JDF To Be or Not to Be --Waldman
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.
Is JDF Over-hyped?
Perhaps the crux of the issue comes down to interoperability or a world where all equipment from all printing industry suppliers can talk the same language and work together. Romano believes that CIP4, the JDF association that oversees all of this, has over-hyped JDF as an instant solution for solving print's Tower of Babel problems.
As a 40-year observer of the printing industry, he feels suppliers apply standards as they see fit. "What happens when there are revisions to the specification and Supplier A implements them and Supplier B does not? Interoperability is then not operable," Romano says. "CIP4 has said that JDF is a constantly evolving standard. Who then will pay for the constantly evolving upgrades? Printers, that's who."
Romano is not alone in his misgivings about the industry-wide success of interoperability. My good friend, industry expert Steven Schnoll, is also pessimistic. "While standards are critical, I don't see JDF as a panacea for much," argues Schnoll. "We are years away from any credible standard that will be useful in the print media industry. By the way, while JDF is a subset of XML I think the future lies in a more expansive application of XML across multimedia platforms."