Standardize with PrintTalk

standardizing with printtalkIf you are working with developers to implement online systems for job delivery and e-commerce, make sure you are leading them in the right direction. Many storefront developers have prepackaged design systems on the front end and a management system on the back end. They know little about the print manufacturing process and existing standards, and this creates a hurdle for print providers. Know what your standards are and ask for them.

Most printers will be receiving jobs from several different Web portals and FTP sites fed by a number of systems designed by a number of Web developers. XML is the means of transporting data for incoming jobs so we must have Web developers use one single standard for that XML when it comes to print manufacturing. This standard is called PrintTalk.

PrintTalk has been around for 10 years and the latest version 1.3 was published in March 2008. My first attempt at researching PrintTalk’s popularity was to google “JDF PrintTalk.” In doing this, I found a LinkedIn question asked in April 2010: “Does anyone have any experience or exposure working with PrintTalk?”

The answer was: “Never heard of it!” The only new information showing up in my search was for Ryerson University’s JDF day on June 17, 2010, so I guess we better get the word out to benefit from this standard.

The only way this standard will get used is if we request our Web developers to implement it. Don’t forget to pass along this link: www.cip4.org/documents/printtalk/ so they can download the schema and a PDF of its implementation.

This description was taken from the PrintTalk website (www.printtalk.org):

PrintTalk is an XML standard that provides a single format for Print Providers to collaboratively communicate Business Transactions and specifications of Print Product both with their Print Buyers and among themselves. Print industry professionals from a wide range of organizations contributed to the design of PrintTalk. Such organizations include eCommerce companies, print Business Management Systems, Print Providers, and print equipment manufactures.

PrintTalk is a community formed by print management systems and e-commerce companies to define a “best practice” common and open communications interface between their products. The founding members who contributed were Avanti Computer Systems, Cirqit.com, Collabria, Inc., Graphic Arts IT, GraphiTech Computer Systems, httprint, Impresse, MediaFlex, MicroInk, Noosh, Inc., Pace Systems, Parsec Corporation, Press-tige Software, Printable.com, printChannel.com, Printers Software, Inc., Profit Control Systems, Inc., Streamline Solutions and Wam!Net. If you are already running software from any of these suppliers, you will benefit in standardizing all of your online work using PrintTalk.

The data is structured as objects. For example, as Quotes, Purchase Orders, Order Status, Proof Approval, Invoices and Returns. It is designed to place e-commerce data, storefront data and any other online orders for print manufacturing in a JDF file inside a PrintTalk wrapper. From here, the data can move onto various parts of a JDF workflow as well as adding data into your accounting system all with the same integration. More automation means faster input and reduced errors.

The PrintTalk standard can also be used by automation tools like PowerSWITCH, which handles import and export of XML and JDF. One script can pass information into an SQL database while another triggers entry into the preflight system and so on. PrintTalk JDF is the standard to handle all of our print manufacturing data. It is up to print providers to inform our Web and e-commerce developers that this is the standard to maintain for our storefronts and portals.

For more information on JDF and PrintTalk check out www.ryersonjdf.eventbrite.com/ to sign up for the JDF Education Event, June 17, 2010.

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