XMPIE, Design Merge Pro or Fusion Pro (no sales pitches please)

gumbylives

Well-known member
Hi,
We are looking at some indesign plugins (no standalone apps) for variable data printing. I have read that Design Merge Pro has some issues with how long it takes to rip files for printing. We normally do large quantities and that would be a concern. How many secs/page does it take to rip?
I like the interface (seems intuitive) but the RIP would be a problem.

XMPIE seems a bit pricey but how does it handle ripping files (we don't have a coder here at work...hint hint).

Fusion Pro we are still looking into.

I am not interested in sales pitches just facts please.

Looking forward to the response.
gumbylives
 

prepressdork

Well-known member
I can only speak about FusionPro. For the price (about $800), it offers quite a bit. In my experience, FusionPro composes MUCH faster on a Mac compared to a Windows PC. For faster RIP results, PPML or VDX is the format to compose to (I believe VDX is a Kodak format though). PDF will work but it's slower.
 

DCurry

Well-known member
FusionPro is PDF-based, so you can use it on any PDF. It does come with plugins to pre-set some things in InDesign, but you still do the bulk of your work in the PDF. It's extremely powerful for the money, but to really harness its power it helps if you know JavaScript. It's not the most user-friendly solution, but it can do just about anything you need it to.

The shop I just started with has both FP and HP SmartStream Designer. In the past I recommended FP over SS, but in the 2 years since I last used SS it has really come a long way and it is now our shop's first choice for our VDP, and we do a lot of VDP (some of it is fairly complex, too.)

SmartStream is a little pricier, but it does work directly within InDesign. It is easier to use than FP, IMHO.
 

Keith

Well-known member
I use FusionPro and love it but just this week found a short coming- it doesn't support over 72pt font. Their forum had some wacky workaround but we couldn't get it to go bigger than 72pt.:(
 

Digital Press Guy

Well-known member
If all you are going to consider is a VDP solution that is a plug in, you're going to suffer when it comes to speed no matter how much money you spend. By definition a plug in solution requires that either inDesign or Quark be the rendering engine needed to create each and every image to be printed. You may also need to deal with issues related to maximum file sizes. The more graphics in your job, the more variables involved the the longer its going to take and the greater likely hood the job may simply choke.

Also, it should be noted that while any plug in may have issues with speed they do not RIP the file for imaging. There are two considerations when it comes to speed. Merge speed which is a function of the VDP solution and RIP speed.

What works in the real world and what works for you should be what matters most.
 

kdw75

Well-known member
We are currently using Data Merge to do mailings with some basic VD. One problem that we run into is having to split up files into 9,999 pg. segments because of Indesign's limitation. Will any plug-in be able to get around this?
 

Alith7

Well-known member
We use XMPie in our digital centers and love it! It is a bit pricey, but the support and features are great.
As far as file processing, it handles it pretty well, it works best if you are working with a strong RIP on your digital that can handle the special formats like the VDX. basically, it sends over only one copy of all the static or repeatable pieces and then merges it in the RIP as it's running. MUCH more efficient.
I know Fiery's RIP has some nice features that work similar for variable data, but you have to generate the files. basically, you "print" the shell, then generate a file with just the variable, and there's a way to merge them manually in Command Workstation. works pretty nice when you're just doing a variable number or something basic.
 

bky

Member
Hi,
We are looking at some indesign plugins (no standalone apps) for variable data printing. I have read that Design Merge Pro has some issues with how long it takes to rip files for printing. We normally do large quantities and that would be a concern. How many secs/page does it take to rip?
I like the interface (seems intuitive) but the RIP would be a problem.

XMPIE seems a bit pricey but how does it handle ripping files (we don't have a coder here at work...hint hint).

Fusion Pro we are still looking into.

I am not interested in sales pitches just facts please.

Looking forward to the response.
gumbylives

I have experience in optimizing variable data applications. Can you tell us more about your variable data needs? That makes a big difference in which program to suggest.

What type of native files (layout and data) do you get? Does the customer make revisions to the native document after the project starts? Does your data change much? Whats your typical run length? Are your VDP pieces tied to additional marketing programs, like PURLs?
 

Dan Korn

Member
I use FusionPro and love it but just this week found a short coming- it doesn't support over 72pt font. Their forum had some wacky workaround but we couldn't get it to go bigger than 72pt.:(
I'm not making a sales pitch, I promise! I just wanted to get more information about the problem you're having, Keith. I didn't see any recent threads on our PTI User Community forums asking about a 72 pt limit.

At any rate, I can assure you that no such limit exists, and that FusionPro can absolutely support text over 72 points. In the Variable Text Editor dialog, the largest value in the drop-down list is indeed 72, but you can type any number you want in there. If you're doing copyfitting, then in the default OnCopyfit rule that's auto-generated, 72 points is the maximum size, but that can be changed in the rule as well.

If you let me know exactly what problem you're having, I can probably help, either here or on the PTI forums.
 
how large quantity? pls give a rough number per day.
what brand and model of printer you use? what's rip you use?
what variable element you want to use? a simple serial number plus 1D barcode or others?

Our now flagship VDP software is standalone and is a little bit pricey to you, I think. it is not suitable to you. but if you can give above information, I can help to evaluate your buying thought.

Floor #2 and #5's comment is valuable, you can put more attention. Haiyaa has developed VDP utility in the form of a Acrobat plug-in and Indesign plug-in many years ago, but finally we abandon. Now our indesign plug-in product is only used to produce DM for shopping mall as a data publishing system with Indesign server and SQL.

FYI
 

MailGuru

Well-known member
In comparing XMPIE to DesignMerge, which creates IMBs the easiest?

Any and all will do the job. Printing IMB's have nothing to do with what merge software you are using. Your mail presort software will embed the readable version of the bar code in your mail file. It will look like a long string of F's, A's D, and T's ("FFFAAADTFADTFFFDDDDTTTTT........."). All you need to print that to an Intelligent Mail Bar code is the IMB Font which is down loadable from the USPS's web site (or, the one you can buy from 3rd party is better).

It's just a font change on that IMB field. You can do it with Design Merge, Fusion Pro, XMPie, InDesign, or, even MS Word.
 

namelessentity

Well-known member
I use Jetletter in the copy room, and our design/prepress uses XMpie because they've been using it forever. I'm not sure how the prices compare, but Jetletter is significantly faster, and it is really easy for N-up layouts where you need to interleave the data for cutting.
I can take a 1up postcard and have it set up and print ready in about 10 minutes. I did a 26,000 piece postcard yesterday and it generated the print ready PDF in under 2 minutes.
 

G Oliver

Member
My shop just went through this exact decision process to replace an old Creo Darwin install, and in the end, we ended up purchasing both DesignMerge as well as upgrading FusionPro. I'll use Fusion Pro for simple addressing or numbering jobs, but when I'm handed an InDesign file with image/page swaps, or conditional formatting on text, I'll set it up in DesignMerge. (The FusionPro fans will probably jump in here to point out that it can handle all that, which is true, but the make-ready time per file is much higher, and usually involves writing code.)

We've had very few problems with ripping speed from output from either--the two important considerations there are 1) Are you outputting an efficient format (e.g., PDF-VT)? and 2) are you eliminating transparency from the variable content whenever possible?

I was impressed with most of the capabilities of XMPie, but the desktop version lacked one feature we could not live without -- batch processing, i.e., the ability to output those 30,000 records as 60 files of 500 records each. The server version will do it, but the cost was not justifiable.
 

Graeme NZ

Active member
We run XMPie at our mailhouse, amongst other VDP platforms. It's expensive, but easy to use (if you get the uCreate license) and very powerful, though I can't speak for the other software solutions mentioned in this thread. XMPie is our primary PDF-based VDP platform we use for our Fiery RIPs. Rip times are fine if you build the artwork correctly (make sure all links are correct size etc - usual prepress stuff)

Believe it or not, but MS Word can be very powerful as well, but you need to know your stuff. In fact, Word has some benefits that XMPie can't match. Believe me, I know that from a print production perspective MS Word is pus, but there are plenty of ways to make it fit into your workflow and still have good control over the printed output. It's also heaps cheaper than any other platform out there, because chances are you already have it in your shop.

One key thing remember, getting some flash VDP software is great, but getting someone who is a data ninja will put you on a whole different playing field. It's possible you'll get more benefit from an Excel savant who can make the data work for your existing VDP platform than you'll get from a layperson using overpowered VDP software - it all depends on what sort of thing you are doing or want to do.

We're one of the larger mailhouses in New Zealand our mail items volumes are in the tens of millions. XMPie probably accounts for about 80% of our output.
 

MIBSWE

Member
Again, it depends on what your specific requirements are. As mentioned previously, FP is used in InDesign to mark variable elements in a document and then export to Acrobat where you starting building the intelligence/rules etc. This could be an issue if you have lots of InDesign documents with particular fonts from different customers. You then have to install those fonts for FP to access via Acrobat. For most customers, this is not an issue, but for some it can be. A lot of customers don't Always have access to the InDesign file, just the PDF, so that is an advantage for FP with its plugin to Acrobat to build the variable document.

FP is very easy to use for beginners without JavaScript, but can deliver highly intelligent VDP documents using several databases to deliver personalised output. JavaScript is the base scripting language and so there are many technical Resources in the market, whereas when I last used XMPie, it used a scripting language Qlingo, which is proprietary to XMPie. However, this may have changed to use other scripting languages like JavaScript. Someone else might be able to advise here. One thing I would say, is that FP has a great forum at http://forums.pti.com. So, there's a lot of help where you can find examples of JavaScript that can be copied and modified for your FP document. You will no doubt find someone who has had the same question as you, but of course you can post your own questions. Post a question about composition speed etc to see what other customers are experiencing.

FP will compose (merge data and template) much faster on a MAC than Windows. There's also an option to buy FP Producer, which is a Windows based solution that can run on a separate server. Your client computers can run an FP client, which I Believe you get 5 of with FP Producer and it allows you to do the same as the full FP client, except its limited to compose to 1 record. When the design is complete on the client computer, the user sends it to FP Producer to do the composition, which then allows the FP designer to work on Another job straightaway.

For ripping optimisation, their are several output formats like PS, PDF/VT, PPML etc to take advantage of your print engine's technology. Typically, I've seen customers, split a large job automatically during composition, so the printer can start ripping/Printing while FP is composing the document.

Finally, I'm sure the other suppliers do the same, but ask your local FP supplier and you can sometimes get a time limited trial to test it yourself.
 
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Graeme NZ

Active member
When I last used XMPie, it used a scripting language Qlingo, which is proprietary to XMPie. However, this may have changed to use other scripting languages like JavaScript. Someone else might be able to advise here.

Yep the basic version of XMPie (uCreate) still use Qlingo, but if go to the next step and get uPlan you can use SQL as well.

Most of the basic Qlingo functions aren't that hard to get your head around if you comfortable with most formulas in Excel - the syntax is a little different is all.
 

MailGuru

Well-known member
With XMPie, most of what you need to know, or, be able to use can be done though the GUI. We started with the desktop versions years ago, and, have advanced to the Multiple Instance Server version. None of our people have the ability to set up scripts through Qlingo. They just all use the Graphic User Interface, and, everything works just fine. We are running some very, very complex and intricate variable data and image jobs (some with over 17,000 variable combinations). Perhaps, being able to script through Qlingo might make our programs more efficient, but, we're fine for now
 

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