From DTP to DBP to CBP

...when change is a constant.

In late summer 1987, I started my professional life as a typesetter. Two exciting circumstances came together, the significance of which I only fully understood in the following years. On the one hand, prepress had just been completely turned upside down, and on the other hand, as a trainee, I was initially ridiculed as "punishment work" by my older colleagues, and later envied by the same colleagues for the necessary know-how, all tasks that revolved around layout creation on PC and Mac. The complete change in prepress work processes "hit" me, so to speak, or better yet "found" me. 

This revolution in prepress is still called desktop publishing (abbreviation: DTP; English for "publishing from the desktop"). It began from about 1985, at first timidly, then more and more intensively to completely change the creation of print templates. Initially still smiled at pityingly by "experts" because of its poor quality, the digital production process almost completely replaced all technologies - most of which were based completely or partially on photographic techniques - within 7 years.  

Database publishing (DBP), on the other hand, did not replace desktop publishing, but was a logical further development of the digital production process. Its origins date back to the early 1990s, just a few years after the start of the DTP revolution in the printing industry. Basically, there were two ways to do database publishing in the beginning. Either you had to convert a basement room into a play den, provide enough coke and coffee supplies to attract the appropriate long-haired "nerds" and then lock them up for some time deprived of daylight and social contacts, or you entrusted your project to a software company that more or less professionally - built the desired solution (hopefully). 

Admittedly, from these pioneering beginnings, professional software products for catalog management, extensions for layout programs and later content systems for product data (PIM) or even for image data management (MAM/DAM), systems for editorial data, web content management systems, master data management systems, etc. continuously developed. One could also say that more and more special softwares fulfilled special requirements of companies in product communication. 

Database publishing, on the other hand, now comes in all "flavors", from a simple toolbox with Java scripts for Adobe InDesign to enterprise software for highly complex, fully automated page production. Despite all the professionalization and standardization, a comprehensive publishing project is still not available for little money or even for free. On the other hand, the potential savings are also enormous when such software is used appropriately. In other words: "Yes, it is expensive, but it can be worth it". 

But what if a company actually only occasionally needs clever software for product data communication? Maybe data sheets for the products produced, 

a price list once a year? Maybe some more brochures, posters and flyers? But make a large investment in software for this? If it were only the software, but there are still the costs for the infrastructure, ongoing software maintenance costs and the project costs on top.  

Are these financial and technical hurdles that can stand in the way of professional, automated print publishing unavoidable? Are there ways and means to make publishing projects easier to implement? 

One technological development that shows promise here is cloudbase publishing. 

Cloudbase Publishing (abbreviation: CBP; English for "cloud-based publishing")

Cloud-based print publishing software, which means that employees of companies can access the software from any location where there is an Internet connection. Preconfigured publishing solutions can be used as a service, enabling rapid project success. 

Unternehmen profitieren in der Regel von einer solchen Lösung, da:

  • No need to develop costly custom software or configure a publishing solution 

  • No more expensive servers to maintain 

  • No need to purchase costly updates 

  • It is always guaranteed that the latest version is used

The goal of a cloud solution must therefore be to provide every company with a powerful package of tools and standard services to use key technologies in the most cost-effective way possible.  

I can already hear your objections: 

Well, but I don't need new software or a cloud service for that. Today, I can make any server accessible via the Internet, and print publishing software almost always has a web-based interface. Besides, the layout and automation have to be configured in both cases, don't they?

First of all:

You are absolutely right! But I answer with the following consideration: "A server is a server", meaning: It is not really relevant where I run a server, as long as I use it alone, I pay for it alone. Preconfigured solutions offer the possibility to create automated ads much faster. Thus, I am much more flexible to produce new advertising material efficiently and on short notice. 

A classic enterprise software can of course be run on Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc., but it does not achieve the same cost reduction effect as a cloud native software. Cloud native software is also designed so that many customers work on a highly scalable overall system based on configurable standard services. This results in a cost advantage that can be passed on to end customers. This creates a real cost advantage in terms of infrastructure, software and project costs. 

Preconfigured standard solution allows you to complete a print publishing project in days or a few weeks. On the other hand, with a classic custom project, you have to expect 3 to 6 months. You are freed from the costs of developing and maintaining technical solutions. You use a service so that you can concentrate on your work as a layouter and marketer.

So then we'll all be using cloud native print publishing systems in the future? Not quite! 

I'm convinced that for large, complex or highly customized print publishing projects, it can make perfect sense to invest in a custom solution based on enterprise software. All others should at least take a look at existing cloud solutions first. 

My personal interim conclusion after more than 30 years in this industry: It remains exciting and the constant changes remain a constant companion. I wouldn't wish it any other way.