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Commentary & Analysis

In Praise of Workflow Pioneers


By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: August 11, 2003

By: Frank Romano August 11, 2003 -- The future of the printing industry is the future of workflow. It will be based on open process integration-accredited file formats, intelligent color management, and future initiatives such as CIP4, JDF, XML, and others. Let's talk about those companies that should be in the Hall of Fame. RR Donnelley has been an active participant in standards committees and has led the industry in supporting their customers through open standards. With thousands of users, they realize that only reliable, cross-platform standards can make life better for their customers . . . and themselves. Creo is to be praised for workflows that are evolving towards the confluence of high-end printing and variable-data printing. They understand that printers do not want multiple workflows and that many jobs may be a blend of static and variable printing. Their Darwin program is a major VDP program. Heidelberg must be praised for its clear focus on the printing industry. Heidelberg began the concept of automated workflow with CIP3 and then opened it to the entire industry. This single act of unselfishness should be recognized. CIP4 is now an open organization of users and developers working on the JDF standard. Heidelberg has also been a pioneer in variable-data printing, working to develop the PPML open specification and working with standards bodies to develop PPML/VDX, the first and only standard for variable-data printing. With Datalogics, they have developed a program that lets designers and printers produce personalized projects with ease. Xeikon, along with software suppliers Atlas (Print Shop Mail) and Personalizer-X, have implemented PPML/VDX. Xeikon realized that the proper implementation of PPML-GA also has the benefit of accepting PPML/VDX files. This will increase personalized print volumes substantially. DDAP is the association that helped develop PDF/X-1A-the specification that allows ads to be handled in a more efficient manner. To its lasting credit, the association brought the specification to CGATS (of the American National Standards Institute and the International Standards Organization) where it was voted as an industry standard. Now, DDAP is promoting its use. At a recent RR Donnelley Pre-Media Forum, it was reported that one year ago 70% of all ads were in TIFF raster format-today 70% are in PDF/X-1a vector format at RRD. That has been a benefit to users, publishers, and printers. DDAP is a wonderful model of an open group of users and developers who care about our industry. They are working with CIP4 because they realize that they cannot do it all. These companies are to be supported because they care about the future of the printing industry. While other digital print suppliers may care more about corporate and inplant users, these companies realize that keeping commercial printers viable and profitable will help themselves as well. I have spent over 40 years observing the printing industry. The winners have always been the companies and products that are open.



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