Commentary & Analysis
FREE Special: A Stroll Down AFP Lane, A Preview of Xplor 2002
by Chuck Surprise (
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 23, 2002
by Chuck Surprise (with a big assist from Scott Kelly, EDP, US Lynx) for WhatTheyThink.com and PrintOnDemand.com October 23, 2002 -- Xplor is in one sense an "old fashioned" conference/expo although it deals with the very latest in electronic document systems technology, and features a major emphasis on the breadth and depth of its educational seminars. Commercial exhibitors remain a fixture at the show, but their displays are not ostentatious, no merchandise can be sold on the show floor, and there are no elaborate giveaways. The emphasis is on learning, and presenters at the seminars tend to be engineers rather than marketers. Sounds rather like Seybold Seminars a decade ago, doesn't it? There are two other factors distinguishing Xplor from other industry shows: one, it is still operated by the founding group, Xplor International; and two, registrations for the 2002 session October 27-30 in Anaheim Convention Center are nearly double that of last year's conference. Attendance for many conferences and expos has been dwindling. • Learn A New Language for These Sessions: If you don't speak AFP -- Advanced Function Printing (or "Presentation" as some developers refer to it) -- output architecture on October 26th, you will be fluent in the new acronym's nuances by the 30th. While some of the terms printers currently deal with, such as PostScript, PDF and JDF, may occasionally be whispered in some of the seminars, AFP is definitely the language of the world of automated electronic document systems. Briefly, AFP supplies the intelligence that enables the automation of electronic document production. AFP-controlled printers track documents for duplexing where it is called for, merge data for variable print output, and mix color pages with black and white -- from different devices if necessary. AFP can also track jams in the finishing processes and report information back to the print units on which personalized documents need to be reprinted to replace the spoilage. The technology also uses densitometry to track the color consistency of output and make adjustments on the fly, or reprint substandard pages. That's smart! That's AFP. AFP print servers provide support for interpreting line data, mixed-mode data, and MO:DCA data, for resolving resource references, and for building printer data streams for driving IPDS printers. AFP INPUT (Mixed-Mode Data Stream) INCLUDES: Print Files, Form Definitions, Page Definitions (various PDLs), Page Segments, Fonts and Overlays -- all comprise the AFP Input Data Stream. AFP OUTPUT: Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS), is a related architecture, but not a user programming language, which is comprised of the Input Data, interpreted and formatted by System Commands, Print Control, and the AFP Print Services Engine. This is the data stream architecture used by print server products to manage IPDS printers. The result of this process is a highly intelligent automated electronic document production system. Mixed-mode data streams can include line data, MO:DCA structured fields, and objects of the following types: * Bar Code Object Content Architecture (BCOCA) * Font Object Content Architecture (FOCA) * Graphics Object Content Architecture (GOCA) * Image Object Content Architecture (IOCA) * Presentation Text Object Content Architecture (PTOCA). Some pertinent Xplor seminars dealing with AFP and its implementation are: • A user perspective of AFP basics Monday, 9:30-10:30 a.m. OUT01, Room 209A Stephen Wowelko, EDP, AFP Application Design and Education. Covers the basic concepts and terminology within AFP, including placing variable data in forms, adding overlays on a page, MVS, JCL and AFP libraries, and creating a variety of resources using custom programming. The session is recommended for new users of AFP. See you there? • Introduction to printstreams Monday, 2:00-3:00 p.m. OUT08, Room 208AB Stephen Wowelko, EDP, Betsy Keplinger, EDP, Exstream Software, Inc. and Ernie Crawford, EDP, Crawford technologies, Inc. If you're new to Xplor or just want a refresher course, join these three certified industry professionals for a presentation covering all of the printable printstreams. You'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about PostScript, AFP, PCL, Metacode and PDF -- and come to understand the lingo. A great session for beginners in the field and for those who need to learn about alternative print technologies. • AFP: Basics, advances and updates Tuesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. OUT04, Room 210B Reinhard Hohensee, IBM Printing Systems IBM has a long history in the development and implementation of AFP output architecture. Learn how this technology has withstood the test of 25 years of delivering compound documents with security, integrity and speed. AFP has managed the printing of millions of statement pages each month, and the delivery of a single document to a printer thousands of miles away. This versatile architecture is the EDS industry's premier technology for compound document printing and management. This is a more advanced session designed for those who are using AFP today (or have been very attentive in courses OUT01 and OUT08). Mr. Hohensee is a senior architect and will be discussing ways to advance the functionality of Advanced Function Printing output architecture. • Printers, Xplor Offers A Vision of the Future AFP is an important part of the technology that underlies Xplor, but only a part. We'll delve into other aspects of the show in subsequent coverage. And we hope that printers who want to be operating profitably when/if the second level of the Bush tax cut kicks in (2010?) will be in Anaheim taking it all in.