By implementing Mako Core™ into Scrivener, the team at Literature & Latte fixed an ongoing problem of exporting to PDF/X-1a on macOS and iOS in a matter of hours.
Literature & Latte’s best-selling app, Scrivener, is a software tool for writers. It’s used by novelists, screenwriters, lawyers, journalists and students to create long writing projects which can be exported to self-publishing platforms, such as Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.
“The challenge was exporting to PDF with our macOS and iOS versions,” explains Keith Blount, the creator of Scrivener. “Certain self-publishing platforms, such as IngramSpark, require PDF files in PDF/X-1a format to ensure the book will look the same printed as it does in the PDF. We have to use Apple’s PDF export frameworks and code, and unfortunately, they don’t support PDF/X-1a.
“We got a few requests on our customer support and forum pages asking if we could support that format,” continues Keith. “When our authors were uploading a PDF file, they got a warning saying that it wouldn’t print correctly; it would accept the book, but it would warn you that it might not look the same as it does on the page, and colors might be slightly different. We were keen to solve this issue so we could offer the best experience for our authors across all platforms.”
Keith continues: “We tried a few options: the Apple framework allows you to put some quartz filters on the PDF file which can change a format to PDF/X-3 but unfortunately not to PDF/X-1a; we took out a paid support request with Apple engineers, but they confirmed there’s just no way to do it with the Apple framework; we looked at a few other PDF solutions online, but they were all either very complicated, very expensive, wouldn’t work with both macOS and iOS or were based more around Windows solutions.
There were no other solutions that we’ve looked at over the years that would work. In the end, the only way we could help our authors was for them to have a paid copy of Adobe Acrobat. They could then open the file and convert it, but that meant they needed extra software to do it. We realized if we were to fix this problem, we needed to find a company with extensive experience in providing software for print.”
- Scrivener is a software tool for planning, writing and structuring long writing projects
- Available on macOS, iOS, Windows
- Scrivener exports to various formats including PDF/X-1a
“We looked at a few other PDF solutions online, but they were all either very complicated, very expensive or wouldn’t work with both macOS and iOS and were based more around Windows solutions.”
Keith noticed that a self-publishing app called Vellum, made by 180g, could export to PDF/X-1a. The team at 180g confirmed that they were using Mako Core™, an SDK from Global Graphics Software built for multiple platforms including macOS, iOS and Windows, that offers several prepress features including conversion, file analysis, optimization and supports multiple PDF ISO standards including PDF/X-1a.
Keith contacted Global Graphics Software and the same day sent some sample files to test Mako could convert to PDF/X-1a. Being happy with the result, the Mako product manager offered Keith an evaluation. “The sample code worked perfectly for us; it needed a little bit of modification but essentially Mako did all the things we needed, so it was very simple to implement it into Scrivener. It only took a few hours to integrate,” explains Keith.
“It was an ongoing issue that we had, and Mako was an easy, simple solution, both with the framework provided and the support.”
The team now receives fewer customer support requests and there are no more new messages on the forum. By implementing Mako into Scrivener, authors can submit their files not only to IngramSpark without any warnings, but also to the many other self-publishing platforms that require the PDF/X-1a format.
“Mako was an easy, simple solution, both with the framework provided and the support,” continues Keith. “We also have access to the Mako product manager whenever we need him, which will be a great benefit, especially if we require any future product enhancements.”
ABOUT LITERATURE AND LATTE
Literature & Latte is an independent software company founded by writers for writers. The company’s story began in 2004, when, after years of dreaming about the ideal software for writing his novel and thesis, Keith Blount decided to teach himself to code and create it himself. Two years later, Literature & Latte was born, releasing the first version of Scrivener in January 2007. The company’s headquarters are in Cornwall, UK, but its small team now spans the globe. The company’s aim is to continue to bring together familiar writing processes in ways that aren’t possible in the analogue world.
“Global Graphics Software’s commercial model was simple and affordable, without the need for complexity of royalty reporting, often required by other providers.”