Ten Years After: CIP4 and the Creation of JDF

CHICAGO—Few printers know the name International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress Association. And although the moniker “CIP4” is more recognizable, the organization’s impact on the printing industry is huge. Can you think of any printing industry association or standards organization that made more of an impact on the industry in its first ten years?

Computer-to-plate and digital file exchange were beginning to have an impact on the industry. Digital printing was in its infancy, PDF/X was new and you still had a variety of file formats to pick from. Private networks, DAT cartridges, and CD-ROM were used to transfer files … and that was the state of the art in the year 2000. Stat cameras, phototypesetters, drum scanners, and strippers could still be found on in most printing plants. Although a few large printers had implemented custom automation, it was far too expensive and too complex for the majority of printers to even contemplate.

Yet, between 1998 and 2000 Adobe, Agfa, Heidelberg and manroland created an XML schema, whose function was to serve as the keystone for printing automation. The companies decided to entrust the XML schema to the former “CIP3” organization, on the condition that CIP3 reorganize as an open and global international standards organization. In 1993 Gerhard Fischer and Udo Blasius of Heidelberg had asked Jürgen Schönhut of the Fraunhofer Institute to help form CIP3, which was a consortium of manufacturers working towards print automation and the creation of the Print Production Format; popularly called “CIP3” and used today in ink key presetting systems. The CIP3 organization was selected by Adobe, Heidelberg, Agfa and manroland at drupa 2000 to create CIP4. A “Transition Committee” was formed to write the new organization’s bylaws, decide how to organize the association and create a legal foundation for the association. Martin Bailey of Global Graphics, who would become the first CEO of CIP4, led the Transition Committee and Stefan Daun of Fraunhofer became CIP4’s Secretariat. Just 40 companies belonged to CIP4 when it was formed in July, 2000. Introducing process automation to the printing industry wasn’t just a monumental objective … some argued for several years that it wasn’t possible, and that the Job Definition Format, or JDF, couldn’t work.

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