Posts Tagged ‘applications’

Premedia & Consumer White Goods?

January 12, 2010

Almost every week  we hear or see something that we think is absolutely pointless – and then there’s some stuff that will revolutionise the way we use devices! So today I was challenged to ‘blog’ about two such devices and how they fit into our pre-media landscape.

Firstly let’s look at what I was directed to….. Yes you got it, a Microwave and a Washing Machine with a 7 inch touchscreen Android embedded system!!!

Seems pretty pointless right?

Well if your client is one of these manufacturers then definitely not, since you probably hold all of the company’s digital assets and brand material and therefore you are in a prime position to offer some sort of content management services and facilities for these devices. There is a whole supply chain process that would be involved in getting content fit for purpose on these new touch devices and sure, they may not hit mainstream consumer purchasing while the technology prices are still high for this type of implementation, but really when you think about it, is it no cheaper for manufacturers to reduce costs by providing less choice – i.e. not have to have so many parts to maintain?

Whilst pre-media companies need to diversify, are they really able to make a leap into consumer device application development? Or is it a step too far? We already see the big boys in the industry providing iPhone apps for their suites of applications to help their clients feel more in-touch with workflow. So they have huge technology & development departments dedicated to application development and who’s to say they won’t be able to transition their already gathered user interaction experience into the mainstream consumer device application market?

I don’t know about you, but I have a nice shiny new touch screen Samsung phone, the downside is the frustration of my fat fingers trying to get to the letters of applications I need instead of constantly selecting the option next to the one I want – so is touch just a storm in a tea cup? or will it be the next revolution of consumer products?

I won’t go into why you would ever want wireless networking, browsing, etc. on your washing machine because I always thought that the fridge that kept track for the contents and add depleted stocks to your shopping list was a great idea, but in practise would it really work? What about the fridge/freezer with an LCD TV embedded in the door? Well great, so you design your new kitchen around the fridge being in the optimal viewing position while you cook dinner!

The future is all touchy feely

With Apple supposedly releasing a tablet style touch screen device in the coming months it is clear that they would have done their research enough to know that the time is right for that style of device (let’s hope that they are not banking on the success for the iTouch/iPhone as a benchmark for people to spend 3 to 4 times as much on a tablet device!). We have also seen a number of conceptual designs for paper style digital magazines/newspapers – again odd since the Kindle/Irex/Sony ebook readers hardly made mass market! There are plenty of new opportunities for pre-media companies to get a handle on where their future profits come from and try and cash in on the new pre-media output channels that are constantly appearing.  All application, user interface and user help systems require assets, supply chains, workflows and content management so have you thought about what your customers are working on in their roadmap to ensure you are considering it in your strategic plans as well?

Author: Gary George

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The Future of Premedia – Part 1 – The Stage

September 2, 2009

It’s been more than a week since my last blog and this one comes in collaboration with Peter van Teeseling as he has some ideas on this subject, together we have a shared vision of what the future premedia service offerings will be.

To start a series of blogs covering each subject in more detail I will first set the stage, some food for thought if you like.

The Future

As we all have probably read, RR Donnelly’s likes to break news about the new technologies they introduce into their portfolio of products they offer to their clients, the majority of companies out there don’t have the buying power or engineering resource to develop at that scale…. or do they….

There is so much news and opinion today about how small business are now able to utilise technology and react to change a far faster pace than these large organisations. This is possible due to the empowering technologies, the outsourcing of resource to third world countries and the power of open source communities that are refining the technologies beyond what any corporation is able to do.

So what’s changing and what will redefine the future of premedia?

We have seen the explosion of web based media content delivery to our desktops or should I say our browsers. Networks have taken 10 fold leaps speed while the content we are creating seems to grow with every new version of our creative applications, while our connections from the outside world into these services or these platforms are now available via hot-spots almost everywhere in the western civilized world. Storage is no longer a limitation to what we can store and our machines, our infrastructures and our experience is better than it has ever been.

There are disruptive technologies in play that will change the face of premedia and remove all the constraints that force people to install specific applications, in fact they will completely change the way corporations sell software. SAAS is nothing new to many IT people, but in the world where desktop applications dominated the sales channels there is a move to make them server based.

We have seen a raise in the power of technologies like Flash, Ajax, Flex etc. that have provided new ways to interact with content online. Take Adobe’s first stab at this when they introduced Acrobat.com – strangely named since creating PDF’s was only a fraction of what they offered on the site – today, after a lot of refinement, they offer a pretty damn good collaboration and meeting platform with Adobe Connect and are adding more services such as Buzzword, Presentation, Sharing and Storage in the form of Myfiles. Seems like similar services to Google to me…. .but actually this then provides Adobe a playground to see how users would react and interact with the interfaces while they are building their next service platform Photoshop.com. Bruce Chizen stated sometime ago that Adobe will transfer all application to a web-based platform – so where will that put us in the services we are able to offer our clients?

Photoshop.com is in its infancy, yet it is placing the basic tools of Photoshop Elements to the masses for free, it displays that with programming and the new tools it is possible to access advanced features for photo editing that were once only available via a desktop application, making the web browser a new platform or application interface that removes the constraints of installation. Looking at what more can be done, Adobe could use Air to provide a mixture of local and online services providing the speed and flexibility of any environment – same platform, just a different flavour. As Photoshop.com matures and newer features are added, more premedia companies will see the technology as embeddable into their DAM portals to redefine their operational ability, this could lead to new was to outsource or place the power of the user anywhere they can access the web.

Adobe even provide you an extremely powerful tool to build these new user interfaces without the need for complex programming with the addition of Flash Cataylst allowing new professional interaction design for rapidly creating user interfaces.

Looking at the page layout ability, the applications have really reached their limits of functionality on the desktop. Yes new features will be added, but most of these will be refinements on old features that took too much time to do and both Quark & Indesign are now offering extensive server based solutions that use the same engines that drive the desktop applications. What does this do for companies? Well, it is limited only by your imagination of the web application; so far we have only seen web2print applications or print on demand systems built for commercial sales, companies out there will have integrated this into their service offering somehow, you can rest assured that large companies have these technologies tucked under their bonnets. Is there any limitation? No, and actually the barriers of entry will be lowered the more people use and integrate the functionality. Yet there is a threat, as the raising of outsourcing operations increases their awareness of western operational need, they too will build services based on technologies that we are still building our business cases for.

There are plenty of excellent examples of great user operability sites out there. Imagine translating these into your customer portal and delivering services based on artwork asset management!

Look out for the next part of this series where we will explore the new world of online digital image manipulation and how that will affect the services offered.

Author: Gary George

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Talking of free online training!

June 29, 2009

Well it’s rare, but sometimes you do find things that are just awesome…..

Here I have stumbled upon something that I think we can all take advantage of and share around the community….. well thats what it’s all about isn’t it?

So take a look at the following links and if you start the courses then please do let the community know how you found them.

http://creativetechs.com/freeflashcourse

http://creativetechs.com/tipsblog/from-design-into-print/

http://creativetechs.com/tipsblog/i-need-your-support-please-comment/

Author: Gary George

Automation, Automation, Automation

June 28, 2009

It’s Saturday afternoon and we’ve had a great day so far, gearing up now to spend the evening tucking into a nice bit of Spanish tapas with friends, so as the sky’s darken and the rain sets in and my partner puts her poor pregnant swollen ankles up before we set off, my mind starts to wander remembering days past where I was faced with providing improved business processes and the way it made me feel.

Feelings? well yes, where do you begin when faced with the challenge of automating? What are the objectives of adding automation? And why do they want more automation?

These and many more questions are what ran through my head all those years back and unfortunately at that time I could only see my immediate environment the things we did every day; the things we were trained to do…. So where do you go, what can you do and more importantly how do you do it……

In many companies there are tools of the trade, the desktop applications, the server software, and the workflow systems, in isolation they all perform the task admirably, the tasks we or our predecessors installed them for. But as the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep and all of these channels of creation have a much deeper hidden power, a power that is normally only tapped into by software solution experts, but with a little effort, a little learning and a lot of reading, you can uncover the powers and start to appreciate what it is that you can automate.

I posted a while back an example of using Photoshop actions and how people in my experience do little but ignore them, actions that can be made into droplets for easy drag and drop, so why would people want to explore the Applescript or Javascript capabilities of Photoshop…. Or any of the desktop applications for that matter…. Look at what OSX has to offer, a rich Unix OS with scripting capabilities beyond your imagination, Apple even provide a way for the end user to access this scripting in an easy to use UI, yet how many bother to explore what Automator can do for them to improve their day to day working efficiency?

Looking beyond that and into the workflow systems, it is widely believed that the technical guys come up with all the ideas and plans to improve the flow of information, this is true to a certain degree, but very short sighted, there are a whole host of people that need input into the development of a workflow, as they will inevitably go beyond just having a file input, some processing and then a file output, there maybe for instance some business intelligence that is captured along the way, information that is useful to someone, if not only to justify the workflows existence in the first place….. yes I have heard the old “why are we paying XXXX for the support on this system each year” well with out the business intelligence to say “well it processes 500,000 pdfs a year for us” for example, business decisions can be made out of the context of the operation. (there are plenty of examples I could use here)

So remember that automation for any pre-media operational step be it user, application, server or business needs to be analyzed, measured for it’s return and then pitched/promoted for it ability to save money or improve business. Never think that something simple is not worth it, if it saves time, then it saves money. And always talk to others about your ideas, no innovation on this planet was ever created by a single persons input and this is the same in pre-media, share collaborate and expand on everything you think.

Doh…. look at this, I even managed to close my laptop before the blog posted and we went off to stuff our faces, so after a nights sleep ontop of 22 tapas dishes between four people I finally post this properly!

Author: Gary George

Illustrator Ahoy!

June 26, 2009

Today I’m going to briefly speak about 2 little applications out there for you Illustrator users. I’m sure these have been blogged, reviewed and discussed over and over again as it’s pretty rare to see applications that help us, the average user, in working with these Illustrator files and their associated links.

Sneakpeekpro

So lets first look at Sneakpeekpro, an OSX finder extension that allows you to use the QuickLook feature built into the finder to optain a little more information and a preview of the Illustrator, Indesign, EPS and Freehand file formats, a pretty useful tool for see what fonts or linked images the file uses. But in a large production environment the volume licensing better be good because at $19.95 a license it would soon add up!

Sneakpeekpro

Art Files

So the second one and a lok more useful if you ask me, especially if you don’t have Markzware FlightCheck Professional and you use a lot of Illustrator files, is this little beauty Art Files. Simple and easy to use, it’s a way of collecting all of the associated files in your Illustrator files and package them up, this includes fonts – screen & printer! So really the collect for output the Illustrator should have always had.

What’s pretty neat though is the ability to drop multiple files on on the application recognise duplicates, not tested myself, but I hope it’s just not based on names as we could be in real trouble with the state of some of our production volumes!

At $49.95 it’s a hefty price to pay, but the savings in a busy Illustrator studio would well justify the cost.

Artfiles

Let me at them

You can get these and a few other really useful tools at https://www.code-line.com/

Be sure to check out the multi-buys for the savings!

Author: Gary George

Adobe Flex 4 – Goes to Public Beta

June 2, 2009

As the power of our DAM and client portals come of age and update their presentation interfaces to the newest technologies, Adobe release a new version of their open source web application framework. Many Flex and Flash developers were waiting for this news for a year.

Even though it is only a public beta, will the developers of pre-media applications make a start at being early adopters or play caution to the wind and wait like so many people do and see what others have done before them….

Lets think back to when Adobe Air was first released, instantly I could see applications being presented to the desktop users to interact with their DAM, MIS, ERP, CRM and workflows, yet we waited for a long time before any pre-media software companies adopted it, notably and doing such a great job of it was a Dutch software company (www.dutchsoftware.com) with their ElvisReady DAM solution (www.elvisready.com) even Ebay managed to get an application to market before any pre-media companies did so.

I can understand that any new release of software or technology can be met with sceptisism and I am sure the same happened with the Silverlight runtime, but when two of the most powerful software companies on the planet create a new mainstream technology, they will push the runtimes however they can. With Adobe Air I argued that it would be come a standard install with any Adobe application from Acrobat Reader to Flash Player, with Silverlight it would be a seemless plugin to the browsers, sure enough my predictions were not far off correct.

Understandably being an early technology adapter can be risky business as you do not have the benefit of the community to help with your coding issues, but you don’t produce engaging web applications using cutting edge technology by playing it safe, nor do you get noticed for taking advantage of the new programming tools that allow for users to save time and frustration…. New Ebay vs old Ebay…. which do you prefer?

With internet access and speed growing at an enormous rate, is it any wonder that our users or clients are internet application savvy, most spend a large amount of time in social media websites that have adopted new was of engaging their users, when they turn back to their work applications and they are static pages are you losing their attention by constant page refreshes and loading?

I’d love for more developers or maybe development departments send or assign time to R&D of new technology to ensure their companies can stay ahead of the curve.

Author: Gary George