Some help with choosing new VDP software please

hatchman26

New member
First off apologies for the essay below.....

I have been tasked with sourcing a new piece of software (and potentially hardware) that can handle our business needs. I am not even 100% a VDP is what I am definitely looking for as all the terms are a little alien to me. I use a piece of software called Red Titan (annoyingly the same name as a toy that youtube kid makes which makes googling it tough....). This software allows me to create letter templates that have text, variable data fields and images making up the template (we use a different piece of software for email setup and broadcasting).

I need to create essentially thousands of different templates all of which are different (images & text mainly). These need to be saved and be accessible at all times for making amendments to them, currently they are saved in subfolders by all the different clients we manage letters for. I would need to condition different text, images & fields in dependant on what the data I am supplied with has within it. I am not interested in loading up a data file during the setup process of the template, albeit if that is an option then that is fine but I do not want it to ONLY work if I load data into the template.

We have been using Red Titan for 15+ years and it has evolved around our needs (our particular build anyway) through development that would need to be replicated with a need software provider.

The data we receive is 99% the same format and layout each time, there are occasions when i receive data from other sources which I just map up manually.

We using the Adobe create suite to create images that are used within the software in the format of TIF files and ideally (to cut down on recreation cost/time) this would be a file type it accepts.

I have read through peoples suggestions of software and have seen FusionPro and Fiery FreeForm Create (free to me as we already have Fiery) as popular alternatives (although I cannot find ANYONE else that uses Red Titan). All the software I have found suggests they are can only handle a certain amount of data to be sent 'through' them but for me it need it to be able to send 1 row of data or a million, it shouldn't make any difference. I have had a very quick play with Fiery FreeForm Create and it makes me load a PDF into it to start the template - which I definitely do not want to do.

We currently have numerous servers to handle the data processing and would like to cut down on this infrastructure (I believe these servers process the data and marries them up with the template).

We using Xerox 800 (I think) printers using Fiery print server.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

SoggyWinter

Well-known member
PDFs are pretty common in printing workflows, but if that's a deal breaker, look into website scripting tools that would use database queries and CSS to overlay your variable information on top of the TIF templates. Reporting tools like Microsoft SQL Reporting Studio might be a way to go too, depending on your query building skills and budget. Keep in mind that the your RIP will take considerably longer to render printjobs if they are not setup as VDP PDFs. This isn't an issue for print jobs with a few hundred VDP iterations, but 10s of thousands or millions of VDP pieces that are not optimized as VDP PDFs will take forever to process.
 

Digital Press Guy

Well-known member
Having never heard of Red Titan software before curiosity got the better of me. From what I read and what you wrote it seems that you are doing manually many tasks that can be easily automated. An automated workflow benefits users, clients and the bottom line. Reduction of touch points reduces the potential for errors. Workflow automation delivers scalability to manage and produce the smallest job to millions of records. Depending on the software you choose you can integrate with other solutions both upstream and down to deliver a completely automated workflow solution.

Full disclosure; I work with Jet Letter Corporation.
 

hatchman26

New member
SoggyWinter - thanks for the reply, your response makes me wonder what type of product I am using then because although RedTitan does have a 'coding' interface as well as a visual representation akin to Word it isn't anything as technical as SQL or CSS, there are some similarities to HTML albeit very much stripped back. When i create the templates and they are saved away for a rainy day the merely act a mail merge document, then with adding header information to a data file I can create a PDF (which is how we proof our work (new/amended setup) to the clients briefing in the jobs or to send a file to the printer to be printed.

Digital Press Guy - again thanks for your reply, the initial setup of each letter and future amends that the clients we serve might want to make mean there is no workflow automation that can be performed. I presume you are more talking about the printing of said letters rather than the setup or amends? I don't know if it helps but the work we are creating letters for and subsequently printing are pretty much all letters trying to get the customers (not clients) to renew their magazine subscriptions and/or acknowledge their sign-up of a magazine. This means there are thousands of letters printed daily using hundreds of different letter templates that have already been setup (by myself).
 

davekrawczuk

New member
Hey hatchman26 - The way I'd start to break-down your search and evaluation process would be to identify which problem is primary for you to solve and what solutions you want to have available to you. Do a list of Must-have's and Like to Have's and it will help you when comparing systems. Every system has it's strengths and weaknesses - and you want to be sure the solution you buy doensn't have a weakness that will hinder your production.

It looks like you're initially looking at desktop solutions - but I think a server solution will suit you better. It will have much more automation options available to you. It will be more money initially - but will allow you to process many more products and pieces through it. It also allows you growth opportunities for other people to have access and an ability to grow.

I'm going to point out 3 systems that you should look at. I'll try to put my personal opinions of each one's strengths and you can decide.

1) XMPie - XMpie in my opinion is the strongest layout tool out there. They utilize Indesign as their template building format. You add a plug-in to indesign, build your templates in there and can either dynamically print from the desktop or upload to a uProduce server for automated options and output. Strengths - most flexable page composition engine of all. Seamless integration with Adobe Suite. Cons - Data processing is best left up to you, present it with a single flat file and it will run like crazy.

2) GMC Inspire (might have changed their name to Quadient) - GMC has the strongest data management workflow by far IMO. It has a very nice workflow option that you can do amazing things with to massage data and layouts to fit our output needs. You mentioned wanting to cut down on up-stream data processing - this might deserve a strong look. Operators will need to be a bit more technical/programming but it is a strong platform to build on. I'm not a big fan of the page composition module of this - but it does aford you the ability to do all of what you're saying in your description above.

3) Planet Press Connect (by Ojective Lune) - This is a little bit of a more focused option - meaning they look to work in the invoice/office document space - but it's a strong tool. They've been in the space for a while. They also have a workflow component incorporated in it.

Look at these options and i'm sure you can find something that would do everything that you need.

Dave
 

philgaskin

New member
Hi @hatchman26. I see you are based in the UK. I'm the UK Business development Channel Manager at XMPie and would be pleased to discuss how an XMPie VDP or omnichannel solution can help. We can print to virtually any modern printer, but as a Xerox company I know you'd get efficient results from your Xerox 800.
Please feel free to contact me philg@xmpie.com
 

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