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Like a Super Drupa --Waldman

May 2004
You guessed it, I just saw Momma Mia and "Like a Super Drupa" keeps rolling around in my head. For those of you not familiar with the show Momma Mia, which is based on the music of ABBA, it's a must see. Super Trooper, one of ABBA's huge hits 24 years ago, is one of the show's toe-tapping standouts with the catchy "Like a Super Trooper." Being a printer to the core, I just couldn't help putting my own spin to the tune.

A Super Drupa it should be and, by the time you read this, many will be on their way to Germany to see the world's biggest print show demonstrating what promises to be the most important advance in printing: JDF (Job Definition Format). In fact, this Drupa has been tagged the JDF Drupa, complete with a JDF Parc. According to CIP4's executive director, James Harvey, all visitors to JDF Parc will be invited to participate in a JDF demonstration experience. When they arrive, they will be issued a 'job ticket,' a card with a unique identification number and space for 12 punches. Visitors will then go to any of the job initiation pods within JDF Parc to begin their 'job.'

They can then follow their job from station to station. At each station they will receive a punch and eight punches will enable them to enter their 'job ticket' into a raffle for prizes. CIP4 (The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) is an independent organization established for the benefit of the entire industry and is key to the progress and coordination of JDF and JDF standards. All should look into joining since the organization provides a wealth of information on this critical topic.

Printing's Holy Grail

I have written much about JDF in past PI columns and in many other articles, and I am convinced it's what the printing industry desperately needs to be an effective force in the future. Although JDF is still very young, all printers should be taking it very seriously. Judging by the enormous effort and money the industry is investing in JDF, it will grow up very quickly.

It should come as no surprise that companies like Adobe are leading the way, particularly since Adobe's development of the Portable Job Ticket Format along with CIP3's (forerunner to CIP4) Print Production Format laid the foundation for JDF.

But Adobe's continued efforts are essential because PDF is an integral part of what will become the PDF/JDF workflow and, as you are well aware, the RIP is at the core of prepress. Accordingly, Adobe's latest releases of both Adobe Distiller 1.5 in Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional and PostScript 3016 are both JDF compatible. But Adobe is just one of many major industry suppliers that have JDF-enabled products to show. Heidelberg, EFI, Xerox, Creo, Agfa, MAN Roland are among a long list.

JDF promises to be an end-to-end, automated solution for the printing industry. As such, automation starts with the client. Thus the client must have the ability to easily create a JDF-enabled PDF tailored to the specific print provider's workflow. And that's what Adobe PDF JobReady (formally called Adobe PDFTransit), distributed and supported by Datalogics, does.

With a simple click, Adobe PDF JobReady makes it easy for the print provider's customer to automatically make and send a PDF via the Web—without the need for Acrobat—that is custom tailored to the production needs of the print provider. Since this is such an essential element in properly initiating the PDF/JDF workflow from the customer, other companies are also starting to offer solutions.

One such company is. . .well, I knew them as DS America. Or was the name Dainippon Screen of America, or was it Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co., or Dainippon Screen, or. . .I never could get the name right. But one thing I can say about Screen (USA) is that in the '80s the best, most reliable piece of equipment in my print shop was their scanner.

Recently a good and very talented friend, Rebecca Aquino—formerly the senior product manager of the Adobe PDF JobReady technology—called and said she now works for Screen (USA). I promptly thanked her for ending my name confusion and asked her to tell me more about what Screen is doing about JDF.

I was already aware that Screen was one of, if not the biggest, supplier of CTP devices. Of course she was very happy to oblige me with more recent news about Screen's many JDF solutions.

A Similar Solution

Like Adobe PDF JobReady, Screen's Riteportal is another important solution for commercial printers, ensuring that content creators can create and instantly send to you, the printer, via the Internet a production ready, preflighted, certified PDF right from their desktops—all with just a few clicks of the mouse. Riteportal creates a JDF based on the customer entered, online job ticket and will work nicely with any prepress system. However Riteportal is just one part of Screen's end-to-end solution, which they call Trueflownet. Utilizing the magic of JDF, Screen's Trueflownet is an open solution that covers just about every printing operation, from the client to MIS to prepress to platemaking to manufacturing to delivery and, well, they might have skipped making coffee for the coffee break.

Screen's Trueflownet would be important to investigate as you look into JDF. But it's also important to remember that JDF means that you no longer have to buy all of your components from one vendor. For example, you could substitute Prinance, Heidelberg's JDF-enabled MIS, or EFI's Hagen OA MIS for Trueflownet's MIS module, which will be introduced very soon. JDF not only means automation, it also means that all components from all manufacturers will work together. And that's one of the great beauties of JDF.

It's not "Like a Super Drupa" if you're not there. But don't despair! (Boy, I am really getting lyrical in my old age.) If you can't make it to Germany there's always Graph Expo and Converting Expo, slated for October 10-13 in Chicago, Graphics of the Americas in Miami, February 4-6, 2005, and many other trade shows, events and opportunities to see JDF in action. Stay alert and ask industry suppliers what they are doing about JDF.

Remember (new words to ABBA's Dancing Queen) JDF, it's what I mean—for the new printing scene. And, if you haven't, see Momma Mia.

—Harry Waldman

About the Author

Harry Waldman is a consultant and has been in the printing industry for 30 years. As a former company owner, he was well-known for implementing cutting-edge technologies. Waldman is also an author. His book, Computer Color Graphics, published by GATF Press, enables readers to learn today's graphic software quickly by teaching the essential concepts. He can be reached by e-mail at harry@harrywaldman.com.
 

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