Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Web-to-Print, let us not be too limiting about this

I have been looking at the paper from drupa, including a technology guide to web-to-print. The description insists that the copy is produced from a website. To simply attach a PDF to an email would be a primitive effort.

So I realise I am living in the past yet again. It still seems a possible way of working however. The print customer could know enough or be trained such that they produce a PDF with print ready choices. The JDF intent is then all that needs to follow.

Meanwhile I am on my third set of Moo cards. These are created online as a spinoff from Flickr and other sites. You get a choice of three fonts and the paper sizes are fixed though I have two, large ones for business and smaller ones for social networking, now a term owned by the Web and no longer part of business. Something like that. To be clarified in a future post.

So maybe the people who attend the Certitec briefings on Acrobat 9 will not need to know too much about print production. I still think they should be offered the choice though.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Certitec guide to Acrobat 9 - anything on JDF?

One of the things I discovered at drupa was that there might be videos later about the JDF features in Acrobat 9. So far nothing can be found, but maybe later.

I still think of PDF as an extension of Postscript so that a connection with print is seldom far away. Maybe this release is more of a way to introduce Flash content but I still think that "knowledge workers" need to order print once in a while so they might as well realise that Acrobat includes a mass of pre-press capability. This includes starting off at least the intent of a JDF ticket, the standard for automating print production. It can also be used for the print service provider to communicate requirements on how the PDF should be created.

My impression with the release of 8 was that Adobe did almost nothing to promote this feature. Maybe it is down to print service providers to mention it more often. In 9 the main development seems to be that the JDF content can be exported as html so is easier to access.

With 9, the meetings explaining new features are organised by Certitec and the speaker is Jon Bessant. 21st August in London and 27th in Cardiff. One session in the morning, one in the afternoon - both much the same. Starting with collaboration in Microsoft Office, new services in, forms design - in other words all the office features for "knowledge workers", situations where PDF on screen might remove the need for paper altogether. The Flash inside PDF as if there was not enough Flash online anyway, and how to create a portfolio that wraps your PDF in Flash and forces your friends to upgrade to 9. Just before the news on ISO standards there is just time for publishing and prepress.

This might be your chance to ask about JDF. Jon Bessant used to work in support for a print service provider coping with the occasional technical issue caused by the way that PDF files are sometimes originated. So it may be possible to lead him on to a discussion of potential benefits from a JDF workflow. But this may not be in the original script to any great extent. So if you do plan to be there it could be worth a bit of study and working out what you would like to hear explained. I could be way wrong of course on what people are interested in. I just notice that JDF, although not a new feature, is no better understood now that before the previous release.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Has Adobe stopped investing in PDF?

This question "has Adobe stopped investing in PDF?" may seem a bit unfair and sensational but as a blogger I am trying to get attention and so far there seems to be very little interest in MARS.

There is some news on the Matthew Hardy MARS blog

Mars for Adobe Acrobat 9

Adobe Acrobat 9 has just been announced and an update to the Mars plug-in with full Acrobat 9 compliance will be released towards the end of July or early August. Mars continues to be a stand-alone plug-in for Adobe Acrobat, but Acrobat 9 now has built-in knowledge of Mars and will redirect users to our Adobe Labs Mars page when a Mars file is encountered by someone who does not have the Mars plug-in installed.

Posted by Matthew Hardy on June 30, 2008 10:40 AM

So the plug-in will be out about a month after the main release. That is good. But the pace is not really on the same scale as the promotion around AIR or FLEX. This could be because web developers are not interested in PDF as a format unless it can cope with animation and video. My impression of what the corporate audience is used to may be way out of date. Possibly both changing PDF to cope with Flash and rewriting as XML friendly was too much for the time available.

But it could also be that PDF as known before 9, without the Flash, is such a commodity standard that there is no return on the costs of a rewrite and the associated replacement costs. Ideas around XML just seem to have been around for too long to be seen as something with momentum. Could the MARS plugin have been released around the time of 8?

Meanwhile Flash is wonderful of course. Don't get me wrong. I like watching video. But previously I have got used to a release of Acrobat being about PDF as such. Something seems to be changing such that it is now seen as a promotion for Flash. For example I did a portfolio and loaded it onto It now has a front cover reading "best viewed with Acrobat 9". This is true, the contents page is now Flash.

Marketing theory suggests that products can be seen as "cash cows" and "rising stars". There are other categories but these are the two that spring to mind. So if PDF is not worth much investment as development or promotion the next question is how the price levels are likely to go. There is very little chance of an "Acrobat Classic", something like 6 at a lower price. But there are options that offer most of the features now known about and they could do well.