Star product: Enfocus PitStop Pro 13.1

Simon Eccles
Monday, February 22, 2016

The latest version of this top-end preflighting and editing suite adds extra functionality.

What does the software do?

PitStop Pro is a digital artwork quality control, editing and production aid. It is supplied as a plug-in for Adobe Acrobat and can be used to check, verify (such as for PDF/X), report, auto-correct or convert (say RGB to CMYK) and edit the graphic and text content of PDF files. Its manual content editing abilities are notably more extensive that those of Adobe Acrobat or Illustrator. There are facilities for automatic editing, for instance a new ability to generate grommet hole markings for banner type applications. 

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

The first version was launched in 1998. Originally it was aimed at commercial print, newspaper and magazine production, but as the use of PDF became more widespread, features were added to help with applications such as digital print, sign and display, packaging and labels as well as traditional repro and advertising. 

How does it work?

PDF files are opened in Adobe Acrobat, after which the user selects the PitStop Pro menu and can choose to preflight check the files or just edit them. Preflight checks can be chosen from a standard set which include PDF/X and the Ghent PDF Workgroup standards, or users can define their own routines from a list of possibilities. The preflight check can also include automatic fixes for problems such as incorrect colour spaces, missing fonts or unwanted spot colours. The user can also manually edit the PDF by selecting image elements or text and modifying them with familiar design tools. Alternatively one-click ‘Global Changes’ will correct all instances of an issue in a PDF file. 

How does it differ from previous versions?

Most importantly, the new version introduces a new concept called Preflight Restrictions. These enable users to define which elements in a file they actually want to check, and how they want them to be checked.

For example it may be that certain checks should only be carried out on a specific PDF layer, colour separation, or only within a particular area or page.

The latest incremental PitStop 13 update 1 has the ability to ‘restrict’ the preflight to within a contour or irregular shape. This could be a dieline or cutter guide, for example. 

Options and variants

‘Floating’ licences are available, which can be activated and deactivated via the Workgroup manager. This lets different people in a job sequence access PitStop as necessary, without needing to buy a copy for all of them. There is a Server version, intended for a fully automatic checking and automatic fixing workflow, typically for files coming in via e-mail, FTP or web-to-print. 

The PitStop Preflight engine is also used in Connect ALL, a way for printers to control the way customer PDFs are created and to verify and correct them if needed before they are uploaded. 

What is the USP?

According to Andrew Bailes-Collins, senior product manager at Enfocus, “the feature that is appreciated most by our customers is the easy interaction with the actual objects in a PDF. You can simply select the objects that you want, find out their attributes and also edit them with a toolset aimed at the graphic arts market. In addition the manual preflight results also allow easy direct interaction with the PDF so you can find the problem elements and correct them very easily.”

How easy is it to use?

It is designed for use by people who have some experience in pre-press and graphic arts. Predefined preflight profiles and fixes for the most common issues help new users get started. Content editing tools are similar to other desktop applications. More advanced functions will require some experience and training.

What training and support is on offer?

Training is available through resellers and other professional trainers. Software support is available via local resellers or directly with Enfocus through a new support portal (www.enfocus.com/supportportal). Telephone support is available to users with maintenance contracts. 

Enfocus also runs one-hour interactive online workshops every month. These can be accessed afterwards at www.enfocus.com/en/events/monthly-pitstop-pro-workshops (registration is needed but is free). Other instructional videos are available on YouTube.

What does it cost?

A perpetual single licence is £579. Alternatively there is an annual subscription at £240 (or £25 per month). A floating licence is £2,690 for up to five users and one year’s maintenance. A free 30-day trial version is available for download from the Enfocus website. 

How many are installed currently worldwide and in the UK?

“We currently have around 130,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 copies in use in the UK,” says Bailes-Collins. 


SPECIFICATIONS

System requirements Mac OS X or Windows, both running Adobe Acrobat

Price £579 single-user, or £2,690 for five-user floating licence, or £25/month with annual subscription

Contact Enfocus +32 9 216 9211 www.enfocus.com


ALTERNATIVES

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

The original PDF production software, which can be used to add features (such as comments or multimedia), create PDF wrappers around other file types, merge several PDFs, delete pages, etc. The most recent Pro DC version is available as a Creative Cloud subscription or bought outright. Pro versions have good built-in preflighting, though the user interface isn’t very good. Recent versions gained better editing features, but they’re nothing like as sophisticated as PitStop Pro’s. 

System requirements Mac OS X, Windows

Price £377.50 (upgrade is £163), or £11.10 per month on annual subscription

Contact Adobe 020 7365 0735 www.adobe.com/uk

Callas Software pdfToolbox 8.1

Sophisticated preflighting and correction/conversion wrapped up in an easy-to-use package. It can run either in standalone form or as a plug-in to Adobe Acrobat. There are a lot of pre-set fixes, though no manual content editing tools. Colour management and conversion features are particularly strong. An automated server version is also offered. 

System requirements Mac OS X, Windows 

Price €499 (about £387)

Contact Callas +49 30 443 90310 www.callas.de

Markzware FlightCheck 7.7

FlightCheck is really intended to check native layout files for problems, then launch those files in their original programs and take you to the problem area. It supports most common and some uncommon design and layout programs. It can check PDFs, but that’s not its strong point. Worth a look if you receive a lot of native files. 

System requirements Mac OS X, Windows

Price £295 (perpetual) or £147 (12 months)

Contact Markzware Europe +31 015 369 9404 www.markzware.com 

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