Please Don’t Rely on InDesign’s Preflight
We get plenty of questions regarding InDesign's preflight feature, but they usually come down to, "What the heck?!" Here's the problem: InDesign's File > Preflight feature doesn't totally suck, but it isn't particularly good. However, because InDesign tends to be chock full o' great features, users keep thinking, "I bet I just don't get it. It must be too good for me to understand."
[Note that this article refers to preflight in InDesign CS3 and earlier. Preflight was significantly updated in CS4 and later. See more on InDesign preflighting here.]
Don't fall for that old line! You know more than you think! Long ago I simply resigned myself to ignoring Preflight for the most part. Every now and again, I take a quick glance at it, but it just isn't that helpful. For example, why is there no way to tell it, "Hey! RGB files are not a problem in my workflow. Stop telling me there's a problem whenever I import RGB files." (Sandee did find one solution, which she wrote up here.)
And why won't Preflight warn me when I have 72 dpi images? I mean, come on! If I'm going to print, that is something to warn me about.
To make the point even more clear, David Dilling at Markzware made a great little movie on youtube about why InDesign's preflight feature pales in comparison to Markzware Flightcheck. Granted, it's a marketing piece, so take it with a grain of salt. That said, Markzware has been in this business for a very long time, and they certainly know what they're doing.
So what do you do if InDesign's Preflight isn't doing it for you? Markzware FlightCheck is obviously very good. There's also Zevrix InPreflight, which is less expensive, but doesn't have all the bells and whistles. Of course, there is also the option of exporting a PDF file and then running it through Acrobat's preflight features (or a third-party acrobat plug-in).
What preflight solutions do you use? Are you happy with them?