Thursday, July 19, 2007

OhmyNews story on Mars now published

The Mars story is here.

I think this is a new phase in my reporting of PDF. I may have gone off down a sideline but it is still a significant space, as I see it.

Previously OhmyNews have published stories on open source for education and on open source graphics. There have been audiences for these so although this Mars story is a bit technical there will be some interest. OhmyNews manages to combine stories about culture and related technology.

Open Source Graphics Meets Quality Assurance

Open Source Challenges Vista at U.K. Education Show

There has been one comment already, from Thad McIlroy who writes a blog for Gilbane. I had found one post earlier but have now read another one explaining why Adobe is more interested in Apollo. McIlroy pointed out the slow rate of change on the FAQ as one indication. Even now a search on Adobe blogs finds not a lot on Mars. The most recent post is dated Jan 29th.

McIlroy links to a defining statement by Joe Wilcox -

"PDF's heritage predates the populist Web, and Adobe created the format for the purpose of mimicking paper documents. In the 21st century, however, digital documents are often containers that likely will never be printed. Paper’s relevance — and so the need to mimic — has greatly diminished.”

This seems to be the Adobe assumption. So Flash is the future, PDF not very interesting even with improved XML. My own impression is that paper is still around. Whatever Adobe and Microsoft marketing stirs up around the "rich internet", my guess is that Global Graphics will continue to promote XPS in a restrained sort of way but sustained over time.

This blog is about drupa so obviously is mostly about hard copy. The minimum aim is to cover the potential of XML as JDF and page description.

The websites have been updated less frequently as more energy is taken up with blogs. The scope becomes clearer. WWWatford is again about a destination for UK print, now merged with actual Dusseldorf in an imagined future. Not that far away actually. Acrobat Services dotcom may start to look at the video conferencing and so forth. Yes I realise this is a bit late but the whole launch of Acrobat 8 has been a mess as far as I am concerned. The information about Mars, requires 8.1, has been delayed and hidden.

Acrobat Services UK site will be about actual UK, not an imagined place. If I find there is still paper, I will write about that. If schools all suddenly switch from books to online animation that will also be worth reporting.

While checking out "Mars" through a search on Adobe blogs, I found this from John Loiacono, in a post about response to the Kinko link in 8.1.

"We have a long-standing, very supportive relationship with the print community"

A relationship is something that is refreshed over time. My impression from Adobe Live in London was that print was not really holding on to Adobe mindshare.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Story for Ohmynews on Mars

I have sent in a story on Mars, news being the second beta.

Not edited yet, but Google Doc version here.

I realise there is a reaon for the emphasis on Flash etc. but I do think the lack of promotion for Mars is out of proportion. I will be interested in feedback on this story.

My proposal is to get more into time travel. It seems possible to grasp what is likely to be presented at drupa, so maybe ten months ahead. I will try to explore this soon. If that could be established i could maybe get my head round the ideas about "rich internet applications". It all seems to be about software that exists not, for an audience with no idea of what is possible.

By contrast XML to documents is fairly well understood. Documents including litho etc.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hello Spiders, a take on autobiography

I have started a sort of autobiography, more like a current situation. "Hello Spiders" started as a set of links to the blogs and websites I update. Also swickis and lenses and Google custom search.

I will start a week course in Lancaster later this month. They have sent a reading list including Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I am also reading Timequake in which he imagines being alive in 2010. My plan is to to make the same assumption so I can include drupa 2008 and an asessment afterwards.

One reason for time travel is that there is sometimes a lack of solid information even though a direction is clear enough to write about. For example there is still not much information about MARS, even though I am fairly sure I remember from Adobe Live that an update is expected soon. I still think that an XML version of PDF is an event. Meanwhile the XML Paper Specification supported by Microsoft is gaining more attention. Even if it fails to become a standard there is discussion about it.

Ecma Technical Committee 46 will meet in Cambridge UK on July 23rd. The Chair is Martin Bailey from Global Graphics. From previous work on JDF it can be assumed this is a serious approach to some form of standard. At least the issues will be raised.

In a story for Computing, Adam Farquhar, head of e-architecture at the British Library, is quoted in favour of Microsoft's support for linking Word formats and XML.
“I was very worried by billions of documents worth billions of euros kept in binary file formats and at long-term risk [but the awareness Microsoft has] shown of the problem has been a huge sea change.”

Meanwhile Adobe seem to be concentrating mostly on Flash. There is not so much on boring flat corporate documents or pre-press workflows. This may be a response to a threat from Microsoft in future web design. The existing applications could get some attention. Maybe there will be more information on Mars sometime soon.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lawrence Wallis, desktop publishing, time travel

Lawrence Wallis has raised some interesting issues around desktop publishing, seen as commencing around 1985. It is now possible for individuals to combine typesetting, page design, graphic reproduction and even copywriting on occasions. I am copying some of these words from the Printweek website. Here's a short quote-

The mechanical era of letterpress printing, a component of the industrial revolution, was a supreme example of the division of labour. It was characterised by groups of specialised craftsmen that jealously guarded skills through dedicated unions.

Lawrence Wallis refers to a critique of the industrial revolution from people like William Morris and Eric Gill, "more concerned with the inner spirit of man". Wallis thinks it possible they would have approved of the modern approach, "if not entirely of the methods".

I am not sure what there is not to approve of. Could it be the industrial scale made possible by the web? The arts and crafts movement seems to me to be concerned with unique objects. There is resistance to describing something digital as art when it can be easily reproduced and distributed. Some of this is after 1985 but is part of the same trend.

For example I have taken this graphic from the Web Gallery of Art in Hungary. The size was changed by Blogger as it loaded. The design of the blog page is a standard format that I selected.

According to the Web Gallery of Art, this is a "relief etching, handpainted with watercolour and gold". So nothing digital involved. But there is more to discuss. 1985 is only one of the dates in the history of desktop publishing.