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JDF for beginners

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  • JDF for beginners

    I write our MIS system in FileMaker - Filemaker can export XML - how do I link it into a pre press workflow (Kodak) or Heidelberg presses and bindery

  • #2
    Re: JDF for beginners

    I don't think it's as easy as you first anticipate. The XML in JDF is quite complex and you would need a XSLT to convert Filemakers default output XML into something structured to JDF conventions. This XSLT would be worth it's weight in gold and to write it would take a long time. Whether anyone out there has created such an XSLT, I don't know. The more pertinent question if they have is would they make it available or want remunerating for it and if so – at what price.
    I contemplated looking at this (we also use Filemaker/Prinergy) but in order to start, I would at least need the Synapse Link and it comes in varying strengths with increasing prices. To write JDFs into a hot folder and have Prinergy process the data would require a substantial investment for something that is just an idea. There would be no JMF compatibility I don't think, so you wouldn't be able to share the information each system has on a real time basis. The cost and effort of doing it just to be able to generate a Prinergy job from Filemaker data seemed too much.


    • #3
      Re: JDF for beginners

      Thanks for reply - I will keep in touch - I have a meeting with the (UK) BPIF technical standards committee in two weeks and will bring it up - I think we need to get involved in CIP4 and make the interface user friendly - I doubt whether we are alone in having our own MIS system.



      • #4
        Re: JDF for beginners

        Hi Peter

        We are not full members of the BPIF, so I cant get involved with the commitee n(unless there is another way).

        We are currenty in discussions with Iteba and Kodak and we expect to move forward very soon. Tharstens are holding a Openday on the 31st January at Watford (Kodak HQ). I will be there to see how MIS and prinergy can work together, should be very interesting.

        Maybe see you there.



        • #5
          Re: JDF for beginners

          Hi Dan

          I am not sure whether Abdul (from Tharstens) will be up to it - but as you say I should be there



          • #6
            Re: JDF for beginners

            Hi Peter,

            Any news about the January meeting? As Alan pointed out, JDF integration into a home-grown MIS is probably not the sort of thing you'd want to undertake without serious committment. By serious I mean the level of committment brought to the table by the pig at a ham and egg breakfast, where only the chicken can afford to be merely dedicated.

            At we're keeping an eye on JDF, but will likely remain a "dedicated" observer for a while longer. There is, however, an easy way for beginners to get their feet wet: Create a JDF from within Adobe Acrobat. See the flash Feature Tour at

            To access the window below from within Acrobat, go to +*Advanced > Print Production > JDF Job Definition.*+




            • #7
              Re: JDF for beginners

              Hi Peter,

              JDF is something I'd really love to understand and be able to write by hand. It's the glue-of-the-future-of-automation! You could say I'm a little obsessed with JDF.

              Not that I know much of it. (I'm sure there are many on the forum who are much more knowledgeable on the subject).

              Being somewhat of a simpleton, I've been thinking of a simpler way of creating and manipulating JDF. At least the product description/Intent which applications such as Metrix lap up. So I've tinkered with Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 with the JDF Creation ability.

              I created a simple product the other day and thought, "Why don't I open this in a text editor or a web browser to see if I can see anything that makes sense"

              So I did and the following screenshot. (sorry it's pretty big)


              Some of the 'variables' that are in file are pretty obvious since they're blue. So that led me to believe that's where the info is kept.

              I thought, "What if I change those values" by opening the .jdf file in a text editor (OK, all you coders out there are probably saying, duh!). So I changed some details. (the size of the product is in points, so I divded it by 72 - 72 points to an inch and then converted to mm since I'm metric-orientated!).

              I then saved the file and opened it in Acrobat Professional (JDF feature) and checked the specs. It had changed them to what I punched in.

              My thought is you create a calcuation field within Filemaker (used to use it a lot!) and put the text in there, select the areas where there are variables (Such as 2000 for the amounts, 6 McCourt Rd Yarrawonga for street) with fields from your Filemaker data base. So when you export as a text file, it will populate the JDF with your data from your Filemaker records.

              Major Set backs
              # I'm an idiot and clueless about JDF
              # This would only generate Product Intent not the imposition that Prinergy Connect/Evo or Heidelberg would require
              # It would not be Extensible enough for all the jobs that you create in your MIS.
              # Magazine work that requires multiple sections would require greater complexity and you'd need to figure out how to duplicate sections within JDF.

              What I thought it would be good for, is if you have a web-to-print custom made system which has very, very basic products which you want to sell a lot of. Like business cards, brochures. Real simple work. This could possibly be an exported text file from the site (with .jdf extension of course) and be handy for handling lots of little jobs efficiently. But it would have to be imported into a smart program like Metrix or MIS which can take product intent JDF data.

              The next step would be determining the Run list in JDF and be able to have the uploaded file put into it's own folder with the JDF in the folder and a relative link to the file put in the JDF under the run list, so that fully automatic imposition and processing could occur.

              Pipe dreams, no less, but perhaps again food for thought. I'm open to better ideas!


              • #8
                Re: JDF for beginners

                Dwana its good to see that u are keeping up with printers tradition - Download Fiemaker for a free trial - it really is the business and it exports XML - now I am waiting for Kodak to send me a file of what drives Prinergy - because as u have shown - its about fixed data and variables



                • #9
                  Re: JDF for beginners

                  Hi Peter,

                  Yeah, I've actually got two Filemakers! Version 7.0. I started developing our own MIS system years ago in 6.0. It grew into a behemoth that I could never finish.

                  Then brought in a coder friend to work on it, but he wasn't familiar with Filemaker, so it then went into a mySQL backend with a Java front end, but I wasn't able to dedicate my time to managing the project, since I was so busy doing other stuff and he wasn't very familiar with the printing industry, so we abandoned it.

                  Pretty much I was too Idealistic and didn't put a plan in place for a first phase, second phase etc.

                  Metrix does part of what we were planning.....brag brag brag.


                  • #10
                    Re: JDF for beginners

                    OK Gents. The summary I'd draw from this is as follows;

                    1.) JDF is like any other tag language. It can be edited in a text editor by those who are fluent in the language. A GUI would help the rest but yes, a clever guy can accomplish a lot in Notepad or BBedit.

                    2.) The JDF spec. is fluff. I'm ready for the death threats. You could trash the hundreds of pages of JDF specs. and just say "JDF is a special set of XML tags. There are some 20 or so common tags the committee has agreed on but all the useful stuff is vendor specific."

                    3.) That flows into the final problem I've been having with this. All the big players have invested the future of their revenue stream on products like Delano, WebCentre and InSite. They are never gonna give you the JDF tag documentation you'd need to effectively integrate with their back-ends.

                    Look even deeper. ApogeeX and Backstage take the JDF ( when present ) and use it to load up the SQL database that holds all the parameters that make the systems work. If you have an MIS department that is capable in SQL you can theoretically create job records directly just as we create invoice records on foreign accounting systems directly. JDF is an attempt to create a standard interface independent of either end system. This should allow portability and integration. A noble goal but it seems to me to have fallen far short of being usable. AgfaEsKodak seems loathe to share the nitty-gritty which is why JDF has gotten pushed up to the level it's at instead of a standardization of SQL tables and records. As soon as I know the database layout of a job ticket I can write my on web interface to directly push the system. I can save 10s, perhaps 100s of thousands of dollars in "Web Portal" licensing fees using open source software.


                    • #11
                      Re: JDF for beginners

                      I don't think I've read such a ridiculous post in my life

                      1) Yes JDF is XML, but that's like saying a John Grisham novel is English so anyone could write a Grisham novel in notepad.

                      2) You really should take the time to understand JDF before calling it fluff. You can trash 100's of pages if you only want JDF to Prepress because there's a ton of stuff related to binding, sheetfed presses, web presses, etc. If you want anything to anything you need all the pages. Saying there are 20 or so common tags is a joke. there are hundreds of elements required.

                      3) Rubbish. Both Agfa and Kodak have tech docs on their JDF integration, but all of the documentation in the world isn't going to help if you have no idea what you are doing. Again, picking up an English dictionary and an English grammar book is not going to result in a Grisham novel. If BMW gave you all the plans to build an M3 would you be able to do it? Not a chance.

                      As for your last point, your just talking about hacking. If you knew anything about software development, you'd know there's a reason for a well defined interface. What are you going to do when you bring your entire prepress system down because someone put the wrong value in a key field? And what's going to happen when you get an update and the underlying database schema changes? Heck, if you're going to take that approach, let's scrap API's altogether. This is PRECISELY the reason why a common standard was born. The irony of your comments is that the reason you have such a rich OS, applications, utilities, web services, is just because of standard interfaces.

                      JDF is usable in certain environments and workflows. There are still limitations as it is a very complex task. Comparing importing invoice records to JDF is just a joke and shows how little you know about JDF.

                      Good luck with Notepad and your pointless hacking



                      • #12
                        Re: JDF for beginners

                        Excellent. Now it's a dialogue!! I don't mind being called ridiculous if it precipitates useful information.

                        Look. My comments about Notepad are simply to say that the JDF information is an ASCII based variant of XML and any tool, no matter how barbaric, can make changes to it. Any scripting language that can fwrite() can stuff lines in if they know what to stuff in. Yes, obviously text editing JDF is a hack and no one in there right mind would make that part of their "workflow" . It is, however, a valid way of exploration and development. I might point out that if I thought it was "OK" to just blast data into a file or database I'd have done it and I wouldn't be posting. My complaint is that I can't get anywhere near enough information do do it safely and effectively. Most CPA's would probably agree that the general ledger of your average size incorporation is no trivial thing. The consequences of errors in P&L statements and tax reporting are far more terrifying than a bad set of plates to some. Dropping an invoice into a large scale accounting system like Navision is every bit like dropping in a job ticket. One needs to be absolutely sure of the tables, records, fields, data types, acceptable values and interactions between all of them.

                        Sure. Calling the JDF specification fluff is a "shock value" statement. Let me be more conservative in my comments. I'm a big fan of standards. Worked with them for years. One thing I've observed over and over again is that standards are best when they are the property of or penned by a single organization. Postscript, DXF, PDF, SQL, TIFF, LZW are all great examples. Java, HTML, MPEG not so much. I really feel that any "standard" that you have to get one part from one source and the rest from another source is not a standard. From the trenches it appears this is what's happening. If you download the published JDF spec. from Adobe I really don't think you have enough information to create the JDF data that can drive and ApogeeX or any other workflow. Also, I have a strong suspicion that if I had Delano I couldn't take the PDF with attendant fully compliant JDF and drop it into a Backstage hot folder and get plates. Am I nuts to feel like that's not functionally standard??

                        The biggest part of my angst comes from the fact that JDF is perhaps being mis-represented and/or oversold. It so often gets sold as being a standard method of automation. After Drupa there will be an army of V.P.'s that think that if a file has JDF in it and you have a workflow solution that is JDF compliant everything will happen automatically regardless of the source and destination. I really don't believe that will happen. Likely the JDF will have to be written and read by the same vendor or the operations in question will be working with an extremely narrow group of parameters.

                        I'm going to contact Agfa, Esko and anyone else I can think of to request copies of their JDF implementaion documentation. When I receive them I'll post them here.

                        If I took all the words of the English language and put them in a book with phonetic descriptions, definitions and examples of use, I would not get a novel. I'd have a dictionary. Kind of a language specification so to speak. Handy to have if I wanted to compose a work that could be read by people who are English compliant.


                        • #13
                          Re: JDF for beginners


                          OK, this will be the blind leading the blind here, since I'm no expert on either JDF or Databases/Coding etc. (At the least it will be fun!)

                          So you were concerned about getting the structure of the relationship database to be 100% compliant with the JDF Spec. And I believe Mark said the importance of validating the fields so that the correct data was put in the fields.

                          Well, I've found this utility which I can't seem to get working (maybe it will work for you). It's an XSD to Database convertor. Apparently it's meant to create a relational database with all the tables and links, fields, validations based on the XSD file you supply it. Theoritically creating a relational database which complies with the XSD document.

                          Again, I couldn't get it to work. I actually asked a coder friend of mine whether it was possible. He said he hadn't heard of anything that could do that. I googled it and found a free utility. I haven't pestered him enough to see if we can get it working yet, but it's on the list. Maybe you could have a go and see if it does anything useful or exciting.


                          If it doesn't work, you could probably google the term XSD to DB to see if you can find any better solutions.

                          It'll be cool if it worked, cause that would be a good 75% of the hard work done for a solution. All the field creation and validation options. Then you determine how you want to interact with the data.


                          • #14
                            Re: JDF for beginners

                            Forget it. The JDF schema only verifies that the JDF is *valid XML* NOT valid JDF. here is a massive difference between the two. There are a ton of semantics in JDF that can only be verified with proper JDF Validator. Converting a schema to database is no use whatsoever. You need to take JDF and "convert" it to the database of the product you are using. This is not a trivial task, as there is not a one-to-one realtionship betweed JDF elements and DB fields.

                            Seriously guys, you are really wasting your time. JDF integration in man-years of work. I am a certified JDF expert and have studied computer science extensively and I can tell you that there is no such thing as "simple JDF integration" (beyond create a job with a name and an order number)

                            As for the previous comment about one vendor creating a standard. Do you really think PostScript and PDF are open standards? Ask some PostScript clone developers about that?


                            • #15
                              Re: JDF for beginners

                              I have often wondered about how people are using (or attempting to use) JDF as a "file format" in the field. Interesting. Everything you need to know comes from one single standards group, the CIP4. Go to []. They have open source code and freely available JDF validators/viewers, etc.

                              That being said, my understanding is that JDF is a Job Ticketing format which uses the XML standard for mark up. The idea is that information embedded in the JDF file, for a specific job, facilitates interoperability between devices, i.e., your web-2-print system and a digital press. The thing is, both of THOSE devices have to write and read compliant JDF files.

                              If you can program software to take your raw data and convert it into usable JDF for other devices, please let me know. I'd be interested in paying you money for this.

                              Jeff Lazerus
                              Prepress Manager
                              ThinkBig Solutions
                              Denver, CO.


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