Switch 11: new release of automation platform

Switch 11 was released in March and has changed its approach to automation. Instead of the all-in-one setup of PowerSwitch you are now able to put together your own custom platform by adding only the modules you need.

A recent project in Switch 11 uses the configurator module added to the Switch Core Engine. This includes all the plug-ins available to Switch. For this particular project Applescript was used to communicate with QuarkXpress. The task required that logos be updated in files and that all missing and modified images be updated. The Switch API has applescript commands that work together with the Quark Applescript commands to change, update and save quark files. Using Applescript delivered the capability to sort files based on text found in the documents. Quark files were sorted into folders before creating postscript and distilling using the Quark Postscript and Adobe Distiller plug-ins.

The folder hierarchy function is built in to the Core Engine of Switch. Folders can be created and files moved back to their server, adding the new information pulled from the Quark files. This project was a combination of old and new. Switch still continues to surprise with its flexibility.

The Switch Core Engine can be described as a powerful tool that performs the heavy lifting: ftp, file sorting, copying, duplicating, zip, unzip, group, ungroup, PDF merge and split, email, file renaming, injecting and folder creation while archiving. In a previous life the Core Engine was called LightSwitch.

The addition of the Configurator module will add plugins for: Choices of Proofing, Imposition and Preflight, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Distiller, Quark, CLI, DAM, HP VDP and Press, Axaio Products, Microsoft Word, Color Management, Markzware, EFI XF, Elvis and WoodWing. The plug-ins provided can be controlled using javascript, applescript or other built in properties provided by the plug-in. The additions of these turned LightSwitch into FullSwitch and took a powerful tool and made it dynamic.

The menu of available modules can customize the automation platform for any purpose; add modules only as needed. Starting small helps an automation system improve gradually and prove its worth without a large upfront investment.

Start with a Metadata module that enables the program to pass information about a file to its plug in. Digital Asset Management, Sorting files, Variable Data, XMP data in Photoshop documents and XML from online systems are all given strength and flexibility from the Metadata module.

The Database module guides non-programmers to pick up information and even update information as they gain experience. Online orders make the production database indispensable. Automatically updated information is a must for streamlined manufacturing. Another hint: the database module can allow you to print or email daily reports automatically to keep everyone up to date.

The Switch Client module once required a PowerSwitch installation. It can now be added as a stand-alone module. The Switch Client runs on iPad, Mac or PC and can be used to submit or as a checkpoint into Switch flows. The Switch Client can be set up for proofing, redirecting, and annotating PDFs. The module comes with 5 licenses allowing simultaneous access to Switch and additional clients can be purchased.

Switch Web Services Module enables web portals to integrate and drive Switch. It allows customers to submit files straight from your website. Customers can track and approve jobs directly in Switch from your company website.

Switch Proxy gives IT departments and customers peace of mind. The proxy server provides network security and business continuity. Even when the server is being maintained or updated, clients can always deliver data to the production server.

The Performance module boosts the performance of the Switch Core Engine allowing multiple processors and high amounts of RAM to extend the number of simultaneous processes being executed. The Switch Core Engine does the heavy lifting and can still be made more powerful by the addition of this module.

The project that was recently developed on Switch 11 used Quark 7.5 to save legacy files on a Mac platform. The applescripts were simple and the realization that old files sitting on a server could be given new life quickly and easily using a newly released product renewed my already strong faith in the Switch product. Starting with one or two modules with a project in mind will instantly reward you with the benefit of an automated task as well as a speedy return on investment. Information on Switch 11 is available at www.enfocus.com and third party plug-in information at www.crossroads-world.com.