Commentary & Analysis
FREE The Softer Side of On Demand: A Peek at Software and Workflow News Part 2
The second part of this article highlights a few more of the software and workflow tools being shown at On Demand this year.
By Cary Sherburne
Published: May 27, 2005
The second part of this article highlights a few more of the software and workflow tools being shown at On Demand this year. As with Part 1, it is not meant to be an exhaustive review. My apologies in advance to any of the exhibitors I wasn’t able to cover here, meet with at the show, or in my previous articles about the show.
Exstream was showing its brand-new Dialogue Version 5, which, according to Vice President of Marketing Kelley Sloane, has over 250 enhancements. With this release, Exstream teamed up with Macromedia to use its Flex Server to create Dialogue Anywhere for Marketing, allowing creation of a rich Internet user experience and the ability to create an interface similar to a PC. Sloane claims Exstream is the first company to deploy an application like this, designed for corporations that have marketing staff scattered in various geographic locations. Users can log on to Dialogue, create marketing messages and rules, and send their work for approval under a defined workflow cycle, having them incorporated in documents at run time.
Dialogue Version 5 also features several new output formats, including PowerPoint. Used in conjunction with Dialogue WebVerse, a new version of which was also being shown, companies can deploy an application that has been designed for print or electronic delivery as a Web system. Sloane cited several financial services firms that are using the application to empower financial advisers to create client review systems. Financial advisors simply pick and choose from forms and menu components they want to include in a client review. What used to take them a week can now be pulled together in moments, according to Sloane, and can be output to print or PowerPoint.
Meadows Publishing Solutions
Meadows Publishing Solutions (MPS) announced DesignMerge for QuarkXPress 6.5 at the show and told WhatTheyThink that the company is working on more robust support for Adobe InDesign across its product suite. A cross-platform application, DesignMerge allows page designers to quickly and easily transfer their sills back and forth among platforms. MPS also announced it has installed 1,000 DesignMerge systems worldwide. The new release includes enhancements to CopyFit, a DesignMerge feature that automatically fits any copy that flows beyond its bounding text box by adjusting for point size, leading, tracking, horizontal scaling and space before and after paragraphs. The application’s PPML output now includes PPD data, making the PPML workflow virtually the same as a PostScript workflow.
JDF toolkit developer Objective Advantage launched its first commercial product at On Demand. Developed in partnership with Duplo and shown in both the Duplo and Xerox booths at the show, Objective Advantage Symbio allows automated layout, print, cut and crease with a few clicks of the mouse using equipment from multiple vendors. Using PDF and JDF as its native formats Symbio links presses and finishing systems to the graphic artist, who simply supplies a PDF containing an unimposed one- or two-sided print item. The only production-oriented action the designer takes is the inclusion of bleeds if the piece requires them. Once the job hits the shop, the production operator is guided through laying out the job for print and finishing. Symbio produces an n-up PDF sheet and uses JDF to submit the job into the press and finishing devices. The JDF submission automatically creates the job in the press controller’s queue and supplies the press operator with all the information necessary to print the job, such as the number of sheets and the media to use. The press operator simply reviews this information, loads the correct media and prints the job. Once the job has finished printing, the press controller automatically informs Symbio and the job can progress to finishing.
Symbio knows the exact layout that was used to place the items on the sheet and uses this information to automate set-up of the finishing equipment. At the show, this was shown with the Duplo DC-645. Symbio transmitted JDF and preview images of the sheet to the DC-645 JDF Connector running on a PC next to the machine. Duplo’s DC-645 JDF Connector shows the operator a preview of the sheet, oriented exactly as it is to be loaded into the DC-645. Based on the data supplied in the JDF from Symbio, the application sets the slit, cut and crease positions. The user clicks the start button; the machine sets up and processes the sheets.
While the application was developed in collaboration with Duplo, Objective Advantage’s Gareth O’Brien indicates that the intent is to work with any and all vendors to incorporate machine-specific information in the application for ease of JDF deployment in a wider range of shops. Even for simple jobs whose finishing set-up might take 15-20 minutes, with Symbio, makeready is accomplished in moments, improving productivity and job accuracy and reducing costs on today’s increasingly shorter runs, where long makereadies are costly. It is applications like this that will speed JDF adoptions rates, especially in smaller printing establishments.
Techno Design was the original developer for Personalizer-X, the variable data solution for the now-defunct Agfa Chromapress, which Techno Design has been marketing as a standalone one-to-one marketing tool. At the show, Atlas Software, a subsidiary of Objectif Lune and the developer of PrintShop Mail, announced the acquisition of Techno Design. While Personalizer-X will be added to the Atlas portfolio, more emphasis was placed on Techo Design’s Information Publishing Management Entry (IPM), a Web-to-print solution for variable data and on demand printing. This easy to use template publishing application allows print service provider customers to easily deploy a library of templated materials that can be accessed and localized by remote and other authorized users. IPM Entry is definitely worth a look.
We took the time to speak with XMPie’s new CEO, Eyal Goldwerger, who has headed the company for about six months, coming from a direct marketing background. We asked him why he joined XMPie, and he said, “ It is the vision of this product that makes so much common sense for a marketer. Coming from the marketing side of the business, I would say that its cross media is outstanding. There is not much meaning anymore to variability and targeting without leveraging multichannel communications to engage customers at multiple points. I felt that XMPie was on the forefront. The other consideration was that digital printing is complicated, and our core business at XMPie is in digital printing. You need to start there to make the migration but you also need to have a strong understanding of cross media.”
XMPie was showing its new uStore storefront product at On Demand, discussed in an earlier article on WhatTheyThink.
Goldwerger’s goal for XMPie is to become the variable data standard for the industry, a lofty goal indeed. He says, “The information revolution is about building databases, and the quality of information is improving and now exceeds our ability as an industry to leverage it. CRM, inventory, supply chain management, marketing promotions—how do you connect them all together? That’s where we want to play. The Holy Grail has always been taking information that becomes richer, from multiple locations and multiple systems, and connecting it for use in a multichannel campaign designed to most effectively reach the customer. That's what it is all about.”