VDP Software Options

Skinflint

Well-known member
Hello VDP Software Users,

I need some information and insights to the applications you are using.

I am tasked with getting our vdp production needs cleaned up.

We currently are very fragmented and use multiple applications through different departments. For instance, we use HP Smartstream and FusionPro in our prepress department.
In our mailing department we are using PrintSHop Mail and FusionPro.

I am investigating apps such as XMPIE and JetLetter as a plant wide replacement to all of these.

With the diverse different projects from simply letters, usually received as word docs to to complex four color postcards and personalized products, which are received in any of the industry graphic design apps i.e.: Indesign, Quark, PDF etc… is there a one size fits all?

What are your opinions?

Thanks
 

DCurry

Well-known member
My shop has FusionPro and SmartStream. When I first came onboard almost 2 years ago, I had some experience with both products and was shocked to learn that they were phasing out FP in favor of SS. The reason I was surprised was that I know that if you have a JavaScript guru, then there's almost nothing you can't do with FP. My experience with SS had been so-so.

Today, we still only use FP for a handful of jobs that would be too difficult or impossible to recreate in SS. We bought SmartStream Composer, which is a server-based SmartStream engine that chews through VDP jobs way faster than the SS desktop version. Coupled with Prinergy Smart Hotfolders, we can automate a lot of jobs into and out of Composer. I believe there is a server version of FP now, but I think there was not when my shop investigated a few years ago.

We also had some issues with the PDFs that FP creates - our Indigo presses sometimes choked on files, and if we rebuilt the same job using SS the Indigos had no issues with the resulting PDFs.

I'm still on the fence - both have positives and negatives. SS has come a long way and you can really do a lot with it, but the documentation is somewhat lacking when it comes to really advanced stuff. SS is also much easier to work with, since you're really building in an InDesign environment, but it can be cumbersome to write advanced rules. OTOH, FusionPro's power in the hands of a skilled JavaScript pro is really a strong feature. FP costs a lot less, too. I think FP has more people using it, and the online forum is very helpful, while it can be difficult to find anyone who uses SS and can help solve challenges.

I've never used XMPie in the real world (I dabbled with it during a VDP class a few years ago, but it was more a conceptual class than an instructional how-to). I've heard it's good, but expensive.
 
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Digital Press Guy

Well-known member
Jet Letter's PSL Page Builder family will work with any graphic design application. It also has its own composition engine meaning that it does not rely on those design applications to render output. This increases merge speeds and reduces or eliminates "choking". A skilled JavaScript programmer is not required either.
 

Shawnd

Well-known member
I will let you know, we have been using Xmpie for the last 5 years and we are about to install FP producer with expressions. Xmpie was just getting too expensive for what we do.
 

Stephen Marsh

Well-known member
Skinflint, you don’t have an easy task ahead of you.

Firstly, what are the driving factors that are pushing the need to “clean up” your VDP production? Are they production related, business related etc?

Create a list or table and note the key “must have” requirements for each section/department – not VDP software features, but what you need to do from a services offering.

Next, add software features, both must have and nice to have options. Same for output formats, automation, connectivity with other software, software/hardware dependencies etc.

Keep in mind training and learning curve, as well as support.

Also note the costs of ongoing software license rental and or support maintenance contracts etc.

There will be various opinions and preferences from various stakeholders in the company that may or may not need to be factored in among the other considerations.

I believe that you will then need to keep all of the above in mind (and more) when looking at various options.


Hope this helps,

Stephen Marsh
 

oxburger

Well-known member
I use Planet Press. No problems here. I hear that Fusion Pro is nice, but they already had PP when I took over our mailing department.
 

Shawnd

Well-known member
Our data/graphics department isn't happy with FP, they feel it is a step down from Xmpie, they are saying it is more steps in FP to get the same result in Xmpie.
 

PrintIT

Well-known member
Our data/graphics department isn't happy with FP, they feel it is a step down from Xmpie, they are saying it is more steps in FP to get the same result in Xmpie.
There's also a huge price difference between the two. I've used both XMPie and Fusion Pro, and much prefer XMPie. However if you're in a shop that doesn't do the variable data volume to justify the pricetag on XMPie, then Fusion Pro is a decent alternative.
 
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pcmodem

Registered Users
Another software to consider is GMC Inspire. It is a very robust Variable Data and Customer Communication Management (CCM) platform. It will allow you to grow into bigger projects.
 

Graeme NZ

Active member
I work at a mailhouse and we use a range of software, including XMPie which is my preferred flavour of choice. I quite like it, it's fairly easy to use and very powerful. However, don't underestimate how incredibly powerful the humble MS Word can be for data merges. It can lead to a bit of fun at the prepress end, but a few pitstop actions will sort most of that out.

It all depends what your needs are really. If your data is single line and you have some decent knowledge at the data end of the pipeline then XMPie is my recommendation for a print production workflow.
 

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Automatically Autonomous Automation
Although the autonomous car is not quite ready, a lights out print operation is something you can do right now if you have a comprehensive Print MIS (Management Information System). The advantages can put money on your bottom line. So what’s your next step? Link to Article

   
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