Free up prepress by automating

Picture a typical pile of dockets at the start of the day. Someone looks through them and decides where to start, prioritizes them, and then puts them back in the pile. Of course there is often a second person who shuffles through them again after that. The point is that the pile often sits somewhere waiting.

What if all the files could be examined automatically? Routine files could be opened, checked and PDF’d, and files requiring work could be sent to an Operator to manually make the necessary fixes. The PDFs created by Automation will require only a visual check before proofing or plating and the pile of dockets is now moving around the shop instead of sitting.

Now, what if Prepress operators had a tool that could easily put together workflows based on their own knowledge and experience in their environment? They could create automated workflows by Customer or by Job type. They could set jobs up to wait in a queue and run overnight if they take up valuable RIP time or Proof time. They could use FTP tools and email tools to automatically upload, download, and provide email notifications to customers and CSRs.

These tools aren’t imaginary, they’re real. And you don’t need to know anything about scripting to use workflow automation software. There are scripts available that can be used right out of the box. Workflow software uses built in Configurators that talk to the products that we want to automate. They have user friendly pop-up menus allowing the choice to be made based on existing setups in the workflow—such as a list of PDF distiller settings from Acrobat Distiller.

Create Workflows that Automate Quark 7 and Creative Suites 3 Together

Workflow software allows you to put a packaged file in a workflow, use the fonts in the package, update the links in the package and create a PDF using your own PDF export settings. If you prefer, you can create a Postscript file with your own Print settings and add Acrobat Distiller to the flow and produce the PDF with your settings that way.

The newest version of FullSWITCH and PowerSWITCH from Gradual Software has been released with many new features. The products were already configured to automatically save files using Photoshop CS3, Indesign CS3, Illustrator CS3, and Acrobat Professional 8. This latest version allows automatic saving of Postscript files from Quark 7 as well.

Use these items in conjunction with other Configurators such as Stuffit Deluxe, Acrobat Distiller, PitStop Server, and Quite Imposing Hot to make a complete automated workflow for all your routine jobs. The product ships with built in configurators for over 25 different prepress products. The scripting API gives you the capabiltity to create your own for a scriptable product running in your shop.

For custom workflows, PowerSWITCH has an updated scripting API that allows you to create workflows for your own custom plugins for the product. It also has strengthened its original scripting capabilities that included support and integration of XML, JDF and XMP along with EXIF and IPTC data allowing a new feature, Variables, to update embedded data.

The new interface has added a dashboard so you can see the processes that are currently running and pinpoint bottlenecks and problem applications in your own setups. You can also view multiple flows running at once.

The Client is a powerful tool supplied with PowerSWITCH. You can use it to create your own XML or JDF data when submitting files via CD/DVD or folder. The data follows the job through to the end of the flow and can be exported into the job folder for pickup later. The Client can also remotely view the jobs in progress on the server and any log messages pertaining to their jobs.

A Prepress Department that frees up operators to work on the time consuming jobs while the routine jobs run through on their own can be yours. It is something that could be implemented now using existing software in your shop and automation software that pulls it all together. Automating also presents the opportunity for updating skills of operators and maybe getting their feet wet with scripting, XML, JDF, and XMP metadata.

Gradual Software is at www.gradual.com , where you can can download a free trial of FullSWITCH or PowerSWITCH.

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