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JDF To Be or Not to Be --Waldman

September 2004
To thine own self be true and thou cannot be false to any other printer. A little twist on Shakespeare to remind me that if I am going to write a column, it should be as truthful as possible, particularly in the case of critical issues where all sides should be presented.

In the past, I have written much about JDF (Job Definition Format) and the enormous impact I believe it will have on our industry. Am I caught up in all the hype? My passion is evident, thus I am being true to my own self, so Shakespeare can rest easy. But have I fairly explored the issue of whether JDF is to be or not to be? Well no, because I haven't presented all sides.

In my last column, I wrote about how Drupa was going to be a huge coming out party for JDF. But, because of prior commitments, I couldn't make the trip. So after it was over, I eagerly communicated with many industry friends to get the lowdown. Well, I wasn't totally wrong about the JDF hoopla at Drupa. But I have to say the response I got was mixed—with true JDF believers, like me, some doubters and some in the middle.

Chief among those who are not riding the JDF bandwagon is "His Print Industryness," Frank Romano. I have known and respected Frank for more than 25 years, so I took it seriously when he sent me his 10 point JDF epistle. Space is limited so I can't reprint all of his points, but I will try to summarize his views.

The foundation of my belief in the importance of JDF lies with CIM or computer-integrated manufacturing. I strongly believe that print is facing serious pressure from electronic media, which is both fast and economical. CIM will help print face this threat more effectively.

While many other industries have automated, print still has a long way to go. Mark Michelson, editor-in-chief of Printing Impressions, put it this way: "Business success for printers will increasingly require more automated workflows, even quicker job turnarounds and less human intervention. That is one of the only ways to carve out a profit in an industry where margins remain razor thin."

Romano doesn't disagree with Michelson, but believes that CIM is already in practice, JDF has been over-hyped and is not necessarily needed for CIM, and that many printers already have CIM without JDF. However, he does feel that JDF may increase the functionality of printing systems in the future.

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