Pros: Offers users the ability to find, buy, and embed missing fonts; much easier editing of page items
Cons: Pricey for an average designer
PitStop Pro 12 is a significant upgrade to this all-purpose (and all-powerful!) tool for preflighting and editing PDF files. It operates as a plug-in to Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro, version 8 and higher. This review focuses on the new features in version 12, so for in-depth information on everything PitStop Pro can do, please see my previous review of PitStop Pro 11.
Enfocus, the developers of PitStop Pro, identified several areas that challenged users of previous versions and solved them, including:
• Missing fonts
• Flattening of transparency
• Editing images and gradients
• Identifying varnish separations
• Aligning objects
• Editing multiple similar objects at once
• Ink usage
• White objects that overprint
The biggest “wow” feature in PitStop 12 is that Enfocus has teamed with Monotype to automatically supply fonts that PitStop identifies as missing. For just $1.49 per font, per document, PitStop can instantly supply and embed the missing font into the PDF. (Currently, 30,000+ fonts are available in Monotype’s “Baseline” system, a subset of the 150,000 fonts in Monotype’s collection that includes Linotype, ITC, Bitstream and Ascender fonts.)
While this is a great first step toward making all fonts available to PitStop and your PDFs, the reality is that many (most?) creative layouts use fonts that are not available from those collections. If you’re lucky and all the missing fonts are available, one click will buy them and embed them into the PDF. Thankfully, PitStop shows you a preview of your PDF with the new fonts in use, so you can check for line endings and other possible text issues before continuing. If you don’t like what you see, or one or more fonts aren’t available from Monotype, then you can cancel and go get the missing font from another source. (As in previous versions, if the fonts are already active on your computer, PitStop can embed them for you without requiring a purchase.)
PitStop Pro 12 tells you which missing fonts it can supply, and which ones it can’t. When you click on a font, it highlights it in pink in the preview.
Still, this is a tremendously valuable step forward for PDF processing, especially for files from “average” business users who don’t use fonts from a wide variety of sources. You can try out the feature for yourself by installing the Test Drive version of PitStop — it requires a free account at Monotype, so you’ll also need to set that up from within PitStop. When I tested it on my documents it couldn’t supply fonts from Adobe, which could be a dealbreaker for some users.
PitStop’s other new features are smaller, but just as important for specific cases. For example, PitStop 12 can now report on ink usage, and the more advanced PitStop Server can even export that data. This can be helpful for large organizations who need to track how much ink is being used, and for planning their ink purchases. It can also identify fonts by lowercase x-height, which is necessary for European Union Regulation No. 1169/2011 requiring a minimum x-height for nutrition declaration on food packaging.
You can now adjust images using Photoshop-like curves, which lets you change contrast or remove a color cast (per channel or overall). You can also adjust brightness and contrast, or apply unsharp mask to enhance the edges of objects in the image — and you can apply these adjustments to multiple images at the same time.
PitStop’s Action Lists now include choices to add brightness or contrast, and to blur or sharpen the image. If an object has a troublesome gradient fill, you can edit the gradient’s colors, color mode, start/end points and rotation, or even replace it with a new one.
There’s also a new tool to align objects to each other or to the page, or to distribute the space between them.
If the PDF includes spot varnishes, you can move them to a new PDF layer so that anyone with the free Adobe Reader can see where they are.
White overprinting objects are now identified and can be changed to knock out items beneath them. You can flatten layers to the current view, and flatten Form Fields to become printable content. And the Server version of PitStop 12 now uses Adobe’s flattening engine, which makes the processing of transparency effects more predictable.
Editing page items is a bit easier and a lot more powerful. You can now right-click multiple page items to group them, which is handy when moving objects — especially in flattened PDFs, which can have a surprisingly large number of objects. You can now create separate layers (called Optional Content Groups or OCGs) for specific types of elements (text, images, graphics, and shading). This can help when editing items because
you can quickly hide the ones that aren’t relevant.
If you deal with a high volume of PDF files, PitStop Pro 12 can quickly repay its cost. Tracking down missing fonts is a time-consuming (and often thankless) job, so the new Purchase Missing Fonts feature may be enough to justify the upgrade. In fact, any one of the new timesaving features could fully justify the expense — to determine that for yourself, revisit the bulleted list at the beginning of this review.
Adobe Acrobat 8–XI Standard or Pro
Microsoft Windows XP SP2 Professional or Home Edition
Microsoft Windows 7, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate Edition
(32-bit and 64-bit, running in 32-bit mode) Microsoft Windows 8, (32-bit and 64-bit running in 32-bit mode)
Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8
Mac: Intel processor, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB hard disk space
Windows: 2GB Ram, 1GB hard disk space
$799 (upgrades: $219 from version 11; $339 from version 10)