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Database publishing, a lean approach with

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If you have dealt with data publishing projects, as I do, you most likely struggled with:

  • preparing the data to get it in the exact, required format
  • figuring how to create a library rich with information and logic
  • merging together multiple batches of documents and their never-ending variations and updates.

Maybe that’s the reason why I noticed as one of the PePcon 2016 sponsors. From their website they offer database publishing “as-a-service.” This definition aroused my curiosity so I decided to contact them and understand how they work and why data publishing should be “a service.”

I spoke with Luca Reginato, who’s been a Project Manager for Pagination for 6 years. Priors to Pagination, Luca and his team’s background focused on business processes, IT, and interoperability. And maybe their professional path explains their different approach on the whole database publishing topic.

Luca and his team have worked on more than three-hundred database-publishing projects, with many different approaches—both in terms of technologies (Adobe’s standards and 3rd-party solutions) and delivery (training, on-premise systems and cloud services). He explained that not every project was a piece of cake, but the first-hand experience gave them possibility to detect recurring bottlenecks, group them in categories, and streamline them. Over time their analysis translated into a redefinition of the concept of database publishing and into an overcoming of its three main inefficiencies:

  • Data preparation
  • Complex field mapping
  • Resource-intensive publication cycles (that Luca jokingly calls “baby-sitting”)

The result of their effort is Pagination: a market-leading provider of layout automation solutions that efficiently—really, no frills—already serves dozens of customers (from Fortune’s caliber corporations to SME and creative agencies), mainly in Europe. Now Luca and his team aim to branch out in the United States and are looking for selected partners such as creative agencies and printers.

Luca also gave me the chance to take a closer look at how their solution works. And it’s really very simple. Offering automated publish solutions as a service, you can work with Pagination through a very agile structure of shared folders:

  • Data
  • Layout (indd)
  • Images
  • A “launch” trigger
  • Output (indd and pdf)

You can access the shared folder anywhere, anytime with a browser or using a command line interface. A very useful option if you want to programmatically sync data, images, and documents. The logic of the system is that you upload new data and images, then launch the pagination and after a few minutes you can download the finished documents both in InDesign and PDF format.

Pagination in InDesign

Pagination does all the work for you: taking care of data transformation, library field mapping, creating chapters or versions of the documents based on the available data, and merging them in cross-referenced complete documents.

In the database publishing scene Pagination offers quite a new and compelling solution, defining important innovations and advantages:

  • Traditional database publishing solutions force publishing managers into a corner where they become the unintentional pivot of the entire process. This often causes bottlenecks, stalls, and consequent headaches. From the very beginning Pagination’s approach opens the publication workflow to a collaboration between different actors: product data managers, art-directors, and IT departments.
  • The training required to use their system is near zero. Since they take care of the initial setup of the project, your only duty (after giving Pagination the layout you prefer) is to keep providing the data and images in the same format you initially choose. And if for some reasons you need to change that format, Pagination staff will quickly make that change for you.
  • Pagination also provides an advanced “glue-factor” in workflows (e.g. handling InDesign Book management), limiting or erasing the need to reopen the paginated documents after the automatic composition. This results in ready-to-use documents and no critical tasks have to be performed when a deadline is approaching. And such situations are always the most prone to human errors.

A few days after our first talk, Luca reached out to me, asking me to write an article on what I understood about their work. And I am very glad to agree to his request. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to meet him at PePcon in San Diego and take a deeper look at his solution and how it could help our customers at Ripon Printers.

James Wamser, Ripon Printers, Adobe Certified Instructor

James Wamser

James Wamser

I'm an Adobe Certified Instructor working for a commercial printer in the Milwaukee Wisconsin area. I taught InDesign at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) for over 9 years and now teach InDesign at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). I'm the Chapter Representative for the Milwaukee InDesign User Group. Although my area of expertise is prepress and printing, I'm also very familiar with ePubs as well.
James Wamser

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3 Comments on “Database publishing, a lean approach with

  1. I work as a Digital Project Manager in one of the largest global e-commerce provider in Europe (PrestaShop, Paris/France), and from 2014 Pagination is helping us in some sophisticated communication projects, intended to our resellers. Support is outstanding and they were always able to match 100% of our publishing requirement. Keep up the good work guys!

  2. I work as a publication manager in a leading furniture design firm in Copenhagen – Denmark. We have been using Pagination for a couple of months to make multi currency price lists, and are very happy with the results. We use Pagination’s service alongside our in house product information management system and it really streamlines our workflow, leaving us with complete creative freedom. Thanks guys!

  3. As an Account Director of one the largest print management companies in the UK, we have been using Pagination for over a year to deliver thousands of up-to-date documents, to some of our most demanding customers. The service gave us complete design freedom, fast turnaround time for each of our new technical requirements, and outstanding support. Guys at Pagination are solid business partners.

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