I’m proud to announce that I’m chairing a new task force that has just been created in TC130, the ISO committee focused on standardization for the printing industry. The task force is named “PDF Common Metadata”, and its focus is on constructing a metadata framework that can be embedded within a PDF file to guide production workflow decisions.
We created a precursor to this work in PDF/VT, in cooperation with CIP4. In that case a hierarchical structure of metadata in the PDF file was intended to be used with a templated JDF job ticket (or similar structure) to ensure that complex variable data jobs could be imposed, printed and finished correctly. Unfortunately the model we used set the bar too high and most composition vendors and press manufacturers felt that implementation was too difficult.
But there are a wide range of situations where a simpler model has real value. Indeed, the current work grew out of requests from the transactional print space to be able to include media selections and simplex/duplex controls in a PDF file. That request was initially reviewed by the PDF/VT Competence Center in the PDF Association who concluded that the benefits of a suitable solution would apply across the printing industry, not just in variable data.
The solution proposed is to build on the concept of ‘intents’ from JDF (although not directly on JDF itself). These describe what the final printed piece is supposed to look like, rather than specifying the details of the processes required to make it. The thought process is that the digital front end (DFE) on a digital press can map from that to the actual steps needed.
As a simple example, a request for a specific substrate should be fairly easy to map to an entry in the media library in a DFE and therefore to tray selections (on a sheet-fed press) and to installing the correct ICC color profile. In closed loop workflows such as web to print the first mapping shouldn’t be necessary at all, because the media selection will be pre-populated from the same data as the media library.
The committee met for the first time in San Jose last week, and we’re looking forward to some lively debate. Our first goal is a standard for graphic arts, but there has already been discussion of following on with equivalents targeted more specifically at packaging and at wide format.
If you’re interested in getting involved please contact your national standards body and tell them you want to work in ISO TC130/WG2/TF5. If you don’t know who to contact in your country, drop me a line and I’m happy to make introductions.