Is JDF the Future of Catalog Print Production?
The printing and publishing industry’s transformation into a computer-integrated manufacturing platform continues unabated.
“The artificial intelligence that’s being incorporated into technology reduces makeready times, reproduces color consistently and provides feedback on performance — ensuring the finished product is of the highest quality,” says George Ryan, executive vice president and COO of the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF).
The artificial intelligence communication protocol Ryan is referring to is known as the Job Definition Format (JDF). And it’s a term you are sure to hear more about in the future.
What is JDF?
JDF is based on XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a standard in and of itself, which dictates the electronic tagging of elements within a document.
JDF is the brainchild of CIP4, the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress, a group comprised of a worldwide roster of print industry professionals responsible for rolling out the standard. Although vendors largely contribute to CIP4, JDF is an open-systems, vendor- and platform-neutral, data format.
JDF is intended to make for a more efficient and cost-effective printing process. How can it perform such a feat? By marrying and automating the once-disparate segments of the client/printer relationship: the content workflow and the business information workflow.
You can think of JDF as fundamentally an electronic job ticket that can contain as much or as little information about the print job as the cataloger and printer need. The JDF file may include specific information such as how the digital file was prepared, verified and normalized, and where in the imposition it should fall — all digital directives that automatically will drive the job through the rest of the printing course.
According to Frank Romano, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, JDF simply is the “macro-data about your job. … It’s another file that says the job is going to go on this type of press, on a certain type of paper; it’s going to require these sorts of resources. … [The JDF information] is going to control the entire printing process automatically.”