Archive for Adobe

The News in Retrospect

When I was much younger, I lived in Upstate NY and was vexed by a certain Gannet Newspaper whose news wasn’t particularly current. I always said that their motto should be “the news in retrospect”.
Now I do some writing in the form of this blog and am embarrassed to admit that my report on the recent Gilbane Conference in SanFrancisco would be covered by the same motto. Age makes us humbler with every passing year.
I was very pleased with the quality of presentations in this year’s Publishing Track. In his recent post, Thad McIlroy was much too modest in his depiction of his impressive Future of Publishing Website. The result of almost 10 years of hard work, the site is a fascinating compendium of past and current views of the future of publishing. It is impressive in its scope, organization, and innate wisdom. We were honored to have it released to the public at our conference.
Thad did his usual outstanding job in leading a panel that gave a crisp and concise view of what is possible today in the world of publishing automation. As publishers, Thomson and O’Reilly distinguished themselves with the processes they are using today and products that resulted from those processes. Their willingness to completely rethink their strategies and re-engineer their processes should prove an inspiration to other publishers.
As you can see from my previous post on We are Smarter than Me, I am very interested in activities at the intersection of communities and publishing entities. Our Panel with representatives of San Diego Union Tribune, MERLOT, and Leverage Software gave vivid examples and insights as to how communities can develop valuable new information or enhance traditional information products. Their talks further fueled my curiosity and thinking on this topic.
Bill Rosenblatt led a great Panel of representatives from Adobe, Mark Logic, Marcinko Enterprises, and Quark through an excellent discussion of how today’s technology can enable publishers to design and implement processes that support true cross media publishing. And then Bill shared the lessons that were learned in an innovative cross-media strategy project that he did with Consumer’s Union. He was joined by Randy Marcinko who cited several clear examples of how the proper processes support cross media publishing and By Chip Pettibone Safari U’s Vice President of Product Development who dazzled the audiance with some of Their new products and business models . Their Rough Cuts and Short Cuts product lines are particularly impressive!
Finally Thad’s posting speaks glowingly of the panel for the International Publishing panel. I concur!!
Thanks to all conference panelists and attendees!! Please send me any comments and critiques that would make the next conference more valuable to you.

Adobe & Microsoft headed for battle over PDF

The Wall Street Journal reported today that talks between Adobe and Microsoft over the inclusion of PDF creation in the upcoming release of Office have broken down, and they speculate that Adobe will file an antitrust suit as a result. The issue is that MS was planning to include PDF creation for free, which is obviously a direct hit at Adobe’s Acrobat revenue. If you have been following Microsoft’s XPS (XML Paper Specification) development as we reported here, you won’t be too surprised.
It is too early to know exactly how this will play out, but anyone with applications or workflows that depend on heavy use of both Office and PDF needs to keep this on their radar!
UPDATE: Mary Jo Foley has more info on this.

The Importance of QuarkXPress 7.0

(Full disclosure: I’ve consulted many times with Quark and with Adobe, and was specifically hired by Quark to prepare a brochure called QuarkXPress 7 for Output Service Providers.)
I think that QuarkXPress 7 is an important release for Quark, its customers, Adobe and the publishing industry. We’re well past the days of “feature wars,” so, for example, the addition of OpenType support, something first offered in InDesign 1.5 five years ago, is not shaking my world. There is also new support for transparency, improved color management and PDF support, and various other goodies that you’d expect to find in your Christmas stocking, but none of these are anything much more than “overdue.”
What’s most important from my perspective is Quark’s forward strides in supporting improved publishing workflows, the last frontier for the electronic publishing industry. Two new features stand out in this respect. One is “Job Jackets” and the other is JDF (Job Definition Format) support.
According to CIP4 (www.cip4.org) the non-profit industry association pushing JDF, “JDF is a comprehensive XML-based file format and proposed industry standard for end-to-end job ticket specifications combined with a message description standard and message interchange protocol.” Along with its earlier incarnations, JDF has been in the making for more than 15 years now. It has very broad industry support – hundreds of vendors have added JDF functionality to hundreds of hardware and software products. That being said, it’s still a challenge to find a robust JDF-based publishing installation in the field. The main reasons for this are the complexity of the standard and the need for all of the players in a broad publishing workflow to be in the game – if one key component lacks support the JDF flow grinds to a halt.
Adobe have added JDF support to Acrobat, which is to some extent accessible from InDesign, but Quark has moved ahead of Adobe by building JDF support directly into the page layout application, independently from PDF. No doubt Adobe will follow suit in the next version of InDesign, expected early next year, so the issue is not so much who got there first. But having what is still the mostly widely-used page layout application in the world throw its support behind JDF is of key importance at this time when broad-based JDF adoption by the publishing industry is still in question.
Quark uses JDF also in its Job Jackets feature. A Quark Job Jackets file contains all of the rules and specifications necessary to describe a QuarkXPress project. A Quark Job Jackets file can include specifications for colors, style sheets, trapping, and color management as well as picture color space, format, and resolution. The file can also include information such as the page size, number of pages, and contact information for the people involved with a job. And the file can include rules that specify configurations for font sizes, line thicknesses, box backgrounds, and other project elements. Workgroups can obtain consistent output by using Quark Job Jackets to share specifications across workstations.
For me the most intriguing benefit of Quark Job Jackets is that it re-invents the concept of preflighting. Preflighting has always been a post-process step: create your file, and then find out where you screwed up. With Job Jackets users can ensure that a print job adheres to its specifications from the moment it’s created, and that it continues to adhere to those specifications all the way through the production process until it rolls off the press. I’ve long maintained that page designers would not be able to perfect their process until it was possible to prevent errors, rather than to correct them after the fact. I’m certain this approach will fast become the production norm.
It’s interesting to me that searching through Google News the day after the Quark 7.0 launch in New York, there’s nary a mention in the mainstream press. Neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal seem to have found it worthy of coverage. To me this reflects the new prevailing “wisdom”: Adobe has won the page-layout wars (and every other war for that matter), so Quark’s announcement isn’t newsworthy. I think they are underestimating the importance of QuarkXPress 7.0. Only time will tell.

Comments on Adobe & Macromedia

I’m way behind in planned blog entries from last week’s conference, but this has jumped to the top of the queue. Rather than repeat points made by others I’ll point you to Thad’s post, and a couple of other postings and focus on a point I haven’t seen made yet. Brice and others made the clear point that application redundancy means death for certain products. I also share Tim’s skepticism of Flash. But while every analyst under the Sun will talk about what this means to Microsoft, there is an aspect of this that needs more attention.
Whatever the combined suite of Adobe and Macromedia apps ends up looking like, it will be a mammoth suite with a combination of document and web capabilities that will compete with Microsoft Office, which will also have a combination of document and web capabilities. The real competition won’t be immediate because the difference between creative and knowledge worker tools is still pretty wide, and it won’t be complete because there will always be a need for a difference. However, over time the differences will be managed more by configuration of functions than by buying separate applications.
Thinking about a future dominated by these huge suites you can’t help but think “What’s the alternative?”. Many of us author less and less in big powerful applications, and more with simple editing tools (email, blogs, HTML forms, Notepad etc.). There are two reasons for this. One is that “fast and easy” is critical for efficient communication and we naturally gravitate to it. Second, none of the authoring tools available today have succeeded in allowing us to easily author once for both documents and web pages. The big feature-heavy suites are good to have around, but we also need new authoring tools that are light, flexible and create content that is marked-up just enough to easily share with applications, whether office or web suites, or enterprise applications.

Adobe, ATG & Interwoven Collaborate

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced alliances with Art Technology Group, Inc. and Interwoven, Inc. The three companies plan to integrate their respective Web development, enterprise-class content management and e-business platform products to provide Web professionals complete workflow solutions for content creation, management and multi-channel content delivery. As part of these alliances, the companies will work together to integrate their product offerings. By integrating Adobe GoLive 5.0 and Interwoven TeamSite software, content contributors will be able to easily author and manage large volumes of content while working directly within GoLive. Likewise, Adobe and ATG will integrate GoLive with the ATG Dynamo e-Business Platform — enabling page designers to use GoLive to visually create highly personalized Dynamo pages. www.atg.com, www.interwoven.com, www.adobe.com