EFI Announces New Workflow Automation Solution

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | No Comments »

by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company

JobFlow ScreenYesterday EFI announced a new workflow automation solution called JobFlow 2.2. I had a chance to review it prior to launch and find it to be a solution which many small to mid-sized in-plants and commercial printers will find useful due to its simplicity and pricing.

JobFlow is specifically designed to help Command WorkStation users integrate and automate Fiery preflight, prepress and make-ready functions for common types of jobs. The base version is free for Command WorkStation users while the paid version adds some more 3rd party integration, rules-based logic, and approval automation features.

JobFlow is a pretty cool product for what it does, but let me start be setting some expectations. It is primarily designed to integrate, automate and streamline Fiery prepress functions, not as an end-to-end solution seamlessly linked with MIS and web submission systems. Even the full version uses text files, command-line scripts and hot folders to communicate with external systems. So, if you’re looking for something capable of integrating with sophisticated systems using JDF and JMF, save yourself some time and stop reading now. However, it could be just what you’re looking for if you’re a smaller shop using Command WorkStation and have no needs, infrastructure or plans to create such integrated solutions.

As I said earlier, JobFlow comes in two versions. JobFlow Base has the following capabilities:

  • A simple way to build automated workflows using existing EFI prepress tools
  • A way to automate prepress operations on files destined for Fiery servers by dragging them onto named workflows, hot folders or even secure Dropbox locations
  • A method of stopping and notifying operators when there is a problem
  • A way to accept individual files or lists of files to be batch produced using simple, text job tickets
  • Viewing of processed files and preflight reports
  • The ability to direct completed jobs to a variety of locations ranging from Fiery process-and-hold queues to file folders
  • A nice, clean dashboard displaying incoming jobs, jobs in process, completed jobs, and jobs with errors

The biggest barriers I see preventing smaller printers and in-plants from implementing workflow automation solutions are ROI, implementation and integration. JobFlow Base seems to bypass all three of these barriers since it provides all this for free for Command WorkStation customers, it can’t be tightly integrated with other systems anyway, and its workflows are created by stringing together Fiery prepress functions your prepress department already uses.

The paid version of JobFlow adds some more advanced capabilities including:

  • A simple, automated approval engine which sends proofs and preflight reports to clients and waits for them to approve or reject the job before continuing the automation
  • Tight integration with Enfocus PitStop, including using PitStop action lists and profiles to create workflows with rules-based conditional logic
  • And integration with 3rd party packages via hot folders and command-line scripts

So, while Fiery JobFlow certainly has some constraints and isn’t suitable for everyone, I think that it would fit in well for many of the in-plant and smaller commercial operations I’ve seen. Feel free to peruse the 6 short videos in my PODi Product Briefing where I demonstrate and discuss my thoughts on key capabilities, uses and limitations of this solution at: www.podi.org/Fiery-JobFlow-PODi-Product-Briefing.html

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