printCafe vs. PrintTalk--Waging a PrintWar?
printCafe is also in agreement, and stresses that PCX should not be viewed as a standard by the industry. "PCX was never intended to be any kind of a standard. It is simply an outlining of the method by which people could interchange data with our solutions," notes Olin.
Although neither PrintTalk nor printCafe see themselves in the standards business, both are involved and contributing to larger standards organizations such as CIP4, the JDF standards organization. "We're really trying to be citizens of the industry at large," says Walker. He notes that PrintTalk was recently recognized by CIP4 for its contributions to the intent portion of JDF, which is the front-end description component of JDF. "Six to eight months ago, the intent portion of JDF needed a lot of development. It was just a concept at that point. Now, it's fleshed out and is a fairly complete specification that has been adopted by CIP4 into JDF."
JDF is central to both PrintTalk and printCafe's PCX integrations. The PrintTalk implementation relies on both JDF and cXML. "JDF is excellent at describing the printed piece, but it doesn't say what we are doing with the print piece. Are we asking for a quote? Is it a change order or a catalog order? There is no mechanism for doing that within JDF," Mekis explains.
However, you can add that mechanism by wrapping JDF in cXML. cXML is a communications infrastructure for e-commerce. It's intended to support goods that are bought and sold on the Internet. printCafe's PCX, which is based on XML.1, also relies on JDF, cXML, as well as EDI standards.
From PrintTalk's inception, its data interchange has been free and open to anyone who is interested. "PrintTalk is about the free exchange of information," says Mekis. "From day one, it was important for us that it be based on open standards. We were not going to develop something in a closet that you had to have a license to touch."