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VIGC launches free tool that checks correct use of PDF viewers

Expensive mistakes caused by inappropriate PDF viewers are set to become a thing of the past thanks to a free new tool from the Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communication (VIGC ). The VIGC PDF Viewer Check is a simple tool that lets users know if they are using an inappropriate PDF viewer, or the wrong settings.

The organization developed the easy-to-use tool after its recent testing of PDF viewers prompted a huge reaction from print service providers, with many claiming the costly errors caused by inappropriate PDF viewing tools are a big issue for the industry.

"When we started the PDF viewer tests, we knew we were investigating a problem that most print service providers have experienced at some time or other,” says Eddy Hagen, managing director and trend watcher at VIGC. “However, when we released the test results we were surprised by the amount of feedback we received. It quickly became clear exactly how commonplace the issue is – some printers claimed they were experiencing PDF viewer issues on a weekly basis.”

Another reason why the VIGC developed the tool was because not all operatives understand which settings they should use. "We know from our tests exactly where things can go wrong in daily production,” continues Didier Haazen, PDF expert at VIGC. “The VIGC PDF Viewer Check addresses the most common issue we encountered in our study.”

Clear message given when inappropriate PDF viewer or wrong settings are used

The concept of the VIGC PDF Viewer Check is simple: it consists of a one-page PDF, which is inserted as the first page in PDF proofs that printing companies and prepress agencies send to their customers. If the customer uses the appropriate PDF viewer with the right settings, a positive message appears, asking the customer to thoroughly check the proof, together with some points of attention. If an inappropriate PDF viewer is used, or the settings are wrong, a message appears on screen: WRONG VIEWER OR WRONG SETTINGS.

The tool also includes which PDF viewers work correctly and the link where the free Adobe Reader – the only reliable free PDF viewer from VIGCs tests – can be downloaded. And the tool states which settings should be changed.

Personalising the VIGC PDF Viewer Check

The VIGC PDF Viewer Check is available for free from the VIGC website. And next to the generic version, companies can also get a personalised version eg with contact info or the company logo. The tool is available in multiple languages.


The VIGC PDF Viewer Check also makes the user aware of their responsibility. If the PDF proof is assessed with an inappropriate PDF viewer or the wrong settings, it may be that not everything is visible the way it will be printed. This message only appears when there is an issue with the PDF viewer. However, when using the appropriate tools with the right settings, the message is not shown.

"At VIGC it is our goal to research common problems and then provide practical solutions. The VIGC PDF Viewer Check is a perfect example," concludes Hagen.


For more information:

VIGC (Vlaams Innovatiecentrum voor Grafische Communicatie vzw)

Campus Blairon 5

2300 Turnhout

Tel.: 014 40 39 90

Eddy Hagen, directeur and trendwatcher