On my final day at the printing expo in Düsseldorf, I made sure to get an early start as I had an appointment with a manufacturer of color measurement equipment. I still had a few things to cover at DRUPA and one day can go by very quickly. The show starts daily at 10:00am and I wanted to be there when the doors opened. Since I am staying in Essen, it takes three trains (two underground and one regional train) to get there. On a good day this can take as little as 45 minutes. Today, was a good day and I was there promptly at 10:00.
I made my appointment and then set out to cover the two remaining topics on my agenda: publishing workflow systems and MIS systems. What is meant by publishing workflow systems is technologies that enable the process of bringing documents through the content creation and design stages up to prepress production. There were numerous technologies on display that handle these needs including the two most prominent desktop publishing applications: Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress.
As you may know, a trend is developing in computer technology away from the desktop toward Internet-browser based applications and remote servers. The most well-known example of this is the Google Docs software. Without charge, this software can be accessed through your browser and you can create, edit and save word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files. The files are saved remotely (unless you elect to download them to your hard drive) and there are collaborative features that let you share the files with others easily. If you elect to download the files, they are compatible with Microsoft Office applications and can be opened and edited with these applications. As you can imagine, these browser-based applications have the traditional desktop software industry concerned.
This includes the companies that have dominated the desktop landscape in what might be called “professional” print design. These companies are now heavily involved in the development of Internet-based collaborative and cross-media solutions, that enable everyone in the publishing workflow to search content, access files, edit and update documents.
One workflow solution that I had an opportunity to review is called Helios software. This company has been developing Mac and Windows client/server technologies for the prepress and printing industries since the 1980s. They are now offering a browser-based solution that allows content creators to share projects over the Internet. Color management, PDF proofing and production and other aspects of the workflow are combined together into one system.
Another system that I saw was Exprem which is actually a web-2-print solution. However, within this system was a browser-based creative application that enabled users to create documents from scratch. The tool set that this application contained were every bit as sophisticated as those in InDesign or QuarkXpress including transparency and blending features.
Finally, I had a chance to look at some of the MIS (management information systems) at DRUPA. There are 37 of these systems on display at the show. I was able to look into three of these: HiFlex, DimS and Prism. All of these solutions offer a comprehensive information infrastructure for printing companies from customer interaction through production and invoicing. As with the workflow tools, these applications now feature browser-based interfaces and have automated communication solutions that send email at various stages of the process.
As I was getting ready to leave DRUPA I decided to make a short video farewell message which you can watch below:
June 6, 2008