Celebrating 25 years of PDF with GWG

Evolution from early days to the future of PDF


The Ghent Workgroup is inviting the global printing, packaging and publishing community to join them in celebrating 25 years of PDF – a quarter of a century of technical research, dedication and collaboration.

Invented 25 years ago with office communication in mind, PDF has changed the way the global community handles file processing. After a long series of steps and slow development, the key players have brought PDF to where it is today and are rightly proud. Chairman of the Ghent Workgroup, David Zwang says, “This is a milestone for GWG. It has been my privilege to be involved with the evolution of PDF from those early days. It took a lot of development and actual application use by many people before PDF achieved its current state as the standard file format for the delivery of data and instructions for high quality printing and packaging. The Ghent Workgroup continues its commitment to produce specifications and share best practices for PDF exchange. Its goal is to provide valuable tools and guidelines to automate and test processes in order to promote consistent output results. Today we are working with our global members and partners to extend and create specifications for the future of PDF for Packaging, Wide Format and industrial print processes.”

Early Days
At the Seybold Seminar in 1998, a white paper was presented – “PDF for prepress” which explained the development of the first PDF/X standards required to achieve ISO certification. It also envisioned the definition of the PDF/X-Plus specifications as developed by the Ghent (PDF) Workgroup (GWG). The PDF/X-Plus specification added the missing technical quality criteria for major print processes and products. In addition to wide adoption throughout Europe, the GWG specifications were also used in Switzerland for the popular PDFX-ready settings and preflight profiles.

Before the Ghent PDF Workgroup was established, Enfocus in Ghent was holding meetings with individual associations in Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and France to create settings for preflighting in prepress that would manage errors and streamline the file handling process. These associations wanted to share their findings with their members and Enfocus repeated the same preflight settings and requirements to each group. Enfocus invited all the associations to come together round the table so that the discussions represented all countries. This was the start of a workgroup in Ghent (where Enfocus is based) and they called it – the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Ghent PDF Workgroup managed to capture a unique bridge between End Users (represented through industry associations), Industry Partners and Software Vendors and Developers. Stakeholders then recognized the added value of working together on best practices for the different market-segments.

Benefits Today
Driven by industry trends, end users are able to formalize the implementation of PDF/X standards via GWG. GWG Specifications are now the recognized PDF reference for the current Printing and Publishing Industries. The unique combination of GWG members with different industry backgrounds working together in Sub Committees in different countries brings expertise from all quarters esuring comprehensive and considered results.
By coordinating and driving forward PDF best practice, the Ghent Workgroup has continued to help industry sectors move forward and optimize PDF Exchange between Creators and Processors.

The Future for PDF
The PDF/X portable format and many new compliant workflows are now the standard for printing, packaging and publishing industry. The current market trends are driving a fundamental need for best practices – freelance designers, short runs, fast brand cycles and the use of packaging for marketing means a greater need for more guidance and standardization. Companies that don’t have the time to do the research and develop their own best practices, GWG works on best practices and solutions to help them with day to day problems and challenges. They create practical and efficient tools to answer the needs of the market and its evolution – such as hybrid printing (conventional and digital) . GWG tools and educational documents are free to download from the GWG website. www.gwg.org.

Jason Lisi, GWG member and associate professor at Ryerson University concludes, “I believe that moving forward the GWG will be even more relevant for our industries. As they continue to navigate and successfully implement various functionalities of PDF in practical ways, they will continue to stay ahead of the curve and embrace new innovations. Here’s to the next 25 years!”

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South Asia is always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

As we present our publishing plan for 2023, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2023 will reach 6.3%. Packaging industry growth has exceeded GDP growth even when allowing for inflation in the past three years.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 33% over the past three years. With orders in place, we expect another 33% capacity addition from 2023 to 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels have grown similarly. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

In an admittedly fragmented and textured terrain, this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing support communication – in our impactful and highly targeted business platform. Tell us what you need. Speak and write to our editorial and advertising teams! For advertisement ads1@ippgroup.in , for editorial info@ippgroup.in and for subscriptions subscription@ippgroup.in

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now
unnamed 1


Subscribe to our Newsletter

As 2023 begins and FY 23-24 unfolds, will you support us?

What lies in store for the packaging industry in India and South Asia this coming year? Inflation, disruption of supply chains or environmental regulation? Or the resumption of high rural demand, continued investment and industry consolidation? Whatever happens, Packaging South Asia will be there, providing clarity and independent technical and business information in India and South Asia and around the world. We are a compact Indian organization bringing a window of fair and rigorous technical and business information that the industry can access this year and beyond. Please support us with your advertising and subscriptions, to keep us going and growing.

Thank you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here