Commentary & Analysis
FREE Special: More to Xplor: Puns aside, there’s plenty to see.
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 25, 2002
Exstream, GMC Software, OPserver, Rochester Software Associates, Gunther International, Roll Systems, Videk and more by Noel Ward, Editor@Large October 25, 2002 -- OK, OK, SO I CAN’T HELP MYSELF.. Maybe it’s because it’s the last show of the year for me and I’m getting silly, or it’s just a cheap trick. Whatever. I can’t just resist the pun on the show name--as some of you have so kindly pointed out to me. And, yes, I know it’s not original. So sue me. I’ll try to restrain myself and keep it to the titles. On Wednesday, Chuck Surprise of PrintOnDemand.com and contributing WTT columnist, noted how a portion of Xplor is all about AFP, and that’s in keeping with the history of the conference. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that AFP/IPDS and LCDS/Metacode drove a lot of the sessions and discussions at the show. But what I find a lot more interesting is how modern page description languages like PostScript, PCL, PDF, and even PPML are becoming more prevalent across a whole range of applications and how machines from Big Blue and The Document Company now accept these PDLs. Then there’s the way convergence is getting vendors like IBM and Xerox to acknowledge that customers may actually have equipment from both vendors (imagine that!) and need flexibility for running jobs on whatever machine is appropriate or available. Of course, Océ, which is unique among the big three in never having developed a proprietary PDL of its own, has long been able to accept different datastream flavors thanks to the functionality of its PRISMA architecture. Anyway, a software guy I hung out with back in the days of COBOL, RPG and FORTRAN was enamored of the old line that ‘software makes hardware.’ Well, some things never change, and it’s probably more true today than ever. As the range of applications increases, the demands on the software (and middleware, for that matter) seem much greater than the pressures on print engines. And so it is that while hardware takes up a lot of real estate at a show like Xplor (and on a shop floor), the software that makes it all work is where a significant portion of a job’s value resides. At Xplor next week several companies will be telling all comers just how their software makes hardware better, or enhances the work flowing through the print engines. Exstream Software Booth 933 Exstream continues to push the envelope in facilitating enterprise-scale solutions for personalization and customization of transactional and marketing documents. The Lexington, Kentucky-based company will showcase the latest release of its award-winning Dialogue software. Version 3.5 enhancements include two new modules—Enterprise Workflow, which allows users to design their own multi-stage approval processes, and Application Consolidator, which provides co-mingling of applications for reduced postal costs and advanced householding. Version 3.5 also includes enhancements for the extended enterprise, such as third-party advertisers or distributed marketing groups. This enables designers not connected to an enterprise to independently design and submit 1:1 marketing campaigns—using their own Dialogue design database—for dynamic inclusion into customer communications at run time. Exstream will also be introducing WebVerse, a new module for Dialogue that enables business users to rapidly build and deploy personalized Web applications. WebVerse allows Customer Service Reps, sales agents, and even customers and prospects themselves to use some of Dialogue’s applications to produce fully personalized Web pages or documents in real-time based on their collected input. Because it is based on some core attributes of Dialogue, no Java programming is required, which means companies can significantly reduce Web application development costs and get to market faster with accurate, consistent, and fully personalized communications created on the fly. GMC Software: Booth 1073 Switzerland-based GMC will be rolling out two new modules of its PrintNet software, Web Proofing and Web2Print. Web Proofing is designed for faster, more convenient Web-based proofing of transactional documents. The new module allows a PrintNet job to be displayed via an Internet browser for viewing by a client without requiring that PrintNet software at the reviewer’s location. It is ideal for print shops that work with agencies or corporate clients to create and proof sophisticated transactional documents with targeted marketing content. The new module offers the added advantage of rendering an online proof using the same powerful PrintNet engine that drives the production images. This unique capability ensures that everything in each document looks and works exactly the same way in the Web-viewed proof as it will in actual production. As a result, the potential for costly errors in production runs is greatly reduced. Web2Print is a document design tool for Web-based document design and submission. It is intended to help commercial printers serve their customers more efficiently by allowing them to design their own documents. It offers ample design capabilities for doing professional work, while relieving service bureaus of the need to maintain an in-house design staff to provide this low-margin service. The software will provide users with a basic version of PrintNet with enough power to build variable data documents. The user simply logs on, and PrintNet design capabilities are made available in a browser-driven program. End-users are able to create professional-looking documents, even for complex variable data applications, and submit them via the Internet to their print provider for production. OPserver Booth 945 Boston-based OPserver is best known for FlexServer, the open print management solution that orchestrates the most complex printing requirements in all kinds of industrial strength production environments. In most installations it speeds up and smoothes out workflows, helps jobs stay on track, reduces the need for highly trained printer operators, and may be part of disaster recovery strategies. A new feature called FlexAlert will be introduced at Xplor. FlexAlert notifies print production staff when critical jobs are printing or arriving late, so schedules can be altered as necessary. Rochester Software Associates: Booth 1234 Rochester Software Associates, aka RSA or RocSoft, develops a variety of digital document solutions for print production, viewing and management of output and data that enhance productivity and lower costs. In addition to its present offerings (M.I.S. Print, IPDSPrint, DTPrint), RocSoft is launching QDirect, a print manager for workflow control, job routing, and print queue management. QDirect allows organizations to consolidate print jobs from multiple sources to a single point and distribute the output to production, workgroup or desktop printers. RSA will also announce a new release of WebCRD, an online print submission and fulfillment application. The new release features automatic PDF creation from a user’s desktop, job estimating, account validation and user interface enhancements. Many RSA products will be featured in the exhibits of its business partners (Xerox, IKON, OCE, and IBM). Back on the hardware side are a couple firms I didn’t have info on when I wrote on Monday. Gunther International Booth 1001 Gunther International, is introducing the new Series W, a fully adjustable high-speed folded-mailing system. It accommodates an extensive range of folded applications, handling paper from 6.5" to 11" wide and up to 14" long, and envelopes from monarch to bankers. And it does it quickly and accurately, says Gunther, processing up to 12,000 completed envelopes an hour while ensuring 100% processing accuracy. Self-contained advanced electronics and software allows insert feeders to be interchangeable at the operator level. This allows the most appropriate friction or vacuum feeder to be utilized for each job. This means a poorly operating feeder can be replaced with another and repaired off-line. Other new features include: - a transparent read plate that permits placement of the barcode almost anywhere on the primary document - a pusher design that ensures the product-to-pusher width ratio is not compromised providing better control of the product as it moves down the conveyor. - an automatic adjustment of the conveyor to accommodate the length of the specific paper for the job selected. According to Gunther, almost every feature on the system is patented or is patent pending. In addition to all the new goodies, Gunther’s patented enveloper, folder, and reading technology are part of the package.. Roll Systems: Booth 618 Roll Systems is introducing its new Red Circle customer care program. The program consists of a variety of value-added services including application analyses, space planning, 24/7 installation and training, quick-ship capabilities, and special engineering, designed to make interactions with customers as trouble-free and convenient as possible. Roll will also have two technology demos, providing a glimpse of what’s to come. First is a camera-based monitoring solution that examines the entire image on each page of the moving web for print quality. Images from multiple printer systems can be displayed on a central monitor. This system will be shown in-line with Roll's Roll-to-Roll System, designed to be compatible with the highest-speed continuous digital printers. Second is a spot-color system printing two-color logos. Pre- and post-processing are critical to efficiency and Roll will show two systems that keep the work flowing. The TwoUp System feeds 50" diameter rolls of paper to high-speed continuous printers, and cuts, center slits, trims, merges, and stacks two-across printed output. It is being shown with the newly available descending stacker, which permits individual stacks to be ejected. The descending stacker features a post-cutter buffer, which buffers sheets, not the web, eliminating jams due to buffer-generated curl and providing continuous stack formation. Rounding out the booth will be a Separate/Fold System with Roll's patented AutoLoad tilt table. AutoLoad generates fanfold stacks of up to 10,000 forms and provides an easy, efficient way to process continuous output for mailroom operations. Roll Systems solutions are also being shown in other booths, including Bowe Systec (#1013), Heidelberg (#1081), Nipson (#680), Océ (#632),) and Xerox (#900). Videk Booth 554 Sometimes it’s what you can’t see that’s important. And that’s what you will and won’t see in the booths showing Videk’s invisible barcode marking and reading technology. The InViziCode Print System (IPS-6820) prints and reads invisible document control, tracking and security codes in-line with high-speed production printers. Invisible code enable users to achieve new levels of cost savings and productivity by freeing up valuable real estate on documents. Digitally embedding more information creates a smarter, more intelligent document, dramatically improving the workflow process and lifecycle of all forms of personalized output for high value, high integrity printed communications. InViziCode printing is also used to increase audit and security aspects of a print operation for greater production, document control and fraud prevention., Videk will be showing the IPS-6820 in its booth running on Océ equipment and other examples will be in five other vendors’ exhibits: Bowe Systec (#1013), Gunther (#1001), IntelMail (#773), Océ (#632), and PitneyBowes (#340). Is there more? You bet, and come back beginning Monday for a look.