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Gradients, including drop shadows, all show up as solid blocks when I view my document on an Android phone. I tried different PDF compression and compatibility settings in an attempt to flatten and rasterize all the graphics, but it's clearly not working, as the Android viewer still identifies the outlines of transparent shapes instead of the blended pixels.

Is there any way to truly flatten these PDF graphics, so that it doesn't matter whether a PDF viewer supports transparency, while keeping the text as text?

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Are your gradients produced from a vector program i.e illustrator or indesign? –  JamesHenare Dec 11 '10 at 5:31
    
If you drop your condition "while keeping text as text" it is possible to 'flatten' the page content and remove all transparancy effects (but keeping a similar visual impression). -- I am not aware of any flattener which can retain text as text on the same page where a PDF transparency is flattened... –  Kurt Pfeifle Dec 19 '10 at 11:48

1 Answer 1

I think "PDF/X-1a" is what you're looking for.

It is a PDF standard for Press companies that is known for its "blind exchange" capability.

That means that if you give the same PDF file to different press companies, they will surely print exactly the same thing, as PDF/X-1a leaves no margin for further interpretations of any kind (color conversions, transparency flattening, unembedded content).

I am pretty sure that if you export your PDF as X-1a, any reader (Android or not) will see the same thing as you had on InDesign. You find easily the PDF/X-1a standard on File/Export InDesign menu. Any changes you make on the Export window that will result in a non-PDF/X-1a file will be noticed on the "Standard" topic, that will be automatically changed to "None".

Just out of curiosity, there are other PDF standards for Press, named PDF/X-3 and PDF/X-4. PDF/X-3 allows RGB images and other things that PDF/X1a doesn't, and PDF/X-4 allows tagged images in any colour space, plus live transparency, Open Type fonts etc. PDF/X-4 uses Adobe PDF Print Engine, as the PostScript Language (used to describe the older standards) couldn't support modern concepts like transparencies. Of course if you export a PDF/X-4 you will be exposed to different interpretations for the transparencies and color conversions, and the results can be different depending on the device that will interpret the PDF. I think this is what is happening to your file.

Hope it helps.

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