JDF interface expands
in packaging workflows
While talking about prepress matters, it’s worth considering that while PDF may be an accepted standard exchange format, JDF (Job Definition Format) is the concept that really brings disparate production processes together. Some call it a form of electronic job ticketing, but it is far more than that.
It was defined by CIP4, a consortium of graphic industries members that owns the intellectual property rights (www.cip4.org). Closely allied is the Networked Graphic Production organization, whose 36 partners are members of CIP4. It says it has achieved a major milestone in defining the use of key components of JDF. Each of the NGP partners’ products can communicate with one another in a series of plug-and-play operations.
JDF is slowly appearing in packaging-related workflows from companies like Agfa, Artwork Systems, Creo (an NGP partner), Esko Graphics and others. As a communications facility between applications, JDF collects all sequences and parameters of the workflow. It can also include further layers of data by integrating management information systems.
NGP has published five documents that define two-way integration involving MIS, prepress systems, press consoles/systems, postpress and production planning software. Posted on the NGP website www.ngppartners.org, they show how two partnering vendors can each develop JDF structures into their products to simplify integration. NGP says the documents do not compete with the original CIP4 committee’s work on defining JDF.
“We have focused on certain criteria as a model of future integrations between partners,” said Bob Bierwagen, chairman of the NGP development working group. “We feel that by making these very detailed documents public, we can help the entire industry see how vendor-to-vendor integrations can be, and are being, achieved by the NGP partnership. In addition, since all our partners are CIP4 members, we can provide direct feedback and real-world integration experience to the CIP4 working groups, who are focused on creating the actual JDF specification.”