Let’s Talk JDF with Jess Walker

2005
Jun
21

Quark has been talking up Job Definition Format (JDF) support in the upcoming release of QuarkXPress 7. But, isn’t JDF already being used with InDesign CS2? JDF, or Job Definition Format, is an XML-based graphic arts industry standard ticketing system to facilitate and automate the exchange of information between systems in creative and production workflows. […]

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Quark has been talking up Job Definition Format (JDF) support in the upcoming release of QuarkXPress 7. But, isn’t JDF already being used with InDesign CS2?

Let's Talk JDF with Jess Walker

JDF, or Job Definition Format, is an XML-based graphic arts industry standard ticketing system to facilitate and automate the exchange of information between systems in creative and production workflows. According to the CIP4, the standards organization driving its development, JDF can: carry a print job from genesis through completion, including a detailed description of the creative, prepress, press, postpress and delivery processes; bridge the communication gap between production and Management Information Services (MIS), thus enabling instantaneous job and device tracking as well as detailed pre- and post-calculation of jobs in the graphic arts; bridge the gap between the customer’s view of product and the manufacturing process by defining a process-independent product view as well as a process-dependent production view of a print job; define and track any user-defined workflow without constraints on the supported workflow models, and; the ability to do all of this in virtually any workflow.

I talked with Adobe’s Senior Product Manager, Publishing Technologies and Services, Jess Walker, about JDF job tickets in InDesign, Acrobat, and the Creative Suite, and how users are already employing JDF in creative and production workflows.

Quark VS InDesign.com    Let’s talk about JDF. Adobe is one of the architects of the proposed JDF standard. In Adobe’s opinion, why is JDF important? What does it bring to creative pros and to production personnel?

Jess Walker    As a founding member of the CIP4 working group Adobe’s purpose has been to bridge the information gap between creative professionals and print production. Our membership in CIP4 and the work that we do in the individual panels of the organization is focused on defining an open standard for use throughout both the creative and print workflows.

JDF… is provided out of the box with Creative Suite 2 Premium, and is ready to use today.

QvI    How do Adobe applications support JDF currently?

JW    Acrobat 7 Professional ships with a JDF editor and submission workflow manager that is driven by JDF information. Creative Suite 2 is also JDF enabled. With Creative Suite 2 you can drive the production of PDF from InDesign based on a JDF job ticket. Obviously these are new technologies that have been recently released in our shipping products. Over the next several months you’ll hear more on how to generate reliable PDF from Creative Suite 2 using Acrobat 7 Professional and InDesign CS2. Both Acrobat 7 Professional and Creative Suite 2 are listed as part of the CIP4 interoperability matrix. What this means is that Adobe supports the use of the open standard through testing with other vendors at CIP4 sponsored events. In practice, Adobe makes the output from our applications available to all CIP4 members to insure compatibility. All of Adobe’s OEM partners, some competitors and many ISVs understand and consume the JDF from Acrobat 7 Professional and Creative Suite 2.

QvI    Could you elaborate a bit more on your statement that one “can drive the production of PDF from InDesign based on a JDF job ticket”? Are you saying InDesign doesn’t just create job tickets, it can act upon existing JDF information?

JW    The Suite is the key to this workflow! By combining Acrobat and InDesign, Adobe has created a powerful tool to control the generation of PDF targeted at specific Print Service Providers. Here’s how it works:
The JDF Job ticket, or job template, is created by the print provider after a customer has placed an order. This job ticket is created using Acrobat and has the preflight profile and the PDF job-option files embedded in it. Since the file format is XML, it can be sent via e-mail or posted to an FTP site for the customer to download.

The customer uses Acrobat to open and add any relevant information to the job ticket and in the process attaches the InDesign native file to it. Using Acrobat’s built in JDF submission workflow, InDesign is used to convert the attached file with the job-options that are embedded in the job ticket. After the content is converted to PDF, it’s preflighted in Acrobat using the Preflight profile that was attached to the Job ticket. Finally the PDF and the JDF are enclosed in a CIP4 compliant Mime file for submission to the printer.
To recap – the job ticket or template is generated at the PSP with the specific Preflight, job-option and job information needed to print the job.

Ultimately this means that content delivery for print will be generated, tested and delivered according to the production requirements of the printer without creating an undue burden on the creative to do it.

The creative (customer) attaches the InDesign file to the job ticket and clicks submit to run the JDF submission workflow. Workflow is the following: PDF conversion based on the PSP’s requirements, Preflighting based on the PSP’s requirements and verification based on the job ticket definition.

This is a simple and powerful workflow that is provided out of the box with Creative Suite 2 Premium, and is ready to use today.

QvI    What adjunct applications or technologies are required to fully utilize JDF on the desktop? And in production?

JW    Acrobat 7 Professional will support both creative and print professionals who are interested in understanding and building a JDF workflow for more reliable PDF delivery. Most print professionals already have purchased or have plans to upgrade to Acrobat 7 – Adobe can show them how to use it to gain better reliability over their file delivery today.

QvI    With the current state of pre-press, press, and post-press processes, how usable are JDF job jackets? How far through production are Adobe-created job jackets supported?

JW    I believe that most customers buying new equipment or software from the usual list of graphic arts vendors will be getting JDF-enabled systems as part of the system. At OnDemand there was an excellent example of multi-vendor cooperation at the Xerox booth. Xerox and Duplo demonstrated a JDF enabled book publishing system using the Objective Advantage Symbio system to coordinate the workflow. Adobe, Xerox, Duplo and Objective Advantage are all CIP4 members. Adobe has a formal relationship with Xerox but in order to interoperate with Duplo and Objective Advantage, we don’t need a formal relationship, we simply emit industry-standard JDF from Acrobat and that data can be used throughout the workflow. Adobe wasn’t part of this demonstration but we know that Acrobat 7 is compatible with both the Xerox workflow and the Objective Advantage system through the CIP4 working groups.

QvI    Where does the future of JDF lie? What is its ultimate realization?

JW    From Adobe’s point of view, the ultimate realization of JDF on the creative desktop is two fold. First – We’d like to see more printers using JDF to convey their production requirements to their customers so that fewer mistakes are made prior to delivering files to the printer. Second – Adobe is committed to building better tools that increase the reliability of the content delivery from the desktop to printers. Ultimately this means that content delivery for print will be generated, tested and delivered according to the production requirements of the printer without creating an undue burden on the creative to do it.

QvI    Where do the creative and production systems–Adobe’s and others–still have to grow in reaching the ultimate realization of job jacketing?

JW    Adobe is at the very forefront of this new technology. While Adobe is now providing an easy means to begin working with JDF from a software perspective, our contribution is small – relative to the size of the industry. As new equipment and software begin to roll out over the next several years, you’ll see a big change in the way that printers and their customers interact with each other and it will be because of JDF.

Additional Resources:

Website: CIP4 (JDF standards body)
Website: JDF User Forum
Article: Quark 7.0: Latest Peek Unsexy, But Strong

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