Friday, May 25, 2007

Video shows off XML and documents

Going back over previous links finds this video from Switzerland. Some images are not too clear but it makes a point. there is a tag for Martin Bailey so he may be the speaker. Accepting for a moment that the Microsoft take on XML is more or less the same as anyone else might assume, the idea is that if XML output works on the desktop then it will work through a service provider. Presumably the same would be true for PDF and the PDF Print Engine. Even easier with Mars I would think, XML at every stage. In some ways I could get into more detail but the outline is clear somehow with some technical vagueness. Expect more announcements by the autumn anyway.

Open Source during Digital Print World

This blogging world is all very well but sometimes it is good to have some real space and time in mind. So plan A is to look out for XML and open source at the Futures conference organised by the London College of Communications during Digital Print World. There is usually something there to connect with. I will look out for news to suggest to them so any link suggestions are welcome.

Open Source co-exists with commercial software

Looking at Adobe promotion of Apollo, FLEX and everything around Flash it seems that they have accepted open source as a large part of the scene. There are open source alternatives around XML so there is a benefit for Adobe in getting interest from developers. Meanwhile there seems to be less interest in MARS, a new XML based version of PDF. adobe have proposed that the ISO take over the full PDF spec as a standard. So this is about as open an approach as can be expected. I don't understand the technology involved but as MARS is completely XML it can make possible all the aims previously discussed about linking to data. At the two Seybold events in Amsterdam there was much interest in XML. I think MARS could be of interest to open source developers for what is possible fairly easily by way of print or documents.

The XML summer school in Oxford this July has a session on XSLT, XSL-FO and XQuery. The names are just a bit geeky, in my opinion. Is there a simpler way to describe how to "convert one company's XML into another company's XML or into professional-looking PDF or print documents"? The XQuery is about "how to create queries that extract XML from a growing number of commercial and free large-scale XML repostories." So could there be a simpler term for "XSLT" and "XSL-FO"?

My impression is that thwe open source developers are quite likely to have a look at the JDF spec and work out what to do with it. So far progress has been slow in offering a way for print customers to specify requirements in JDF format. People in print companies are usually not that interested in code. Maybe the people who work on creating PDF from XML sources would be see the benefits of adding some JDF for the production details.

So the discussion around XML could benefit print as it has other sectors through combing open source and commercial software. The JDF spec is supported by CIP4 through collaboration and standards but there are commercial products around this.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Open Source Graphics story on OhmyNews

OhmyNews have published my story about the Libre Graphics Meeting in Montreal.

I heard about it from a message following an earlier story about Creative Suite.

Looking at the discussion it seems clear that Blender is getting attention for 3D animation. I was struck by a blog comment that a lack of CMYK was not too much of a problem as print was getting rare.

I often think that Adobe are moving their audience too quickly but maybe this drift away from print is going too fast not to be noticed.

I am allowed to include some opinions in reporting for OhmyNews. I put in a request for more on JDF. Unless the print industry offers JDF soon there will not be much of an offer for speed or flexibility in comparison with the web.

Now I am even more confused

Adobe are also offering a tour around Acrobat 8. It seems to combine desktop Acrobat in the morning with either e-learning or manufacturing in the afternoon. apparently PDF forms in the morning with no mention of LiveCycle. the e-learning is all about Connect so presumably any forms would be Flash. There is a quick section on LiveCycle during the manufacturing but this is only at one location anyway.

Meanwhile Adobe Live will have something for developers, mostly Flash I suppose. LiveCycle now copes with FLEX so may get more attention. Open source seems to be part of the discussion around FLEX, maybe just to keep developers interested.

So how can you have a discussion about all the options, includeing open source on the server? MARS is nowhere to be found on the UK events agenda, as far as I can see. Talking about desktop Acrobat for knowledge work without including server capability makes very little sense.

e-learning might include classic PDF just as much as Connect and Flash video etc.

A project to include e-learning was started when the LiveCycle software first came out. It might have been a proposal for eTEN but never got to a suitable stage. I will try to keep the webpages updated.

What guidance is there as to when to use PDF or Flash for forms? Given that LiveCycle is silly expensive, what open source server software exists for XML and PDF?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Adobe Live - What about Mars?

My impression so far is that Adobe Live will be mostly about Flash and FLEX. I can't see anything about MARS, the XML approach to PDF that to my mind is the most exciting thing yet about Acrobat 8.

The Acrobat User Forum has hosted a download of a presentation from Jim King at the PDF University. This covers MARS as well as Flash / Apollo. At the moment there are no official meetings of the AUF but I may meet some people on the developer day of Adobe Live, June 5th. There is a gap before the evening section. The AUF meetings have become smaller but not so small as to avoid disagreements. There is support for the Weatherspoons opposite Angel tube. Some designers prefer the wine in the Slug and Lettuce where the AUF has met previously. My guess is that there will be a preference for the real ale at Weatherspoons.

In either case, look out for the "What about MARS?" A4 sheet if that is what you want to discuss.

As the world moves online there may be new info about MARS that can be linked to this blog. If you are in a completely different pub for some reason, try waving the poster anyway. Somebody might be interested.