McIlroy--HDIA - New Name, New Concerns
PDF has been a hot button in the graphic arts for at least a year. Attendees seemed nearly unanimous in expressing interest and approval of the growth of PDF, and nearly as vocal in expressing frustrations at PDF's current limitations in a professional graphic arts workflow. Despite many problems, there was a clear consensus that PDF will be a major player in the years ahead.
One of the most intriguing presentations was made by Allen Witters, chief technology officer for WAM!NET. I'd been kind of ignoring WAM!NET—it's hard to get excited about a small networking company that can transmit big files. I was considerably underestimating the effort.
WAM!NET's objective is to become the central network for the world graphic arts industry. It is building an infrastructure that will be attractive to every player in the graphic arts to use at some point in the publishing process.
Publishers will maintain image databases on the network. WAM!NET is planning to enable distribute-then-print applications. Witters admitted that WAM!NET's goal is nothing less than collecting a small tariff on the entire data flow of the industry. With a recent $25 million equity investment from Worldcom/MCI, WAM!NET is poised to become a major player in our business.
The other shocker concerned QuarkXPress. I'd heard rumblings in the press and online from users angered by the high cost (roughly $300) of the 4.0 QuarkXPress upgrade. Compounded by Quark's notoriously poor customer service, anger is now bubbling to the surface.
Most attendees said they're receiving few 4.0 files, reflecting upgrade reluctance from customers. And the word we heard was that the 4.0 upgrade is anything but bug-free. Quark has got a real problem on its hands. With Adobe rumored to be ready to attack again with new "Quark-killer" software, this entrenched standard has a battle still to fight.