CGATS Drives Growth of Personalized Print Industry
With Variable Data Exchange Standard
JUNE 21, 2001
For More Information, Contact Mary Abbott, 703/264-7211, firstname.lastname@example.org
The American National Standards Institute-accredited
Committee for Graphic Arts
Technologies Standards (CGATS) has defined an
open, variable data exchange standard, making it
easier for designers to create and proof variable data jobs,
and for commercial printers to produce
them. CGATS.20 Graphic technology - Variable printing data exchange using PPML and PDF
(PPML/VDX), defines a standardized implementation of the PPML specification using PDF-based
workflows for exchanging variable printing data.
PPML/VDX builds upon the Adobe? Portable Document Format (PDF) and PODi?s
Personalized Print Mark-up Language (PPML) to create an open standard for variable data exchange.
This enables documents that will combine both database information and variable content to be created
through a "save as" command in new software products to create variable data print jobs. PPML/VDX
creates a well-defined, verifiable data format that allows designers and printers to exchange final form,
variable documents electronically.
A PPML/VDX compliant job includes creative content from current design applications and
variable information from common database applications. The standard combines PPML?s capabilities
for encoding the layout of variable data with the PDF format?s openness, reliability and soft-proofing
benefits. The use of PPML/VDX will reduce the need for extensive communication between designers
This open standard gives designers complete control over the final form, content and merged
appearance of each piece - even when every page or document is unique. Printers can
focus on production, which relieves them of the burden of manipulating databases, performing merges
and ensuring the final product contains the correct variable data.
Adobe Systems Inc., Applied Printing Technologies, Atlas Software BV, Banta Integrated
Media, Canopy LLC, Citation Software Inc, Dai Nippon Screen Mfg. Co., Ltd., Datalogics Inc., Digital
Printing Council/PIA, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Harlequin Inc, Heidelberg, Hewlett-Packard,
NexPress Solutions LLC, Rochester Institute of Technology, Think121, Xeikon America Inc., and
Xerox have participated in the development of and have expressed support and interest in using
PPML/VDX for upcoming products.
As part of the final review, drafts of the open standard are available at
http://www.npes.org/standards/workroom.htm#cgats. Interested parties are invited to participate in the
task force development activity, review the drafts, and submit comments to the CGATS
Secretariat at email@example.com.
Here is what some industry leaders are saying about the PPML/VDX open standard and how it
will make variable data printing more accessible:
"The combination of PDF and PPML in the new variable
data exchange format advances the
state of variable data in the industry," stated George
Cacioppo, Vice President of Internet
Printing at Adobe Systems Incorporated. "The PPML/VDX
open standard is a reliable and
effective solution for delivering variable data content for graphic arts workflow. Users will be
able to share information freely, preserve document content in a secure manner, enhance and
annotate electronically, and reliably distribute to anyone anywhere."
By utilizing PPML/VDX, designers will be free to create variable data jobs without a specific
production system in mind, which means: designers and other content producers can maintain a typical
relationship with print-service providers. The responsibility for the content remains with the creators,
and the responsibility for the print quality remains with the print providers.
"As PrintShop Mail has played a significant role in variable data printing since 1992, we embrace
the PPML/VDX standard as the next step to naturally serve the Print Production Industry," said Harry
Raaphorst, President Atlas Software BV. "PPML/VDX will allow the industry to extend the
predictability of their print jobs worldwide."
"PPML/VDX provides designers and printers with the much anticipated standard we believe will
greatly reduce the obstacles that currently exist with complex, variable data printing," said
Cheryl Kahanec, Vice President, Marketing, Applied Printing Technologies, LP. "APT Digital is
eager to be a part of its development as we recognize the important role it will play in our
"We're excited to be working toward the goal of interoperability with these industry leaders,"
said Matt Kuznicki, development engineer, Datalogics, Inc. "The creation of a common standard
that allows a variable data print job to be created by anybody who needs personalized materials,
and allows that job to be printed reliably by any variable data print shop, can only help to further
spur and encourage this already exciting market."
"R.R. Donnelley has been at the forefront of using tools developed using standards-based
technologies that support the level of accuracy and the cycle times required by our customers.
We expect the CGATS variable data exchange standard to increase the reliability and efficiency
of producing variable print work. This standard will help ensure consistent setup of variable print
jobs by providing a common intermediary between front-end pre-press activities and the digital
press. It should encourage the development of improved variable print job setup, proofing and
tracking software," said Grant Miller, Vice President of Technology, R.R. Donnelley & Sons
"From the inception of our company, we have been an advocate for open industry standards
that have the potential to unleash explosive growth in the variable data printing industry and will
drive the future of digital color printing," said Venkat Purushotham, President and Chief
Executive Officer, NexPress Solutions LLC. "We anticipate strong industry support for this
powerful variable data exchange format and are already working to employ it in our variable
data solutions. Designers and print providers who were previously reluctant to try variable data
printing - because of either the lack of control or added liability - now can do it with
"CGATS has led the industry in the development of open standards for variable data printing," said
Joanne Vinyard, Digital Printing Council/PIA. "This will benefit printers, marketers, and graphic
designers and create new market opportunities."
"The PPML/VDX standard opens the door for designers and IT professionals to collaborate on
variable data applications for both print and e-commerce using familiar, open standards such as
PDF, XML and PPML," said Todd R. Kueny, President, Think121. "We expect this standard to
drive strong growth and open exciting new market opportunities in content delivery services
related to graphic arts, e-commerce and the Internet."
"Markets for personalized print communication continue to rapidly expand and evolve," said
Herman Remmerie, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Planning, Xeikon N.V.
"Standards such as PPML/VDX will further streamline the exchange of variable files which are
core to this trend. Xeikon is committed to cultivating personalized markets for commercial
printers by continuing to help develop and support standard activities such as PPML/VDX."
"Having been active in variable data printing since 1978 and in digital publishing since the
introduction of the DocuTech in 1990, Xerox welcomes the broad support and participation the
CGATS PPML/VDX standard is gaining," said John Hamm, VP/GM Prepress/Commercial Print
Segment, Xerox Worldwide Graphic Arts Marketing, Xerox Corporation. "This standard provides the
cornerstone for reliable and predictable data interchange that is essential in transitioning variable data
into broadly distributed graphic arts workflows."
Producers can "soft proof" any portion or all of their jobs - by page, recipient, or individual
content or object, for example - an especially important new capability within variable data printing
workflows, which traditionally require many complex press proofs. Producers can design a distribute-and-
print campaign - collecting their data via the Internet, if they wish, and sorting jobs between
several printing sites - with reliable expectations of what the final product will look like.
The Committee for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards (CGATS) was accredited by the
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1989. CGATS? mission is to represent the entire
scope of printing and publishing technologies in one national standardization and coordination effort,
while respecting the established activities of existing accredited standards committees and industry
standards developers. CGATS is administered by NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing,
Publishing, and Converting Technologies. For more information, contact Mary Abbott at
firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (703) 264-7200.
The CGATS proposal for an ANSI standard is built on PPML version 1.5. PPML is a
trademark of PODi, the Digital Printing initiative (http://www.podi.org). PODi is a not-for-profit
initiative sponsored by the world's leading manufacturers of digital print products. The PPML
specification was first released in February 2000.
The CGATS proposal for an ANSI standard is built on PDF (Adobe Portable Document
Format), as was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated to allow documents to be viewed,
navigated, and printed from any computer regardless of the fonts or software programs used to
create the original. Adobe is a registered trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United
States and other countries (www.adobe.com).