validation services like Markzware's flight check online that can evaluate your files before you send them to your printer.

Stephen Beals is a digital pre-press manager and has been writing for major print publications for many years. He is the author of A Practical Primer for Painless Print Production. He can be reached at stephenbeals@mac.com.
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