A Supply Chain That Runs Itself
Next, you need applications that are interfaced with each other and integrated into the overall system, and standards, standards, standards. Standards to code the job tickets, standards in the way that the databases communicate, standards in the network protocols you use and in the file formats you deploy.
Why Emphasize Standards? Standards allow you to interface and integrate quickly, accurately and efficiently. They also allow you to switch components into and out of your workflows and systems.
Two of the most important standards for process automation in the graphic arts are job definition format (JDF) and extensible markup language (XML). If a system is JDF- or XML-compliant, it can take in JDF or XML data, do something meaningful with it, then spit out information in either of these standard formats.
If, in the earlier example, an automated preflighting solution were not JDF- or XML-enabled, the publisher's job-ticketing system (input to it) would have to be custom tailored to the preflight package, and the job-reception system would have to be coded to accept the preflight reports (output from it). As fast as technology changes, in 18 months or so, there is likely to be a new and improved preflight solution to interface and integrate, for example. Implementing the new solution will take more custom code to accept the new inputs, which takes time and money, and is error-prone.
If the preflight solution is JDF- or XML-compliant, custom coding is not needed. A file will pass through an XML booking process extracting various data and inserting it into a JDF job ticket near the initial production stage. Knowing the value of standards allows you to make informed system and software purchasing decisions.
- Alan Darling
Alan Darling is executive VP of Vio Inc. He participates in several leading industry organizations, including CIP4 (the parent organization of JDF), AdsML, CGATS (Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards), DDAP (Digital Distribution of Advertising for Publications), GRACoL (General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography), and the Ghent PDF Workgroup.