Content Workflow

Workflow on Parade
May 1, 2003

Ken Kingston, production manager for Parade magazine, remembers one defining moment in his move to an all digital workflow. That's when he had what he calls "a gut check." It hit him when officials from his new workflow software provider, Dalim Software, told him they had never integrated their software with an IBM AS/400. The problem: The AS/400 is Parade's computer platform of choice. Kingston swallowed hard. "The Dalim [Software] people calmly said they would work it out," Kingston says. "It took me a second [to recover], but I was okay with that. There were lots of issues we were going to have to

Will the Real Digital Workflow Please Stand Up?
May 1, 2003

So you've implemented an FTP or e-mail file delivery system, a preflighting system to check your PDF files, some trapping software, an imposition package, and a way to send it to the platesetter or printer. Finally, a real "automated digital workflow," right? Maybe. But it's not automated production. In printing and publishing, when people say "workflow," they usually think they mean "automated production." In practice, digital workflow, which should leverage the computer for full automation, instead often means computer generated, human powered. A lot of people think workflow software means automatically creating PDF files, for example, or being able to trap. My suggestion is,

XML on the Fly
May 1, 2003

It's no secret publishers are turning to XML workflows to improve production and promotional flexibility. XML-based publications can be printed, posted on the Web, burned to CD or DVD, e-mailed, displayed on PDAs, using exactly the same source files. XML also lets marketing departments automatically generate content for catalogs, e-mail messages and attachments, Web sites, and other promotional materials. But for all its well-hyped advantages, XML packs a costly little secret. Hundreds, thousands, even millions of existing documents have to be converted by hand before the workflow can take advantage of XML's capabilities. It's an expensive, time-consuming, nearly impossible task—one that eliminates any hope

Get It Right the First Time
March 1, 2003

Before creating a document for any project, I recommend using as many client interaction techniques as possible. One interaction method I've used with success is to simply create a Web site where I post screen shots of a layout, and the client gives feedback via e-mail until they're satisfied. Another technique is to send clients an editable PDF file. This keeps the font styles, layout and pictures intact. Some other client interaction choices: • Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) A must-have for any designer. As a part of the workflow, PDF is invaluable to reducing file size and increasing portability. Like an EPS file, the PDF file contains

XML A Double-Edged Sword
March 1, 2003

Move XML to the front-end of workflows, and your publishing organization will reap the maximum benefit when producing, re-purposing or managing content. Organizations are struggling to produce and repurpose increasing volumes of content. Many use XML to deliver content in an expanding variety of formats required for Internet, Web, wireless and other media. A surprising few are employing XML early enough in the production process to reap the full benefits of this powerful technology. Only 5% to 10% of book publishers, for example, use front-end XML workflows today. That means the majority of publishers using XML do so only on the back-end of their production processes. Their

A Cutting-Edge Identifier for Publishing
January 12, 2003

While a Web site URL (Uniform Resource Locator, such as is the address of an electronic resource, it becomes obsolete when the material is moved from a specific Internet location. The Digital Object Identifier, or "DOI", also lets publishers link to multiple online resources. But unlike a URL, the DOI automatically maintains reliable links, thanks to a continuously updated database dubbed "the Handle System". The Handle System was created by Robert Kahn (who also happens to be one of the Internet's inventors) and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), in Reston, Va. The Handle System assigns and resolves persistent identifiers,

Low-Cost Scanners for High-End Prepress
January 1, 2003

With news reports indicating Agfa and Heidelberg are leaving the low-end market, choices for entry- and mid-range prepress scanners are narrowing. Creo Americas Inc., Billerica, Mass., is stepping into the void with two new scanners marketed at cost-conscious creative professionals. Unveiled at the recent MacWorld trade show, in San Francisco, Creo's iQsmart2 provides 4,300 x 8,200 dpi resolution, and lists for $11,950. The iQsmart3 scans at 5,500 x 10,000 dpi, and sells for $29,500. The price points should appeal to creative professionals who want to cut production costs by moving high-end scanning in-house, Creo officials say. Both products support a high-speed Firewire (IEEE

Standards Rising
January 1, 2003

Many print organizations are slowing cycle times because they have failed to embrace accredited standards for exchanging content, such TIFF/IT-P1 and PDF/X-1a. Getting in the standards game earlier rather than later will give publishers an edge as they head into the new year and beyond, says Linda Manes Goodwin, executive director of Manes Goodwin Associates, in San Francisco. "The economy is definitely a factor," Manes Goodwin says. "Publishers have to realize that printing isn't [the] burgeoning industry it once was, and to be successful and profitable, they'll have to look at new opportunities like cross-media publishing, which will enable them to leverage content in

Vendors, Printers Debate JDF Merits
January 1, 2003

The Job Definition Format, an XML-based standard for automating the entire printing workflow, continues to gain support among leading industry vendors. Heidelberg USA is moving rapidly on the JDF front. The company has announced plans to make all of its Prinect workflow products compatible with JDF by next year. This will integrate production equipment with business workflow, and create a digital workflow from prepress to press, to post-press, says James Mauro, product manager for Prinect Press Products at Heidelberg USA Inc., Kennesaw, Ga. For example, the JDF will enable Heidelberg's Prinect Internet Portal to automate print buying and quote generation. Job definitions posted online

Come Together
November 1, 2002

The computer-to-plate digital revolution is in full swing, but print buyers are finding that turning their back on film hasn't led their organizations to the promised land. While film production processes are largely linear, slow, and inefficient, they are, in the eyes of many print buyers and manufacturers alike, supremely manageable. Contrast that to digital computer-to-plate (CTP), where content moves at a dizzying pace, with dozens of people-including content creators, prepress suppliers, and printers-interactively massaging, moving, tweaking, sharing, and perfecting the digital data files that, at many shops, have pushed film and hard-copy proofs aside. While going digital and working in real-time offers many