Star product: Solimar ReadyPDF Prepress Server

Simon Eccles
Thursday, April 29, 2021

A high-speed, high-volume PDF optimisation and preflight tool.

What does it do?

It is server-based package intended to cut pre-press processing times by automatically optimising high volumes of incoming PDF files and passing them on to the next stage in production. It’s scalable to handle differing workloads.

Solimar is a 30-year-old US-based software developer with a UK office. ReadyPDF was developed out of its experience with its Print Management suite, although it can run as a standalone with no other Solimar software present.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The standalone version, ReadyPDF Prepress Server, was released in June 2020 and is intended for large-scale applications that need to process very high volumes of PDFs with minimal human intervention, such as automated web-to-print work or variable data jobs such as direct mail.

Jamie Walsh, regional sales manager for Solimar Systems, says: “It is relevant especially in applications like W2P where the PDF creation may not produce the cleanest or best constructed PDF for digital printing, electronic delivery or digital storage. We also have seen it making an impact in digital book printing workflows, catalogue printing and large/grand format printing. That said we have tested it with smaller print providers with success, as well as with mid-size operations running cutsheet multi-drawer printing devices.”

How does it work?

ReadyPDF Server is software that runs on Windows servers running Microsoft Net Framework 4.x, which are supplied by the user. It uses a templated, rule-based automated approach to PDF analysis and optimisation. It is able to fix most common errors automatically, so very few need to be investigated manually or rejected outright. Optimised files are output by a RIP, with one RIP per license. Unlimited multiple RIPs can be licenced.

It can run as a standalone system or it can be added as a module to an existing Solimar Print Director Enterprise production management system. It can be linked to other processing or storage stages in a workflow by APIs (for direct controlling) or hot folders or webhooks (for browser based applications).

There’s a long list of checks and optimisations that it can perform automatically, largely grouped into efficient use of resources (especially repeating images, logos, etc); downsampling resolution; colour management and spot colour rationalisation; font embedding; removal of unnecessary PDF objects (which may need different handling for print, archiving or electronic publishing); and correction of structural issues in PDF code.

Solimar highlights one feature in particular: obfuscation. This scrambles sensitive data, such as names, addresses and numbers, so files can be sent to third parties for review or testing without infringing client confidentiality or GDPR guidelines. Non-sensitive copy can be left unscrambled for proofreading.

It is set up through a graphical user interface on a Windows server. The latest version has a reporting feature that shows the before and after of the PDF optimisation.

How fast/productive is it?

It depends on how many servers you employ for what volumes of work. However, it’s scalable to handle pretty well anything at rates that keep up with high-speed press consumption.

“ReadyPDF Server was designed to process quickly for high-volume critical printing applications where service level agreements govern the delivery times with penalties associated with missing an agreed date,” says Walsh. “For one of our customers, they were able to take a body of work that would take 24 hours to produce and reduce it to one hour or less.”

What’s the USP?

Scalability for high performance is the main USP. There are other PDF optimisers on the market, but ReadyPDF is intended to handle high volumes of large files to keep up with the fastest variable-data digital presses.

How easy is it to use?

“Our customers find it straightforward to use,” says Walsh. “That said, it is more technical than a desktop design or composition tool. It is most often used in the print production area where operators are used to print management, post-composition enhancement and enrichment tools or production workflow tracking and reporting.”

As a template-based, rules-driven and automated product, once set up it should not need much attention except to resolve exception files or set up a new template for output.

What support is offered?

“We recommend remote/virtual training so we can help users fast-track their install, setup and usage,” says Walsh. Training is available in packages to suit different requirements.

24/7 support and maintenance is included as part of the yearly subscription, together with access to the online learning platform, Solimar University Online.

What does it cost?

There is an annual subscription starting at $5,000 (£3,635) with a single license, which includes support and maintenance. More RIP licenses can be added at extra cost (eg two RIPs will costs $7,500/ £5,433), but you only pay if they are in use.


SPECIFICATIONS

Platform Windows Server 2012 R2, Server 2016, Server 2019, Windows 10 (64-bit only), running MS Net Framework 4.x

Hardware Server with x64 2.4 GHz, Quad Core CPU, 8GB RAM (recommended: 24GB), 6GB HDD, Gigabit Ethernet and one free USB port

Price From $5,000 (£3,635) per year

Contact Solimar www.solimarsystems.com Jamie Walsh 07377 143665


ALTERNATIVES

Callas PDFtoolbox Server

Callas specialises in PDF preflighters with an easy to understand user interface. Adobe licensed Callas technology as the built-in pre-flighter in Acrobat. The server version uses process plans to define the checks, with the ability to incorporate variables depending on content.

Platform MacOS, Windows plus developer versions

Price €4,800 (£4,098)

Contact Callas Software www.callassoftware.com +49 30 443 90310

Enfocus Pitstop Server

This long established but frequently updated automated PDF preflight, correction and repurposing server uses profiles and action lists. These can be swapped with the standalone Pitstop Pro, which runs the same sort of functions without the automation but with a full function PDF editor.

Platform Windows server with unlimited CPUs

Price Subscription (£1,191/year) with all upgrades, or perpetual license (£4,200) with one year’s support, then paid-for major upgrades.

Contact Enfocus www.enfocus.com +32 9 216 98 01

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