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Panpa Bulletin : February 2007
Production control stand PANPA Bulletin February 2007 PRESSING MATTERS 26 CIP4, JDF, IfraTrack and now Prime Network are simply terms and names of organisations that deal with production and workfow control but may cause confusion for a number of people. Let us try to sort out what is real and what is really important. IfraTrack and JDF (Job Defnition Format) are standards that can be used in the graphic industry to automate the workfow within a company and also between companies. Ifra frst published IfraTrack in 1995. It is a “recommendation for the exchange of status information” between sub-systems in newspaper production Today, we have the third version of IfraTrack (2002) that is based on the XML data standard. IfraTrack intends to ease production tracking and production con- trol, as well as the exchange of system components by providing the language for different systems to communicate among each other with the help of standardised messages. IfraTrack was developed by expert work- ing groups and has been tested and imple- mented in practice mainly in Scandinavian newspaper companies. Developed later, JDF follows a similar approach. The aim of the Job Defnition Format was to improve integration of the data fow between production systems from different sources in the graphics industry by using a common communication structure and language. JDF was, and still is, developed by a large industry consortium, called CIP4. All important market players, supplier companies, developers, vendors of equipment and also industry associations are members of CIP4. Currently, CIP4 has more than 300 member companies including Ifra. How far is JDF developed for the use in the newspaper industry? Since CIP4 does not only look at the newspaper industry but at the graphic industry in general, the job of standardisation is much larger and more complex than the aim of IfraTrack. Also, the newspaper work-fow has not been the major priority for CIP4 so far. This is why JDF is currently much more useful for tracking and controlling commercial print workfows, with their well-known variations in produc- tion, especially, in fnishing. However, For controlling the newspaper workfow JDF is not yet well enough developed. This situation lea to a group of newspaper press, mailroom and systems developers suppliers – all of them long-term Ifra mem- bers and IfraExpo exhibitors – to create a new group to develop interfaces between their systems. The group was formed two years ago by the press control company EAE and was called PRIME. The group’s goal was to develop interfaces on the frm basis of practices proven standards. At the time of the group’s foundation (IfraExpo 2004) the members believed that JDF did not suffciently support the newspaper production workfow. So they said they would base their development of interfaces on standards such as IfraTrack and AdsML ,which is the global standard for IT-based and automated ad business management and has been initiated and co-developed by Ifra. Now, two years later, PRIME wants to evaluate if JDF is ready to be used to manage the newspaper workfow. This all means that PRIME is not a new standardisation body but a group of supplier companies that develops interfaces between systems and sub- systems on the basis of customer projects and requests in a pragmatic way. Examples are Computer-to-Plate sys- tems (CtP), presses, press control systems, mailroom systems and general production control systems. Ifra is happy that PRIME relies on standard when developing these system interfaces. Our original hope was that PRIME would also invite interested customers and newspaper printers and would publish their interfaces. This, however, did not happen and was probably an unrealistic expecta- tion. On the PRIME website the access to the documented interface descriptions is limited to members only. The 11 members of the group have so far developed nine interfaces. How does Ifra work in cooperation with CIP4? As a CIP4 member Ifra supports the development of JDF for the use in news- papers. The process model of IfraTrack that describes the workfow of newspaper production has in the meanwhile been in- tegrated into JDF. JMF, the Job Messaging Format within the JDF framework is compa- rable with the IfraTrack message structure. Special Report 01/2006 Ifra’s LUTZ KEHDEN explains CIP4, JDF, IfraTrack and Prime Nework in detail The new Ifra Special Report, Vision of a Newspaper Production System, discusses future perspectives of process control.
November December 2006