The Job Definition Format has been around for a decade now. So why isn’t it more common in wide-format printing—and why is that about to change?
But JDF has been unsuited to wide-format printing for other reasons, too, starting with inappropriate measuring units. The JDF specification calls for measurements in points, but “when you have a very large element, you have to have other kinds of dimensions,” says Peiro, “or the numbers get too large to make any sense.”
Change is coming
While the use of JDF has been relatively rare in wide format printing up until now, that’s likely to change in the near future. “Economic and business forces are pushing it into this arena,” says Peiro. “It’s a sign of a maturing market that shops are now starting to look at automation to reduce overhead.”
Kirschner agrees: “It's more crucial,” he says. “Margins are shrinking. There's less ability to just redo a job if something goes wrong. With JDF automation, it can be fully automatic.”
And Danielle Mattiussi, Onyx Graphics director for product portfolio and business development for Onyx Graphics, points to other factors changing expectations among wide-format shops. “Conventional printers have reaped the benefits of automated workflow systems for years,” she says. “Now they are adding wide-format devices as a way to diversify revenue streams, and they expect nothing less from their wide-format workflow. Furthermore, there’s a large talent pool of people who may have worked for companies that weren’t so successful at diversifying their revenue streams. Many of those people landed in wide format armed with knowledge of and experience with JDF.”
Minion adds, “Our customers are demanding this. It’s becoming a very hot topic for them. They want all the advantages that JDF brings, and they want it now.”
They may get it soon. Last summer, HP was selected to head up the Wide Format Workgroup of The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress Organization (CIP4, cip4.org), the group in charge of managing the JDF specification. HP’s stated goal is to define standards that are appropriate to wide-format printing workflows, from digital front ends to finishing devices. This past January, HP introduced a certification program under which partner products can be labeled “HP Certified for Wide Format Printing JDF Exchange.” Certified products should be able to properly share information via JDF. Partners in the certification program include Caldera, ColorGate, EFI, EskoArtwork, Four Pees, GMG, Onyx Graphics, and Printable Technologies.