by Cary Sherburne September 17, 2003 -- With PDF now a de facto standard, vendors and print professionals alike are now focusing on integrating a PDF workflow into a larger production schema to improve overall shop productivity and profitability. From improved CTP workflows to streamlined management of multi-vendor installations, from the creative process through finishing, fulfillment and distribution, the mantra at Graph Expo will be “Improved Productivity for Improved Profitability.” And JDF (Job Definition Format), a standard emerging from the CIP4 effort, promises to be the glue that can deliver these results. CIP4 is a worldwide operating standards body based in Switzerland whose purpose is to encourage the computer-based integration of processes and the specification of standards, such as JDF, within the graphic arts industry. Many of the prepress vendors who will be exhibiting at Graph Expo were also at Seybold San Francisco last week talking about their JDF plans and implementation. There was even a JDF Workflow Tour at Seybold that demonstrated an integrated and automated multivendor workflow approach from job submission through finishing that promises to make life much easier for print buyers and print producers alike. Here's a sampling of what you can expect to see in the prepress area at Graph Expo. And watch for my article next week on WhatTheyThink with more detail about JDF and workflow. Agfa In addition to its broad product line encompassing screening and file preparation, computer-to-plate equipment, consumables and more, Agfa will be showcasing Phase Two of its ApogeeX Workflow for the first time at Graph Expo, incorporating PDF, JDF, and what Agfa refers to as Digital Film into an end-to-end production workflow. Agfa continues to aggressively enhance its ApogeeX Workflow to provide the productivity and cost reduction printers are demanding. Agfa will also be participating in the Wide Format Pavilion with both proofing and printing solutions CaslonSoft This company is showing an interesting and easy-to-use workflow management solution, CaslonFlow, which capitalizes on the hot-folder capability of many graphic arts applications to automate what might otherwise be repetitive, unproductive tasks. For example, a workflow could be established that will process files through Adobe Acrobat Distiller and Enfocus PitStop to generate print-ready PDFs, which can then be automatically directed to a specific print queue or reviewed by a human for manual redirection. Worth taking a look at! EFI EFI played a central role in creating the multivendor JDF Workflow Tour at Seybold and will incorporate the learning from that process, as well as expansion in its own product line, to demonstrate how EFI solutions will be enhanced as the JDF standard matures. EFI is dedicated to optimizing the workflow and processes used every day in the graphic arts industry, starting with document creation and submission, and believes that JDF has a huge role to play, across the industry and the enterprise, from helping information creators better understand printing dynamics and when to use offset versus digital, to improving remote management of printing devices in the office, to streamlining workflow within professional printing operations. WhatTheyThink contributing columnist Gail Nickel-Kailing will be offering more detail on EFI's presence at Graph Expo. Enfocus Belgium-based Enfocus has also been heavily involved in JDF implementation, and as an Adobe partner, prides itself on providing PDF solutions targeted specifically at the Graphic Arts market. At Graph Expo, Enfocus will be featuring Pitstop Pro 6.0 and its CertifiedPDF.net solution. Enfocus is also working with a number of partners to deliver upstream preflighting capability, believing that to the extent tools and services can place user-friendly preflighting capability further upstream in the process, the overall productivity of the production process will be enhanced, bridging the gap between the creators and produces to create more reliable PDF files. CertifiedPDF.net provides a collaborative space that allows publishers and printers to post downloadable specifications and generate automatic notifications to all parties when those specifications are modified. Launched in June of 2003, Enfocus has received positive response to this unique offering. Enovation/Fuji Enovation and FujiFilm will be sharing a booth at this year's Graph Expo. The overriding message the companies will be communicating is the synergy between these two operations and how they are working together to better support their customers. Enovation's new campaign, to be launched at the show with the theme “Get It From the Expert,” sums up what the company intends to say and be—a partner to graphic arts service providers who need help and are looking for a trusted resource to help them stay current with technology, leveraging its broad product portfolio to meet specific customer needs. Enovation will also be debuting its private-label brand of film and plates, manufactured by FujiFilm. FujiFilm will be launching its answer to stochastic screening, called Co-Rés Screening, a name derived from Common Resolution Screening and designed to deliver both increased speed and increased quality, whether CTP operations use thermal or violet solutions. The company will also be launching Version 2 of its PictroProof, a two page digital proofer, which is now SWOP certified, enabling it to be used for both remote and contract proofing. FujiFilm will also be showing FinalProof, its thermal proofing material that can be used with Creo products, announced in August of this year. Heidelberg As part of its 40,000-square-foot-booth, Heidelberg will be showing two new and interrelated products in its prepress workflow line: Prinect Printready System and MetaDimension 4.0. Printready is a completely automated solution using both PDF and JDF and consists of two components: digital file preparation and the MetaDimension RIP. With Printready, users are able to process files for all Heidelberg products, including CTP, direct imaging (DI) presses, the Digimaster 9110, the Nexpress 2100, and, of course, the full range of conventional offset presses. Printready allows the communication of job info rmation, including color information for the press and data for automating finishing settings, including cutting, folding and stitching. There will be a Prinect Pavilion within the booth to demonstrate the entire workflow. The company plans to extend JDF integration to production management systems by Drupa. With MetaDimension 4.0, Heidelberg adds a number of new capabilities, including multithreading CPUs to enable faster PostScript interpretation. The company will also be showing new product offerings in the CTP, color management and color proofing arenas. Kodak Polychrome Graphics KPG will be featuring monitor proofing with the SWOP certified Kodak Polychrome Graphics Matchprint Virtual Proofing System. Offering contract-quality proofing from the monitor fulfills the promise of remote proofing, making the entire review/revision process more productive, a significant workflow enhancement. KPG will also be showing additions to the rest of its proofing lineup, KPG Sword Excel thermal printing plates for CTP and, of course, the KPG DirectPress 5034 DI, KPG's newly announced Presstek-enabled direct imaging press. Presstek At last year's GraphExpo, Presstek demonstrated Applause, its new process-free plate for thermal CTP systems. This year, Presstek will be featuring Applause as a commercialized product, demonstrating the simplicity and speed of producing plates capable of printing up to 100,000 impressions, without the need for chemistry or other processing. With Applause, you simply image the plate and mount it on the press. Field test results indicate Applause offers faster roll-up and less make ready at the press. With this offering, Presstek continues to build on its them of improved productivity and environmental responsibility in the print production process. RealTimeImage The highlight at RealTimeImage's booth will be RealTime Proof Express. While this is not a new product, it is the first time that RTI has offered it as an established product that has proven itself in a number of customer installations. RealTime Proof Express was awarded the GATF InterTech award recently. RealTime Proof Express is a hybrid product that combines the benefits of the the company's ASP offering, RealTimeProof.com with a local server imaging engine. This means there is less consumption of bandwidth, with high-resolution images retained locally and the hosted site being utilized for administrative and approval workflows. RTI will be featuring several exciting new features, including MultiView, the ability to concurrently stream several images in high resolution to the screen, and an online densitomitor. This means that multiple file versions can be concurrently reviewed, to check color, layouts and impositions, a feature that is especially critical to the packaging industry, and which makes the review process more efficient. WAM!NET Since its acquisition by Savvis, WAM!NET is back in the fray with more energy than ever before. Having been a member of CIP4 for the last several months, WAM!NET is very focused on building a platform to implement successful XML and JDF solutions. With the Savvis acquisition, WAM!NET is able to spread infrastructure investments across a much larger user base, and additionally, has gained access to a true global network, allowing the company to focus more of its attention—and dollars—on increasing functionality within the network platform. WAM!NET is planning a couple of exciting partnership announcements during Graph Expo week — stay tuned.