The Next Level in Print Production
There's no shortage of acronyms in the print industry. We have cap, PD., PPD, XML, SVG, POD, BOD, and many more. One of the most recent additions to the industry's vernacular is JDF.
JDF, short for 'job definition format', is neither an application nor product. Rather, it is a vendor-neutral way to format data based on XML, the extensible markup language. The industry group behind JDF is CIP4, a-k-a the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress.
This consortium of print industry movers and shakers—which includes everyone from equipment manufacturers to software developers, to printers and their clients—built on CIP3's PPF (print production format) and Adobe's PJTF (portable job ticket format) to create the JDF.
As a common job-ticket, or 'super-preference' file type, JDF's goal is to bridge all areas of the extended workflow. A JDF-enhanced file might include detailed descriptions about the entire job: how it was created; how it should be produced; and how it should be printed, finished, and distributed.
Prior to JDF's development, there was no real connection between the print production workflow and MIS (management information systems) at both the content creator and printing organization levels.
This electronic gap meant that information about the job had to be captured in disparate, often redundant systems. The goal for JDF is to capture as much information about the entire print job early in the process, and then enable printing equipment and MIS systems to share this information in a seamless fashion.
There are a number of reasons why print buyers should care about the continued development and deployment of the JDF standard. Firstly, the standard cannot be fully embraced without support of content creators.
Ideally, the creative stage is where the JDF information should be captured, so it can follow the content through the file's process, from start to finish. The result of the JDF is a printer and customer who are on the same page.