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CGATS Drives Growth of Personalized Print Industry With Variable Data Exchange Standard


JUNE 21, 2001

For More Information, Contact Mary Abbott, 703/264-7211,

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 and printers.

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 Interested parties are invited to participate in the task force development activity, review the drafts, and submit comments to the CGATS Secretariat at

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."

"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 future."

"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 Company.

"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 confidence."

"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."

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.

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 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 ( 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 (

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