Volume 7, Number 4; October 31, 2001   

Mobile Overlap? Adobe Launches PDF Transit

Xerox Puts Chrystal on the Block

Documentum Seeks Pipeline to College Campuses

Neo-Publishing Solution: NextPage Offers The Matrix

Lufthansa Grounds JetStream, EDS to Take Controls


Xplor news: CreoScitex partners with Datalogics.

Stellent continues wireless push.

InterTrust president steps down.

More smoke and mirrors from Napster.

Unisys to adopt Adobe XMP.

Canto extends visual searching in Cumulus.

PrintCafe finally finds profitability.


What once appeared to be on the verge of a massive boom now looks more like a ghost town. Mike Letts visits the past, laments the present, and worries about the future for digital rights management.

Editor: Luke Cavanagh
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Mobile Overlap? Adobe Launches PDF Transit

Last week, Adobe partnered with EFI to launch the latter's PrintMe service. This week, Adobe announced an even more ambitious Internet printing solution: PDF Transit. The product is a software developer's kit (SDK) for Adobe OEMs and ISVs, including Alphagraphics, Ikon Office Solutions and NexPress. According to Adobe, PDF Transit will allow on-demand printers -- and eventually commercial printers and publishers -- to extend their presence to any customer, regardless of physical location, and add its print services to any desktop application. The SDK is scheduled for release on December 1.

Adobe is planning to demonstrate PDF Transit at Xplor this week. Implementation details from Ikon and Alphagraphics were unavailable at press time. Other on-demand and quick printing OEMs, as yet unannounced, will also be using PDF Transit, according to Paul Beyer, the group product manager for Internet printing at Adobe. Future versions will address the complexities of high-end commercial printing and other markets, he said.

Capabilities. Each implementation of PDF Transit will be customized to the output capabilities of the print provider. For end users, a PDF Transit system will include a configurable Internet Print Driver, based on Distiller, for secure PDF generation and uploading. For print service providers and in-plants, components will include server-side decryption and authentication, a decryption plug-in for Acrobat Reader, and a JDF processor.

Once installed, PDF Transit will function as a standard printer for Windows or Mac OS computers, creating PDF files at the client computer that are appropriate for the output provider's devices. Although Acrobat 5 technology is used, the PDF files will use 40-bit, not 128-bit, encryption. These are automatically uploaded to the service provider and can be viewed online for client approval. Job submission, information and delivery information may be entered in an online, JDF-compatible job ticket, although Adobe indicated that each OEM is responsible for handling and integrating JDF data. The PDF Transit SDK simply provides the tools, not the finished product, Beyer said.

Our take. There will certainly be some overlap between EFI's PrintMe and PDF Transit-based systems. Both embrace a "universal driver" concept, and both use managed PDF as the common denominator for controlling design-to-print fidelity. EFI competitors will undoubtedly consider PDF Transit as a possible means of gaining (or recovering) market share. Adobe maintains that PrintMe is for the casual printer/mobile professional---who needs to print Word files, presentations, e-mails, etc., on the road---while PDF Transit is aimed at creators of more complex documents. We're not sure the distinction is always a valid one.

PDF Transit is, in theory, a logical approach to the problems of designers and less sophisticated print specifiers creating output-ready PDF files. By constraining PDF creation to a simple, printer-like function, such systems will remove a significant percentage of user-generated errors and encourage those users to stay with a particular service provider. The addition of JDF capabilities also puts PDF Transit developers in a powerful position---but only if they develop a robust JDF environment to make such data meaningful. (The potential losers here may be developers offering their own simplified PDF-creation tools. Unfortunately, these include a different group of Adobe OEMs, such as Enfocus and CreoScitex.)

There's a historical irony to PDF Transit. Both PDF and its antecedent, PostScript, were touted as device-independent "cures" for the problems of proprietary output languages. Now, instead of creating a "universal" file, PDF Transit produces the most proprietary file possible, usable by only one service provider.

Xerox Puts Chrystal on the Block

A victim of Xerox's current financial struggles, Chrystal Software has laid off all but a handful of engineers and is seeking buyers who could take over further development of the XML-savvy Astoria content-management system. Chrystal is a wholly- owned subsidiary of Xerox, which has been eliminating unprofitable operations, selling parts of its business and trimming its work force in an effort to return to profitability. According to Tom Little, a vice president at Xerox Technology Enterprises who is overseeing the "resizing," the layoffs were necessary because Chrystal did not meet Xerox's standards for profitability and return on investment.

Of about 45 people employed by Chrystal, nearly 40 were let go, including 15 in Europe and about two-dozen in the United States. A small staff of six engineers remains to provide support to existing customers. According to one of our sources, the remaining staff includes the two lead developers of the Astoria source code.

Sales of Chrystal's Eclipse product have been halted. The latest release (version 3.6.2) of its flagship product, Astoria, is still available through selected resellers, though we'd be surprised to see any new sales go through before the future fate of the source code is resolved.

According to Little, the company has been approached by several firms that have expressed interest in licensing the source code to sell, support and further develop the Chrystal products. There also is a potentially interesting business in supporting the installed base of more than (according to Chrystal) 100 customers. Among the high-profile accounts were Lexis-Nexis, Fiat, Jaguar, and the British Royal Air Force.

One company not pursuing the source code is Ecosystems, which makes The Environment, a product-development user interface layered on top of Astoria. The Environment has been installed for six Asotria customers, including Lexis-Nexis, Sun Microsystems, Honeywell and Pearson Education. Robert Reich, CEO of Ecosystems, said that customers using The Environment on top of Chrystal's Astoria will be able to migrate their content to a different repository in the future. Ecosystems is currently working on support for Documentum and Oracle, Reich said.

The most likely candidate to buy the source code is Lightspeed Interactive of Pleasanton, CA. Lightspeed resells both Astoria and The Environment as part of an integrated suite it calls the iEngine, and it has hired Chrystal engineers and consultants in the past in an effort to gain expertise in the Astoria system. Lightspeed's senior VP of sales and marketing, Chris Pearsall, confirmed that the company is interested in making a bid for Chrystal's source code. "The core Astoria technology is an exceptional product with some unique characteristics," said Pearsall. "We strongly support the product and think it has a very viable future."

For past coverage on Chrystal, see:

Review of Ecosystems' The Environment

Features and news about Chrystal

Documentum Seeks Pipeline to College Campuses

Sensing a need for content-management solutions tailored for academia, Documentum has joined with software-services provider Campus Pipeline to develop a new product line called Luminis. The product line consists of pre-existing offerings from Campus Pipeline for the management of technology infrastructure and integration, and now has been enhanced to include a CM offering based on Documentum's 4i Content Management System. The re-branded CM solution, available through Campus Pipeline, is known as the Luminis Content Management Suite 2.0. Other pieces of the package include the Luminis Platform II---primarily for system administration, user management and portal development---and the Luminis Integration Suite 3.0, used for linking disparate systems together. These pieces were developed primarily in-house by Campus Pipeline, but they do make use of some other licensed technology, including the iPlanet Messaging Server.

Documentum is essentially licensing the 4i platform to Campus Pipeline for further development and optimization for academic institutions. That development is currently under way with the help of eight partner institutions, including Drexel, Pepperdine, Miami, and Akron Universities. The full Luminis Platform is expected to be available in the spring of 2002.

The offering will available in two main packages---The Luminis Foundation Edition and the Luminis Premiere Edition---and can also be purchased and implemented on a custom, piece-by-piece basis. Pricing has yet to be determined and will vary greatly depending on the needs of the institution, but Campus Pipeline says the fees will be "much more affordable" for institutions than typical enterprise software licenses.

Campus Pipeline was founded in 1998 with the intention of supplying unified technology solutions to colleges and universities, and it now employs about 150 people. Its solutions are installed at more than 100 schools in the United States. The company has also raised more than $85 million in funding since its inception.

Our take. In a tight market, this looks like an excellent move for Documentum. The need for online course catalogs, student profiles, campus newspapers and intranets pose nontrivial challenges to today's universities, and if Campus Pipeline can solve them at a few, it has a good chance of rolling the solution out to many. Licensing its product through a developer that already has strong inroads into this market---and costing itself no additional support resources---opens up a whole new vertical channel for Documentum.

Neo-Publishing Solution: Nextpage Offers The Matrix

NextPage, the company that rose out of the ashes of Folio, recently introduced a new product called The Matrix that blurs the line between networked publishing and collaboration. An application built on top of the company's NextPage peer-to-peer content network technology, the Matrix adds a layer for collaboration in which people share workspaces as well as content. The lead customer for The Matrix is the multinational law firm Baker & McKenzie, which bought an enterprise license so that attorneys in dozens of offices across the globe can collaborate on mergers and acquisitions.

NextPage also recently won an order from Deloitte & Touche UK for NXT3 (NextPage's peer-to-peer content platform) to be used by about 2,000 auditors to view distributed information. Related to that installation is the fact that Deloitte & Touche auditors will have access not only to internal documents but also to professional accounting publications published by ABG Professional, a leading accounting publisher in the UK. ABG will use NextPage's system to deliver its publications over the Deloitte & Touche intranet to auditors' desktops.

Over the past two years, NextPage has quietly doubled in size to about 200 employees and its installed base has grown to about 200. The company received $20 million in venture funding last January and secured $13 million more this month, bringing its total venture funding up to $49 million. According to VP of marketing Darren Lee, the latest round of funding will "take the company to profitability," which it expects to reach in the second quarter of 2002.

Our take. Nextpage's approach to integrating publishing and collaborative business processes is intriguing. For companies with many offices, it offers a peer-to-peer method of simulating a single shared repository, rather than forcing all of the content to be funneled into a single server. Second, its approach to offering Web services-in this case search, syndication, alerts, and now collaboration-is in step with the current market focus on server-to-server services exposed over the Web, and with the need to integrate publishing with business processes. Third, and perhaps most important, NextPage provides a single platform for integrating internally produced documents with those purchased from commercial publishers, particularly those in the text-heavy accounting, legal and reference fields. For organizations with document-intensive, mission-critical business processes, The Matrix is an interesting alternative to building your own collaborative knowledge-management system from a collection of portal, content-management and collaboration tools.

Lufthansa Grounds JetStream, EDS to Take Controls

This past summer, we reported on an impressive-looking new newspaper editorial system called JetStream, which was being distributed worldwide by Lufthansa Systems, an IT-focused subsidiary of the German airline empire. The system, originally developed by German software outfit Multicom, looked to contain advanced functionality as a next-generation cross-media publishing system.

Now, apparently concerned by the sluggish systems market, Lufthansa Systems has backed out of its distribution deal with Multicom and will have no future association with the system. Distribution will be taken over by Texas-based global services company EDS and its newly acquired subsidiary, Systematics. The former Jetstream system will now be known as NextGeneration, and EDS-Systematics will be granted an exclusive license by Multicom to distribute the product. Multicom will also sell the product directly through its own channels. The deal is expected to be finalized within a few weeks.

Our take. We were impressed with the Jetstream system when we saw it over the summer, but that doesn't make the prospect of selling the system in the United States any more attractive. EDS has a wide and deep sales channel, but newspapers are not buying many systems of any kind right now, much less expensive ones. We're not sure EDS is going to end up finding this situation any more attractive than Lufthansa did in the long run.

At Xplor, CreoScitex announced a new partnership with developer Datalogics, whereby the latter's DL Formatter composition application will provide output to Spire servers in CreoScitex's Variable Print Specification (VPS) format. The variable-data workflow is in final testing, according to CreoScitex spokesman Yaron Mohaban, although a definite release date was not available. DL Formatter utilizes Adobe FrameMaker or InDesign to create variable data documents. In a separate demonstration, CreoScitex also announced Spire support for "optimized" PDF, allowing the RIP to store repeating elements of a PDF file in rasterized form. According to Mohaban, this process reduces overall processing time and allows output devices to run closer to their rated speed.

Stellent continued its push into the wireless space this week by adding the Outside In wireless viewer to its portfolio of products. The application converts e-mail attachments in more than 225 file formats to wireless-compatible formats such as WML, cHTML and xHTML. The server-side application, which was originally a product of Inso, typically allows fairly utilitarian viewing of attachments, with the general benefit being that users can see what is contained in an attachment without taking the time to download or detach it to the file system and then open the file in its native application.

David Ludvigson, the president of digital rights management developer InterTrust, has resigned from the company effective Nov. 1. Ludvigson said he resigned "to pursue other interests." The company has appointed David Lockwood, formerly the executive vice chairman and a company board member, as his replacement. Lockwood joined the company less than a month ago after serving as co-CEO of venture capital firm Reuters Greenhouse. Prior to his work at Reuters Greenhouse, Lockwood served as a managing director at Goldman Sachs.

The problems continue for Napster. New CEO Konrad Hilbers told attendees of Webnoize 2001 in Los Angeles this week that the company's revamped online music service will not launch until at least the first quarter of 2002. The initial launch was slated for this fall. According to Hilbers, the biggest hurdle is obtaining content from various record labels. Napster has been shut down since July, when a federal court enjoined the file-swapping service from operating until it could prevent the sharing of copyrighted material. Easier said than done.

Editorial system vendor Unisys has announced that it will implement support for Adobe's XMP metadata framework into its E-action suite of publishing solutions. XMP provides a standard metadata scheme by which XML tags can be built into binary files and used to describe them. Unisys has previously integrated support for Adobe InDesign into its editorial system as well.

Canto has added yet another visual search option to its Cumulus asset-management program. The company, which recently began offering Idee's Espion Visual Search Option, this week announced that it will also offer eVision's eVe Visual Search Technology. EVision's eVe 3 Lite for Cumulus 5 Option will be available in November 2001 for the Enterprise Edition of Cumulus 5. In the future, eVe 3 Lite will also be available for the Workgroup Edition of Cumulus. Cumulus 5 Enterprise Edition customers can get eVe 3 Lite for Cumulus at no additional charge. The eVe technology is also used by North Plains Systems in its TeleScope brand-asset-management system.

PrintCafe reports that, as of the third quarter of this year, it has reached profitability on the strength of seven consecutive quarters of revenue growth. Without indicating specific breakdowns, the company says its Web-based ASP offering for the print industry continues to show growth. At the same time, it remains hard to gauge the viability of the dot-com print model. PrintCafe appears to be gaining a sizable chunk of its revenue through its installed solutions.

by Mike Letts

DRM Vendors Are Selling, But Who's Buying?

The digital rights management market, sadly, has shown a lot more bark than bite in the past two years. Intertwined with a struggling e-book market and backed by a piece of weak legislation---the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)---the DRM market has quickly regressed into uncertainty after a ballyhooed beginning that once gave vendors and the content industry high hopes that it would usher in a new generation of publishing.

The angst that has been generated by the Dmitry Sklyarov debacle and the rancorous debate surrounding the DMCA have made it clear that there is a deep chasm separating the various elements of the electronic publishing industry-authors, programmers, publishers and consumers. This gap must be bridged before any real industry uptake will be seen in DRM, and subsequently e- books. Unfortunately, signs that such a bridge is under construction are few and far between, and further signs of regression are plentiful.

A large and increasingly vocal segment of the publishing world has written off DRM, offering convenient arguments for the ubiquitous "freedom" of content. Most notable is the argument that fair use simply cannot be replicated adequately in a digital environment. Proponents of DRM argue that without fair use, a robust digital content industry cannot develop. The feeling there is that content must be secure before it's pushed out the door in order to protect the financial interests that make the publishing industry go round.

So where does that leave us? Stuck with a superficially hot topic made temporarily obsolete by the dearth of revenue currently being generated from digital content sales. Not to be neglected, however, is the fact that publishers simply aren't experimenting with new and alternative pricing and distribution models to make that content more attractive to consumers-and round and round we go.

Cloudy outlook. A recent study on DRM usage and attitudes commissioned by Seybold Seminars and Publications confirmed this relative sense of industry apathy. Of 1,332 publishing professionals surveyed, only seven percent were currently using a DRM solution. Only 18 percent said they had plans to implement a DRM system within the next 12 to 18 months, and approximately 75 percent of those polled agreed that the limited revenue gained from selling digital content does not justify an investment in a DRM solution.

Still, there were some small positives that indicate the market isn't totally hopeless. Approximately half of those polled agreed that DRM will be important to their organizations 12 months from now, while approximately 50 percent cited the ability to offer different price points for different uses of content as a benefit of adopting a DRM solution. However, given the roller coaster ride of the past two years in this and, indeed, the entire technology market, it's hard to say if any predictions or plans for even the next 12 months hold any water. Plus, one has to wonder why, if publishers are truly interested in DRM, is it only deemed to be important a year from now. Why not now, if you're really that interested in it?

The unfortunate reality appears to be that publishers are not moving any closer right now to a reality that prominently features DRM. Issues such as system cost, convenience and standards incompatibility are quickly killing off what was once considered a plethora of DRM vendors.

An industry barometer. No situation highlights the outlook in the DRM industry better than the collapse of Reciprocal several weeks ago. Once an up-and-coming DRM prospect with powerhouse potential, Reciprocal was unable to secure more funding over the past several months, and reportedly defaulted on at least one loan of approximately $10 million provided by Microsoft. The company, without much warning, has for all intents and purposes closed up shop (see "Bleak Outlook at Reciprocal" for more).

Other DRM providers for the publishing industry have had similar financial problems over the past six months or so-notably Digital Goods, Preview Systems and ContentGuard (although ContentGuard is still in operation)-but each provided its own proprietary solution. Reciprocal was unique in that its sole purpose was to work with publishers to alleviate the headaches associated with getting a DRM solution up and running. Reciprocal did not develop its own DRM technology, but offered a choice of no less than four DRM solutions (including wares from Adobe, Microsoft, IBM and others) to its clients. With no real competition in the DRM service space (although Bertelsmann's Digital World Services has recently entered the publishing arena), its future looked promising.

Sadly, Reciprocal was in the right place, but at the wrong time. The company ran into trouble not because it failed to elevate its own proprietary solution over that of its competitor, but simply because publishers are still tiptoeing around the issue of DRM. Less reliant on consumer sales than other now-defunct DRM vendors, Reciprocal's problems show that its solution was apparently too advanced, and that publishers are not ready to move forward into the digital landscape quite yet. This unwillingness to taste-test the multitude of pricing and distribution models that companies like Reciprocal provide is unfortunate, because the current business of providing electronic content for free---or not providing it at all---is a bad business cycle for publishers, and even worse for digital technology vendors.

Mike Letts is a DRM and E-book watchdog for The Seybold Report. To sound off on this topic, contact him at mike_letts@seyboldreports.com.

  © 2001 by Seybold Publications.
Reproduction or distribution in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

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