The International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress (CIP4) organization announced the first major release of the Job Definition Format (JDF) since JDF 1.4 in 2008. While JDF includes numerous changes and fixes, largely as a result of global adoption and implementation, several new features in this version address changes in the printing marketplace, and specifically digital printing.
JDF is the language used by printing systems and equipment to communicate job and device data, and JDF has become the glue required to automate modern printing plants.
JDF 1.5 includes new features to support wide-format digital printing as well as digital finishing. While many of these requirements needed addressing, it was ganging of multiple jobs that really created the motivation to produce and publish a new version of JDF. To maximize productivity in an environment where job run lengths are getting shorter, it is now common to gang multiple jobs from multiple clients onto one sheet or web. JDF ganging had only supported ganging of like jobs from one client. In JDF 1.5 there is a new ganging process that will allow JDF-Enabled MIS systems to now allocate costs across multiple jobs and clients.
“Printers will find that JDF 1.5 support for multi-job ganging, as well as new digital finishing features, fill important gaps in their automated workflows,” says CIP4 Technical Officer Rainer Prosi of Heidelberg. “While there are systems available that already support multi-job ganging and digital finishing, the inability or difficulty of communicating between these systems and others in an automated workflow created a gap in productivity for many printers. In the coming year, as JDF 1.5 enabled systems enter the market, printers will find options that will help them improve control over their operations and improve their bottom-line.”
New features address the needs of the evolving finishing systems for variable print applications, where one of the challenges is matching multiple, unique print components and handling errors if they occur. Machines capable of handling variable print component matching often use barcodes either in separator sheets or in trim areas. If a signature or cover of a variable print job needs to be reproduced, handling the error may affect multiple machines and needs to be communicated quickly. Three new features for digital finishing were added in JDF 1.5:
1) JDF 1.5 allows partially completed portions of a job to be defined and associated to a barcode or a JMF message allowing for matching and tracking. (JMF is the “Job Messaging Format”, the part of JDF that facilitates commands and replies to be communicated between devices.) This allows printers to divide, barcode, and control components of a job (such as pages, signatures, and covers), as required by the printer or the system for matching and handling purposes.
2) Another feature is real-time JMF pipelines. Prior to JDF 1.5, messages between devices were exchanged on a defined cycle. However, for error detection and handling in near-line application a delay of even a couple of seconds can compound an error. JDF 1.5 provides the language and the pipe-line communication mechanism to support instant communication between devices of different manufacturers.
3) Along with collecting job data, verification of job completion has long been supported in JDF systems. However, in digital print finishing systems, many vendors exchange files that list completed and/or errors as a list of barcode or barcode numbers. In JDF 1.5 verification has been updated to allow devices that already have this capability to use non-JDF data exchange by including a reference to a file that lists matching components and their verification status by barcode value. This modification will allow systems already in the market to be easily adapted to a completely automated JDF-enabled production environment.
Roll-to-roll winding process is another significant new feature of JDF 1.5. It is now possible to describe the orientation of print gathered on a roll, which is useful for both conventional and digital printing processes where print is collected to a roll and then feed later to finishing devices.
Lastly, JDF 1.5 includes some changes made specifically to support wide-format digital printing. Although JDF features that support digital printing apply to wide-format production as well, there are some aspects of wide-format printing that are unique and are now addressd in the JDF specification and schema.
“The new features and key changes in JDF 1.5 are a reflection of an evolving print market,” says Jim Harvey, Executive Director of CIP4. “Automation and digital printing can be combined to produce market communications that match or exceed the response of any other media type, and JDF 1.5 provides the tools necessary to fulfill that promise and match advances in print production technology.”
The final draft of JDF 1.5 is available on September 13 for public review as a free public download at www.cip4.org.