Give us an HTML RIP!

[ratings]

Save print—develop an OpenSource HTML RIP!

I’ve started this blog because I felt the advertising community looked at print becoming increasingly old-fashioned and lacking innovation. I wanted to counter that view by showing that print is fascinating; especially taking into account that the world around the press is becoming more and more “electronic”.

But today I have to state: Print will become redundant, because key players in print just won’t let go of the attitude that printing is a science. That, if you want to take part in that process, you have to comply to a multitude of requirements.

Neither the companies who benefit from selling software and workflow systems dongled by PDF, nor the key people in the industry seem to be acknowledging that the world has kept turning over the past 20 years, that print already has lost its momentum as the prime publishing platform. The big players milk the cash cow PDF until it’s clinically dead.

Certification—the death blow for the print industry

The print industry has maneuvered itself into the end of the road. This road is called certification. Printers have to be certified, the print PDF, too—and, naturally, also all the staff involved in the production.

None of the key players in the industry question the proprietary applications and data formats that are used to perform “printing” nowadays.

But, frankly; how can it be that an ancient page-description format like PDF still defines—without any visionary alternatives on the horizon—how “printing” has to be done?

PDF in print is the combustion engine of the 21st century—everybody knows that it has no future. It is used nonetheless; because it works, most of the time, and sometimes it even is fun to ride. But the feeling while using it becomes sicker every day. And this feeling is right!

Information has become very liquid over the last couple of years. But the entire print production process ignores this development—under increasing pains. If this situation doesn’t change, virtually no one will care for print anymore; except for some industrial and niche uses.

Why don’t we see some transparent work on a print workflow that is based upon open standards, that move print closer to concepts like HTML and CSS? Why is print maneuvering itself deeper into despair each day by forcing users to export “standardized” PDFs from proprietary applications—while the rest of the media production process flushes other channels with RGB content without any hassle?

This ancient approach is usually defended by claiming that otherwise the “quality” and “security” of the print process would be compromised. Okay, just go on—and witness how print will finally be forgotten by the folks in advertising and even end users.

What has to change

Future print products will evolve around web and mobile applications communicating with databases while interacting with end users. This development must not be controlled by a few multinational players but rather by the broad customer base that your local print shop can recruit. As a prerequisite, the monopoly of PDF and the expensive workflow systems it forces upon printers has to fall.

Why shouldn’t a small ad agency be capable of meshing up print appliances with web services without shelling out loads of cash? Currently this is not possible, because the print industry brainwashes everyone that printing is science or art at least. There are PDF based systems today that can provide such services—but being based on PDF, they are extremely complex and expensive—and therefore only big companies can afford to use them. This doesn’t go along well with increasing needs of faster deliveries of highly personalized print products.

So, what are the objections against an inexpensive, OpenSource HTML RIP, based on open standards, developed by incorporating a huge base of young and agile software engineers who can close the gap of a HTML vs. a PDF RIP within just a few years while opening the way for a completely new set of print products?

Just, please, lean back for a second and think about the possibilities print could gain by connecting closer with HTML; also and especially for your print shop around the corner.

Stop postulating that print should be regarded as a science!

Stop endorsing proprietary data formats and applications!

Stop investing in extremely expensive hardware that is only there to “understand” PDF!

Print must live!

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