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Job-Submission Software for Today's Workflow

Recognizes that not all incoming jobs are ready to print

Big Picture

An article entitled, "Computerizing Customer Service" in the July/August issue of The Big Picture looks at some possible long-term business benefits of implementing online job-submission capabilities, such as opportunities for content management and the procurement of related services. It sounds good on paper, but in actuality this long-range view seems to be light years ahead of how work is currently performed in the real world. For instance, considering how many different types of software are currently used to create documents for print, the vision of achieving a "one-touch workflow" with minimal human intervention sounds pretty utopian.

Here are a few products that take some of today's less-than-ideal, real-life scenarios into account while making it easier for your shop to efficiently process a higher number of multiple short-run jobs while reducing the costs and delays using courier services.

Unlimi-Tech's DocTera: For customers who don't want to use a third-party FTP prorgram, Unlimi-Tech Software offers DocTera, a JAVA-based file submission and job-management solution for the print industry. When customers submit their creative files for output, they can also enter specific job requirements such as quantity, type of paper, and delivery date.

"DocTera provides graphic designers, artists and office personnel with a single and powerful tool to interact with a print shop," said Unlimi-Tech president John Tkaczewski. "It's very easy to use and requires no prior knowledge of FTP." "

To submit an order, customers simply visit the print provider's website and click on "Upload Files." This then launches DocTera in the viewer's Web browser where the customer logs in with a username and password. At this point, the customer fills out an html form detailing the requirements of the job. Creative files can then be uploaded using the file-upload applet embedded in DocTera. After data is verified and the creative files are uploaded, both the print shop and customer are sent e-mails confirming job details.

At the print shop, uploaded files are stored in a folder that already has a job-ticket number. Because the job details and artwork are stored in the same sub-folder, it eliminates guesswork on the part of the printer operator. DocTera has no restriction on the number of files that can be sent or on file sizes and can send files through any type of Internet connection. (Unlimi-tech Software: www.utechsoft.com)

Markzware's Job2Print.com: Markzware's free Job2Print.com Internet-based job-delivery system helps make print buyers aware of some of their recurring errors in file preparation. The system enables print buyers to send complete jobs--including images and fonts--via FTP to their print providers over the Internet. (The service assumes that print companies already have an FTP service in place.)

During the first 25 uses, job senders receive a free preflight exam of their files. The exam includes 12 standard preflighting checks and an onscreen report to the print buyer before the file is transmitted. After the 25th use, the print buyer may subscribe to the preflight service for $99 per year. (Markzware: www.markzware.com)

PagePath PDF2U: In the real world, buyers of short-run, on-demand digital printing come from all walks of corporate life and often use some funky or outdated word-processing, presentation, computer-aided drawing, or desktop-publishing software to prepare files for printing. They also may not have access to high-speed Internet connections. PagePath PDF2U? job-submission software makes it easier for every office worker to submit documents for printing and frees print providers from having to worry about whether or not they have the correct version of various software programs needed to open submitted files. No matter what type of software was used to create the document to be printed, the job is delivered to the printer as a PDF.

PDF2U is part of PagePath's MyOrderDesk workflow that helps eliminate the traditional problems of missing fonts, images, and unsupported file types in print-ready files from customers. In PDF2U, a customer clicks on "Print", and files are automatically compressed while a custom online job ticket is presented for them to enter information about the file they are uploading. A 90 MB file that would take six to nine hours to upload with a standard modem takes about 20 minutes with PDF2U.

Once files are finished uploading, the customer clicks "Send" and the files are then sent to the print provider's MyOrderDesk website for downloading. Both the sender and receiver get an e-mail confirming file arrival. Receiving all files as PDFs can be a huge time-saver for businesses specializing in fast-turnaround, on-demand digital printing. (Pagepath Technologies: 630-898-9009; www.pagepath.com)

Extensis PrintReady: PrintReady is online file-submission program that combines preflight, file-collection and FTP capabilities to make it easier for graphic designers to submit "print-ready" files to the printing firms with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Print providers can customize the preflighting routines to match the requirements of their equipment and an interactive module shows designers how to fix problems identified during the preflighting process.

Printable Technologies, an integrator of online and e-business solutions for graphic-arts businesses, has chosen Extensis PrintReady as the underlying technology for its own online file-transfer and online preflighting capabilities. (Extensis: www.extensis.com; Printable Technologies: www.printable.com)

Vertex V-Connect: V-Connect from Vertex Network Solutions Inc., is a subscription-based hosted service that allows small to mid-size graphic arts and digital media businesses to securely exchange large production files over a standard Internet Web browser at a far greater speed than using FTP or e-mail. V-Connect uses a Linux-based network access server that is hosted at a data center with a high-speed Internet connection. After accessing the server via the V-Connect website with a password, users can securely send and receive files of any format and size to anyone with an Internet connection. Or, subscribers can choose to use Vertex's file-transfer client software for either Mac or PC platforms that is available at no additional charge. Document security is ensured through 128-bit SSL encryption and authenticated by certificates issued by Thawte and VeriSign. Cost is $149/month with a $149 setup fee.(Vertex Network Solutions: www.v-connect.net)

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