International Conference on innovative educational content management and Digital Printing: Proceedings, Athens – Greece, 30 and 31 October 2003; ISBN 960-85908-4-1; Published by Politis Research

Digital Printing and XML Technology in Graphic Production Planning

Prof. dr. sc. Vilko Žiljak
Faculty of Graphics Art,
Zagreb, Croatia, Getaldiceva 2

Abstract: We are setting new relations in graphic communication through target languages whereas the testing and evaluation are carried out in the digital printing environment. Efforts are made to develop dictionary standardization for XML technology and offer it to the many users in the printing business. Digital printing is the ideal environment because it is attracting users linked with design, computer science and graphics seeking new solutions for Web communication and data display standardization on diverse media.
New chapters in graphic product manufacture have been introduced with digital printing: direct link between the prepress computer and the printing; successive printing of page after page; print individualization with picture and text for large editions; large formats. These innovations have activated many people, pupils, students and experts coming from various areas to become active users in the printing business. They do their own designing, programming, planning, and market organization. They have become the new graphic product creators and users. New markets and new people have initiated solving printing cases in new ways.
Innovative views and new users are causing implementation of computer science methods into the printing production, but in a completely different manner. Communication relies on the Web, Internet and XML technology. Production organization with a target language requires the setting of a new dictionary in the printing business. The paper is on the street towards prepress standardization, including tenders, orders, calculations, work orders and production control for digital printing. It is also on the native XML base application and it’s relation with related bases in the graphic prepress area.

1. Introduction

Networked printing works is the top subject of discussion in view of the changes taking place in the printing industry. Furthermore, network production is the central point of modern production organisation, and it also affects investments, education, management. JDF unites the application and the discussion about these concepts, and makes way for very profound but also very elegant changes in printing business behaviour. There is too much stress on network whereas a much more important topic is overlooked, and this is data basis. What is it that flows through a network? Graphic designers and printers have not been engaged in data basis computer science technologies and this will be the central point of all their considerations now. XML technology allows information to be transferred from data bases to divergent media and one type of such media is the print – the graphic product. This is where the discussion on the incredible development, recovery and wide application of graphic art begins.

2. Individualised Print

Society informatization is based on data bases, knowledge bases, the Internet, and digital printing is finding spreading place in this area. Informatization comprises individuality as well. Data bases on potential buyers, classified according to their preferences, needs, income. Data bases with new products, future products and existing products. Data bases on printing technologies and materials. Data bases on design solutions and the designers themselves. Data bases on enterprises, their logotypes, favourite products, business efficiency reports. These are all relational basis data, as the source for prints with individualised marking. This is where the suggestion to study XML technology application in the printing business comes from: data bases and digital printing. Communication should be through Internet technology only; whether we are within the printing house territory or linking with the exterior world as well.

3. XML News in Computer Science

The Internet and it’s “products” are multiplying, spreading and duplicating every 13 months. New ideas, new programmers are trained and new jobs are organised at the same speed. The excellent HTML language that has promoted the Internet more than anything else does not enable an explosive application of ideas shown with the help of various media, complex reporting alteration and entrance into various data sources. The graphic design of HTML has only two subjects: the source and the planned Web site. The new technology known under the common name as XML has gone farther, and is based on several premises:

First Premise: Data and data structure are divided from physical display programming and the designing of an organised report. Data is described – marked – with the help of an understandable language, in detail, with texts in native languages. Thus content identification is simplified and various users may use it for their various purposes.

Second Premise: Through the Internet technology one enters simultaneously into various data files, various data bases, various sources; forming a unique XML structure. This is the source of native data bases starting the typical XML structure. Thus the problems of software and hardware incompatibility are avoided. Independence in respect to computer type and operative system is at its peak and very much accentuated. Data bases are entered from any place, at any time.

Third Premise: Instrumental data is manipulated together with other data from the data bases, such as the one on production planning and control. Such data circulation is an interactive way of production control; machine operation regime change; adjustment of work process parameters aimed at achieving the optimal ones. Internet technology allows remote equipment parameter readings, the goal being to be informed in real time.

Fourth Premise: A dictionary is the beginning of standardisation. XML technology requires organising of an expert communication dictionary. The printing business has started creating the JDF industrial standardised language for itself through CIP4. Through the printing business dictionary a path is made for bringing closer printing business methods in production organisation, calculations, warehouse maintenance, total exploitation of printing house machine capacities. The Internet technology in printing application must rely on a language that is independent of the machine producers and end users in the printing works. A dictionary is the beginning of serious co-operation between competitors, with the goal being to improve all printing business production parameters. Integration through the new printing business dictionary is becoming a reality.

                  Circle of XML, XSL, Data Basis and HTML

4. Research of New Tendencies in the Printing Business

The following should be stressed: It is not necessary to organise narrative lectures or demonstrations of “the new philosophy” in manipulating with data bases in order to lean about XML technology application in the printing business. It is necessary to program the XML textual data structure and variables during the first lectures, as well as XML display in different formatting of the same XML textual data file. If the student does not have a computer in front of him at the very beginning, it is better to leave the XML subject for some other time. This is better than to form a wrong abstract picture on the subject.

XML does not require a language consisting of codes and abbreviations that only programmers understand, and even programmers are not very good at working with such technology after a certain period of time. In the first applications an English language base was insisted upon, especially in manipulating with machine data. As XML variables may be textual descriptions, it is suggested that the native language should be used for marking. There will be broader and greater motivation due to easier understanding of the contents.

The first applications are textual XML native data bases with XSL entries, data content alteration, and printouts. XML is an extremely simple record, understandable, flexible and modular. The next step is linking with relational bases (MS SQL server, Access, Informix, Oracle). Programmers have the tendency to make a turn towards using languages such as: Java, C++ and JavaScript. It is recommended to avoid these languages and to use their routines in case of emergency only. The use of such languages is contradictory to XML’s First Premise that stresses the separateness between the data and the display. The idea to show one data file in many ways with the most simple XML should be insisted upon, together with DOM technique application.

Organisation of work groups specialising in the following areas is suggested:

1. Organisation of printing business data bases structure. Development of forms for data entry with belonging patterns. Development of one’s own “private” XML languages for personal activities.

2. Development of a native language for the printing industry and publishing applicable in XML technology. Development of translators for other native languages and other communication standards in graphic art.

3. Interface development between XML and relational data bases: MS SQL server, Oracle, Access, Informix, because it is necessary to use data from established computer systems.
Integration of data coming from warehouse and financial business activities with the work order. XML solution development with the goal being to replace the existing relational data bases.

4. Development of XSL, XSLT, XSL FO solutions for screen data display, PostScript, PDF.

5. XML pattern development for instrumentation, specific for printing plant machines. JDF characteristics study, application and information on new oncoming types of machines.

6.XML application and application of relational data bases for graphic product production calculation; making tenders for end users and work order making.

7. Organising picture albums, logotypes, graphic layouts. Organising data bases on printing techniques, material (paper, colours, toners, glues), with the adequate production speed standard, prices and time needed for performing certain job phases.

XML studying must become a part of all printing technology subjects, meaning that the contemporary system for technical training in graphic art must be altered most urgently. This is supported by the fact that there has not been a single article written about the negative sides of XML in printing industry practice. Without studying XML technologies in the very first school semester and without practising in writing one’s own XML languages, it will not be possible to absorb the material on contemporary orientation in the printing business.

5. Digital Printing and XML

Fast report, new type of printout, single-copy books, altered design with new prints, trial prints, big format prints, prints dispatched to distant places, prints on extremely intriguing material -–all this is characteristic for digital printing. An ideal drilling-ground for XML technology. Different digital printing techniques are present in our school. Tasks on real systems, with measured values relevant for printing motivate students to improve their XML proposals.

We have chosen to experiment with digital printing by using Xeikon, Indigo, Xerox and Hewitt Packard. Two areas have been developed: Calculations for tenders and realization in various printing layouts. The project entitled “Kalkulacija” (Calculation) is based on a MSSQL server where the relations are set between:

- printing machine description (format, price, speed, ripping price, cleaning time)
- digital printing class (color number, toner, speed, format: standardized: Indigo, Xeikon, Ploter)
- paper description (grain size, type according to surface finish, format, sheet or roll price in printed sheet, quantity on stock)
- real corrections of printing standards (depending on the job difficulty, number of copies)
- color or toner (price, stock quantity)
- surface coverage (price, quantity on stock)
- finishing operations (clamping, gluing, cutting, bending)

The whole system is in the Internet explorer, interactive. By changing one parameter a new calculation is made on basis of the following parameters: number of copies, paper choice, printing machine choice, coverage of colored surface, number of colors per page, two-side/one-side print. Student works show two choices in respect to DOM interface presence for XML document acceptance. Pattern designs are completely individual. They may be discussed only as to input speed efficiency and data read out from the relational bases tables.

The second application series is in respect to graphic page layout resetting. XML elements are: page, title, sub-title, signature, paragraph, font, etc. – but in the native language. Elements are treated differently inside the XML application. This is where graphic designers show their greatest differences in design. Graphic design with a “Guttenberg” presentation for printing works and web design for the Internet are suggested.

Different solution presentations are prepared for taking place in real time with notebooks prepared as servers with installed Microsoft SQL servers. The server functions locally in the Intranet. The system has been developed for exterior Internet demonstration that may be viewed from any place at any time and our intention is to demonstrate this during this lecture.

We are forcing individualization in order to get many original solutions, calculation motivation, and the possibility of testing on basis of digital printing. Subjects for study are completely open as to choice, and there are situations proposed that may be applicable in reality in the far future only: XML kiosk, printing without the presence of the operator, selective choice of topics from daily newspapers, creating of personal daily newspapers with target contents from various bases of electronic daily publications.
Just little about tipography languages: The most pleasing surprise for me were the graphic languages of the photosatz developed in the mid-seventies ( computer style book). Those languages are real markup languages on two levels. The basic level is identical to HTML logic created twenty years afterwards. This applies to the joint position of the commands and contents (text). In the mid-eighties screens and images were programmed in photosatz. The second level were the sub-programs having several functions, as well as the sub-programs in general application languages. However, the use of sub-programs were interesting in the organization sense. The text was simply “marked”, the beginning and the end of a certain activity, for example: the title, stressing, sub-title, graphical shifts and many other typographical interventions. Some newspaper publishers developed up to a thousand sub-programs so that they could enable their reporters to mark the contents with the help of copying systems helping them avoid being forced into doing typographical and layout work as well. Graphic editors could form texts marked in such a way in any manner they wished. The work we have today with XML data and XML as a language is almost identical. However, this is not mentioned today. In general, the literature today exaggerates the significance of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) as a link in the creation of XML technology. The misfortune of typographical languages was in each machine producer (Linotyp, Monotyp, Boobst, Hell) having their own languages, their expensive dedicated machines. Their failure occurred in the mid-eighties when PCs were introduced into graphic preparation and with the creation of many new graphics languages. All of them died out except PostScript which was published without restrictions. An army of Post-Script programmers was created who programmed typography and reproduction photography for the photosatz, using general purpose computers.

6. Conclusion

The development of individualized printing is altering the methods in studying the printing industry. Digital printing is the ideal place for testing of new technologies coming with XML. As the digital printing of a certain machine is known in great detail by a large circle of users, it is possible to test many ideas for improving work flow. Prepress, press, postpress and delivery are simulated. Simulation is based on measured data in a studio environment. The main goal is to achieve an understanding of new methods and the introduction of data bases as an essential novelty in the printing business. Active use of browsers and the Internet will prepare students for regarding XML technology and it’s derivatives openly, especially the standards that are introduced into the printing business with JDF.

7. Autor`s 2003`Literature

1. WebPoskok (authors: Vilko Žiljak, Klaudio Pap, = Web Programsko Orijentiran Sustav Komponenata za Otvorenu Komunikaciju)
(Web Program Oriented Component System for Open Communication)
2. INFORMATION SYSTEM TRANSFORMATION AFTER IMPLEMENTING XML TECHNOLOGY, 14th Conference on Information and Intelligent Systems, Varaždin (IIS 2003) ISBN: 953-6071-22-3
3. The collapse of the fundamental principles of printing, Iarigai, Advances in printing science and technology : proceedings of the 30th International iarigai Research Conference, Cavtat – Dubrovnik 2003. ISBN: 953962766-4