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Interview

Waking Up to Workflow: Part Two

This is Part Two of my workflow coverage for the On Demand show.

By Cary Sherburne
Published: May 25, 2006

This is Part Two of my workflow coverage for the On Demand show. As I indicated in Part One, there was a lot of energy around this area of the business at the show, and more than one person could cover. Be sure to read the rest of the workflow coverage from my colleague, Noel Ward.

The strategy for Creo Print On Demand Solutions (PODS), the last remaining Creo-branded operation following Creo’s acquisition by Kodak, seems to be working. The company has “firewalled” its RIP operation, headquartered in Israel, to ensure a secure environment for its OEM partners. Creo Spire servers were being shown driving HP-Indigo, Konica Minolta, and, of course, Xerox. Company representatives indicate that talks with other OEMs are progressing. Both HP and Konica Minolta added the Creo server to their portfolio subsequent to the Kodak acquisition. Creo PODS was also presenting a variable data session in the Adobe booth. In other Creo news, its Darwin variable data solution now supports InDesign, and its Web Composition Solution will be integrated with Press-Sense iWay Prime to enhance iWay’s variable data capabilities. Creo is also working with MindFireInc to incorporate its LookWho’sClicking personalized URL capabilities into Creo’s variable imaging offerings.

Adobe was featuring its PDF Print Engine technology, reviewed on WhatTheyThink when it was announced. According to Mark Lewiecki, Senior Product Manager, the purpose of the presentations was to begin building awareness among the printer community for the value that PDF Print Engine technology will bring as it begins to be deployed in partner offerings. In addition to the theater presentations, Adobe had a PDF/JDF “pod” in its booth. Lewiecki found that the visitors to the show this year were very interested in both topics, and were asking a higher caliber of questions with a higher sense of urgency. He says, “ Even though with PDF Print Engine, we don’t have a specific product offering to talk about, a lot of people attending the On Demand show know they need to be aware of PDF Print Engine because it relates to PDF. Their gut feeling is that it is important. That was what we were hoping to achieve.”

IBM made two announcements at the show. First, IBM is working to further open its AFP (Advanced Function Printing) specification. In 2004, IBM facilitated establishment of a consortium consisting of 28 vendors to develop collaborative changes to the IBM-controlled specification relative to its ability to manage high-speed color printing. IBM is now working with the consortium to open up even more of the AFP standard, to further broaden its applicability. IBM was also showing native image processing for its Infoprint 4100 high-speed monochrome digital press. This is a critical element of IBM’s strategy for the future as it lays out its roadmap for high-speed color printing, ensuring that highly graphic-intensive data streams can be printed at rated speed on future color printers.

Pageflex has consolidated all of its offerings into one modular application. The new product is simply named Pageflex and will be marketed with the tag line “One Application—All Things Variable.” Previously, the company has sold separate server-based products for data-driven document customization, cross-media publishing, interactive online editing of documents and Web-to-print. With the new model, Pageflex claims it will also increase the application’s scalability for larger enterprise applications. And it will certainly simplify the company’s marketing efforts. Customers will purchase one application and be able to easily turn on new features as they are required.

Printable Technologies was showing off its new PrintOne Customer Center, which has been completely re-architected. Based on Microsoft .NET, it was designed to separate the presentation layer from the business rules, making it easier for print service providers to launch new customer sites, build templates and expand their offerings on their own. In the early days, much of this type of work was performed by Printable’s professional services staff, but according to CEO Coleman Kane, print service providers increasingly appreciate the convenience and control of performing these tasks themselves. The new release also enables kitting activities for printers interested in augmenting services and revenue by offering kitting and fulfillment. With this capability, service providers can offer product "kits" comprised of static print on demand, inventoried items, and/or customized items. Printable also reports great success with Fusion Pro Desktop, launched late last year. Priced at $399, this free-standing variable data printing (VDP) solution incorporates design, data definition, and document creation in one affordable package. Kane reports that the company is selling 65 to 75 units a month, and there are some 450 subscribers on the Fusion Pro Desktop forum hosted on PrintPlanet, creating a dynamic community supporting each other in their variable data efforts. According to Kane, about 18% of the transactions running through the Printable system are now variable data, with the balance primarily collateral management. Kane reports that the company has been growing at about 75% year over year for the past three years. Printable guarantees that a service provider can have Printable’s web-to-print solution up and running for the first customer in ten days or less, for $20,000 and less than $1,000 per month.

XMPie continues to add new modules to its robust dynamic publishing software. The latest, debuted at On Demand, is uEdit, a Flash applet that enables remote online editing of documents using any Web browser on any platform that supports Flash. uEdit is integrated into uStore, XMPie’s online storefront application, extending uStore’s document ordering and customization features by allowing real-time remote template design editing, including layout, appearance and content changes. XMPie also launched uStore Version 2.0 at the show, enabling users to extend core features and capabilities by developing plug-in modules that can leverage third party tools and software for enhanced functionality. Plug-ins are developed using the Microsoft .NET Framework. Examples of functionality that can be incorporated in this way include product specification and pricing, shipping systems, messaging systems and list provider systems. XMPie has also integrated USADATA into uStore making it easy for users to procure mailing lists online. Once a uStore owner opens an account with USADATA, the administrator can subsequently make the list purchasing feature available on a per document basis, eliminating the need for individual list purchasers to open separate USADATA accounts. XMPie also launched a new version of uCreate for Dreamweaver, allowing Dreamweaver users to create dynamic web pages including micro-sites for a personalized response URL. In combination with its Interactive Content Ports technology, introduced at IPEX, this delivers seamless interaction between these dynamic Web sites and XMPie campaigns.

Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at cary@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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