It can edit print-ready PDFs

Global Graphics wins US patent for PDF breakthrough

Outlining text is an important part of generating print-ready files
Outlining text is an important part of generating print-ready files

Global Graphics Software has won a US patent for software that allows operators to easily search and change text on PDFs.

The patent, for “Methods and Systems for Identifying and Tagging Outlined or Converted Text,” can archive a PDF’s textual information during the process of outlining the fonts for printing, preserving the data in a ‘hidden layer’ that allows for its easy retrieval.

The process of outlining, where fonts are rendered as shapes on the artwork instead of readable fonts, can make it difficult to subsequently make changes to print-ready files.

By preparing files with Global Graphics Software’s method, printers and clients would be able to easily search through print-ready label PDFs, for example, according to Nigel Wild, product owner and co-inventor of the patented software.

He said: “For example, if a text change must be made to a printed label, such as an ingredient change, the user would have to manually read all the files that could be affected and determine which ones need to be updated.

“This could be a very time-consuming and error-prone task. This invention solves this problem by creating a hidden layer in the PDF file that contains the live text properties, such as the actual live text at outlining stage, the location, font, style, size, and colour of the text. The user can then extract this data and store it for review.

“Now hundreds of thousands of files can be searched very quickly for a specific text string and files that need to be updated can be identified in seconds rather than months. Moreover, it also enables the user to reactivate the text if legitimate edits are required.” 

Existing applications in the market are typically more limited in scope. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology, for instance, is able to scan PDFs for text after they have been outlined, though each file has to be scanned separately.

Speaking to Printweek, Wild explained further: “This can give you the live text, but the font, colour, size, and precise positioning on the original document can be ambiguous. Also, the data from the OCR still has to be linked to the document. 

“The difference with embedded text [as in the patented method] is that all the technical details and live text are still embedded within the file. They are there as a silent witness.

“This data can be made available for Asset Management Systems to search and locate all final documents containing a specific ingredient or claim, and Automated Artwork Systems, for example Hybrid Software’s Cloudflow, to replace/correct all statements on all designs.

“The PDF is still a PDF that prints securely using outlined text. This method allows access to the live text at the time of outlining, in a format that is searchable and [with the] information to replace specific words, sentences or paragraphs in an automated environment.”

The patent, not yet integrated into any products, will be used to upgrade the firm’s own software offering – like its SmartDFE for labels and packaging – used by manufacturers.

As Global Graphics Software sits within Hybrid Software Group, the patented software will also be used to upgrade Hybrid technology, like Packz and Cloudflow programmes.