When we started the company, back in the “good ole days”!, we would prepare artwork in Quark XPress (this was before Adobe InDesign), print out proofs of the document on a laserprinter, and those proofs would be packaged up and sent by courier (motorbike) across London to the client. The client would mark up their revisions on the laserproofs and bike them back to us for us to implement the revisions.
After a year or two the normal practice became to fax the proofs back and forth between ourselves and the client, but the revisions themselves were still written by hand on the proofs.
Then along came Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat represented a significant step forward. Now there were PDFs, proofs in digital form that eliminated the need for all those paper proofs! And the client could make their revisions with the Post-it-Note tool that is part of Acrobat: click where you want the revision to be made, a little yellow box pops up, and you type the revision you want. A great improvement ... or was it?
There is no doubt that for simple revisions the Post-it-Note system works fine. A Post-it-Note that says ‘change word “abc” to “xyz”’ is clear and straightforward. But what if you have a long paragraph and you want to make a number of changes, rephrasing a few sentences within a paragraph. Soon you have lots of Post-it-Notes attached to that one paragraph. And most significantly you as the editor cannot read through the revised paragraph as a whole – all your revisions are in those Post-it-Notes separate from the original text. Acrobat does not allow you to revise the text itself, only superimpose revisions over the top of the text.
It was this limitation of the Acrobat Post-it-Note system, amongst other reasons, that prompted us to develop our RevFlow system. When we use RevFlow, the client is supplied with a PDF of the artwork AND a Microsoft Word file that contains all the text of the document. Instead of making Post-it-Note revisions in the PDF, the client revises the text in the Word file. Working in the Word file, the client can edit the text directly. If they choose to use Word’s revision tools, they can view the text before it was revised, after it has been revised or with the revisions showing. They can read through an amended paragraph as a whole to ensure it now reads correctly – something that simply cannot be done in Acrobat.
Layout changes are still made with Post-it-Notes in the PDF – “move this picture to the bottom of the page” or “reduce the size of this headline so it fits on one line”. But text revisions are made in the Word file.
When we receive the revised Word file back from the client, we import it into the LanguageFlow software. The software identifies paragraphs that have changed from the previous proof and only those paragraphs are then flowed into the artwork. In other words, the operator uses the software to selectively implement in the InDesign artwork the revisions the client has made in the Word file, without touching any text that has not been revised. And after implementing the revisions, the operator uses the software to “verify” the text in the Word file against the text in the artwork, i.e. to check that the text in the Word file and the text in the artwork exactly match – there’s no possibility of missing a revision, or misinterpreting what a revision should be – the text the client types in the Word file is the text that is in the artwork.
Acrobat Post-it-Notes are arguably an improvement over hand-written revisions on laserproofs, but we believe that the RevFlow system to be a vast improvement over either.