SUMMARY: Re: "Print on demand" and "Docutech"

Subject: SUMMARY: Re: "Print on demand" and "Docutech"
From: Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 12:31:44 -0400

Thank you to everyone who sent me valuable information on the concepts of
"print on demand" and the Docutech printer. If I have any further
questions, I'll let you know.

As I said to someone in a separate e-mail, this is about the fourth time
I've submitted a question to techwr-l, and the fourth time I have received
tons of thoughtful and useful advice. It never ceases to amaze me that so
many people take so much time to help a total stranger. Thanks, gang!

I'm in the process of compiling all this input into a format I can present
to our Chairman of the Board. But here's an unformatted list of comments.

Gilda Spitz
Manager of Documentation
Longview Solutions Inc.

"Instead of sending printed pages, we would send the printing house a
PostScript file or an Acrobat file, either of which can be used by the
DocuTech printer."

"Our cost per book of a typical B&W 160-pg Installation manual, for
instance, is about $4.80 apiece"

"My last company printed anywhere from 25 to 250 at a time. We used a
Docutech, and the cost was reasonable."

"It is basically a copier on steroids, although that I have heard that
there is now a 4-color docutech printer out there."

" We printed 10 and 20 at a time and yes, it is cost effective because
there are no setup charges from the outside printer. ...the repro
department can ... reprint any time more copies are needed. And every
print is a first run of the original electronic document.."

"If you're printing on a DocuTech at a printing house, you will need to
supply them with whatever file they feel comfortable with. And I'd check
with them on the printer driver they want you to use to provide that
file. Printer drivers are the biggest bugaboo in this whole process.
Print some files using different printer drivers and send them to be
printed. Be sure to note in the footer or watermark which printer driver
was used to produce the file so you know what was used when you are
comparing the output. "

The docutech prints at about 600 dpi.

"Make sure you get the printer driver for the exact model of Docutech
that your printer is using. Print from Frame to a PS file using that
driver. Then distill as normal to PDF using Acrobat Distiller."

" if you are running Windows NT, be sure to use the Docutech printer
driver to create the postscript file. Win 95/98 and Macintosh don't have
printer driver issues like WinNT."

"The print shop would probably want PDF these days. Various pre-flight
tools exist to check the producability of the PDF file so you can catch
and fix problems before they get to the press room."

"Some vendors will also accept .pdf files, but the quality of print may
be marginally lower."
"If you will be usually ordering in quantities of 200 or more, try to
negotiate a fixed price with your vendor based on a minimum run. We got
a good price from our vendor by agreeing to a minimum run of 25. As our
relationship grew over a couple of years or so, we found they were
willing to bend even those rules for us in extreme or unusual cases."

"The last time I worked with Docutech (about 4 months ago) our vendor
still requested that we use Xerox's Docutech driver - however, they
*could* print from a Distiller-created .ps and even from a .pdf. But
they were reluctant to assist with troubleshooting if we had problems
unless we used the Docutech driver.

"If you're sending a postscript file, any postscript printer driver will
do. However, Docutech houses encourage the use of the standard drivers,
probably because they know what quirks to expect. "

"Depending on which model and options your printer has, you can give
them a Postscript file, or a PDF, and they'll be able to print you any
number of copies you want, inexpensively. If they only have the scanner
(think digital copier) then it's lower quality, but still relatively

" Make sure that you have your print house send you bluelines before
printing the final version so that you can check for PE (printer errors,
such as missing pages and such)."

"There are new color printers (whether they are DocuTech or something
else, I'm not sure) that can print spot and four-color color, but they
get expensive in a hurry."

"You will have to bind your books yourself or send them out to have the
binders put on "

"Be sure to embed fonts in your PDFs to make sure they print properly"

"Occasionally, even the PS would have strange artifacts not visible in
the FrameMaker version."

" Occasionally, we had odd problems with graphics."

"There are color Docutechs, but I don't believe they can print on
cover-weight stock, so if you bind your docs in covers, you'll need to
have (larger runs of) covers printed the traditional way and store what
you don't use immediately."

" In the projects I was involved with, the Docutech output was slightly
different from the original documents because the fonts used by the
Docutech were ever-so-slightly different from their counterparts in the
original FrameMaker and Word files. This led to such problems as poor
letter- and word-spacing (especially with display fonts) and wrong
line- and page-breaks, which made a mockery of the time I had spent
creating careful breaks."

"We used to "pre-proof" our PostScript files before sending them to the
vendor: Using the Docutech driver, we'd create our PostScript file. Then
we would run this file through Acrobat Distiller and go page-by-page
through the .pdf to look for any errors or anything weird. If our .pdf
looked fine, then unless there was a problem on the vendor's end the
proofs looked fine too. Be sure whatever vendor you choose provides a
proof; believe it or not, some don't, or they charge extra for it."

"We never had any typographical issues that weren't a result of using
the wrong printer driver. We did have some occasional problems with
graphics, but that was due to the PostScript translation. When you use a
Docutech you are really just using the PostScript language, and
experiencing all the attendant issues with fonts and graphic formats and
whatnot. Adobe provides some PostScript troubleshooting info on their
web site if you have problems. We had very, very few problems in the 4
or 5 years I worked at this company. If I ever again needed a print
solution for short runs, I'd go Docutech in a heartbeat."

"I'd recommend developing a good relationship with a reputable,
experienced printing vendor. There are many print shops out there that
have Docutechs but are far from being experts with them (or even
necessarily competent). Try to find a vendor with more than one Docutech
and a few years experience with it."

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