Starting with IPEX 2002, this blog covers events relevant for UK print, including Seybold and DRUPA. See also website at

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I have now started another blog, comments allowed

So please go to item on Lawrence Wallis if you know where his adventures on the blogosphere may be found.

This new blog may have a wider scope. I have tended to start a new blog when in doubt so this one could be a way to integrate some ideas, even if only just as questions.
I have now visited Life Bytes , opposite the Odeon in Sidwell Street Exeter, for a full discussion on this Breeze as Acrobat situation. I am told that "it may not be a bad thing".

So ok, I am trying to get my head round it. Starting with my own experience that I don't find Flash content as 'engaging' as PDF or text. It is like being hit over the head with a Powerpoint presentation as designed sometime ago. There is no record of it, it cannot be edited or combined with other sources. I think Powerpoint has become much better or at least I have got used to it enough to copy out the bits I need.

Acrobat Connect may be improved on the current Breeze or maybe things will improve later. I would like an option to save the presentations as PDF and also to save the chat as PDF or text. These can be posted later apparently but the people in the audience have no option to do it for themselves. Maybe this is the attraction of Flash, that it is easier to keep control of content, but this is not the same as an engaging platform. Before the recent presentation of Acrobat 8, Adobe used to offer video plus PDF download. I found that much easier to follow or study later. The crazed load of Flash touring Acrobat 8 is impossible to follow if you want to get past the supposed benefits towards the actual features. What I want is a PDF file with a carefully structured set of bookmarks on the left.

I have not found any reference to improvements in PDF as a container for Flash, Quicktime or other media. Acrobat 7 is able to capture web pages with Flash, but it tends to come and go. You have to reload occasionally. I don't understand why and maybe this is not a problem for everyone but I notice PDF is rarely used for multimedia. Is it a technical limitation, or has Adobe just stopped explaining the option? At LifeBytes I was told there is another problem in controlling how Quicktime is displayed when designing a PDF from scratch. Apparently it pops out of the page and finds a new size. Maybe this is ok with a screen culture and some people I know are just hanging on to the idea of a page.

Meanwhile I am enjoying the video on Youtube so I don't mind Flash as such. The next couple of months could be a time for revision on PDF so far and maybe for looking at Breeze potential.
It is possible that Lawrence Wallis has joined in with the blogging scene. His words in Printweek are about the 'blook'. Surprisingly for me he makes no objection to the word 'blook' although he sometimes has a problem with variations on established language. His major complaint this week is about the standardised and restricted stock of most bookshops. Maybe he is finding that the web offers the variety and serendipity that browsing in bookshops offered in days gone by.

Mysteriously, he adds that "loyal readers ( rumour suggests one might exist ) may have noticed that I spent some time in the blogosphere to escape the bleak scene in bookselling". Well, sadly I can find no trace of this. Try the link, things may have been updated,

Please let me know if a link to a Lawrence Wallios blog turns up. Sorry, I can't find a way to turn on comments.

By the way, he is crestfallen that the Blooker Prize has been won by yet another cookery book. You know what? He has got a point.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I am still in shock after trying to take in the new information about Acrobat 8. The striking feature is that Acrobat is now based on Flash as well as PDF. What was Breeze is now Acrobat Connect, a conferencing system with a big advert button in the middle of the PDF oriented menu.

Kevin Lynch, previously with Macromedia, is Adobe vice president of product marketing for the Knowledge Worker Business Unit (KWBU) with responsibility for Acrobat and the Flash Media Server. He recently told Kurt Foss - "One of my visions at Macromedia has always been about the combination of asynchronous and synchronous communication. At Macromedia, with Breeze we were heavily involved with the synchronous real time—including the use of persistent meeting rooms. We also realized people want to get information that isn't always in real time. The document format from Acrobat is a perfect fit for that vision. Now we really have documents and people."

So the Breeze approach - a mix of chat, video and Powerpoint - is seen as closer to people than hard copy documents. Previously Adobe has not really promoted the PDF as slideshow option and the collaboration features have required really expensive server support. Acrobat Professional 7 did allow comments to be enabled in a PDF but effectively this was a secret. Flash now is the top priority for collaboration and it looks as if this will be promoted.

The presentation to the Acrobat Users did advertise a section on JDF but this did not happen. All the features are for knowledge workers - combining documents, exchanging comments, making sure text has been deleted (radaction), especially useful for the legal market.

What strikes me is that print is not really in there as a priority or even a mention in the background. More on this later after a look at a recent 'zeitgeist' article in Image Reports. This looks at how to compare Quark and InDesign, one of the big questions of the day. The picture that comes over of the approach to budgets and resources in pre-press or pre-media is a bit disturbing. Apparently many large users known to the editors of Image Reports are still using Xpress 4, introduced in 1998. Recent Mac operating systems may require new equipment. However "old Mac 9 Macs die eventually so even the most skinflint publishers are finally having to upgrade."

The article has a fairly relaxed acceptance of the current state of pre-press integration with data. "Xpress 7 introduces powerful XML/JDF based collaboration support though it is too early to see if real world users will actually take advantage of it." The option of using Job Jackets to ensure customers create PDF as required is explained but on InDesign there is no mention of the Acrobat features to initiate a JDF file.

Two problems. Pre-press is not rushing into new technology. Maybe if designers want to start up a JDF intent file they will form an orderly queue and make a joint request. Secondly Adobe are not going to promote the JDF aspects in Acrobat if they can better spend their time reaching knowledge workers directly. Maybe knowledge workers need print occasionally and would like to specify their requirements, but this has been allocated to a different marketing budget.

Although I am still in shock, the conclusion I'm reaching is that it is time again for people in print to have a close look at what Adobe is doing. The Breeze idea may not work. After the free trials it looks as if a hosted service could cost more than a cable movie subscription for each user. Google Groups is free. But it could be a sound idea to use video and speech as well as text and graphics.

In the same issue of Image Reports Gee Ranasinha writes about AJAX on the web, based on XML and other strange stuff. People wanting to communicate have many options so print may need to move a bit faster on JDF etc. to be part of the mix.

Which was the better record label, Motown or Atlantic?