This blog will continue as IPEX 2002 even though 2010 is not far away. It is mostly about the UK, including the world of books and newspapers. The drupa2008 blog is more about global technology developments. This may turn out to be confusing but I have decided to avoid starting another blog when possible. More cross reference may help. There may be shifting opinions and quite a lot off topic, but coherence may appear in a later version.
This is a blog so it seems ok to borrow material from other sources and then add a comment. This week in Printweek Andrew Tribute has suggested that print companies may switch to Open Source Software and avoid the upgrade costs from Adobe and Microsoft. He mentions Scribus, as well as Xclamation and Passeportout. It is a significant event that Printweek can publish such an opinion. Perhaps Adobe is not seen as being central to the print industry as was once the case. I cannot find a stand booked at IPEX for example. Since buying Macromedia the promotion energy has been around Flash, what I call Adobe (FLSH). this move away from Adobe Classic could suggest that the products around Postscript and PDF are becoming commoditised or easily replicated. So Andrew Tribute is probably right to claim that most of page layout and PDF workflow could be managed with Open Source Software.
However, what I also think is that there is an implication for publishing that may be less comforting for the printing industry. Andrew Tribute wrote for WhatTheyThink in November 2008 about the E-Reader such as from Amazon or Sony - "I’m afraid at this time I am hardly impressed with these e-readers. I think the success they are having is more for the computer geek area where people want the latest technology." A PDF is available from Attributes download page. The Sony Reader has support for the ePUB format, also supported by many publishers and the Adobe Digital Editions Reader. A surprising development has been the scale of downloads of the Stanza Reader for i-Phone and i-Pod, much larger numbers than sales of the Kindle. So the ePUB format is already easy to access for a fairly large audience. It is based on open standards, starting with XHTML. Andrew Tribute observes that "Today there is awide availability of expert low-cost programmers who have skills to customise OSS and build it into an integrated network. (By the way, "low-cost" programmers relates to the total cost of the project compared to some license fees, open source supporters do charge a reasonable rate for a day's work) Main point, starting with an Open Document in Open Office, a print ready PDF is not the only option.
I think the print industry should also be more public in support for the Job Definition Format (JDF) another XML-friendly set of standards. Sean Smyth earlier reported in Printweek on Hunkeler Innovation that "I did not hear the word JDF in two days". JDF is not too technical to explain in general terms. Perhaps "web-to-print" is more exciting and the JDF version can come later in the flow. But there are going to be some fast publishing methods online. Print needs a workflow that compares, and ways to present it.