NEW YORK--Sept. 14, 2004-- Xerox Corporation today expanded its industry-leading FreeFlow(TM) Digital Workflow Collection of software and hardware with four new software products, including a "digital storefront" to help print shops streamline job ordering and management on the Web.
Additional products from Xerox help printing professionals reduce manual steps and automate error-prone parts of the printing process such as job-ticketing, page layout, editing and proofing.
FreeFlow Process Manager, Print Manager, Web Services and Makeready are designed to help print service providers and in-plant printers simplify work processes, attract new business, and better manage print jobs. These workflow products make it easy to integrate digital printing into JDF (job definition format)-based workflows, enabling a common set of software instructions to direct a print job from creation to completion, in a consistent, uniform way.
"When you see the entire Xerox FreeFlow collection, no one else can come close to offering anything as powerful in a single offering," said Andy Tribute of Attributes Associates, an internationally known industry analyst. "The main concern of any printer is making sure that a job is set up properly before printing. Xerox FreeFlow offerings enable this by linking technologies from various vendors - from management information systems links using JDF for job ordering and submission - through press and proofing to final production."
Through open architecture and industry standards like JDF, Xerox's FreeFlow offerings are designed to make digital printing easier for printers. With JDF, print providers have more flexibility to process print jobs through various digital technologies and can switch between job paths and equipment quickly and efficiently.
"FreeFlow is more than just workflow," said Bill Lamparter, president of PrintCom Consulting Group. "It's a collection of software, services and solutions that gives print providers more freedom to adapt to their customer's demands. FreeFlow is an excellent platform for processing print jobs whether they are digital, offset or a combination of both."
FreeFlow Process Manager
FreeFlow Process Manager is automated workflow management software that allows print shop operators to pre-build workflows for automatic document preparation, proofing and printing. Essentially, Process Manager translates print job instructions by electronically answering the questions "what should this job look like?" and "how can my equipment best get this done?" This ensures job consistency and accuracy, increases print shop productivity, and allows operators with minimal training to run both simple and complex jobs with ease.
Processing is made easier for operators with a drag-and-drop graphical user interface. For instance, Process Manager can automatically implement the steps needed to convert a brochure developed with Quark page-design software to PDF, print it two-up and duplex, add page numbers, and be sure it matches color specifications. Prior to Process Manager, each step needed to be done manually by an operator.
Process Manager provides an added benefit to print shops that have both cut-sheet and continuous-feed equipment -- jobs can be switched from cut-sheet to continuous-feed depending on requirements without having to reformat the file. The automatic format conversion capability saves print providers valuable time.
FreeFlow Print Manager
FreeFlow Print Manager's JDF-enabled job ticketing capability allows print devices to "speak the same language" in communicating print job instructions. This helps streamline print workflow in a shop with equipment from multiple vendors. Whether a print provider is running short-run digital jobs or printing to offset presses, FreeFlow Print Manager gives print providers a single point of access to their digital presses at any point in the workflow.
The process for printing on a digital press typically requires the press operator to enter job ticket information right at the digital device. FreeFlow Print Manager makes it easy to integrate digital printing into existing workflows by bringing job programming and printer status capabilities to the operator's PC, even if working remotely. FreeFlow Print Manager is also available as an option in Creo Inc.'s Prinergy workflow management system, adding the flexibility for customers to operate within their existing environments.
FreeFlow Web Services
Building close customer relationships is key to the long-term success of a print operation. FreeFlow Web Services helps build those relationships with a "digital storefront" that can be tailored to the requirements of each customer and assist in job ordering and management.
FreeFlow Web Services enables a printer's customers to view, modify and order documents in addition to downloading and submitting new jobs for production. A shopping cart feature allows customers to view selected documents before sending for production. People are also able to create PDFs from their own PC, giving customers more control of the process and resolving common production hold-ups due to font and color discrepancies that occur when a PDF is not created correctly.
As an added advantage, print providers can use the same Web server to manage jobs. Through Web Services, customer communications such as automatic job receipt notifications, status updates and finished document viewing all happen through one portal.
Rounding out the workflow announcements is FreeFlow Makeready, software that provides a single interface for all page formatting and layout, making it easier to finalize documents prior to print production. Makeready acts as a central hub for key prepress activities including colorization, component editing, color management, imposition, document construction and job ticketing. These processes can be complex and prone to error when done manually, but are made simpler through FreeFlow Makeready.
Content enters FreeFlow Makeready as either electronic files or hardcopy scans that are imported directly from FreeFlow scanners. From there, the user interface makes highly visual processes like page layout, editing and proofing easy. FreeFlow Makeready also features custom imposition, PDF proofing, a reprint repository, and a light table feature that provides a proof for front-to-back registration. These capabilities are integral to expanding digital applications such as customized printing and short-run book publishing.
Price and Availability
FreeFlow Process Manager, Print Manager, Web Services and Makeready are available immediately in North America and available Oct. 1 in Europe and other geographies. List prices start at: FreeFlow Process Manager, $20,000; FreeFlow Print Manager, $3,995; FreeFlow Web Services, $20,000; FreeFlow Makeready, $18,000. Several upgrade options are available for customers who currently own Xerox DigiPath production printing software.
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