EPS vs PDF?

This is a continuation from my previous discussion where this topic came up and I know this is going to be a bit of a battle, but I thought it would still be worth it to have a discussion. So here are my main questions:

  • For logos: . How an EPS file affects transparency? Does it apply to all logos or only logos with transparency. Why if EPS is such an old file, companies keep using it (like Facebook for example and many more? How long before it stops being used? How long the transition will take? Will EPS really go away?
  • For illustrator art: all illustrations in iStock and other image banks come in EPS files… should they be PDF? why they are not using PDFs? does it really matter? in which cases? transparency cases?

I appreciate all your personal and professional views on this.

I’m not sure there’s much difference. I recently found out by accident that I can open an Adobe Illustrator file as a pdf just by changing the extension letters. I suspect that the file data isn’t very different between pdf, eps, and ai. They all use the PostScript language. The small difference seems to be in what the program looks for in the headers of the file. PDF offers more options, while EPS offers more backward compatibility.

PD will probably be able to answer the question better.

All formats below may contain raster data or vector data, or a mix of both.

EPS is effectively obsolete. It offers no transparency or color management support.

Illustrator EPS is different than anyEPS in that it is read back into Illustrator as a native format that does support transparency and color management.

PDF is Adobe’s Portable Document Format, and there are many ways to write a PDF inside and outside of Adobe applications. It was originally designed as a read-only, deployment format.

Illustrator PDF is a specialized dual format that includes PDF data for reading outside of Illustrator and Illustrator-native data for reading back into the application as an AI-equivalent.

While several advancements in vector graphic construct have fostered a misplaced notion that transparency is in play in vector-editing environments, the concept of “transparency” only applies to raster data. EPS can only present the illusion of raster transparency via inclusion of a clipping path.

For the purposes of your professional graphic design output, it should have gone away more than 10 years ago.

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In addition to what HotButton said, which I completely agree with, EPS is still around and still being used for various reasons.

  1. Habit
  2. It’s a lowest-common-denominator format that many old (and new) applications can still create and read.
  3. Many consumer-level applications that do not support advanced non-Postscript features, like transparency, stick with simplicity and what other consumer-level applications support — EPS being one of them.
  4. It’s a format that doesn’t involve a bunch of licensing, which lower-end applications tend to avoid.

EPS can be fine for most people in the same sense that a cheap Walmart power drill will do what most people need. Professionals, however, need something a little more robust, durable and with more capabilities.

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Eps does NOT support transparency. It will flatten it into solid colors. If transparency is involved at all with a raster image, if flattened, you may get a sliced up image that is no longer linked but embedded as hundreds of shards (you’ll see each piece in the links palette.) This type of save rarely opens properly even in Illustrator. The stitching you get may or may not print.

As a matter of fact, in Adobe programs, spot colors used with transparency can wreak havoc with many PDF formats as well. Saving as PDF requires knowing what you are doing and if you are trying to preserve any spot colors.

I’ve often wondered about stock eps formats. I don’t use them enough to care all that much. Technically they should be .ai. But .eps is the lowest common denominator for those using stock in things other than Adobewares. If it looks like it has transparency in it, buyer beware.

An EPS is a different beast, it is PostScript.

PDF is PDF (and NOT PostScript though it can contain PS).

AI files typically have two parts in it, a PDF part and an Illustrator part. Most apps read the PDF part only, so that an AI file appears to them as being an PDF basically. Illustrator of course reads the Illustrator part of the AI file.

To confuse it even more, Illustrator can put an Illustrator part into EPS files, so that they can carry transparency, though EPS doesn’t support unflattened transparency.

Right, that’s why I tried in my post to make a distinction between EPS and Illustrator EPS.

The same dual-component principle applies when saving as PDF in Illustrator. PDF and Illustrator PDF are not the same thing.

Yes, a different beast, but EPS files can also contain bitmapped data that is encapsulated by the PostScript.

Years ago, I was working with a newspaper pagination system that would only accept EPS files. Everything needed to pass through the RIP — even bitmapped (raster) images needed to be saved with PostScript headers and footers if they were to be output separately without being component in a PostScript document.

If I’m following all the feedback on this thread correctly:

Ai > PDF > EPS > Raster

What exportable vector graphic data languages are used in PDF and EPS besides PostScript?

What I’m getting from this is that unless a logo is a raster image on Illustrator (for some reason), then it’s okay to save it in EPS (besides ai. .pdf. etc.) If it’s just vector, and therefore there is not transparency, then it shouldn’t be a problem??

No. Illustrator has transparency capabilities that do not involve imported raster imagery. Those capabilities could still be considered vector — just not PostScript compatible. PostScript and, by extension, EPS do not support these Illustrator capabilities.

EPS is an outdated, obsolete and antiquated format. Unless one has a specific reason for saving something as EPS, don’t.

Yes, if you are not dealing with transparency, you’re options are greatly expanded. I wouldn’t trust delivering a logo with transparency in any format other than PNG. But then it wouldn’t be scalable.

It really depends on the problem you are trying to solve. I said EPS offers more backward compatibility. That’s only a solution if you are trying to make the logo compatible with the oldest possible software. But if you are trying to make the logo compatible with the widest variety of software and still be scalable, PDF is the way to go. Raster formats might be compatible with an even wider variety of software, but they are not scalable.

If you want to make the logo scalable and compatible for browser display without having to convert it, SVG is the way to go. But SVG isn’t as compatible with as much software as PDF. If you want to make the logo most editable, Ai is the way to go. But Ai is the least compatible with other software.

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