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The merger involving Adobe Systems and Aldus, announced a few days prior to the opening of the 1994 Seybold Seminars in Boston on March 22, helped to kick off the event with a flurry.
As expected, the issue of workflow permeated nearly all aspects of the Seminars and also was a dominant force on the show floor.
The merger -- or is it? Regarding the Adobe-Aldus merger, which looks more like an acquisition by Adobe than a merger, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke of Adobe shared the stage with Paul Brainerd of Aldus to announce that most of the two companies' products will be continued, at least for the time being, and that most offices will stay where they are.
The company will be run by Warnock and Geschke, with Brainerd sticking to his previously announced plan to step down as president. The name for the combined company hasn't been determined.
As we reported in the latest issue of The Seybold Report on Desktop Publishing and in a handout distributed at the Seminars, under the terms of the deal, which must be approved by both companies' shareholders, Adobe will exchange 1.15 shares of its stock for every Aldus share, giving the deal a value of $525 million.
Software tools for managing, monitoring and tracking the status of editorial and production workflow (through prepress and output) emerged as key topics.
Why, all of a sudden, is workflow so important? In part, it is because we have successfully automated the process of creating compound documents or complex individual pages replete with color images, computer-generated and scanned graphics, tables, equations, tints and the like. Now it is time to address automation, etc., in other areas we have neglected.
In the case of editorial workflow, we need to unite the islands of productivity and give those creating content more efficient tools for sharing information during the creation, review and revision cycle, as well as for managing content and, hopefully, reusing and recombining it with new elements in new products and delivery formats.
In the case of the prepress and production functions through output, we again see a series of related processes now addressed with individual tools that can be automated and streamlined for more automatic processing and verification through a sequential workflow.
Agfa's approach. As Agfa sees it, the key problem is the growing number of standalone but open-architecture tools that address the varying processes through which individual jobs pass in a prepress production workflow. There is also an expanding line of file and print servers from various suppliers where many of these prepress tools function. Integrating these tools -- applications and file or print server environments -- can result in serious bottlenecks.
Different kinds of jobs have to pass through different kinds of processing steps, so workflows must be designed for flexibility. Creators sometimes have to make decisions whether or not they are familiar with complex output options. Software from different suppliers is often incompatible or requires frequent file format conversions.
These problems place serious limitations on productivity and flexibility and can increase user training requirements.
In addressing PostScript production environments, including color prepress shops, service bureaus and commercial printers, Agfa's approach is to integrate various software modules into a cooperative multivendor environment on a powerful server. Included are the tools with which the user can specify relevant job parameters without having to be an expert in color separation, trapping or screening. Once the job is passed to the server, the workflow is dynamically optimized.
Agfa's server project, called the Modular Prepress Server Specification (MPRSS), provides an open architecture under which users can select and integrate the prepress software modules most appropriate for their applications and workflow. Within the MPRSS framework, a single user interface controls …