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Adobe Skews Away From Print
London College presents a 'communications' future
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2006-10-26 09:24 (KST)   
Adobe have started a U.K. tour in Regent's Park London with in-depth training on Acrobat 8, probably for release before the end of next month. The emphasis is on documents for knowledge workers. Comments can be shared on a server. The menus are easier to follow for adding signatures or security. The original uses of PDF for print are still possible but are hidden away on the menus and hardly mentioned by Adobe.

The London College of Printing is gradually getting used to a new identity as a College of Communication as part of a University of the Arts. They organized a recent conference alongside the Digital Print World exhibition, looking at the future of communications. Adobe did not have a stand as part of the "print world," even though it was digital. PDF was a strong feature however, with seminars from Quark and a range of software from Artwork Systems.

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Andy Pieroux suggested during the conference that Xerox would no longer use the slogan "The New Business of Printing" but switch to "The News Business of Communication." So the message about moving beyond print was reinforced. Xerox recently purchased XMPie, software for merging data and images in variable print. This is distributed in the U.K. Positive Focus. At Digital Print World, their slogan was "solutions for creative design, print and communication." They offered additional software for e-mail management to work alongside XMPie for personalization.

There was also more evidence of a switch of emphasis towards knowledge workers directly. Positive Focus distribute products for Global Graphics, recently recognized by CIP4 for their Harlequin RIP as the first to be certified compatible with the Job Definition Format. However, they chose to emphasise the Jaws PDF Server Suite intended for organizations with 10 or more people using PDF. Acrobat remains the most popular option but the Jaws PDF Server product might be within the same price range as Acrobat Elements so the features will be carefully compared.

In an interview Bruce Chizen has explained the Adobe approach. "We had anticipated for many years that the revenue we achieve around PDF creation would, at some point in time, go away. It's an open standard! There are many clones out in the marketplace today that create PDF and compete with Acrobat. What we have done over the last five years is added functionality beyond PDF creation in our product line-up. If you look at Acrobat today it is much more than just simple PDF creation."

Since buying Macromedia, Adobe now emphasise Flash. Acrobat 8 will include a Connect feature previously known as Macromedia Breeze. This is not based on PDF at all. The idea is that video-conferencing will add an immediacy to collaboration. However the text metaphor of PDF has a long tradition. Some people like to take time to edit text. The Flash Paper option has not been widely used on the web.

The term "skew" in a marketing context refers to putting most resource on the part of the audience that will best respond. It is not intended as in another definition: "To turn aside sharply from a straight course." The intention is to reach a high proportion of the people currently using Microsoft Office and the Web audience thought to be used to Flash design.

The only problem is that part of the previous customer base can be left in a state of confusion. The pre-press audiece has some interest in the Job Definition Format and progress in making it possible to specify details of a job alongside the page description in a PDF. Reviewing Acrobat 8 for Digital Printer, Nessan Cleary wrote that there is more on JDF "though none of the Adobe staff at the press launch seemed to be too clued up on JDF, and Adobe doesn't appear to have tested its JDF with any of the MIS or workflow systems that one would expect it to be used with." Later he writes that PDF1.7 supports PDFX/-4 and native transparency. "We will now start to see workflow vendors upgrading their RIPs with the new PDF Print Engine." This would be more likely if people working in pre-press are kept informed.

At last year's LCC conference Jutta Koch described workflows that Adobe was aware of but she was not then able to discuss the Adobe PDF Print Engine. This was announced at IPEX earlier this year and again in Chicago this month. Probably Adobe will be at drupa in 2008 when the PDF Print Engine will be implemented in a number of pre-press systems. As Global Graphics already have a RIP that is certified to work with the Job Definition Format there could be enough options to establish the general concepts.

There may be some rapid changes in the printing industry. One take on the Adobe marketing priorities is that print as a prospect has more or less disappeared.
Updates will be at the IPEX2002 blog.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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