Let’s Move Forward Quickly –McIlroy

As many readers know by now, JDF is an open and extensible, XML-based print workflow specification. The JDF spec uses the job ticket concept and links together authoring, production and management upstream with manufacturing and delivery downstream.

Originally developed by Adobe Systems, Agfa, Heidelberg and MAN Roland, JDF is now managed by CIP4, a non-profit standards body based in Germany. CIP4 has more than 160 members from around the world.

The antecedents of JDF are, first of all, CIP3 (acronym for International Cooperation for Integration of Prepress, Press and Postpress), which in the late ’90s developed PPF (Print Production Format), a file format used for ink key presetting, folding and trimming. At the same time Adobe was building into PDF a format subset called PJTF, the Portable Job Ticket Format, designed to control PDF output.

JDF has several key features:

* The ability to carry a print job from genesis through completion. This includes a detailed description of the creative, prepress, press, postpress and delivery processes.

* The ability to bridge the communication gap between production and management information services (MIS). This ability enables instantaneous job and device tracking, as well as detailed pre- and post-calculation of jobs.

* The ability to bridge the gap between the designer’s and publisher’s view of the product and the downstream manufacturing process.

Adding Partners

Creo launched the NGP initiative in 2000 as a way of bringing JDF into the workings of Printcafe, a software and systems company in which it was once the largest investor (Printcafe is now owned by EFI.) Creo has now gone industry-public with NGP, and has recruited another 30 vendors into the fold, including heavyweights like Adobe, Komori and Xerox. The majority of these partners are also CIP4 members, though certainly not all.

The apparent aim of NGP is to focus on a defined subset of JDF that can be implemented by member companies (or at least made demoable) by DRUPA 2004, to be held next May. DRUPA has embraced JDF as the major theme for its next show, and NGP may make practical what could have been unwieldy or impossible.

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