NatIve INteRPRetatIoN IN tHeHaRlequIN RIP ®by Martin BaileyChief technolo...
the future of PostScriptA second decision we had to make in 1997 when we first added native PDF interpretation, and then t...
And that’s where the Harlequin RIP stands today. Whether you’ve built a PDF workflow, or you’re still workingwith PostScri...
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Native interpretation in the Harlequin RIP from Global Graphics

Since 2002, th Harlequin RIP has automatically recognised when PDF files contain transparency and corrects it. Martin Bailey, CTO at Global Graphics, discusses Harlequin RIP's ability to provide native interpretation of Postscript, PDF and XPS in one single RIP. visit for further information
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Technology      

Transcripts - Native interpretation in the Harlequin RIP from Global Graphics

  • 1. NatIve INteRPRetatIoN IN tHeHaRlequIN RIP ®by Martin BaileyChief technology officer, Global Graphics Software.June 19th 2008When Harlequin® RIPs first shipped for production use in1988, they were “PostScript® language compatible Since 2002 the Harlequin RIP hasinterpreters”. They could read PostScript language files, andrender them to rasters that could be used to mark onto film automatically recognised when PDF filesor to other media. In the twenty years since then many new contain transparency and generated thefeatures have been added to the Harlequin RIP, including in- correct result. In fact, unlike other RIPsRIP separation, trapping, imposition, color management, fontemulation and a host of other functionality to make pre-press the Harlequin RIP provides nativeproduction faster, more efficient and easier. interpretation of PostScript, PDF and XPS in a single RIP.Supporting PDFAmongst those features, support for Adobe®’s PortableDocument Format (PDF) was added in 1997. At the time ourdevelopers had the choice of following the route taken by Adobe, of adding a converter from PDF toPostScript in front of a RIP that still only understood PostScript, or of building a RIP that could read PDF aswell. After much consideration we decided to add a native PDF interpreter, because we believed that addingan extra conversion step had a very high likelihood of introducing errors in the output, and would reduce theperformance of the RIP.Back in 1997 PDF was at version 1.3 (Acrobat 4), and didn’t include any transparency support; a conversionfrom PDF to PostScript would have been a relatively lightweight and simple process. When Adobe added livetransparency to PDF version 1.4 (Acrobat 5), our decision was vindicated. Overnight a conversion from PDFto PostScript became much harder, requiring flattening of any transparent objects and so greatly increasing thelikelihood of conversion errors and reducing performance. That’s not to say that updating our native PDFinterpretation to support transparency properly was easy, but it was clearly the right thing to do. Version 6.0 ofthe Harlequin RIP (the Eclipse Release™) was one of the first products to natively consume PDF files, and toprocess live transparency in them for production use in professional print sites, when it was released in 2002.Harlequin RIPs since 2002 have automatically recognized when PDF files contain any transparency, and haveacted on that to generate the correct results, even when in-RIP trapping is in use. 1
  • 2. the future of PostScriptA second decision we had to make in 1997 when we first added native PDF interpretation, and then to re-confirm in 2002 when we added support for live PDF transparency, was what we should do about PostScript.We could either build two separate RIPs, one forPostScript, and one for PDF, or we could combinesupport for both formats into a single RIP. We looked at WHat DoeS “NatIve INteRPRetatIoN”the functionality that we’d added into our original MeaN, aNyWay?PostScript language support, such as in-RIP trapping, colormanagement, separation, calibration and high-quality RIPs read a job in page description language such as PostScript, PDF or XPSscreening, and it was obvious that it would all need to be and store a representation of all the graphical elements that make up thesupported for both PostScript and PDF into the future. pages in a structure known as a Display List (DL).The DL is then rendered to produce a raster file (a bitmap or byte-map).Harlequin RIPs are sold through OEM partners, and wedidn’t want to give those partners the added workload of The Harlequin RIP contains three interpreters, one for each of PostScript, PDFproviding interfaces to configure the extra functionality and XPS. Each one reads the relevant type of input and converts it into atwice, once for PostScript and once for PDF. There was single DL. The same rendering pipeline is then used to process all pages,also the risk that unintended differences in the behavior whatever format they started out in.of something like color management between PostScriptand PDF might occur if they were supported in separateRIPs, leading to increased training costs and reduced PostScript Trappingconfidence amongst our users. Color Management PDF Separation Rendering RasterIt was clear that the only sensible solution was to build Calibrationsupport for both PostScript and PDF into a single RIP. Screening XPSand then there were three Additional functionality, such as trapping, color management, calibration,In 2003 Global Graphics (the company behind the separation, screening is performed either on the DL before rendering, orHarlequin RIP) was commissioned by Microsoft to assist during rendering process itself. Other features, such as font emulation orin defining a new page description language that would imposition may be performed at any time; in a Harlequin RIP they are handledbe used as the core of the print subsystems in their during interpretation, but using code that can easily be shared betweenupcoming Windows Vista operating system. The format different interpreters.became known as XPS, the XML Paper Specification.Global Graphics was involved throughout the definition This level of commonality extends to job submission, too.Whether you’re usingphase of XPS, and first demonstrated XPS RIPs based on a hot folder or JDF to send files to a Harlequin RIP you can set up a singlethe Harlequin RIP kernel in 2004. Support for XPS in channel and the RIP will automatically recognize what file format it’s deliveredprofessional print was rolled out in the Harlequin PLUS in and process it correctly.Server RIP in 2007. Transparency in XPS is processed fullyautomatically, just as it is in PDF.We’d already been through all the design decisions around performance and output quality when we addedPDF support; it was obvious what we should do for XPS. We added a third interpreter alongside PostScriptand PDF to handle it. 2
  • 3. And that’s where the Harlequin RIP stands today. Whether you’ve built a PDF workflow, or you’re still workingwith PostScript files, or you’re ahead of the curve on XPS adoption, the Harlequin RIP will help you deliverhigh-quality results at high speed. If you have a mixed workflow, receiving files in more than one format, or ifyou re-design your processes to move from one to another you don’t need to learn different tool sets forcolor management, trapping, screening etc. If you’ve learned it once, then you’ve learned it for all formats.Harlequin: not like “most other RIPs”.oNe OPEn ARcHITEcTURE MaNy PDL APPLIcATIOnS INFINIte OPPORTUnITIES June 2008 Global Graphics Software Inc. Global Graphics Software Ltd Global Graphics KK 31 nagog Park, Suite 315, Acton 2nd Floor, Building 2030 704 AIOS Toranomon Bldg. MA 01720, USA cambourne Business Park 1-6-12 nishishimbashi, Minato-ku, Tel: +1-978-849-0011 cambourne, cambridge Tokyo 105-0003 Fax: +1-978-849-0012 cB23 6DW UK Japan Tel: +44 (0)1954 283100 Tel: Fax: +44 (0)1954 283101 Fax: +81-3-6273-3741Harlequin, the Harlequin RIP, the Harlequin logo and the smarter alternative are trademarks of Global Graphics Software Limited which may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Global Graphics Software is a registeredtrademark of Global Graphics SA. PostScript is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated which may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Microsoft, Windows and Windows Vista are all trademarks of Microsoftcorporation and may be registered in certain jurisdictions All other brand and product names are the registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective owners.copyright © 2008 Global Graphics Software Ltd. All rights reserved. 3

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