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Sign Making Gets Productive

How Software Vendors Are Juicing the Productivity of Sign Making Programs

by Thomas Franklin

Part 3 of a 8-part Series

As the retail giant Wal-Mart has demonstrated, you can wring a lot of money out of efficiencies. Software makers have taken the lesson to heart and have worked harder so you don’t have to.

"We are looking at productivity tools for future versions of the Flexi product," says Matthew Scher, director of product management, SA International. "We’re looking at ease of use and improving the overall performance."

The current version 8 of Flexi already boasts productivity-enhancers, Scher notes. "Helping to expedite the proofing process is important because proofing can be tedious." Flexi8’s template-based system can automatically add a business’ logo and customer info with a single click export to PDF or JPEG file.

Not all design programs were created equally, especially when it comes to wide format, Scher adds. "Some programs limit the size of the page or grind down or become unstable when dealing in larger sizes." Flexi8, by contrast, is designed to handle wide format output, he says.

"Ease of use is what entices people to the program," he states. Features such as an on-screen spell-checker, designed by bad spellers, for bad spellers Scher jokes, also ensures a smoother workflow. A wizard-style color management feature and a growing number of profiles help soothe color management nerves, Scher says.

While Vista patches or updates have been issued for a number of programs, SA International advises its Flexi8 users to not run the program on Vista PCs as many of the drivers may not "play nice" with Microsoft’s newest operating system.

"There will be a Flexi9 this year," Scher says, "and that edition will be Vista-ready."

Productivity features will also headline a forthcoming release of CADLink’s SignLab, according to Michael Chramtchenko, director of marketing, CADLink Technology Corp. Likely coming in the third quarter of this year, it will offer several new features including Visual Production Manager for automatically or manually nesting multiple print, cut, or print and cut jobs on a single sheet of media.

"We’re looking to bring better production tools to design," Chramtchenko says. He adds that while many of the features on the design side of the software equation are becoming more uniform among competitors, there is plenty of room to differentiate on the production side. "We’ve focused on how to help users manage multiple queues and multiple output devices," he adds.

Training will also feature more prominently in the company’s value-proposition, Chramtchenko states. Every customer will receive an hour’s worth of free training, scheduled at their convenience and conducted online. Using Virtual Network Computing, a CADLink technical manager will access the user’s computer and walk them through the features of the program.

"There is no set instruction, it’s entirely up to the user to decide what they want to go over," Chramtchenko says. That training is complimented by a library of short demonstrational videos—225 and counting—on the company’s Web site and around-the-clock technical support.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, How Suite it Is 
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Mimicking the Masters

May2007, Digital Output

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