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June 19, 2007

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Kevin Rowe

Thank you for the info but I think there are several points we need to add. Our company did the initial research for Plotworks, Oce, and Autodesk and gave them feed back after ripping files for 240 hours straight. The lack of information to the designers on the issues with ripping files has long been overlooked. DWG, DWF, have added millions of dollars of cost to the printing of documents. Because this cost is an after effect of aggressive files and the penalties paid by design firms are paid for one file at a time, so they go unnoticed.

In addition DWF cannot handle the complete documents for a project, only the plans. It doesn't make much sense to have the plans in one format and 99% of specs come in PDF. You have just created a rift in file management, multiple viewers etc.

Our product MySmartPlans takes the raw formats and creates archival level PDF's, I'm not sure DWF has been certified as an archival format. Buildings last for many, many years. Autodesk's DWG created a huge problem with backward compatability and causes the very "un-green" necessity of keeping hardcopy in lieu of a digital archive. I think it is only fair to point out the long term effect these file formats have in an industry where the need to retain information has been overlooked and ignored. The need for the intelligence of a DWF is great and plays into everyones future as paper becomes more obsolete. The need to come up with a uniform, archival quality document format that incorporates all the factors involved with the docuemnt life-cycle is now. As a company that has to deal with all the files in a project and all the players involved in a construction project, PDF has the best overall solution. Any professional firm will not use a simple PDF writer anymore than they would use a cheap CAD package to design with, odds are they use Autodesk, and the tools in Adobe Acrobat pay for the robust versions in the first months of use, it's not about cost, it's about the time spent fooling with anything but design.

Kevin Rowe
kevin.rowe@mysmartplans.com

Rodney McManamy

As for our AcroPlot Repro product the newest version just released has a new "AcroPlot Repro Enhanced Dithering Pattern" that was optimized to not drop out thin light colored lines in both PDF and DWF. If anyone finds any files that lines drop out on I would love to see them so we can try to optimize it even better if needed. We've also fixed the problem in the latest version with DWF Text justification from Revit DWF files that I don't think anyone else has released a fix for yet.

I agree on PDF for archival but really for true archival for monochrome plotting nothing beats the old group4 monochrome tiff file. This is honestly the only format that is always going to be able to be redisplayed and printed 100% accurately time and time again. I can take PDF files and run them through 5 different viewers and you will get 5 different results. The changes may be very minor such as text shifting just a hair but they are still there. I have customers PDF files that even when printed through Acrobat 8 to a color deskjet will drop out thin lines in hatch patterns. PLT files are just as bad and some PLT files will view fine in one viewer and not the other. And DWF files also have similar problems.

The thing is that companies choose to use one format over another for a variety of reasons and printing is only one of them. There is no question that the DWF is better for most AutoCAD drawings and can be created and even marked up for free. 3D DWF is by far better than 3D PDF for larger models. And these are huge benefits to many customers.

But other customers don't want to have to install another viewer for all their users and opt for PDF and others still stick with PLT.

And Adobe's PDF files are far from the best for AutoCAD Drawings. Both our AcroPlot PDF files and Bluebeam's are typically much better then Adobes and both of ours have supported lines merge for years that Adobe doesn't. Yes the lines merge has caused problems for the reprographics companies trying to use the old ghostscript technology but we have solved that problem for them with AcroPlot Repro which will plug into most of the other programs like Repro Desk, Kip, and Metaprint.

But although the lines merge has caused plotting problems the amount of work it saves the client creating the PDF files is huge.

But from the reprographics side you are there to provide a service and those that provide the service are going to get the work. Technology is changing fast and you can no longer install software and expect it to just work for 5 years. Adobe has been updating the PDF format almost every year and every year Autodesk makes changes to the DWF and reprographics companies are going to have to learn to keep up to stay competitive.

We're here to help and yes we want to sell software but honestly our AcroPlot Repro was created because our customers needed lines merge support and higher quality for both PDF and DWF output to monochrome plotters. If we turn a profit on it that will be great. But first and foremost we provided a solution for many of our current customers.

Kevin Rowe

I agree on most of your points, we at USRN have distributed Bluebeam for 5 years and find it superior to Adobe. As far as archival I should have been clearer. If you are building a true archive TIFF doesn't qualify for ISO standards. In many cases the PDF we create is really a GP4 tiff wrapped in PDF clothing. It is searchable but not as clean as a vector PDF. Also there is not a universal TIFF viewer like Reader. Most web solutions do not like the tiff format either, they are too big and hard to deal with without manipulation for thumbs. So if you want a file format that everyone can read the same way, one that is printer friendly, one that is searchable, one that can handle any file format, one that is ISO certified, PDF is the only choice, not the perfect one, but the only true solution. We work with a compression technology that is slimming the PDF from 10mb to 1.5 with no apparent degradation. I have talked with Will from your company and you have done some very good things with Acroplot.

As far as charging for ripping the files a TIFF takes about 20-30 seconds including the scanning labor, one PDF can take up to 7-10 minutes, someone has to pay for that time difference, the reprographer can no longer be the scapegoat for increased times. In some cases repro companies rip one set of DWF's and print and rescan them, it's quicker than ripping them in a job submission software. How crazy is that? The truth is until Autodesk see's what really happens to their files they don't understand how the rest of the world has to deal with them. I pointed this out in an email to Carol Bartz two years ago. No response. We could all be on the same page with simple cooperation and dialouge exchange. Conflicting imaging standards inhibits the information exchange.

Rodney McManamy

As for PDF files taking 7 to 10 minutes that is because of Ghostscripts limitations (you get what you pay for when it's free). Our AcroPlot Repro solves this for a very reasonable price on top of giving you much higher quality. I suggest that you check it out at www.cadzation.com/acroplotrepro.htm

I won't even make anyone give us their email to get an evaluation code as here is one that is good until July 15th.
EVALREPRO93289540

If you have any comments or suggestions you can post them on our online helpdesk at www.cadzation.com/support.htm

With DWF files their primary purpose is to collaborate on design. This is what saves the client time and money and with some upcoming things I'm guessing Autodesk is working on will save them even more in the future.

From what I know Autodesk provides a Printer Developement Kit for Oce, HP, KIP, and others to use for I'm guessing a very reasonable price. We developed ours from the free DWF Toolkit simply because we use it already for PDF to DWF conversion and DWF to PDF conversion. But it's not Autodesk's fault that the plotter manufacturers are slow to keep up or implement fixes.

We've very good at what we do but we are a small company with far fewer resources then Oce, KIP, or HP. So if we can solve it they should be able to also if they wanted.

We can also do things like take our AcroPlot Auto which will watch entire drives and use it to automatically convert any DWF or PDF to a tiff so it's ready to send directly to the plotter. So there is no additional labor costs but yes there are costs to the technology but a fraction of what you guys are paying for plotters.

Our goal is to make sure that our clients creating PDF and DWF files do not end up having to pay additional fees to get them printed. Companies using the right technology can do this and already are and those that don't will quickly find that they will loose business because of the additional rip fees.

Rodney McManamy

Sorry, I forgot that you needed the download link that normally comes in the evaluation email.

www.cadzation.com/downloads/acroplotreprosetup.exe

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