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  • DesignMerge and XMPie

    Hi,

    My bosses have asked me and a co-worker to review the software packages DesignMerge and XMPie and decide which one to purchase. We will be printing primarily to a Creo Spire RIP in front of a DocuColor 6060 but will also be doing some black and white printing also -- though I don't know to what system as we are in the process of replacing a Docutech 135 that is aging out (the only thing we could send to it is postscript which might also be the case with a replacement). We will be looking at the InDesign version of both packages.

    What I am seeing is that both packages are very similar... but the DesignMerge package is MUCH cheaper that uDirect Personal Effect or Professional (uDirect standard is not an option here). I am also concerned about convenience, availability and intelligence of tech support -- which is probably more important than price.

    I would love to hear from some USERS of these software packages -- what they love and hate, what sorts of projects they are doing, any recommendations. I would really prefer NOT to have this thread answered by sales people or vendors -- just folks "in the trenches" like me.

    Any comments will help. Thanks for your time.

    Judy Jordan

  • #2
    Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

    HI Judy, I don't use either of them but I do use Fusion Pro Desktop, {color:#999999}www.printable.com{color} and it works very well. I guess the new version even supports drop shadows and text on curves (gotta upgrade). I figured to most I'd have to loose was $500.00 if I didn't like it, but I'd do it again.

    We are printing to a Fiery EX8000AP RIP in front of a DocuColor 8000AP, I output everything as PPML without a hitch, but you have the option of VIPP, PDF, PostScript, VDX, JLYT, Single and Multi file VPS plus a few more. The plug in for InDesign works well, you set up your text/graphic placeholders in InDesign and export to Acrobat where you add all the VDP elements. It has an Imposition tool that is quite slick too.

    Good Luck

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

      have been using designmerge for a couple years and think that it is a great product for our needs. we looked at all the options and found that the designmerge software was easy to learn and the support is awesome. we run postcards, letters, promotional materials the list goes on and on. we run thousands of pieces per week with no headaches.

      We evaluated all of the other big name products and found that the designmerge was the software that fits our needs and for the price it was a no brainer for us (it paid for itself within the first month we purchased). they offer designmerge for quark and indesign for mac or windows, so we felt that left our options open as we scaled the vdp business up. we are running efi rip and xerox equipment. i hope this helps with your decision.

      michael h.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

        We reviewed XMPie a while ago, and WOW is that awesome. But so was the price...

        We already had Designmerge, and management chose to upgrade to the next version rather than move to XMPie.



        Well, fast forward 2 versions of Quark and InDesign, and WAY more headaches !

        We are setting up a review of Fusion Pro for next week.



        Design merge is not all that it says that it is, it has many bugs with the Postscripting.

        We do not use the PPML yet, and that means that we make a PDF of each job, with several thousand pages, it takes a very long time. Does not play well with working in other applications while it's merging. Tech support is available through phone and email though and they have been helpful, but only after you FTP them your files and they test it on their system.

        We don't usually have that kind of time to wait around though..



        We'll see what Fusion has to say, but I really wish they would have gone to XMPie way back when....

        Fusion does look really slick though.



        I did a post on a similar setup back when this was Prepress Forums, you could search the archives there too

        But I had a salesshark answer my posts too.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

          TequilaJane,

          I just wanted to jump in here to be sure that DesignMerge is adequately represented. Full disclosure to the forum - I work for Meadows Publishing Solutions, the developer of DesignMerge Pro.

          Here are a few important points to consider:

          1. First, you may want to consider checking out the InDesign CS2-CS3 versions of DesignMerge. These versions utilize our new printing architecture and offer dramatic performance improvements for PPML. We will be offering several new output formats in the coming months, and all the changes are being migrated back to the QuarkXPress version as well.

          2. Creating PDF's of every single page for variable, as you described, is probably the slowest way to run your VDP jobs. Of course, if you need individual PDF files, then there is no other way to do it. On the other hand, if it is VDP output you are concerned with, there are many print options in DesignMerge to improve the print speeds of variable jobs. If you are having performance issues, please call for assistance on how to improve your performance as we would be more than happy to assist you.

          3. As far as the technical support of the software, I think that we go above and beyond to help our customers with questions, and in fact people generally rave about our support. A real person always answers the phone, a DesignMerge expert will take your call immediately, if available, and our e-mail support is very prompt as well. Of course, there are instances where we ask for files from our customers, but this is certainly not a requirement. If we can assist you over the phone, we will, but for complex issues that we cannot easily reproduce, sometimes there is no other option than to work with the customer documents. Luckily DesignMerge makes it easy to send the setup information because it is always stored with the document.

          If there is anything that we can do to assist you further, please call me!

          Thanks,
          Greg Bane
          DesignMerge Channel Manager

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

            Judy,

            I urge you not to base your purchasing decision solely on price, but to evaluate both products on the merit of their functionality and how they can meet the requirements of your customers and business needs.

            I've just completed an evaluation on DesignMerge which you might find useful. You can review it at [http://www.veedeepee.com/2008/02/designmerge_evaluation.html|http://www.veedeepee.com/2008/02/des...aluation.html]

            Regards,

            Eliot

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

              Do you still have that linked? I cannot find it...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                I second the abvoe statement "don't decide on price". You'll make up the difference within the first two months you use the product.

                I use both CREO Darwin (phenominal) and XMPie (they do great marketing, but not ready for the big time, IMHO).

                Both CREO Darwin and XMPie are the same price, yet Creo's solution is lightyears ahead in technical capabilities, speed, and I find it much more intuitive and flexible for volume work.

                With these things said... I want to throw a disclaimer out there...

                I have never heard about this **new version** of FusionPro -- therefore, my advice above is not relative to that solution. Had I known, I would have snapped a copy immediately - you have the best price-point in the industry and I congratulate you on that -- if you offered a competitive product, I'd give it a try ASAP. I visited the site, but I do not see anything about a InDesign Plug-In version (I see the optional plug-ins for the PDF imposition version, but this will not work for the majority of our needs).

                To the FusionPro rep -- where can I learn more about the InDesign-specific version?

                Also to the FusionPro rep -- Can you also answer these questions:
                (1) Which VDP formats do you support? PPML 1.5 & 2.1, CREO VPS as well? Do you offer embedded resources in your PPML files, or just outputting to a separate .res file?

                (2) Do you offer "step and repeat" functionality with "cut and stack" ordering?

                (3) Do you support document tagging (one group of documents tagged as a single document where the output printer knows to collate as a group)?

                (4) Do yo also allow "Dynamic Media Selection" where we instruct the printer to choose a specific tray for each page?

                (5) Finally, in XMPie, in your PDF version, how do you handle re-flowing paragraphs of text with H&J. For example, if I insert a full paragraph with a name merged-in, the paragraph will word-wrap, etc -- as the name is made longer. If we cannot use InDesign to setup our merging, I'm worried about how we would do text-flowing, while still maintaining the file control of H&J that InDesign allows.

                Thank you in advance,
                WPB

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                  Hi McKenzie,

                  Disclosure: I work for DesignMerge - Meadows Publishing Solutions.

                  I think that you might have our product DesignMerge confused with a FusionPro product. Different company different software.

                  The most important advantage is that the DesignMerge software can utilize the two most powerful and popular composition engines in the world, QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. All of the composition features that you have grown accustomed to are fully supported by DesignMerge. Every aspect of the composition process, including kerning and letterspacing, hyphenation and justification, runarounds, multi-page composition, styling, tables, etc. are all available for you to use. You just take an existing document, and use DesignMerge to "Make It Variable". Your variable output will look just like you did File/Print for each individual data record.

                  If you would like to see for yourself, please visit:

                  www.designmerge.com

                  Thank you,
                  Greg Bane
                  DesignMerge Channel Manager
                  Meadows Publishing Solutions
                  1305 Remington Rd., Suite G
                  Schaumburg, IL 60173

                  (888) 983-6746 (toll-free sales, U.S. & Canada)
                  (847) 882-8202 (main office)
                  (847) 882-9494 (fax)

                  gbane@meadowsps.com
                  www.meadowsps.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                    > {quote:title=wpb wrote:}{quote}
                    >
                    > To the FusionPro rep -- where can I learn more about the InDesign-specific version?

                    I believe its a plugin to In-Design to export FusionPro Templates.

                    >
                    > Also to the FusionPro rep -- Can you also answer these questions:
                    > (1) Which VDP formats do you support? PPML 1.5 & 2.1, CREO VPS as well? Do you offer embedded resources in your PPML files, or just outputting to a separate .res file?
                    >

                    PDF, PS, PPML, JLYT, HP PPML, VDX, VPS, VIPP, and Digimaster PS

                    I believe you can embed resource in PPML. There are a ton of output settings--more than I can recall off hand.


                    > (2) Do you offer "step and repeat" functionality with "cut and stack" ordering?

                    FPImpost supports these together. Also it support infinite stack now.

                    >
                    > (3) Do you support document tagging (one group of documents tagged as a single document where the output printer knows to collate as a group)?

                    Only with Postscript and use of setmedia commands. Subscribe to the FusionPro user form to get more info on this.

                    >
                    > (4) Do yo also allow "Dynamic Media Selection" where we instruct the printer to choose a specific tray for each page?

                    Yes but same as above, only with setmedia commands.

                    >
                    > (5) Finally, in XMPie, in your PDF version, how do you handle re-flowing paragraphs of text with H&J. For example, if I insert a full paragraph with a name merged-in, the paragraph will word-wrap, etc -- as the name is made longer. If we cannot use InDesign to setup our merging, I'm worried about how we would do text-flowing, while still maintaining the file control of H&J that InDesign allows.

                    The typesetting features are more extensive with FusionPro for variable text. Flowing to frames works, but you will have try and see what your asking.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                      Hey Judy,

                      I am actively using all manner of variants of XMPie technology with clients and have been doing so in Europe since the products inception - it has always lived up to purpose and been relatively problem free whilst processing *massive* volumes of print work outputting to all manner of devices. Ok, the full server version is not cheap by any sway of the imagination, but having said that what are your requirements? Most people think then need it all when certainly when starting out they can make do with a much smaller setup on a powerful desktop and just do some more manual processing.

                      Assess your requirements properly and fully - then go to the market with your needs. XMPie is a powerful suite of software and made by some really nice folk, so sure, it should certainly be up for your evaluation and I would recommended it any day of the week.

                      If you want some totally independent advice about XMPie, or to hear from other XMPie users on a global stage, then head over to my google group at:

                      http://groups.google.com/group/xmpie-users

                      Its free, independent and full of very talented people.

                      Hope that helps

                      Tim Perrett
                      print application architect

                      PS: I am totally independent and do not work for XMPie, I just love there products.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                        Tim,
                        That's great that you're happy with XMPie, but have you ever used Darwin? I might think XMPie was just fine had I not used Darwin. I think the InDesign component is a bit easier in XMPie, but Darwin's fundamental technology is so much better, in my opinion.

                        As far as using XMPie on the server-level, are you talking about doing "Dynamic Print" remotely on a server, or are you talking about using the server as a cross-media tool? I was not aware that the "Dynamic Print" feature could be offloaded to a server and that would certainly help. However, for the extra cost of the "server" version, and the fact that I can do native ODBC so quickly and easily through Darwin, and for it's speed and more reliable output (at least when going to my C500 via Fiery), not to mention the autonomous design -- it's all just a better thought-out solution, IMHO. That's no slam against the "people" at XMPie, they seem to be great -- and very good support.

                        On the ODBC mention above, I just don't get why this is not included in uDesign -- it'd be so much easier, and it's not like it's any more difficult to code than a flat-file import routine.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                          {quote:title=wpb wrote:}
                          > That's great that you're happy with XMPie, but have you ever used Darwin? I might think XMPie was just fine had I not used Darwin. I think the InDesign component is a bit easier in XMPie, but Darwin's fundamental technology is so much better, in my opinion.
                          {quote}

                          I haven't used Darwin for a long time so cant really comment on its sate of play now-a-days

                          {quote:title=wpb wrote:}
                          > As far as using XMPie on the server-level, are you talking about doing "Dynamic Print" remotely on a server, or are you talking about using the server as a cross-media tool? I was not aware that the "Dynamic Print" feature could be offloaded to a server and that would certainly help.
                          {quote}

                          Its not "dynamic print on a server" - its a multi-instance InDesign server, which is a seriously different proposition than the desktop tools. Originally, there were no desktop tools, they only evolved over time and to make the product available for entry level users. The core product has always been there server tools, and always will be.

                          {quote:title=wpb wrote:}
                          However, for the extra cost of the "server" version, and the fact that I can do native ODBC so quickly and easily through Darwin, and for it's speed and more reliable output (at least when going to my C500 via Fiery), not to mention the autonomous design -- it's all just a better thought-out solution, IMHO. That's no slam against the "people" at XMPie, they seem to be great -- and very good support.
                          {quote}

                          Sure, there is a cost difference, but again, its a different tool - you just cant compare any kind of desktop tool with a server based tool.

                          {quote:title=wpb wrote:}
                          > On the ODBC mention above, I just don't get why this is not included in uDesign -- it'd be so much easier, and it's not like it's any more difficult to code than a flat-file import routine.
                          {quote}

                          It can be included - you just have to buy the correct type of product! Its not included on the entry level 2K solution because that is targeted at a very specific market/users - if you went for "uDirect premier" then sure, you can do what you say.

                          As a side note, the XMPie architecture is built around OLEDB which is significantly faster than ODBC. You can of course use ODBC, but there is rarely any point as OLEDB is so much faster.

                          Hope that helps

                          Tim Perrett
                          print application architect

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                            Hi Folks,

                            The last couple of posts have been out of my league (but, hopefully, not
                            forever) -- we are just looking at the lowest end version of XMPie and
                            DesignMerge is mostly for print from what I can see. And, that is where we
                            need to start. I was originally told to go out and find a solution to
                            recommend and now the project has been put on hold -- I'm not really sure
                            why. It's a bit frustrating. C'est la vie, though.

                            Tim, I am already on the google list for XMPie and even though most of it
                            is far above my level of expertise, I enjoy reading about it. I am
                            disappointed that my job has not called for me to deal with the web enough
                            to encourage my bosses to invest in some training but, perhaps that will
                            come. In the past (before I hit 50) I would have stayed up till 1 am nights
                            and learned it on my own but, for some reason, I seem to need to go to bed
                            earlier now :-). Perhaps it will be the learning challenge for my 5th
                            decade -- and, a positive note, as long as I am learning and developing, I
                            stay energized about what I do for a living -- and not too many of my
                            friends can say that -- they are mostly just counting days to retirement.

                            Judy
                            --


                            -
                            Sir Speedy Printing
                            1011 Burke Street * Winston-Salem, NC 27101
                            (336) 722-4109 * FAX (336) 722-5446
                            mailto:judyj@sirspeedywinston-salem.com
                            http://www.sirspeedywinston-salem.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: DesignMerge and XMPie

                              Hi Judy,

                              While I am a bit of a PDF techie, I was brand new to XMPie before i used it - I consult with (Magicomm) - They are all are very happy with both XMPie and the connections to Adobe InDesign.

                              As both Rick Littrell (CMO) and myself (PDF Dweeby person) are over 50 - what can I say, if we can make it work, I think normal people will all of their brains cells can (most people who know me know that most of mine have gone missing long ago).

                              One of the really nice things Magicomm offers (that you might want to look into Judy) is their Easy 1-2-1 program.

                              - in a nutshell, for you, this would be an opportunity to try it before you buy it

                              - that is, have an opportunity to work through the process with one of your customers and 'learn' how to do this yourself

                              - this is what that program is all about, teaching you what you need to know and acquire to design and produce a personalized Direct mail project.

                              http://www.magicomm.biz/easy121.phtml

                              It is one thing for the folks from XMPie (or any other vendor) to walk in set up the system and show you how it works - you know, make a variable job jump out of your digital printing system....

                              It is a fish of a different color (excuse the pun) to grasp all the complex aspects of developing AND delivering a successful Direct mail campaign.

                              I can't speak to DesignMerge - i am sure it is a fine product, as Meadows is a great company with rock solid solutions.

                              Reading the post from McKenzie, I gather WMS (not sure which WMS, many hits on Google) requires a high level of sophistication as he is clearly a poweruser.

                              Rest assured that both XMPie and DeisgnMerge - and certainly Darwin - have been doing some very clever things for a long while and that this is a 'mature' technology - that is, nearly everyone is far past version 1 where things are very buggy and hard to use.

                              --- another system I see has not been mentioned is MindFire.

                              In summary -- I can say I worked with Photoshop to build the fun XMPie uImage stuff - I have designed InDesign files as the tempate - and have created a boat load of PostCards.

                              Fell free to call me if you like - and here is a link of some low res jpegs of work that was done using XMPie at Magicomm;

                              http://picasaweb.google.ca/michaelej...UImageExamples

                              Each image in my Picasa album has some details that can be examined if you just find the magnifying glass on the upper right - you will see this is a pretty complex project, with all sorts of variable parts.

                              Anyway, hope this helps !

                              Michael Jahn
                              PDF Evangelist
                              michaelejahn@gmail.com
                              805 527 8130
                              Michael Jahn - Slightly used PDF Evangelist
                              Simi Valley California

                              Comment

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