DALIM SOFTWARE has released DALIM ES 5, which is digital asset and production tracking software for project management and collaboration. The company explains the software serves all participants of the production cycle, including brand owners, content creators, agencies, publishers, pre-media, printers and multichannel service providers.

The fifth edition of DALIM ES (enterprise solution) is aimed at a range of final output, including print, packaging, large format, web, e-book, and video, among others. “DALIM ES is an extremely complete enterprise solution for producers of marketing – or any other – content,” said Frédéric Sanuy, DALIM SOFTWARE, Solutions Architect, DAM Manager.

Sanuy explains, for the enterprise, there are really two implementations of digital asset management systems: "One is as a traditional asset management system that acts as a conventional file repository to archive and host content for syndication, or to hold content for future use and repurposing. The other – and this is the less common example – is a tactical work-in-progress system that makes it easy for companies to access and produce content.”

Sanuy states DALIM ES 5 is an example that offers both of these scenarios, as well as a media production and business management system to oversee and create content, particularly for the print production chain.
For the new DALIM ES 5, the company worked with Silicon Publishing to offer its plug-in for integration of DALIM ES 5 with Adobe Creative Cloud, offering digital rights management and check in-check out file sharing capability. This feature allows Adobe Creative Cloud users direct access to content within DALIM ES, along with metadata capture. As a result, users can work from within any of the Adobe Creative Suite applications to access content from DALIM ES and then move forward within DALIM ES to prepare the content for print, Web, or other media forms.

The DALIM ES DAM features can also automatically catalogue, enrich and share 3D augmented reality models. A new link to CHILI Publisher Link lets the operator edit a document directly inside ES. When a document is selected, CHILI Publisher is automatically launched and the document can be remotely edited. DALIM ES also has open connections to extensive content libraries such as IDSPictureDesk and Getty Images, sharing metadata. Images can be selected and published to DALIM ES for use in work in process.
Montreal’s Ultimate TechnoGraphics Inc., a developer of imposition and finishing software tools, has formed a new alliance with Canon Solutions America Inc. aimed at improving the prepress workflow of commercial printers.

More specifically, the two companies explain Ultimate TechnoGraphics’ Impostrip, imposition intelligence, combined with Ultimate Bindery JDF automated finishing hub, offer the imposition and finishing automation requirements needed to empower a complete workflow for all types of commercial print and book productions. Ultimate’s software technology will be offered to Canon’s digital press customers.

“Through the seamless integration of Impostrip and Ultimate Bindery with Océ PRISMAproduction we can offer our customers better efficiency and flexibility on their Canon digital devices,” said Ed Jansen, Vice President Professional Services, Canon Solutions America, Production Print Solutions.

Ultimate TechnoGraphics explains its Impostrip tools are aimed at creating a lights out, hands free automation for digital printers, Web-to-print businesses, and on demand book production, among other environments.

The company’s Ultimate Bindery JDF finishing automation hub is geared toward dealing with the industry’s significant increases in the number of set-ups and changeovers in finishing. Ultimate explains this changeover need now multiplies the risks for errors and waste of costly material. Ultimate Bindery is a finishing automation hub that validates jobs and delivers finishing job tickets to automate make-ready on finishing equipment. It operates as an agent between the prepress and post-press equipment in order to eliminate manual setups.

“Ultimate TechnoGraphics offers a set of high performance imposition and finishing tools with the most interesting advancements in commercial printing,” said Julie Watson, Executive VP of Ultimate TechnoGraphics. “From extended barcode configuration to intelligent and conditional marking for finishing and tracking as well as job management for load balancing, our tools are geared up to meet market requirements for managing a flexible print production including managing peak times, tight SLAs and feeding the press in short laps of time.”
Toronto-based Prinova Corp., which develops software and services within the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market, ranked No. 347 on the 28th annual PROFIT 500, a prominent ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

Published in the October issue of Canadian Business magazine and at, the PROFIT 500 ranks Canadian businesses by their five-year revenue growth. Prinova made the 2016 PROFIT 500 list with five-year revenue growth of 148 percent.

“Companies become a part of the PROFIT 500 through innovative thinking, smart strategy and sheer grit,” said James Cowan, Editor-in-chief of PROFIT and Canadian Business. “These firms demonstrate what Canadian entrepreneurs can achieve, both at home and across the globe.”

Prinova explains its growth can be attributed to the demand for its award-winning SaaS solution called Messagepoint, a hybrid cloud-based content management platform serving the customer communications management needs of large enterprises. The software and its hybrid cloud environment provides an intuitive and secure environment for business users to directly own and control touchpoint messaging content, which is ultimately delivered through print or any other channels like mobile devices. Messagepoint allows users to create business rules for their customer-facing print and digital communications. The solution recently won the 2016 CODiE Award for Best Multi-channel Publishing Platform.

“Prinova is honoured to be been named to the PROFIT 500. Our vision from the start has been to offer solutions that take the complexity out of communicating with customers, while saving costs and getting to market quickly. We are fortunate to be working with a dedicated group of outstanding employees who understand the challenges customers in our served industries face and how to solve them,” said Nick Romano, CEO of Prinova. “The result is a culture where we can exceed our customers’ expectations and experience this kind of success.”
Aleyant of Wheaton Illinois has acquired Tucanna Software, following the company’s acquisition of a one-third investment in Tucanna in November 2014.

Tucanna was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Carlsbad, CA. Tucanna products include tFLOW, a powerful digital and large-format proofing, preflighting, colour correction and automation workflow solution; RapidCheck, a print reporting system that helps operators quickly check print quality and monitor it over time for faster problem resolution; PrintControl for gray balance and TVI correction; and QualityControl, a solution that works with X-Rite’s Eye-One and eXact measurement devices, including process control capability that is currently missing in most i1 software.

“We’ve been working strategically with Tucanna for some time,” said Greg Salzman, Aleyant’s President, “and even more closely since our 2014 investment. Its product portfolio is a perfect complement to Aleyant Web-to-print and MIS solutions.

“Our corporate cultures and mission are very much in alignment, and we expect to develop even more synergies within the Aleyant print software ecosystem as a result of this acquisition.” Salzman adds that there will be no impact to the current workforce.
Electronics For Imaging and Konica Minolta Business Solutions launched a new EFI Fiery digital front end (DFE) to enhance the performance of Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS 1052/1250 black-and-white toner presses.
“This is the first monochrome Fiery DFE to bring the industry-leading Fiery technology to the Konica Minolta black-and-white print engines,” said John Henze, VP, Fiery marketing, EFI. “We are very excited to launch this new offering and give Konica Minolta customers in the in-plant CRD, print-for-pay, and commercial print spaces the ability to integrate their black-and-white and colour operations for a consolidated, more efficient Fiery-driven job-management environment.”

The new EFI Fiery MIC-4150 DFE is built on the latest Fiery FS200 Pro platform. Among a range of features, the new DFE includes Fiery Command WorkStation as a centralized user interface that allows users to manage the monochromatic bizhub PRESS 1052/1250 printers along with Fiery DFEs on colour digital presses in a tightly integrated workflow.

The new DFE also includes EFI’s Fiery Grayscale Calibration, designed to ensure consistent and accurate image reproduction by automatically enhancing shadow details and preserving upper and lower tonal variances.

The optional Fiery ImageViewer for Black and White is a full-resolution raster preview tool that gives users the ability to make black curve adjustments to maintain output consistency between multiple devices.

The optional Fiery Impose and Fiery JobMaster are visual makeready tools that streamline complex tasks, giving users more flexibility in imposition, tab insertion and design, page-level ticketing, finishing, scanning and late-stage editing.
The Canon PRISMAsync Color Print Server for imagePRESS presses has received the G7 Certified System designation from the International Digital Enterprise Alliance (Idealliance). The organization’s G7 System Certification program evaluates the ability of a software system to calibrate a printing device to meet the G7 greyscale definition.
With this certification, Canon explains the PRISMAsync Color Print Server is recognized as the first embedded complete closed loop G7 system for electrophotography and the first colour print server that provides an integrated colour profiler and G7 calibration method. Canon continues to explain it is the first digital press provider to implement this calibration directly at the digital front end.
One of the key concepts of G7 is the idea of having a calibration target to achieve predictable print results, explains Canon, which allows for a much easier match from proof to print and across disparate technologies and substrates. Canon continues to explain that print shops seeking G7 calibration on their digital engines historically had to perform a range of steps in order to achieve a G7 state, which often required creating output profiles, specialized knowledge of the DFE and external software to achieve G7 greyscale conformance.
With the G7 Calibration feature of the PRISMAsync Color Print Server Canon explains users can calibrate within minutes using a wizard-driven procedure directly at the Canon imagePRESS console. The company explains these DFE-based tools require no additional investment in software, hardware or training for the average end user.
Mimaki, a manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and cutters, has released its Mimaki Profile Master 3 (MPM3) software for colour profile creation and editing. MPM3 works with Mimaki RasterLink6 RIP software to deliver what the company describes as consistent colour reproduction without the need for special knowledge.

MPM3 software includes a new user interface with a step-by-step guide for profile creation. The workflow, explains the company, is always displayed for easy navigation and operation. Knowledgeable users can take advantage of advanced features such as GCR and Black generation in version 3 of Mimaki Profile Master.

Also new in MPM3, there are three colour replication methods available for different colour workflows. Calibration achieves consistency on a single Mimaki printer, explains Mimaki, regardless of environmental or media variances. Equalization enables colour consistency across multiple Mimaki devices in the same series. The company explains this feature allows for large jobs to be load-balanced across multiple Mimaki printers with assured colour fidelity. With emulation, various brands, models, ink sets, media and resolutions can be simulated on a Mimaki printer, which reduces colour differences that can occur within a mixed printer environment.

MPM3 software, explains Mimaki, can automatically calculate and adjust for colour differences through simple colour charts measurement without requiring a high level of colour management knowledge. It is available bundled with an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectrophotometer, or as standalone software.
MarcomCentral, which develops cloud-based Marketing Asset Management and Variable Data Publishing technologies, today released of FusionPro 10. The company states FusionPro, which launched in 1998, now has more than 52,000 installations worldwide, helping to produce more than 20 million print jobs produced in the past year.

FusionPro 10 includes what MarcomCentral describes as major enhancements to design capabilities, data integration, and workflow efficiencies. “We’ve enhanced FusionPro to reflect the use cases our customers encounter on a daily basis,” said Coleman Kane, President and CEO of MarcomCentral. “The need for a highly functional VDP tool that offers speed, scalability, and solves more production challenges drove the improvements to FusionPro 10.”

For Adobe Creative Cloud users, FusionPro 10 brings what the company describes as a better appearance and streamlined support for Acrobat DC and improved InDesign support. FusionPro, with an ability to turn most any PDF into a live variable document through the Acrobat plug-in, now includes a Custom Clipping Path feature for more flexibility with image creation. This allows users to manipulate and overlap images and add or move control points to make nearly any shape.  

FusionPro 10 includes new ad-resizing capabilities that provide more versatility in creating multiple ads or documents from a single design source. Users can specify dimensions and FusionPro automatically rearranges elements on the pages to accommodate the differences, reducing the amount of design time it would take to create individual ads for each channels’ specifications.  New Multi-page Layout Management capabilities allow users to quickly adapt documents to fit any page range for production specifications with the ability to add filler pages and control the total length of the document.
In July, Konica Minolta Business Solutions released of its automated document workflow solution, Dispatcher Phoenix Version 6.0. Available in different vertical editions to address specific business needs, Dispatcher Phoenix streamlines and automates common document processing tasks, maximizing productivity while increasing efficiency. This new release introduces added support for enterprise-level deployments, enhanced security, and a new Web user interface.

“Konica Minolta understands the needs of our enterprise customers,” said Kevin Kern, Senior VP, Business Intelligence Solutions and Product Planning. “This powerful new release provides enterprise-level companies with the solution they need to best manage and control their documents, ultimately providing an improved level of customer service to their clients in less time.”

New features include Dispatcher PhoenixFailover for automated failover capabilities. If one server unexpectedly goes down, all workflow functions are automatically moved to the Dispatcher Phoenix Failover server, eliminating downtime. Also, ‘heartbeat monitoring’ between Dispatcher Phoenix servers ensures continuous operation.

Load Balancing is a document processing tasks can be automatically spread across multiple servers, preventing bottlenecks and speeding processing time. Automated redundancy, synchronizing and replicating workflows between all Dispatcher Phoenix servers are supported, thus eliminating the need for any human intervention. Dispatcher Phoenix Web Dispatcher is a Web user interface that provides centralized access to important enterprise tools as well as workflow sharing and control capabilities.
Ten years after first launching its PDF Print Engine, to move beyond Postscript and better handle new design effects in print output, such as transparency, Adobe at the start of June unveiled the fourth version of modern PDF rendering technology.

The Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE) platform, integrated by dozens of print equipment manufacturers over the past decade, is already running in more than 150,000 print operations around the world. APPE is integrated in a range of systems like toner production presses and label presses, wide format inkjet printers, and platesetters for traditional printing processes (offset/flexo/gravure).

“As the print industry’s predominant imaging platform for the last decade, PDF Print Engine renders more print jobs, day in and day out, and also more types of jobs, than any other technology,” said Adil Munshi, VP and GM, Print and Publishing, Adobe. “Adobe PDF Print Engine 4 will take customers to the next level – improving workflow efficiency, increasing job throughput and reinforcing printer competitiveness.”

APPE 4 includes key new features like Tile Parallel Processing (TPP), which brings the platform’s branded Mercury RIP Architecture to wide-format printing. Adobe explains TPP is designed to accelerate system performance by breaking up large assets, like a poster, retail sign or architectural drawing, into smaller sections, each of which is assigned to a separate instance of APPE, running on a separate CPU core. By processing multiple tiles in parallel, then seamlessly re-assembling them, Adobe explains TPP significantly reduces overall rendering time.

With APPE 4, Adobe also explains performance is now 10 times faster for graphics consisting of a pattern, which repeats over an extended area. As well, the copany explains continuous shading effects are more fluid than ever, as new algorithms developed by Adobe colour scientists smooth out long gradient blends, particularly at inflection points where hue can shift abruptly.

Spot-colour handling has also been expanded in APPE 4, where as up to 127 colour channels can now be specified and used in any given region. PDF Print Engine 4 will become available to printers throughout 2016, as equipment manufacturers integrate the technology into their next-generation technologies.
Ultimate TechnoGraphics Inc. of Montreal, QC, has introduced its new Nesting Optimization Engine, an addition to its Impostrip suite of automated imposition software, aimed at the wide-format, commercial print packaging and label markets.

Impostrip’s Nesting Optimization Engine enables a printing company to nest labels, foldable boxes for marketing campaigns, in-store displays, stickers of all shapes and sizes, banners, among other applications. The nested files can run on a wide-format device, toner press and flatbed or roll inkjet systems.

“Impostrip’s Nesting Optimization Engine is made to eliminate manual job planning and automatically produce smart, print ready layouts, rapidly and effectively,” said Julie Watson, Executive VP of Ultimate TechnoGraphics.

The new Nesting Optimization Engine connects to an upstream and downstream system and receives orders systematically, analyses them and automatically places the irregular shapes in the most optimal way and delivers print-ready files. The automation of nesting is offered as a PDF workflow.

The technology will be officially launched at drupa 2016.
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 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, 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 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 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.

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