PPF - The CIP4 classic Print Production Format

The CIP3 Print Production Format (PPF) is the ancestor of CIP4 Job Definition Format (JDF). It is a variant of Adobe’s PostScript language that was developed and published in the late 1990's. The aim was to created a vendor-independent file format designed to allow transfer of pre-press, press and post-press related data between stages in a print production environment. Although PPF could have been replaced by JDF a long time ago, it is still a commonly used file format in Graphic Arts Industry, mainly in order to transfer ink key preset data from prepress to offset presses.

Print Production Format

The Print Production Format (PPF) is considered the predecessor format of JDF. It was developed by the CIP3 organization, the predecessor organization of CIP4. Therefore, the PPF is often referred to as the CIP3 format. It is encoded in the PostScript computer language.

New PostScript keywords and structures have been defined to describe PPF content. This is also the reason why PPF cannot be processed by a standard PostScript interpreter (such as Adobe Acrobat). It requires a specialised PPF interpreter.

The reasons why it was decided in the late 1990s to specify the JDF and JMF formats rather than attempt to add new functionality to the format are many. In particular:

  • A major shortcoming of the Print Production Format is its lack of support for order processing (MIS/ERP). PPF is used almost exclusively for technical production control.
  • The PPF does not support shop floor data collection.
  • There is no message format for dynamic interaction (such as the Job Messaging Format).
  • PPF is coded in PostScript and therefore relatively difficult to interpret and edit.
  • There is no defined mechanism for separating and merging parts of a PPF. This makes central PPF storage for different workflow components cumbersome. Instead, several different PPF files are exchanged from and to different workflow components via various hot folders.

In essence, JDF has replaced PPF. There is one application that still sometimes uses PPF: Ink zone presetting for conventional offset printing. In this context, prepress provides the low-res image preview and transfer curves. From this, a press application can calculate the color zone preset by first applying the transfer curve to the preview, then counting the percentage of color pixels in each ink zone and for each separation.

PPF Specification 3.0

PPF mapping to (X)JDF

In recognition of this continuing relevance, CIP4 has defined a recommendation for mapping PPF to (X)JDF.

Please read the application note for details.

There is a PPF example on the CIP4 Confluence website. It shows aPostScript file with PPF keywords for the process "cutting". Please follow the link below.