Monday, June 30, 2008

MARS - still seeking public input

Joel Geraci, Acrobat Technical Evangelist for Adobe, has commented on a previous post-

We are continuing to develop the Mars technology but it is still in a prerelease stage and are still actively seeking public input.

A new version of the Mars plug-in that supports Acrobat 9 and Reader 9 will be available soon.

This is very welcome but I am puzzled why there is not more interest in this. Maybe many people have moved on to Flash etc. and I am living in the past. Still, from the two Seybold conferences held in Amsterdam I can remember much interest in XML and PDF. The keynote by David Brailsford outlined some of the benefits of improved connections.

However, doing some searching found this from a 2001 interview with John Warnock

Zipper: There's a discussion at the moment about the technical future of PDF, and there's a close connection to XML. So I have to ask: Shouldn't PDF be totally encoded in XML? Do you see a chance for that?

Warnock: I don't see why. We have done all of the technical due diligence and, clearly, you can code PDF into XML. Does that make it easier to make an implementation? Not really. Does it add value in terms of file size? No, it probably costs file size. Could you have a single-threaded, hierarchically structured XML document that's a PDF file? Never, because the graphics rendering and the logical organization of a document sometimes are orthogonal.
John Warnock

So you have to have a structure for the graphics and a structure for the logical organization of the document, and when you have two trees and they have to point to each other, the XML syntax doesn't help you in any way.

We've gone through that discussion and we've asked, of what benefit is it to the user for this all to be in XML? Does it make any part of the problem easier? And the answer comes back, no. Does it add any value? Well, yes; you can say, "It's all in XML." But so what? The only benefit that may have would be a marketing benefit.

So maybe there never was an intention to be "XML friendly" with PDF. It still seems a good idea to me. How hard is it to take XML sources and create PDF? My impression is that such things are possible but not as easy as it could be.

As a blogger there is some basis for asking questions. So at the Futures conference the LCC organise alongside Total Print I will try to find out what people think about PDF and XML. the Online Information show is another occasion when there is a panel about publishing. Adobe will not be there, but PDf is a topic. My guess is that most people there still think about information with a print analogy in mind. So XML to PDF could be a large proportion of what is of interest.

Friday, June 27, 2008

London Miami wherever

Checking out Acrobat Users in case there is something on MARS. Nothing yet so I have left a question. Most of the meetings seems to be online. I thought I would have known about an actual meeting in the UK. I live in Exeter but can get to London sometimes.

The London page seems to be about Miami. Have a look and see what you think.

Apparently the link to London is

Flights from London with British Airways start at around £340 return.

Is it just me or is the Adobe take on a local group just a bit unusual?

Still no news about Mars, not much on JDF

Still no news on Mars though I have tried to contact Adobe such as I can. I have changed the Acrobat Services UK site to link again to this blog.

After publication of the OhmyNews story from drupa there was a correction from Dov Isaacs. There are more live sites with PDF Print Engine than I had realised. So this is citizen journalism working as it should, better information correcting error.

So what to make of the lack of any response at all to various statements about MARS? Also by the way, how come the proper journalists are not very much concerned as far as I can tell. Most of what I can find is based more or less on press releases. But given the release of betas and the discussion on Adobe Labs it seems to me there is a question about why nothing is followed up on release of 9 and why there is no explanation.

Also, so far, no detail about JDF. What I gathered at drupa is that in 9 it is possible to export JDF info as html so it could be viewed more easily or even printed out to paper.....JDF has been there since 7 but very few people know about it. My impression is that the Adobe marketing belief is that knowledge workers are just waiting to combine all their personal videos into a portfolio. The idea they may sometimes have a print requirement is just out of date. Oh dear I feel a rave mode coming on.

Back on topic, surely somewhere there is some news about Mars?


Thursday, June 26, 2008

No news on MARS so Acrobat 9 is a mystery so far

I don't understand it. As far as I can tell there is no news about MARS, the XML friendly rewrite of PDF that was launched soon after the release of Acrobat 8. Version 9 is now available with lots of Flash but my current thought is to understand where things come from before rushing into video etc. I like YouTube by the way, but most PDFs I know about in organisations are mostly about text and graphics as in flat, usually a rectangle that stays the same size.

In live time more or less, let us check the blogs.

Mars blog updated Oct 3 2007. Inside PDF updated Jan 28th.

Other info about MARS? Can't find any.

My speculation, Adobe expect the world of PDF to become a commodity very soon so something Flash is urgent. However it still might repay some attention. Going from XML sources to something that can be published is almost a universal concern.

It was strange that Microsoft announced support for ODF as of 2009. What will actually happen is yet to be seen but it could be that XML formats as open standards are just accepted as inevitable. Which is ok except for a PDF format that was written before XML was around.

Meanwhile in Google Docs the new support for reading a PDF is working ok. Not sure how it is done, appears not to be Flash. But text selection is possible and right click copies a graphic of the page. Just need a crop tool somewhere. My impression of Google Docs is that they are actually interested in documents as most people undersand them. the idea that a web page has to start with a Flash animation or video is not shared by everybody.

Anyway, main point, any news about MARS out there?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New channel on World TV

I have added a channel for world TV about drupa.

Called "web2drupa"

these channels just collect a selection of video. this is all from YouTube so far. One of my own from the dip stage. The possibility is to combine context and selections from various sources. I plan to do more of this sort of thing. It seesm ok to express a point of view when the material could be combined in other ways if someone else has a different intention.

OhmyNews story published- the "web to print drupa" is on the record

Story now published. There are usually a couple of thousand people read a technology story. I am not sure where they come from. OhmyNews in English is not as well known as it could be. i think many of the readers are from Korea and Japan with an interest in learning English as a language. As mentioned previously, citizen journalism is well advanced in Korea as they have had broadband for several years. It is good to get print as part of the related discussion.

I have put some more photos on Flickr, including large sizes as Creative Commons. So far I have not found much reporting on the dip. Printweek in the UK has concentrated on sales of big metal machines, obviously part of what drupa is about.

A couple of smaller versions-

The slide about XML would make more sense if Adobe had followed up the MARS project with a new version of PDF. Workflows are possible at the moment but I think there is
a real possibility that XPS will be considered. Microsoft are not the most obvious choice for open source fans but the interest in XML workflows is enough to prompt a look at the tools available.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

drupa story sent to OhmyNews

I have now sent in my story, not yet edited but here is a link to current version.

I have tried to include several photos. Not sure how many will survive. This one of the CIP4 Award judges is not in focus really but is good enough for a blog.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Much better YouTube video from drupa

Now found an interview with Stephan Jaeggi, one of the judges for the CIP4 awards.

Also Olaf Drummer from Callas on standards. What he wants is for ordering print to be as easy as ordering a book on Amazon. One day the proofing process will be no harder than a look inside a book, possibly. Drummer talks only briefly about archiving standards but this is an area where procedures need to scale so something similar may work for print.

Rainer Prosi from CIP4 and Heidelberg describes the current situation with the JDF standards. That is "Job Definition Format". In German so if this makes no sense the Stephan Jaeggi one is short enough to convince you that JDF is doing well.

A typological gremlin somewhere has created the title "" when it should read "Interview with Dov Isaacs of Adobe" or something like that. Dov is well known from the technical bulletin boards tirelessly answering questions on why nothing appears to be working. Here he explains the new Adobe PDF Print Engine and reveals some technical limitations of Postscript that may be news for some people.

It is encouraging to discover through YouTube that Dov was there and that Adobe is still concerned about print. Somehow I got the impression that drupa was about Creative Suite and moving everything into Flash.

web2print drupa on TouTube

I have loaded a couple of videos from my low quality camera. At least it is a way to find better ones and to test out the tags - "web2print" , "cip4" , "awards" , "drupa" .
More links in later posts.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Reasonable point made about Acrobat 9

You know what?

PC World may have a point

A couple of releses ago it was possible to put Quicktime into PDF. Not many people did. Corporates like flat documents mostly. Last time around the Quicktime capability was less mentioned.

Anyway this has been a test of web access just behind the Grand Place. Video follows later on how to find it.

Magritte Museum could be inkjet

Still in Brussels. There is a building in progress covered in what might be inkjet, very wide format and several joins. More on this later when I can sort out my photos. Meanwhile this is Creative Commons licenced from haveacupoftea. You don't get the scale from this but it shows the idea. Meanwhile the film museum seems a bit deserted. Opens summer 2008 it is claimed. Magritte Museum next year.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More next week

More detail to come but am now setting off to Brussels for a few days on the way back to UK. So nothing on this blog till early next week.

But the "web to print" drupa seems to be still making sense. People liked my Moo business cards though I read in the Seybold report sample version drupa special that social networking print spinoffs have been for young people so far, not business to business. So plenty of scope left. Sorry can't credit source at this time, all paper packed away and this keyboard is next to the pool table so not really the spot for filing. One euro for thirty minutes web access.

Founder launch FIT 5 in English

Beijing Founder Electronics are launching an English language version of FIT, desk top publishing software similar to quark and InDesign. FIT is well established in China and has been supported over many years. It seems the aim is to find a price level that will interest knowledge workers, the kind of people who use office software. Professional pre-press could also be interested. FIT is used by many newspapers.

There are no animation features but then, maybe there is still a requirement for documents with mostly text.

Hall 5, B24 more online later. FIT 5.0 will only be available as a download.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

MARS mystery

MARS blog reveals nothing re Acrobat 9.

Is this strange or what? What I gather at drupa is that 9 is all about Flash.

"2008 is the web to print drupa" - Bernd Zipper

I have just heard a claim that this is the "web to print drupa". Seems ok to me. More on this later. I have found the press office and a solid letter from OhmyNews has got me in here. But longer posts will wait till later.

By the way, the audiences for the talks in the dip are quite small. If you are anywhere near they are worth checking out. The problem may be the Flash style nature of the scren display so it is quite hard to keep up with topics and times. A few sheets of paper might help. Just my opinion.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Adobe launches online version of Acrobat

Not sure what Acrobat 9 and the online options are about but it includes Buzzword and Store. Acrobat seems to be a word for anything new. Not much about Mars I can find so presumably the file format is the same.

I am now in Cologne, there is web access in the hotel, but I think I will take a look at the Dom etc and find out more about Acrobat tomorrow. More on the Adobe site.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

another example from the YouTube drupa

Clearly something like this cannot be afforded all that often.

JDF tutorial on YouTube , Adobe is on the case

Gaining confidence in the YouTube drupa I have done a bit of searching and found this-

Viewed 270 times, not that many, so is there little interest or could something be done to promote this? Control of print production. Surely some more print customers would benefit from knowing more about this?

This is the YouTube drupa

Xerox leads, others may follow. If there is something to say it will turn up on YouTube.

So this is not the JDF drupa one more time. Inkjet started with Epson surely, some time ago. Hard to see this as news.

This is the drupa with an online equivalent event, mostly through video.

XML support from Global Graphics

Global Graphics have announced a RIP that supports XPS, the XML based page description that ships with Vista. Recent financial reports from Global Graphics have admitted that sales of Vista have been slower than expected. However, Microsoft is still influential in some circles. If going from Office to hard copy is easy with XPS, some people will be interested. Meanwhile there is no news at all about MARS. Perhaps Adobe think the current PDF format is doing well enough not to need any updating.

I am almost tempted to start a "bloggers for Microsoft XML" trend, just to see when the Adobe response would kick in. The recent moves to support the Open Document Format (ODF) create a bit of space. It seems there will be a route for all the old .docs to be saved as open documents.

Sorry to be brief about this. Leaving Exeter for actual drupa this evening. My theory is that by Tuesday all the press releases will be available, including the last minute ones that could have been released several weeks ago and made discussion easier.

The innovation parc is the main focus, based on XML and PDF. So if MARS takes more shape most of the discussion will have to start again.

My impression from a distance is that Adobe are only partly connected with print. Searching blogs.adobe finds almost nothing on the print engine, and that from 2006.

I still think the absence of Apple is the big news so far but cannot find any other comment. Also Google, Sun and open source are a bit crucial wherever they are.