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In Search of PrintTalk and JDF -- McIlroy

June 2001
I intended to devote this column to an exploration of the PrintTalk specification and to JDF (the Job Definition Format).

I got the idea when I opened the April issue of Printing Impressions and noticed an advertisement for PrintTalk (placed just below my column). The ad listed a bunch of sponsoring vendors, and had the headline "Demand PrintTalk-enabled Solutions from Your Suppliers."

I went to five or six of the Websites of the vendors listed in the ad and searched for a mention of PrintTalk. I couldn't find one.

The ad for PrintTalk lists a Web site—www.PrintTalk.org. There I learned that PrintTalk "is a community formed by print management systems and e-commerce companies to define a 'best practice,' common and open communications interface (sic) between their products. The PrintTalk implementation will support use of the broadly published, 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 proposed JDF standard. The PrintTalk interface specification will be distributed free of any license fees or royalties, in order to address the need for end-to-end connectivity in the printing industry. NPES serves as secretariat to PrintTalk."

Oh, oh: a spec formed by e-commerce companies. I looked at the sponsorship list again. Two of the listed sponsors are out of business, Impresse and MediaFlex. Not a good sign. Further exploration of the site turned up a few background documents, most of them dating back to last September (about five years ago in Internet time!).

I saw that PrintTalk is based on JDF, so I searched the sponsor sites for a mention of that spec. No luck. I'd heard that JDF had a separate site. I tried www.JDF.org. Nope, that's the site of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

A Google search under "JDF job definition format" brought me to "www.job-definition-format.org."

That site, in turn, redirected me to "www.cip4.org." Ah, yes. CIP4. That's the old CIP3 group. CIP3 stood for "International Cooperation for Integration of Prepress, Press and Postpress." As I recall the fourth "p" stands for production. Nope, got that wrong; it stands for processes. I just found the definition on the CIP4 site: "The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress." Kind of rolls off the tongue.
 

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