McIlroy–Managing Mixed Platforms

In a way it’s intriguing that there are any Macs left in publishing. Some analysts think the explanation lies in people’s general disinclination to change. But I think it’s more of a tribute to the essential quality of the Macintosh OS, and the ease with which non-technical types can master it, and work with it, day by day.

Publish magazine has been covering these developments since the early days of the revolution. This past October, Publish moved its coverage of the battle into a new dimension with the launch of a new conference business. Called “Connections 98,” the two-day event looked at the challenge of “understanding the strategic benefits, workflow advantages, and technical requirements of integrating Macintosh, Windows and UNIX platforms into a single network.”

I took on the interesting challenge of pulling together the conference program. The editors and the sponsors working with the magazine suggested two different approaches to the conference content. The first was to take essentially a workflow perspective. This would involve examining day-to-day production issues, such as digital proofing or computer-to-plate, and revealing them from a specific “mixed-platform perspective.” I thought there was a lot of merit in the idea, but perhaps too many issues to cover in a short conference.

The second approach was to look at issues that were specific only to mixed-platform publishing, and to examine them in detail. I opted for the latter approach.

What lessons emerged from the conference?

The first lesson is that there are indeed a range of problems and challenges that are very specific to mixed-platform publishing, and that those issues need to be addressed independently of other production problems. In the most extreme case, issues of moving fonts and graphics between Macintosh and Windows computers are anything but seamless and automatic. The problems are definable, but they are also numerous, and somewhat complex.

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