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Opening PDF in Illustrator adds negative kerning?

New Here ,
Jun 03, 2020

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Hi there, our print company has encountered this problem numerous times when working with PDFs for print-ready artwork, our online proof generating site, and opening those PDFs in illustrator to make art changes or adjustments to the text. I've finally decided to try and reach out for help on solving this issue that we sometimes run into. I understand that Illustrator is first and foremost not meant to open and work with PDFs but I am hoping there might be a solution or a workaround that someone is aware of.

 

I believe the only PDFs that do this to us are the ones generated from our website using a web-to-print template software, even if the PDF was originally output from Illustrator or InDesign at the beginning of the process. This probably means that the originating issue is the site, which doesn't bode well for our circumstance. The issue we run into is when opening these PDFs in Illustrator, everything comes in fine including the font file with the exception that text is extremely stretched out, and reversed. The font is installed locally on the computer that opens the file, as well as is part of our font sharing plugin library. I can see that each character on the line has its own unique kerning value applied (1244, 1502, 1114, etc.)

 

Additionally, the words on each line have been reversed: in the attached screenshot, the first line that is distorted is meant to say "email@address.com" but "moc.sserdda@liam" is what is displaying in Illustrator, with the initial E starting the line staying correctly where it should be.

 

I don't know if anyone else has ever encountered this and I don't know if there's a solution. We're just hoping to have some kind of answer because "Illustrator isn't meant to open PDFs" will not fix that our website's current web-to-print software can only output PDFs and we sometimes need to make adjustments to the artwork after it's been generated. (Of note: sometimes Acrobat Pro DC messes up the font in a different way, so we can't always make our adjustments just by opening the PDF in Acrobat.)

 

Thanks in advance for your advice.

 

Edited to add a sample PDF that causes this problem when opened, as well as an original PDF provided by the client. (identifying information removed)

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Opening PDF in Illustrator adds negative kerning?

New Here ,
Jun 03, 2020

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Hi there, our print company has encountered this problem numerous times when working with PDFs for print-ready artwork, our online proof generating site, and opening those PDFs in illustrator to make art changes or adjustments to the text. I've finally decided to try and reach out for help on solving this issue that we sometimes run into. I understand that Illustrator is first and foremost not meant to open and work with PDFs but I am hoping there might be a solution or a workaround that someone is aware of.

 

I believe the only PDFs that do this to us are the ones generated from our website using a web-to-print template software, even if the PDF was originally output from Illustrator or InDesign at the beginning of the process. This probably means that the originating issue is the site, which doesn't bode well for our circumstance. The issue we run into is when opening these PDFs in Illustrator, everything comes in fine including the font file with the exception that text is extremely stretched out, and reversed. The font is installed locally on the computer that opens the file, as well as is part of our font sharing plugin library. I can see that each character on the line has its own unique kerning value applied (1244, 1502, 1114, etc.)

 

Additionally, the words on each line have been reversed: in the attached screenshot, the first line that is distorted is meant to say "email@address.com" but "moc.sserdda@liam" is what is displaying in Illustrator, with the initial E starting the line staying correctly where it should be.

 

I don't know if anyone else has ever encountered this and I don't know if there's a solution. We're just hoping to have some kind of answer because "Illustrator isn't meant to open PDFs" will not fix that our website's current web-to-print software can only output PDFs and we sometimes need to make adjustments to the artwork after it's been generated. (Of note: sometimes Acrobat Pro DC messes up the font in a different way, so we can't always make our adjustments just by opening the PDF in Acrobat.)

 

Thanks in advance for your advice.

 

Edited to add a sample PDF that causes this problem when opened, as well as an original PDF provided by the client. (identifying information removed)

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Bug, Import and export, Type

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 03, 2020

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Are you getting any error messages when you open the PDFs?

If this issue is only with PDFs from your online proof generating site, it sounds like the issue is being created by your site. Can you possibly attached one of your proofs, so we have something to look at as well as the original PDF for tht layout that you received from the client?

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New Here ,
Jun 03, 2020

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No errors or messages when opening the PDF, no. I've updated my original post to include the original customer PDF that came out of indesign (opening it is just fine in Illustrator) as well as a PDF output from the site where the font gets kerned backwards.

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Mentor ,
Jun 03, 2020

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When you ultimately get the PDF, are you then pushing it through to the RIP ( when you do, do you see the problems )?  Also, when customers go to your web portal, they download the template and proceed to add their Illustrator or InDesign content?  Do you give customers a live .ai file to work on?  Not sure what file type your template is.  But, it could be the font and typography info is not being saved when they create the final PDF.  So text would, hypothetically, be interpreted.

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New Here ,
Jun 03, 2020

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Our process/workflow is as follows, which might help clarify some of your questions!

  1. Customer provides either a print-ready PDF or an InDesign file to us (or our graphics team works with them to create artwork.)
  2. Once artwork is approved, my department ("Online Services") is tasked with creating a web-to-print template out of that artwork file. We currently use a software called Pageflex to recreate the artwork in a variable template (doing things like replacing the name text with a variable called "name" etc.)
  3. We then upload this template to our website where our customer can access it through their browser. Without having to download or open anything additional, they can fill in the fields with their information and the website will generate a proof of their artwork with their information filled in. This all happens in the browser.
  4. When they are done they can click submit and it will generate a PDF, which we then receive and can print from. Unless we need to make changes to the file for some reason, this works for us. The hangup is when we need to open the PDF, as explained above.

 

Luckily we're moving away from this old software and migrating to a new platform, but part of that process requires my department to re-create all of these artwork templates on the new site. Half of the artwork we've been provided to re-create these templates with were outputs from the site itself, but we still need to open them in Illustrator so we're back in the same boat.

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