Software
How to leverage the growth in powerful collaboration tools, including the always evolving, free Google ecosystem (from PrintAction May 2016)

Scanning a 70-page PDF of the official WWI military record of Lieutenant Collins, veteran of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, had me thinking about the army of paper pushers it took to coordinate a battalion of troops in the days before computers.

This all started a few years back when a family trip to Victoria, BC, my mother-in-law’s birthplace, led us to the provincial archives in search of family documents. Since then, the military records, which were only partially available to the public, have been scanned and organized and are available online. A few searches through the military site today and my wife and I were staring in amazement at the 100-year-old scanned outer envelope, forms, medical and dental records, pay stubs and injury reports of her grandfather.

In 100 years, the look of record-keeping has not changed that much. Spreadsheets have replaced columns in pre-printed forms. Bank statements still look the same, although they were once hand-written. Schedules still appear as rows and columns of time, date, place, activity – much like a production schedule looks today.

I started to imagine the huge effort it took to pre-print the forms, store them, keep them dry while on duty, complete them accurately, stamp and date them over the course of the soldier’s service. More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted during WWI. If each had 70 pages of documents, it means that 42 million pieces of paper were pushed around just for troop records. These records kept a record of their location, health status, financial standing, vacation history, means of transport, the names of superiors and mentions in dispatches (testimonials).  Sounds a bit like a LinkedIn profile of today.

Real-time, real value
Technology has put a lot of those paper pushers out of work over the years. But keeping and sharing vast amounts of information has only become more important. Working in the printing sector, we are faced with logistical challenges every day. There are a lot of tools we can put to the test in our environment – and they will be a lot more effective than pre-printed forms, hand-written scribbles and rubber-stamped itineraries.

In my last article, I wrote about SmartSheet.com. This online shareable spreadsheet on steroids is great for collaboration in a team. If that tool had existed in 1914, those 70 pages of documents would have been available for review anywhere in the world, at any time, and updates would have been relayed to superiors, and family if necessary. Some 42 million pages of records would be in the cloud: Searchable, shareable and secure. (Refer back to last month’s PrintAction if you are curious about my thoughts on SmartSheet’s use in print production.)

There are other tools that are also worth considering for your print production environment. Sometimes these make the internal workflow more effective. Other times they can bring a client into a more active and collaborative role, which they usually appreciate, and help to lock you into a great relationship.

The mother of all of these collaborative toolkits is Google for Work. You may have a free Gmail account, but this is more substantial. You pay for each user and you are not bothered by the advertising that clutters your free Gmail account. There are over five million organizations using Google for Work (including PrintAction) and 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies subscribe. It knits all your contacts, calendars, email, documents, spreadsheets, intranets and presentations together. You get a chat network and an online meeting place where screens, cameras, microphones, etc. can be shared so members of your team can choose one of many ways to share information. Oh, and it’s mobile too, so it works well with your phones and tablets.

One of the best parts –  You do not have to host this on your own servers and Google is almost never down. Handy tip: Buy a backup package from another company like Backupify. It only costs a few dollars per user, but you can backup all of your information and retrieve it quickly if anyone deletes files, emails, etc. that you need to get back. Once again, it’s not hosted at your facility, so there’s no need for storage, servers or technicians.

When I started using Google for Work (it had a different name then), Microsoft had not yet launched a cloud-based office suite, but it should be mentioned here that Microsoft Office 365 Productivity Tools is now a very comparable tool. If you do not want to learn a new platform and your team is already very familiar with Office, your time might be best served looking at Microsoft. You can find comparison articles and charts online by searching “Google at Work and Office 365 Comparison”. The details there will help you decide which is best suited to your work situation.

Having these tools should change the way you work. You have more choice but you still need to work smart. You have many channels to choose from to communicate with colleagues and clients -- email, chat, a net meeting, a shared document, a shared spreadsheet, voice over Google Hangouts, VOIP phones on the desk, an SMS text to a cell phone or walking over to someone’s desk and asking in person.  

Team exercises
One exercise we conduct with teams is asking each person to describe how they prefer to be reached under differing circumstances. It’s best to know if someone does not mind being texted on their cell phone in an emergency, but prefers not to conduct day-to-day affairs that way.

When do you escalate the level of communication to a phone call, or does that person even keep a cell phone handy all day? It’s something we did not have to think about, but the context of the communication can determine which channel you use to reach out. Botching it can send the wrong message, erode collaborative efforts and cause friction. One person feels slighted when an email is left unanswered for 30 minutes and another has a tolerance of two days. One hates a voice message and another does not know how to use call history to see what they’ve missed and get back quickly. The changes in your work do not come without some preparation, but with the increased options, you can reduce the amount of back and forth, shrink your inbox and keep more people in the loop with fewer back and forth.

Shared calendars also mean you can cut down on the ping-pong of email and phone calls. You’ll easily find openings in your team members’ schedules so you can plan a meeting, invite attendees and be pretty certain they will all be free. This was always available to the larger users of Microsoft Office, but now even two-employee firms can have this affordable option, and share it with colleagues, freelancers and clients, so that they can all have visibility to plan meetings and projects.   

Shared docs are another simple time saver. I’m writing this article on a shared doc and I’ll have an offsite editor look it over. We can work together on it from distant points, leave each other comments and save it in an easily searchable form for future reference. I’ll just search PrintAction 2016 in my Google Drive and up will pop articles with that content or title. As easy as searching the Web for an article, the power of Google now searches your files and helps you find what you need.

Collaboration software also has a whole category that is filled with virtual workspaces. It’s the software equivalent of pushing all of your team members’ desks together in a room instead of having them all on different floors. Virtual workspaces are great for teams who work at a distance. They can help with client/vendor planning, project management and internal collaboration. During the planning of a recent direct mail campaign that had a designer, client and ourselves in three distant cities, we worked with Trello.com, on the suggestion of our client. It seemed to keep all parties abreast of the three weeks of production.

Re-writes, edits and art files could be dragged and dropped into Trello and status updates posted as each user progressed. There are other options such as Slack and Sharepoint that have similar capabilities. Once again I recommend searching for comparison articles to find the one best suited for your situation. Then, read about how to best use the tool, practice with it, explain to the other users what you expect to see communicated through the virtual workspace, how frequently and with what level of detail. There is a whole new etiquette and set of expectations that comes with each of these new work environments.

This tech collaboration thing can seem daunting. The new options just keep rolling out at a fearsome rate, but take some comfort in it. We never want to return to the manual paperwork, manila folders and file cabinets of the past. These new tools will make information more accessible, shareable and just could make you a more profitable printer in the process.

Agfa Graphics has launched version 10 of its Apogee print hub with extra features, quality improvements, and performance enhancements.

Apogee 10’s new user interface enables printers to make optimum use of press sheets and press time, for both regularly and irregularly shaped print products and takes into account the required run length. In addition, the latest Apogee software version supports new digital print engines (Canon B4000 and Canon B5000) and the new Agfa Graphics Avalon N8-90 CP system.
 
“One of the most important features of Apogee 10, however, is its rejuvenated Digital Quick Strip (DQS) mechanism,” said Andy Grant, Head of Software, Agfa Graphics. “By processing pages separately before integrating them into a placeholder, Apogee and DQS turn page revision into a swift and simple task. And the same goes for updating the press sheet layout due to last-minute job rescheduling. Thanks to DQS, printers’ throughput is higher and output resources are utilized in the best way possible.”
 
Among the improvements in Apogee 10 are enhanced versioning support and the integration of Agfa Graphics’ IntelliTune technology for automatic image correction and image quality improvement. “Apogee 10 allows printers to set up a versioning job based on spot colour input files”, Grant explained. “They can also merge different parts of a versioning job onto one single plate to optimize press efficiency. All Apogee improvements aim to meet the ever-growing automation and performance needs of professional printers.”
 
The wWb-based file upload and page approval portal that is integrated in Apogee 10 now shows preflight notifications, page bleed and trim sizes to the connected print buyers, so that potential issues are discovered early in the production process and costly mistakes can be avoided.

Users can preview separations online, explains Agfa, to check if black text is set to overprint or a logo appears on the correct spot colour plate. They can even validate complex versioning jobs from within their browser. It all contributes to WebApproval as a powerful online collaboration tool, which strengthens the relationship between the printer and their customers.

Apogee 10 is also available as a cloud-based solution. “With Apogee Cloud, we offer printers the same Apogee products and features, only they are hosted by Agfa’s private and secure cloud," said Grant. “That is a unique service and it comes with many more advantages. There is no need, for example, to provide any local configuration, software installations or hardware expertise. Printers can just leave that up to our Apogee experts and ICT specialists.”

Agfa Graphics launched the cloud-based PrintSphere to provide printing companies with a standardized way to send and receive files. The Software as a Service technology, with an overview of active jobs, also provides Customer Service Representatives with a dashboard to manage their customers.

PrintSphere is a shared service that allows printers to exchange files with, for example, customers, employees and freelancers. Whether data sharing happens internally or externally, the cloud-based solution keeps all print data stored and organized.

Integrated with Apogee Prepress or Asanti, prepress operators can assign users to specific jobs. An automated messaging system invites these assigned parties to deliver files for a particular job. PrintSphere can also be used to create archives of previous jobs that can be made available to a select number of customers.

“Printers exchange gigabytes of data on a daily basis using a variety of tools,” said Andy Grant, Head of Software, Agfa Graphics. “We wanted to offer them a standardized and more efficient way to do that. PrintSphere makes it easy to swiftly send and receive files, it has a browser interface and sits in the cloud, not on your own system.”

PrintSphere is accessible through the website Printsphere.com or via client applications for Windows, Mac, and mobile. Uploaded data automatically synchronizes with local folders, making files available on-site as well.

“PrintSphere integrates with Agfa Graphics’ existing production workflow software, such as Apogee, Asanti, and StoreFront,” Grant added. “It automates data intake, creates off-site backups of critical production databases, and picks up web-to-print orders to make them available on the local network.”
Belgium continues to be a hotspot for printing and imaging software development, which was on full display in late March as some of the industry’s most-powerful companies previewed their drupa 2016 technologies in Bruges (originally published in PrintAction's May 2016 Issue.)

For a country only slightly larger than the Greater Toronto Area, Belgium punches well above its weight class when it comes to the graphic arts. Widely know for waffles, chocolate and strong beer, Belgium is also the breeding ground for significant imaging software technologies that touch all corners of the printing industry.

Once considered a minor attraction at drupa, software has become a major draw at the now triennial print gathering, largely based on its pure Return On Investment power. In the run up to drupa 2016, several companies with Belgian ties gathered this March in scenic Bruges to showcase some of their latest technologies, and roll out their drupa 2016 announcements.

Esko packaging
Esko has deep roots in the Belgian prepress world. Formed in 2002 through a merger between Ghent-based Barco Graphics and Denmark’s Purup Eskofot, the company continues to grow and strategically join forces with other commercial print and packaging prepress companies such as Artwork Systems and Enfocus. Now operating within the Danaher group of companies, Esko provides one of the leading print and packaging prepress workflow solutions available in the market place.

At the Bruges event, Esko unveiled its drupa plans which revolve around software solutions to support its “Packaging Simplified” mantra. Through extensive surveys, Esko R&D deduced its customers were facing shorter run lengths with greater numbers of print jobs, higher quality demands and an operator skills gap. To address those needs, Esko will be launching a major re-imagining of its production suite under the Esko Software Platform umbrella at drupa.

Aside from improving the user experience across all applications, Esko’s new platform promises enhanced content management capabilities and 3D viewing support in new modules for WebCenter – an online packaging project management solution. Additionally, Esko will be introducing ArtPro+, a platform independent native PDF editor for prepress.

Perhaps the more significant development of the Esko Software Platform is new flexible licensing and deployment options. Users can opt for traditional licensing or subscription models, choosing to deploy solutions on-site or in the cloud.

Enfocus Switch Appstore
In addition to showcasing the latest Pitstop technologies at drupa 2016, Esko partner company Enfocus will be promoting its new Switch Appstore, launched on February 25, 2016, to coincide with the recent release of Switch 13. The latest version of the popular Enfocus automation and modular DIY workflow application now supports Apps, modules, plug-ins and scripts created by an approved cadre of developers, and available through an Appstore.

“I am a huge believer in co-creation business models and building environments where companies can work together,” explains Fabian Prudhomme, Enfocus VP. “That’s what we’ve done with the Switch Appstore.

“Now people who have put a lot of effort into developing configurators, scripts, or Switch-based solutions for one or two of their customers have a platform where they can open their portfolio of solutions to the entire world and benefit other customers. Enfocus tests all the apps on different platforms, and different OSs because we want to guarantee the quality.”

Prudhomme explains all of the apps are subscription-based, so users pay annually based on prices set in agreement with the app developer. As a result, the apps will range in price depending on their complexity. He expects some simple scripts might cost between $20 or $50 a year and very complex scripts might cost hundreds of dollars per year.

“By drupa we hope to have 40 to 50 apps in the store and up to 100 by the end of the year,” says Prudhomme. “And interestingly, we’ve seen a huge jump in Switch registrations since the launch of the Appstore.”

A number of other enhancements are included in Switch 13 such as support for web based messages, allowing users to view log messages remotely. With the new Switch WebServer component users can connect to the Switch Server through a web browser. Additionally, Switch 13 sports an improved user interface – leaving the legacy Windows 95 look behind.

“Another major announcement at drupa is our new PDF Review module for Switch – a product developed jointly with Chili Publish,” adds Prudhomme. “We have incorporated Chili rendro into PDF Review for accurate PDF streaming capability, to which we’ve added our PDF review tools because our customers are moving towards an online work environment. PDF Review will allow users to open a PDF online, select objects, inspect, analyze and approve PDF files before sending the file to whatever next step the workflow dictates.”

Chili Publisher and rendro
Chili plans to turn some heads at drupa 2016 with rendro 1.0 – promising fast and precise rendering of production PDF files for review and inspection on any device supporting HTML5. CHILI rendro can also include a 3D module that can display PDF content in actual application scenarios. The rendro technology is available as a JavaScript SDK giving developers access to an extensive set of elements, eliminating the need for a browser plugin.

“Enfocus is our first official OEM agreement,” explained Geer Fransen, rendro product manager. “While we are initially focusing on graphic arts applications, we see great potential for rendro outside that market. For example, the governments of the European Union want to take all their documents online using the PDF/A standard. Similar things are happening in North America. Also, it was striking to see the results of the Ghent PDF workgroup study showing how little of the PDF specification is supported properly. We see rendro as a solution for PDF accuracy moving into government and education markets.”

Also debuting at drupa, the latest release of Chili’s popular B2B online editing solution – Chili Publisher. You might not immediately recognize the product name because Chili Publisher provides the backend DTP tools for many online print and publishing portals. Publisher 5.0 brings enhanced capabilities to browser-base designers such as the ability to convert and work with Adobe InDesign or Illustrator documents, 3D viewing capability for packaging and labels, support for Chinese, Korean and Indonesian documents and TrueType fonts. 

X-Rite and Pantone
Recognizing the global shortage of hues and shades, Pantone will be unveiling 112 new ways for designers to drive pressmen crazy at this year’s drupa. With the new shades, the Pantone Plus Series tops out at 1,867 colours – providing the design community with the most comprehensive palette of colours available for creating mood or protecting brand.

On a more online note, Pantone will be showcasing the PantoneLIVE Private Cloud at this year’s show. The Private Cloud is a secure, online space for designers, commercial printers and packaging converters to accommodate and share colour libraries across the graphic supply chain. As a part of the PantoneLIVE ecosystem, this should help printers and converters deliver more consistent colour to their shared client. Rationalization Service, another new addition to PantoneLIVE, analyzes and consolidates colour libraries to eliminate duplicates and improve consistency.

Cerm
Cerm produces business management software for narrow web printers (labels), and is a very focused company with a niche mandate – one they perform very well. However, when company was acquired by Heidelberg in 2011, their software was rebranded for the offset market as Prinect Business Manager, an integrated part of the Prinect Software Suite. Though tightly incorporated with Heidelberg, CERM continues to evolve its narrow web product under its own brand.
At drupa Cerm will be showcasing the fruits of their collaboration with a new product for sheet-fed offset label printers in the form of an automated ganging function. The Cerm MIS and Prinect Prepress will conspire together to calculate the best possible imposition for Wet Glue Labels on press.

You’ll find Cerm partnering with a number of companies besides Heidelberg at drupa, including Esko, Chili Publish, Gallus, HP and Xeikon to name a few. Through this community engagement, Cerm hopes to demonstrate their solution goes far beyond traditional MIS functions by driving complete automation of narrow web printing workflows.

It used to be all about the iron back in the halcyon days of drupa past! But through the years, graphics has become as much about technology, connectivity and automation as it was about ink on paper. drupa has evolved to a triennial schedule to keep pace with these advances and has emerged as the pre-eminent showcase for innovations in MIS, workflow and online tools.
Chicago-based BLUE Software, developers of the BLUE-branded Brand Lifecycle Management software-as-a-service, has purchased Eastman Kodak’s Design2Launch software and services business, which develops Brand Graphics Management technology.

BLUE Software explains the addition of Design2Launch (D2L) global brand customers solidifies its leading position in pharmaceutical, consumer products, retail and industrial chemical sectors. The company claims its SaaS platform is employed by more than 81,000 users and 3,100 companies worldwide.

In January 2016, BLUE Software purchased Viki Solutions of Victoria, British Columbia, which develops online proofing and real-time collaboration software. Afshin Mirmotahari, former CEO of Viki Solutions, became Chief Technology Officer of BLUE Software.

BLUE Software plans to integrate D2L with its existing operations acquiring all technology, IP, customer contracts and employees. “We are very pleased to welcome the Design2Launch team, customers and partners to BLUE,” said Stephen Kaufman, Chief Product Officer at BLUE Software. “D2L has been an influential force in the workflow space for many years.” Kaufman adds the company now has eight of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies as BLUE customers.
Tilia Labs of Ottawa, Ont., has launched Phoenix 5.1 with new features to automate a wider range of ganging and imposition work. The software will be on display at Tilia Labs' booth during drupa 2016, beginning May 29 in Germnay.

Phoenix 5.1’s Plan tool can now split product orders across layouts. When this ganging profile option is enabled, explains Tilia Labs, Plan will try potentially hundreds of thousands of different ways to break products up across layouts to drive down costs, press times and waste.

Tilia Labs continues to explain this multi-layout ganging Plan tool has been redesigned to produce better results in less time. For double-sided work, Plan makes decisions to optimize layouts for front and back printing, using the capabilities of the press to determine the best way to combine product orders on a sheet.

The company also points to its new Smart Place Tool, which allows users to instantly find and nest additional products into any region of the sheet. The tool works by drawing an area in the artboard where the user would like to try ganging more products. A list of candidates will appear with placement previews. The tool ensures die positions meet press and product spacing requirements.

Die line handling has been enhanced to support importing from and exporting to most any CAD system or cutting device, explains Tilia Labs. There are now 26 built-in die line types, as well as custom line types to support any line type.

Tilia Labs explains users can set up die line mappings once and Phoenix will automatically match die paths to line types during import. There is no need to specify technical inks, layers, or CAD line types at import time when creating products manually, through automation, or CSV import. New export line type mappings gives users control over die layout export for CFF2, PDF, and PS.

Phoenix 5.1 also introduces a new status system designed to detect potential problems in production during job editing. Several common problems are currently detected and reported in real-time in the new Status panel and in the left corner of the status bar and again at export. Examples include: Dies extending beyond content or image margins of a layout, incompatible stock or sheet sizes for the current press, total ink count exceeding press limits, empty or invalid dynamic barcodes, or unfulfilled orders in the job.

With Phoenix 5.1, filtering and sorting products is now possible in the Products panel to help pinpoint the set of products in the job to be worked on. There are seven filtering options and 14 sorting options to choose from. For example, users can view all unfulfilled orders sorted by their ordered amounts, product name, size, and more.

A new Move Tool is available for positioning of items, allowing users to snap to any internal die lines and define new relative positions. For example, users can select crease lines of adjacent products to align carton flaps horizontally or vertically. PDF rendering is also now faster in Phoenix 5.1 with multithreading optimizations.
Software developer Objectif Lune of Montreal joins the Microsoft Partners community by becoming a Certified Microsoft partner.

The company has been developing software compatible with Microsoft technology for several years, but Objectif Lune explains the certification demonstrates an increased level of commitment and competence with the technology platform. Objectif Lune’s technology focuses on bridging the gap between systems that create personalized, multichannel and automated customer communications.
 
Objectif Lune was founded in 1993 and employs 245 people in 24 sales offices around the world. The company states it has developed partnerships with more than 1,900 resellers.

Agfa Graphics has launched its newest version, 9.1, of its Apogee Prepress workflow. Apogee Prepress v9.1 with more support for wide-format printing, as well as what the Belgian company describes as improved imposition layout creation and stronger print buyer interaction in Apogee WebApproval.

“Apogee Prepress is the only hybrid prepress production solution that drives wide-format and digital commercial presses, in addition to CTP, CTF and proofing devices,” said Andy Grant, Global Head of Software, Agfa Graphics.

Apogee Prepress v9.1 is designed to automate the production for wide-format output with hot ticket support and template-based production. Agfa explains the new version also features enhanced job merging, which allows for the combination of completely different orders on the same print job, ultimately to reduce material costs and waste.

For web presses, Apogee Impose, which is a built-in Apogee function, now features automatic bleed generation and better support for perfector presses based on full support for slow down rollers, which Agfa describes as unique.

In terms of proofing, Apogee Prepress v9.1 features improvements like support for on-the-fly page proofing and support for ISO12647/2:2013 and ISO 13655 standards. Apogee WebApproval gives print buyers access to soft proofs via their Web browser, allowing them to drag and drop new PDF pages to a specific job and to then assign them to the correct page slots.
Software developer Global Graphics introduced its new Harlequin Multi-Level Digital Screening Engine, designed for single-pass inkjet presses to achieve significantly better print quality.  

The Harlequin Multi-Level Digital Screening Engine (HMDSE), explains Global Graphics, varies the amount of ink delivered from the inkjet head in any one location on any type of media to overcome common problems such as streaking and mottling that are frustrating many press manufacturers.

HMDSE is part of a new service Global Graphics will introduce to inkjet developers at drupa, that sees technicians measure test prints from single-pass greyscale presses, and process the results through Global Graphics' new Digital Print Quality Optimizer tool. This calculates optimized patterning and overlaps for the various ink drop sizes available, to overcome common high-speed inkjet press problems such as streaking and mottling.

The Digital Print Quality Optimizer calculates the optimum drop sizes and screen pattern for particular combinations of press, greyscale/multi-level print heads, and substrate. The Digital Print Quality Optimizer allows the Harlequin Multi-Level Digital Screen to be fine-tuned for particular press/substrate combinations, with particular regard to controlling the overlap between different drop sizes as they are used to build up tones from light to dark.
HP Inc., previewing its plans for drupa 2016, unveiled its new HP PrintOS technology as a cloud-based operating system to manage print production.

HP explains PrintOS is an open, secure and integrated platform aimed at printers of all segments and sizes for use with HP Indigo, PageWide Web Press, Scitex and Latex printing technologies.

HP Indigo and PageWide Web Press customers can begin using PrintOS on May 31, 2016, after it debuts at drupa 2016 in Germany.  Many apps will be available without charge to existing customers with a service contract, while certain apps will be subject to monthly subscription and usage charges.

For the first time in drupa history, the HP Graphics Solutions Business is hosting the tradeshow’s largest exhibit in hall 17. On its exhibition space, HP plans to display its newest technologies for general commercial printing, in addition to new hardware and solutions for labels and packaging, large-format and sign and display application areas.
 
“HP is bringing the full power of our vast portfolio of digital printing solutions to drupa 2016, featuring breakthrough innovations,” said Rob Le Bras-Brown, global head of print marketing, HP Inc. “With today’s introduction of HP PrintOS and more ground-breaking pre-drupa announcements to come, HP is following through on our promise to keep reinventing with advancements across application segments that truly enable our customers to reinvent their possibilities.”

PrintOS features what HP describes as a suite of Web-based and mobile applications with cloud connectivity for customers to monitor print status remotely as well as track and improve production performance over time.

PrintOS applications include Box, a tool simplifying job onboarding through non-automated channels like email and file transfer services. Box is designed to reduce upfront overhead, increasing capacity and improving profitability.

The Site Flow application combines automated order submission, pre-press and shop floor management capabilities to, according to HP, fulfill hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of individual, personalized print orders every day, including direct shipment to end customers.

Global Vision of Montreal, which develops proofreading technologies, has released its Web-based, all-in-one suite called Proofware 2.0, which provides tools focused on delivering accuracy and traceability for Quality Control, ultimately reducing artwork rework cycles and cost.

The new features of Proofware 2.0 include a redesigned user interface, with new keyboard shortcuts and multi-monitor support. New cropping features provide an ability to crop multiple pages of all sizes, resize the crop area, and auto crop to the artwork area, while new verification features, specifically, Braille and barcode verification, is now integrated into Global Vision’s ArtProof and DocuProof applications. Proofware 2.0 also includes new Adobe Illustrator support features, specifically AI file support, allowing users to open Adobe Illustrator files directly (.ai files).

Version 2.0 of Proofware also includes more complex layout handling, such as automatic processing of QRD templates for fast comparison to artwork. A new annotation checklist allows for quick review of changes and call-outs to insure all the right corrections are made.

“Protecting our clients from errors is at the core of everything we do, and one way that we uphold this commitment is by constantly advancing and enhancing our solutions based on our partners’ changing needs,” said Reuben Malz, President of Global Vision. “With the enhanced feature set of Proofware 2.0, we are again bringing Quality Control inspection technologies to all new levels.”

Global Vision states its technologies have been integrated into the packaging workflows of consumer packaged goods companies, printing firms and over 72 percent of the major pharmaceutical industry worldwide.
Xitron, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, developer of RIP and workflow products, has released Navigator Northstar (sold through its worldwide dealer network) aimed at inkjet systems using Memjet Northstar print heads.

Navigator Northstar, according to Xitron, improves the colour accuracy of Astrojet M1/M2 printers as well as the Colordyne 1600 (C & S), RTI-Digital Vortex 850/851, Trojan One, and Formax Colormax (among others), all of which use the Memjet Northstar inkjet head.

“Digital printing doesn’t have to equate to a lack of colour control,” said Jeffrey Piestrak, Product Manager, Xitron. “The colour adjustment tools built into this workflow make it extremely easy to match a job’s spot colours without impacting the rest of the document.”

Designed for the desktop envelope, flyer, and label market, Navigator Northstar includes Navigator RIP version 10.1r2, Navigator Color Matching Workflow, and the Northstar connectivity plug-in developed by Xitron. The system is multi-platform compatible. Piestrak added, “By combining the power of the Navigator Harlequin RIP with Xitron’s colour transform technology, what you see is what you print, consistently.”
Viki Solutions of Victoria, British Columbia, has been purchased by Chicago’s BLUE Software, which develops BLUE-branded software-as-a-service technologies for Brand Lifecycle Management, primarily used within packaging sectors. Viki Solutions develops online proofing and real-time collaboration software.

BLUE Software explains the acquisition ties in well with its existing software and opens its products up to more premedia and creative agencies, DAM providers, digital and print publications. Afshin Mirmotahari, former CEO of Viki Solutions, becomes Chief Technology Officer of BLUE Software. The Chicago company currently focuses on consumer products, retail and pharmaceutical industries, stating its SaaS platform is employed by more than 81,000 users and 3,100 companies worldwide.

“We are thrilled to welcome Afshin Mirmotahari and the entire Viki team to BLUE,” said Scott Strong, CEO of BLUE Software. “For more than five years we have worked strategically with Viki Solutions as the industry leader in online proofing and real-time visual collaboration. Since our initial engagement with Viki, our clients have been impressed with how technically advanced their solution is at providing the ability to proof and manage large and complex files.”
 
BLUE Online Proofing module users currently employ Viki Solutions tools to collaborate in real-time on a range of file formats, including document, image, audio, video and 3D – with content accuracy, markup and approval tools, revision comparison and advanced proofing features.
 
The acquisition will add capabilities in the coming months to BLUE including extensions for BLUE’s automated task routing through integration with third party solutions; a colour-matching module that can be added for colour-accurate online proofing; responsive design with touch support for tablets, touch displays and hybrid devices.
 
“I have been in the workflow business for the past 20 years, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you can count the true experts in the field of collaboration and print-accurate preview on one hand,” said Stephen Kaufman, who moves into a new Chief Product Officer role at BLUE Software. “Afshin is on that hand and his team embodies his passion for excellence and his deep domain expertise. From the time we first integrated their core product all the way through co-developing advanced API-driven automations, the Viki management, development and support teams have always been highly responsive to our needs.”
Software developer Tilia Labs Inc. of Ottawa, Ont., has introduced the new Phoenix Plan Configurator for Enfocus Switch, which the two companies describe as a kick-off to a new integration partnership, aimed at printers active in offset, toner, and large-format markets.

Phoenix Plan Configurator, designed to find savings in both materials and time, works by collecting individual orders coming in to Enfocus Switch, along with their associated metadata information like quantities, stock, grain and spacing.

The files are then sent to Phoenix, which goes to work searching what Tilia Labs describes as millions of combinations, across available presses and stocks, to find the most cost effective ganged layouts. Once planning has finished, the cheapest cost results are returned to Switch in several different output formats such as imposed PDF, JDF, PDF, XML-based reports, or Phoenix jobs.

"The primary drivers we often encounter with print service providers are the need for speed and lower material costs," says Sagen de Jonge, CEO and Co-Founder of Tilia Labs, developer of Phoenix, who points to how waste reduction is a major benefit of improved turnaround times. “Reducing waste involves complex ganging calculations which can be very time consuming,” he says. “Phoenix tackles this problem head on using a cost-driven, automated approach, and we are particularly excited about the opportunities for cost savings in the increasingly competitive large format segment.”

Enfocus' Director Product Management Bjorn Willems says that large format clients already using Switch technology have been asking for help in scripting imposition algorithms to work with Switch. “The advent of Switch 13 and the Phoenix Configurator for Switch allowed us to put what we believe is an incredibly fast and precise imposition and planning technology,” Willems says.
callas software, which develops automated PDF quality control and archival solutions, released a version 1.1 update for its pdfChip product line. pdfChip converts HTML into standards-compliant PDF documents. callas explains the pdfChip 1.1 update adds features that were identified in projects customers realized with pdfChip, especially when it was used to create long, dynamic documents.

The updated pdfChip 1.1 allows users to control the maximum number of pages in the generated PDF file. That makes it possible, for example, to create single page PDF files in a single operation instead of one PDF file with many pages. Since the destination PDF can now be defined in the Javascript code it is possible to start a new PDF whenever needed.

During development it can be critical to understand, explains callas, what errors occur and how to adjust the HTML template. In pdfChip 1.1 error reporting, specifically for Javascript and when placing bar codes, has been improved in order to make it easier to develop complex PDF publishing applications.

pdfChip 1.1 also allows for passing command-line variables straight to the HTML template, where Javascript can pick it up and use it to shape the resulting PDF file. callas explains the ability to pass this kind of small information to an HTML template adds more flexibility to PDF publishing; compared to what was already possible with the highly dynamic HTML/Javascript architecture.

In pdfChip 1.1, callas implemented the new concept of a “list collector” for long documents that need to include lists of references such as a list of figures, tables or simply a table of contents. This new feature allows content to be marked using CSS and stores information about this content in a JSON (Javascript data) file. This information can then be used to automatically create a table of content with page numbers for the generated PDF document for example.

pdfChip 1.1 also adds support for the Device-N colour space, which is essential for content where a number of different spot colours or a combination of CMYK and spot colours are used for page objects like images or vector graphics.

callas also explains in pdfChip 1.1 placing of PDF files has been improved. pdfChip provides information about PDF files that are placed in the HTML template, such as their trimbox or bleedbox. This information can then be used in Javascript to modify the placement.

The various flavours of pdfChip include S (€ 5,000), pdfChip M (€10,000), pdfChip L (€15 0000) and pdfChip XL/Enterprise (€ 25 000). pdfChip 1.1 is a free update for customers using pdfChip 1.0.

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