Tools for Variable Data Work
A list of valuable products to assist with variable data.
Several manufacturers have recently introduced new tools and technologies to better accommodate variable data. What follows is just a sampling of what’s been newly released to the marketplace in recent months. Note that we have not included hardware/printers here:
* Compose Systems’ latest Harlequin RIP release, Express RIP v8.0, features a PDF retained raster designed to speed up variable-data processing. Express 8.0 is designed to increase performance through the use of multithreaded rendering technology, removing RIP bottlenecks by handling raster data and taking advantage of new Duo and Quad core technologies.
* Creo Print on Demand Solutions released earlier this year the newest version of its Darwin software. Darwin 3.0 includes new features for cross-media capability, such as personalized HTMLs for high-end VDP campaigns, as well as enhancements to existing capabilities like an expanded barcode library and personalized images on the Mac version.
* EFI’s EFI Fiery Central 1.5 is a modular PDF-based production workflow solution that now features enhanced VDP capabilities. This new version of Fiery Central, coupled with the company’s Fiery color digital print server, offers an open, flexible, and scalable VDP solution enabling easier development of customized marketing campaigns, regardless of their complexity. It supports multiple VDP formats, including PPML (Personalized Print Markup Language) and other legacy proprietary languages.
* Em Software has announced the release of InData for Adobe InDesign CS3. InData brings the layout, design, typographic, and picture-publishing power of Adobe InDesign to bear on data-driven repetitive publishing tasks. Users can control their design and layout by using InDesign’s typographic controls for each variable field and for any intervening text, to get just the right look for their data.
* The Esko Variable Data Printing module expands the company’s capabilities in digital printing for HP Indigo presses. The Variable Data feature is part of Esko Software Suite 7, and is also available as an Adobe Illustrator plug-in in the Esko DeskPack plug-in series, or as an extension of Esko PackEdge and Esko Plato.
* Earlier this year, HP introduced HP Indigo Labels and Packaging VDP Tools, a set of Adobe Illustrator plug-ins for variable-data, barcode, and step-and-repeat work. Also earlier this year, HP agreed to acquire Exstream Software, the software provider whose product line includes three variable-data offerings: Dialogue, an enterprise document-automation software suite; Dialogue Live, an interactive document-automation solution; and AFP Studio, a suite of Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) productivity solutions for managing AFP print streams.
* This summer, Meadows Publishing Solutions released a new version of its DesignMerge Pro (3.04) and MPS CopyFit for Adobe InDesign CS3. DesignMerge Pro now includes built-in support for PostScript, PPML, and Creo VPS output formats, making it compatible with all major variable-data printing systems.
* Objectif Lune issued a new release of its PrintShop Mail product at Drupa this year. This latest version includes enhanced color-management capability, spot-color functionality, support of PDF files for dynamic objects, and the ability to add bleed and crop marks at page level for space maximization. PrintShop Mail is now compatible with Objectif Lune’s workflow automation software module, PlanetPress Watch. The company also released a new version of its Web-to-print solution, PrintShop Web 2.2.
* Oce recently launched a comprehensive suite of TransPromo solutions and services to help print-to-mail operations simplify the transition from standard transactional documents to value-added transpromo communications. The suite of solutions, part of the Oce Professional Services portfolio, includes offerings ranging from transpromo strategy development and application design to project management, implementation, training and support services.
* Onyx ProductionHouse 7.2 includes a Variable Data printing tool optimized for large-format printing, allowing the user to create batches of customized print jobs such as signs, promotional items, advertisements, and full-color labels. This tool can add variable text, images, and barcodes to batch print jobs. Data fields can be imported from database files and the results previewed onscreen before ink and media are expended.
* Pageflex has announced the integration of its Enterprise Print Management System and Pageflex Storefront Web-to-print software. The integration is designed to provide a complete, streamlined workflow that encompasses the automation of day-to-day business transactions and the simplification of online ordering, print production, finishing and product shipment.
* Printable Technologies has released version 6.5 of its FusionPro software with added VDP capabilities, including Unicode VDP typesetting support. New templates are created in FusionPro Desktop 5.8 or later to supply variable text and receive versioned or variable print output in eight languages. FusionPro Web 6.5 allows the input of Unicode text in the following areas: forms for versioned items (brochures and business cards, for instance), file uploads for VDP items, and saved data for quickfill presets and employee lists.
* Rochester Software Associates demonstrated its Enterprise Workflow System, an enterprise’s transactional, network, and publishing system at the TransPromo Summit in August in New York City. RSA offers a closed-loop, integrated solution for transactional job transform, PDF conversion, variable-data personalization, and output management.
* SA International PhotoPrint6 Server-Pro includes an Editor application for layout and design with templates and variable-data capabilities (and is optional in the company’s PhotoPrint DX product). PhotoPrint6 for Mac was released this past fall.
* Wasatch released SoftRIP 6.3 earlier this year, which maintains its Variable Data Printing Option. Users can change text or images over base graphics with Wasatch templates; prints can be previewed before printing. Data can be imported from any database that exports delimited ASCII text files.
* In August, XMPie announced a strategic partnership with Gimbel & Associates, an international digital print and marketing communications consulting firm, to help XMPie customers create a step-by-step roadmap for successful development and selling of variable-data print and cross-media marketing communication programs. Designed specifically for XMPie customers, the program offers several options based on the desired level of support from Gimbel & Associates consultants. Gimbel advisors can provide on-site counsel in everything from developing and selling VDP and cross-media campaigns, to successful operational and production implementation for those just starting to offer personalized communications.