Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Story in OhmyNews about LCC Futures Conference

OhmyNews have published a story about the recent conference organised by LCC alongside Digital Print World.

Briefly, I think the LCC have understood a new context for print. The show I'm less certain about. the name changes next year to include litho. There may still be space for workflow but the emphasis seems to be on large metal kit.

This year I could find nothing about XML Paper. I don't mind the fact that most of the online technology talk is about events in the USA but as it happens Global Graphics is a European company and Cambridge is not a million miles from Earl's Court. If there can be an XPSLand in Chicago surely there can be something in London?

Photo of the Convergance Bar at IP07, a Web show also at Earl's Court. The people on the Microsoft stand did not know about XPS either but then they had no great interest in paper. I do think the print industry needs to offer something like XML to maintain some interest.

Links back to IPEX 2002 for collaboration

I have put a bit about online markup and approval into the IPEX 2002 blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Total Print is not Northprint for the South

The Show Daily asks a sensible question about the change in name and scope for Digital Print World. Next year Total Print will include litho where suitable for short runs. DPWDaily reports thatNick Craig-Waller refuted the suggestion that the show would become a "Northprint for the South", arguing that Total Print Expo would focus on workflow and full print solutions.

Let us hope this is true. The word "digital" is a link to other media and the resources of potential customers for print. My impression was that there could have been more on workflow issues. There was nothing I could find on XPS, the page descruption written by Global Graphics for Vista. Maybe it will surface first on office printers and service providers will catch up later. But would it be better promotion for a print show if this sort of technology was covered?

Meanwhile no sign of Adobe or information on MARS, their own rewrte of PDF in an XML style. What could be done with a print show that would get their attention?

The Show Daily, PDF as email attachment

At Digital Print World the show daily is printed on digital kit from Canon. There is a small office besides the Printweek stand where journalists send text and photos to the Haymarket office in Hammersmith. Before the event it was sugegsted that the print ready PDF created in Hammersmith would be sent back to Earl's Court either on a CD or by FTP. Using a CD could mke sense. It is not that far to walk and somebody might have made the journey anyway. It turns out that each page was sent as an email attachment, mostly about a meg. The pages were combined using Acrobat Professional and some extra plugins. The plug-ins may not be so widely available but it struikes me this workflow is not outside the scope of most offices. Even FTP is not that mysterious. Digital print is part of a wider network.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Publishing at the LLC Futures Confernce

This year the London College of Communications seems to be much more relaxed about not being the London College of Printing. Unlike the previous two years the first day is not just about printing, but seems to cover communications in general, albeit with something of a print bias.

I found there was quite a strong support for the idea that the web has so many links that distraction is likely, and that the online amateurs will destroy civilisation as represented in the world of books. However this may have been just a provocation for speakers later today. Starts around 1pm. The Thames Suite is found through the front of Earl's Court. A badge for Digital Print World is required to get past the door. Why there are not more people looking in from the show remains a mystery. The digital debate includes production gains from workflow and the transition away from litho. But the LCC are considering print as part of a communications mix in a digital context.

The word "gradual" could be spin

Without wanting to be too rude, it could be imagined that if you told a typical audience from the print industry, even at Digital Print World, that XML is part of a revolution in workflow they might lose interest very quickly. So the word "gradual" could be well chosen to promote software.

So no sudden announcements from Saskia Desmet, director international sales at Gradual Software

'We're looking forward to introducing Switch 07 to the UK market. This new upgrade directly addresses the additional requirements of our customers who are already benefiting from the Switch product line to create flexible and efficient automation workflows.'

Crossroads has support from several other software sources who provide information to help the "configurators", workflow connections that can fit on the Switch platform. Everything is in XML, so it could be swapped over to JDF for production stages. Adobe and Quark are not formally part of Crossroads but the configuratore seems to be there as enough information is public.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Could "JDF friendly" be a useful term?

Towards the end of the week for MAX in Chicago. It strikes me there has been no buzz about MARS, based on a search of Google News and Google blogsearch. I still think XPS is a solid project that Adobe should consider if it is Microsoft they are concerned about.

Anyway, back on topic via a trawl of Adobe blogs. Jim King explores the meaning of "XML document".

I am sure you have often heard the term “XML Document.” I hope you realized that that term is nearly meaningless just like the term “XML.” We should never use either in polite conversation. Let me tell you some of the totally different uses for the term “XML Document” which render it a useless term, and maybe you will agree with me to banish it from our vocabularies.

The point being it is better to talk about the specific XML markup language being used than XML Documents in general. "XML Document" is meaningless.


If you look at the Adobe Mars literature you will find that Mars is called XML-friendly. That is my doing. I just thought it was too much of a stretch to call a ZIP archive an XML Document or an XML file.

So for most people using the word "XML" at all could be quite dangerous and result in confusion. "XML friendly" is vague enough to cause less damage. It shows a general support for the direction of XML without getting into any detail.

Something similar might help with JDF - the Job Definition Format. Again, few people understand the specification precisely. But "JDF friendly" could include any form of XML that would move into JDF without too much trouble.

In June at Adobe Live I met David van Driessche from Gradual who spoke about XMP as a way to store metadata with PDF files for print. Similar ideas come up in a Printweek story by Barney Cox including an interview with Peter Camps, also from Gradual.

What strikes me is the Barney Cox take on JDF.

JDF- that much touted tool for print production automation is also a form of metadata, but it is one that is specifically aimed at print production. JDF has been around for a while and is being adopted as a way to control print production processes, but it isn't the only metadata format around that is relevant to the print industry.

A while back JDF was also promoted as a way for print customers to define their requirement. The "intent" could be fairly simple with production methods chosen later. In another Printweek story (page 22 Oct4) Steve Vaughan points out that "Pricing on the customer's desktop has a direct effect on the way they work." So has the capability for publishers to create a print ready PDF. With JDF, customers can define detail in print production.

Once upon a time Adobe worked on the Portable Job Ticket as part of PDF. More recently they are thinking about the web and Flash. There has been almost no promotion for the feature in Acrobat 7 and Acrobat 8 that a JDF file can be created from the desktop within InDesign or Acrobat. There could be a majority of Acrobat desktops in legal or engineering sites where the pre-press features are a complete mystery. In many cases JDF would be of no interest. However it is worth pointing out to those creatives who still include print occasionally in what RIT call "the mix".

On the rare occasions when something is said about JDF, such as by Jutta Koch a couple of years ago at the LCC Futures Conference, it appears that the InDesign / Acrobat workflow could involve JDF files from pre-press to define how creatives produce files for later processing. Quark Job Jackets could work in a similar way. But this whole area seems to have gone quiet recently. Not much of a mention in the Printweek workflow technology report.

So it seems the advocates of a gradual approach have got a point. Until the print customers get together and demand JDF, as the magazine publishers did with PDF by the way, the interim aim could be something that is "JDF friendly".

Thursday, October 04, 2007

MAX signals the end of print buzz

The news coming out around MAX seems to me to show that Adobe have more or less completely lost interest in print.

This interview with Kevin Lynch makes no mention of Postscript and PDF seems to be just another format that the new Flash approach can absorb.

The only encouraging thing for the print tradition is that Buzzword recognise that a page is part of word processing. Google docs has no awareness of a right margin or where a page break may be.

Other than that this event should be carefully considered as a guide to where Adobe think communications is heading. Don't forget, they may have a point.

Rod Hayes and the search Flash problem

Rod Hayes writes about the web when announcing a new forum in Print and Paper Monthly. Apparently this will be a regular feature in the print edition.

There appears to be no plan for an online equivalent and there is little enthusiasm for social networking software. Sites such as Facebook and MySpace "..are full of the minutiae of people's lives most of which turns dullness into something of an art form, but these sites serve up little of value other than occasional titillation."

Rod has tried to find advice about 'blanket pressure' through a Google search but gave up after 20 links of the 220,000 provided.

Could I suggest that a possible reason for this is that the printing industry has not fully considered the best ways to maximise visibility on the web? For example Print and Paper Monthly may have had an article about blanket pressure but all the pages on back issues are presented as Flash so there is no way they will show up on a search engine.

Presenting the content of a print magazine online is a step towards the web but web design can go beyond simply reproducing the print layout. It is claimed that there is a weakness in the web "due to the way the sites are not capable of responding to specific questions or queries and the conclusion must be that the written word is still king." For "written word" read "print" presumably.

Actually there are some websites with chat. There is some rudeness but often an exchange of advice and experience. YouTube has examples of guitar playing with closeups on exact finger positions by request for specific tunes. Perhaps there will be a record of adjusting blanket pressure sometime soon.

So there may be further developments on the paperandprint.com site eventually. Meanwhile comment is welcome on this post.