Adobe Bridge should be a welcome tool in prepress departments

By Ron Ellis

In the recent release of Adobe Creative Suite software, Adobe has included a new component to the software called Adobe Bridge. Normally a small little piece of utility software like this wouldnÕt be worthy of mentioning. Often these types of utilities have more to offer the customer than the printer or the prepress technician. Adobe Bridge, however, is different.

What makes Adobe Bridge different is the way it links the Adobe applications together and allows us to control and integrate color settings between these settings. Prior to Adobe Bridge, AdobeÕs main color program, Photoshop, was the only program that could be used to ensure color consistency. Other applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Acrobat all had color settings, but they were separate, application-specific and required separate configuration for each application.

What is Adobe Bridge and why does it matter?

Adobe Bridge changes this. While color control is the main enhancement, there are also some other enhancements that prepress departments may also find useful. Adobe Bridge is included with Adobe Creative Suite 2. Just opening it and trying to take a quick look at what it does can be daunting. Here is an overview of what Adobe Bridge does.

Color management

The most important feature of Adobe Bridge is color control. Instead of configuring color in each application (and getting different results) Adobe Bridge allows users to configure the color for all Adobe applications in one spot. This means that all applications will handle color conversions, working spaces, and softproofing identically based on these settings. This is important for several reasons. The first is that conversions such as RGB to CMYK will have the same effects across Adobe programs. Also important, configuring this once will configure softproofing for each of these applications.

Color sharing will be improved, and color swatches and custom colors will be shared across all libraries. In addition custom colors will preview more accurately as will simulations of blacks.

PDF support

Adobe Bridge also offers some important new ways to share PDF files. From within Adobe Bridge, PDF files can be shared for commenting and invitations as well as coordination of all comments can be handled directly in Adobe Bridge rather than by a single copy of Acrobat. This has the potential to make sharing and annotating PDFs even simpler than it has been before, as well as tracking who made the most recent changes and where the file is containing these changes.

Version cue

Adobe Bridge also includes a feature called version queue. When version queue is configured it can track versions of each file. It is intended to eliminate arcane file naming and organizational structures (such as naming files logo_version_1.eps). Once you designate a Version Cue area on your system or server, the multiple versions will be preserved along with previews, dates, time and any metadata you would like to include.

Version queue will also support browser based content reviews, invitations, and review tracking when using Adobe Acrobat files.

Organized assets

The file browser will let you preview and see any Adobe-created file as well as most standard graphic file formats, The previews are more than just a scalable thumbnail and include advanced features such as previewing inside pages of PDF files

File sharing and project management across workgroups

Adobe Bridge will also allow you to share files across the network, either from your computer or a server, and will track versions, who worked on and created the files, and metadata associated with the files. In addition, when you perform searches in Adobe Bridge, you can search by time, creator, date as well as keywords, metadata and other variables such as Pantone colors. You can actively check whether a file is in use, and by whom and the status of the file. Other features allow you to backup files systematically, and to perform batch deletions of older files. My first impression is that this will work best in small workgroups and the Adobe white paper on this feature says to try it first on large servers before completely scaling up for full use.

Stock photo access

The Adobe Bridge also includes access to stock photography from several agencies. From within Adobe Bridge you can browse, preview and purchase stock photography as needed.

Bridge Center

The Bridge Center is the starting point and the main portal into the bridge and shows you recent files and folder, tips on using the Adobe applications, and also can include RSS feeds and other information.

Image processing and searches

Adobe Bridge also supports scripting, automated workflows and automated searches. It comes with example scripts for common procedures, and allows you to create your own scripts. It also allows automation of common tasks such as resizing or converting images or thumbnails. Searches that will be used over and over can be saved as collections so that they are right at your fingertips and require no additional typing.

Controlling color the most important

Despite all the new features, most prepress departments and printing plants will find that the integrated color controls are the most important feature in Adobe Bridge. Having one place to synchronize all these settings is important. While the other features may seem more important for content creators, some of these features will be important as well depending on your workflow. So most of us will benefit from using the most basic Adobe Bridge features, while others will find it helpful to control files.

About the author: Ron Ellis is a prepress consultant specializing in workflow training and integration. He worked in the commercial printing industry for 18 years and brings a strong background to all aspects of prepress. He has consulted on numerous CTP installations and he provides color management, integration, training, workflow development, and troubleshooting solutions to the graphic arts community. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his Web site at www.ronellisconsulting.com.