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E-Commerce Firms, CMS Manufacturers, NPES Push JDF Standard

August 2000
RESTON, VA—Addressing a growing issue as computer management systems and e-solutions tailored for the commercial printing market become standard operating procedure at printing companies, more than 16 of the most prominent print management system and e-commerce companies in the industry have announced plans to form a community to define a "best practice" common and open communications interface between their products. The project has been named PrintTalk.

Current participating companies include Avanti Computer Systems, Cirqit.com, Collabria, Graphic Arts IT, GraphiTech Computer Systems, httprint, Impresse, MediaFlex.com, Noosh Inc., Parsec Corp., Press-Tige Software, Printable.com, PrintChannel.com, Profit Control Systems, Streamline Solutions and WAM!NET.

"The goal of PrintTalk is to drive the rapid and consistent adoption of broadly published and open standards," explains Parsec President Steve Hallberg, acting chairman of the PrintTalk group. "This will enable secure electronic commerce and application integration between e-commerce companies that assist print buyers in specifying, ordering and tracking their printing, and companies whose software manages and tracks the print manufacturing process."

The PrintTalk group has selected NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies to organize the group's activity and develop by-laws and formalized operational procedures.

PrintTalk will support use of the proposed Job Definition Format (JDF) standard and Commercial eXtensible Markup Language (cXML). As part of the group's activities, it will seek to have its work recognized as an implementation of the JDF standard. The interface specification will be distributed free of any fees or royalties.

"There is currently no open architecture implementation that addresses the need to easily exchange data in a secure manner between companies that buy and sell printed materials over the Internet," notes William K. Smythe, vice president of NPES and administrator of the group. "The PrintTalk interface using JDF will address this demand, and NPES is excited about assisting these companies to further the evolution of e-commerce solutions for the printing, publishing and converting industries."

"What will drive this is the larger print buyers," Hallberg adds, noting that he has discussed the issue with a number of major print buyers. "Purchasing departments are embracing e-commerce because of the time it saves. Of course, there are security issues to resolve, but I'm hearing predictions that as much as 90 percent of their purchasing will be done over the Internet."

Officials say NPES was the logical choice, since, in addition to PrintTalk, the association serves as secretariat to similar organizations, such as The American National Standards Institute accredited B65 Committee, the Committee for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards (CGATS), the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the International Organization for Standardization's Technical Committee 130 Graphic Technology.

NPES also administers the International Color Consortium (ICC), an organization devoted to developing a specification to enable different computer platforms and devices to translate color information into a standard color interchange.

"Right now," says Hallberg, "the industry is a bit like the larger computer industry was in the 1970s, when there were a number of different computer languages, none of which could talk to each other. But in the next few years, the systems we'll all use for e-commerce will be developed, and we want them to be open systems."
 

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