Posts Tagged ‘automation’

Dalim Software announces Dialogue ES, the softproofing and approval server based on the new ‘ES’ architecture

August 3, 2009

So those of you that have managed to get to a integrator event during the summer or to the Dalim User events you will be fully aware of what this is all about, but for those who didn’t get to an event, Dalim releasing the new ES architecture to provide a future development platform for their product range. Dialogue is the first application to take advantage of this new powerful platform that can also incorporate the Adobe PDF Print Engine for consistant results of transparencies, trapping and seperations.

For the pre-media world this represents the next evolution in an open working platform arena that can be integrated into your workflows and portals to provide client & brand owners a colour consistent soft proofing environment without the need for client installations.

Dalim ES

Kehl, Germany – Dalim Software, a global leader in the design and development of innovative and automated professional production workflow software for premedia, print, packaging and publishing, announces that DiALOGUE ES is the first application to utilise its new “ES” architecture.

First seen earlier this year at Dalim Software’s EuroDUO 2009 user conference, followed by a three-month private beta programme, DiALOGUE ES is the first application to be based on the new “ES” architecture, developed using XML, JDF and AJAX technologies and accessible using a standard web browser.

Continue reading here.

Author: Gary George

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Are you able to adopt new technology in your supply chain?

July 28, 2009

PDF

Diversity was once what brand owners required to stay afresh with new and inspiring campaigns, product designs, marketing efforts, but there is now a growing trend to reduce the number of suppliers that the brand owner uses in order to reduce the amount of effort required to manage them. Some pre-media companies have offered the brand owners the ability to manage their suppliers through their supplied portal at a management fee guaranteeing them at least some of the action, where as others have put up and shut up about being pushed to the side line because they didn’t cut the mustard, or they didn’t pay for the round of golf!

But today we see the suppliers (the pre-media companies) to the brand owners are facing a number of battles fuelled by disruptive technologies and spurred on by the technology providors. These battles can be labelled under one single term… PROGRESSION. Silly really that progression would become as much an enabler and a disabler. Lets take a look at what has been going on…..

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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

Pre-Flight, Post-Flight & Automation

June 24, 2009

So there we are early in the morning driving down to the EuroTunnel to attend a partner technical meeting for ADAM software discussing the the process of pre-flight and where it fits into the whole business process flow of our production plants.

Lets first look at the term pre-flight: wikipedia describes it as:

The term used in the printing industry to describe the process of confirming that the digital files required for the printing process are all present, valid, correctly formatted, and of the desired type. The term originates from the pre-flight checklists used by pilots. The term was first used in a presentation at the Color Connections conference in 1990 by consultant Chuck Weger.

By definition it would say that the pre in pre-flight is that process of checking before any actions are performed, i.e. before you create the PDF/postscript and not after you have taken the action….. surely that would be post-flight?

But ok, the term pre-flight has become synonymous with the process of checking your files are fit for purpose regardless of where in your workflow you perform it.

Is this correct? Should we be pre-flighting our files at every stage of the process?
Having spent a few hours yesterday with Esko going through what their latest version of there software and asked the presenter…. Surely if you are pre-flighting a PDF you have already generated the file from it’s original components and thus it would be a post-flight.
He thought about the question for a moment, then agreed that actually that was a good point and something that their Instant PDF product tries to address by ensuring that the source documents are correct before generating a Certified PDF.

What options do you have these for checking those source documents you receive on a daily basis? Well it would appear that the only commercial software available outside of the applications is the Markzware Preflight Professional, another option is Freeflight that is provided by the user community and available here; but the problem is that they are both having to reverse engineer the changes in the design applications.

Both Adobe and Quark have added on the fly pre-flight into their applications, Quark by applying Job-Jackets with the ability to test your design to a profile, where Adobe have chosen to use a live pre-flight based on a selected profile….. Are these any good for automating? Not really……

Markzware seem to be the only ones who allow extensive automation through scripting with a number of workflow tools such as Enfocus Switch being able to send files through a selected set of ground controls to sort the good from the bad.

And what of the future? More and more companies now have to find was to automate their incoming pre-media files which now extend beyond those of just the graphic and design file formats and include formats such as HTML, Flash, Video and 3D. Our applications alone provide us with tools to test the files are fit for purpose, but don’t help us provide fully integrated workflow solutions.

Who will raise to the challenge? Or are the pre-media companies still going to have to create home cooked soup!

Oh and I was reminded not to forget to mention that Flightcheck can be driven by the Enfocus SWITCH products watch the video here.

Author: Gary George

Creative thinking when it comes to automation

June 9, 2009

One thing is for sure, when businesses moved from Pre-press to Pre-media the need to automate processes didn’t go away. Each and every one of us will see automation is a different.
We could make a quick and by no means complete list of what we would want or should I say what our managers would want from automating parts of the workflow and it would look something like this:

  • Faster turnaround
  • Less or no human intervention
  • Reduction of mistakes
  • Better business analytics
  • More output channels from the same process
  • Raster and better return on investment

It’s not unusual to hear the pre-media departments saying or stating that nothing can be done, which is where the creative thinkers need to come into play and where having people that can script at any level in your pre-media department is invaluable.

Let’s take an application like Adobe Photoshop, for as many versions as I can remember the application has included Actions, actions allow you to record the repetitive tasks, from simple save’s to complex multi-functional actions…. Yet who actually uses them?

When we move outside of the application, and onto the workflow solutions we build these complex workflows to perform the automation for us, yet we have seen companies that still allow the users to create the PDF or Postscript file on their desktop and manually submit the files to the workflow, something a simple automator action could have done for the users.

Pre-media operators and managers need to be more creative in terms of what they automate; any task that has to be repeated should look to be automated. Always calculate how long the task takes, multiplied by the number of times a user performs the task, multiplied again by the number of users, you will find that some simple tasks that take seconds, cost you hours over a week.

When human resource is your highest cost, we need to think creatively about how we best get full value from the skills they have. Pre-media staff all have different skills and ensuring you are utilizing them to their best ability could increase the throughput you have.

I was always told to use the 80/20 rule, for 20% of the effort we could cover 80% of the work, well thinking back this was rubbish, a short term way of thinking, all improvements, large or small need to be done, as long as you are measuring the results you will find the savings amazing.

Here at Tunicca we help companies with the creative thinking automation process, you shouldn’t get confused with the creative designers here, we are definitely not creative designers in any shape or form, we are able to assist in reviewing your pre-media and pre-press environments and provide consulting services around what could be realised in cost savings by implementing automation where you may have not seen it before.

Author: Gary George