PREFLIGHTING -- Getting a Fix on Files
The two solutions have a number of similarities, but one very central difference in approach. MarkzNet is a software solution that is installed and maintained on the print provider's Web server. Preflight Online is a subscriber-based service that operates on the ASP (application service provider) model.
Both systems use a Web-browser interface and conduct the actual file inspection on the job creator's (designer's) local computer. Only a small text file is passed between the server and the client site, thereby eliminating any potential concerns about security or access bandwidth.
MarkzNet checks digital files against a customized set of Ground Controls defined by the receiver (printer/prepress operation) and contained in a TrueFile Specification (.tfs) file. The sender is automatically notified of required corrections before the job is transmitted and instantly receives confirmation when it is accepted. TrueFile technology also makes it possible for the customer identity and job ticket information to be passed to third-party applications.
MarkzNet's suggested retail price is $15,000—plus an annual $1,500 fee for maintenance and upgrades—which includes server software and unlimited client software seats. No transaction fees are charged.
Preflight Online uses a free browser plug-in that is self-configuring and auto updating, so new features and file format support become instantly available when added to the Web server software. Once a client has preflighted a file, the report can be accessed by the printer/prepress operation before the job is submitted.
A new subscriber to Preflight Online is charged a $6,000 setup fee and then pays for each file submitted using its setup and plug-in. The standard fee is 95¢ per file, but volume pricing is available.
As good as the tools are getting, fixing file errors remains a stop-gap measure. The ideal solution would be to wipe out these bugs at the source, so they never make it into files. Hopefully, that won't require killing off all the creators of bad files. Getting them more involved in preflighting may be the right first step, since people don't like to make work for themselves.