Distiller vs. PDF export dialog in CS2

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by eyeon, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. eyeon macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2004
    Montana, USA
    This has been a burning question for a while now...

    I have Adobe CS2, and I frequently export my files as PDFs. I keep hearing great things about Adobe Distiller, but have never really used it. I've read many things about it and it seems that all the nice things people say about it can be done just as easily from the File > Save As > PDF dialog options box. It seems, in fact, that one has even MORE options when saving to PDF from within this dialog... So I guess my question is, what am I missing? Is there any reason to use Distiller?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. highres macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2005
    Near the Singularity
    I use Distiller to rip PDF Xa files for magazine ad output. Many magazines and output houses require them these days, the whole film output industry is moving toward digital proofs vs. film and have been for years. Distiller allows you to use the various PDFX options.
  3. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    I think Distiller makes slightly smaller files than the OS X PDF creator. But I prefer the simplicity of the built-in version, so that's the one I always use.
  4. eyeon thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2004
    Montana, USA
    Thanks for the replies. Now, let me clarify a bit...

    So, say I created a file in Illustrator CS2. Would there be any reason for me to save the file as an .ai file and load that into Distiller to compress to PDF? Wouldn't it be just as effective, and perhaps even simpler to save it as a PDF straight out of Illustrator?

    I am also guessing that Distiller only accepts PostScipt files, correct? (considering I just tried the above, and an error was produced). If so, again, would there be any advantage to saving the file in Illustrator as a PostScript file and then sending it through Distiller, rather than just skipping that step and saving the file as a PDF directly out of Illustrator?

    I guess I'm just having trouble coming up with a purpose for its existence...

    Thanks for bearing with me.
  5. superfunkomatic macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2003
    calgary, ab canada
    distiller allows far more control over the the pdf output. you can create layouts in illustrator, indesign or whatever program you like and output to print resolutions, print-ready proofs, web ready, remove fonts, set font embedding options and a bunch more. it allows the output to be tailored for it's end-use.
  6. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004
    It is becoming less necessary...

    The difference is that distiller is a postscript RIP and process postscript commands that the creating application does not have access to. This used to be a very big deal.

    But now that Adobe CS2 programs have postscript RIPs (and not just postscript parsers) in their place and import functions and the applications are sophisticated enough to be able to USE these objects (used to be a lot of black boxes that contained PS objects that weren't fully rendered until the final RIP stage), it is less necessary to have the RIP at the end.

    One of the big places where PDF export is better than distillation is the use of transparency (or opacity whichever you may call it). PDF has structures that let those kinds of things to represented alot more efficiently than they are in postscript. In postscript the application generally has to "flatten" the objects and they can explode in size.

    But ultimately, today, you are probably just fine with PDF export. If you have legacy files and workflow, then you may need to use distiller to get those things to press.

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