Mobile Overlap? Adobe Launches PDF
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
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
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
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
One company not pursuing the source code is
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:
of Ecosystems' The Environment
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
Neo-Publishing Solution: Nextpage Offers The
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
& 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'
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
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
looked to contain advanced functionality as a next-generation cross-media
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2001 by Seybold Publications.
Reproduction or distribution in whole
or in part without written permission is prohibited.
Top of Page
Site Map |
Contact Us |