PDF In-Depth

Hans Hartman chats with Planet PDF

May 30, 2004


Editor's Note: Hans Hartman has chaired both the New York and San Francisco Seybold Seminars PDF Conferences. He is author of the "CPXe - Reshaping Photofinishing through Web Services" report for Future Image, Inc. and also writes about PDF and XML Web services for the Seybold Report and Hosting Tech Magazine. Hartman previously was president of ScheduleOnline, director of professional solutions at Live Picture, business unit manager 2D animation software at Xaos Tools, and marketing manager at Barco Graphics (merged with Purup-Eskofot in 2002 to form "Esko-Graphics"). Hartman holds a Masters degree in Industrial Economics from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

DAN SHEA: So Hans, can you please tell our readers a little about what you are doing these days?

HANS HARTMAN: I am currently doing three things. Besides chairing Seybold Amsterdam and the various Seybold PDF conferences, I am also actively involved in the imaging industry. I am the conference director of the Mobile Imaging Summit Europe, a high level summit for the emerging camera-phone industry, which is organized by Future Image and the I3A. In addition, I'm a partner in a very innovative photo sharing website, Funtigo. In the past I worked for Live Picture and Xaos Tools, so I have always had a big interest in imaging. I have also previously worked for prepress companies and desktop publishing vendors, hence my interest in PDF.

DAN SHEA: How did you first get involved with Seybold Seminars?

HARTMAN: I am an old-time Seybold visitor. At the end of the dot com era, Gene Gable, the former Seybold general manager, asked me to consult them about developing strategies for how Seybold could expand its attendee base in a way that would not alienate the old attendee base. One of the suggestions was to build out the PDF "Hot Tech Days" to a full-blown conference, with more tracks, keynotes, and more enterprise-oriented content.

DAN SHEA: Since your association with Seybold and PDF began, how have you seen the industry develop and grow?

HARTMAN: Three years ago, when I started with Seybold, much of the attention was on affordable plug-ins that supplemented Acrobat functionality. Although many of these plug-ins are still important, we're seeing a lot of momentum in server-based PDF creation tools and tie-ins to XML. On the graphic arts side - strictly not part of PDF - JDF has taken an incredible fast flight.

DAN SHEA: Do you think the emphasis has changed significantly? Why?

HARTMAN: The server and XML emphasis is primarily because people find it more important than ever to increase productivity in workflows and PDF creation. That has become more important than adding functionality to individual PDF files or making PDF files print (something that, partly because of the various preflight tools, is more of a given than three years ago).

DAN SHEA: As a conference chair, what major differences have you noticed between European and US audiences?

HARTMAN: First, my gut feeling is that 25% of the crowd - the people who breathe PDF for a living - come to both conferences. Second, there is probably a larger percentage (of delegates) in Europe that are interested in PDF for print topics, perhaps because graphic arts trade associations are stronger in Europe and we market the Seybold conference a lot through them. Third, there is a lot of interest in vertical market-specific PDF standards because of the work of the Ghent PDF Workgroup. Fourth, there is more interest in color-managed workflows, in particular in the German speaking countries, where Olaf Druemmer, Stephan Jaeggi, and folks from the European Color Initiative have evangelized this a lot. You also see more adoption of PDF/X-3 in Europe.

DAN SHEA: What about logistical differences between the two environments?

HARTMAN: The Seybold conference in San Francisco is bigger, and traditionally also has a tradeshow component. The vendor booths in Amsterdam were only open for attendees of the conference, not for people who only wanted to come to the exhibits.

DAN SHEA: Where do you see the state of the industry say, 5 years down the track?

HARTMAN: First, I think it will be much bigger than today. Creating, archiving, storing and printing documents will all be bigger and automated in much smarter ways. We'll be much smarter in multi-channel publishing instead of simply re-using the entire document for different printing or viewing conditions. You'll see the concept of a "document" increasingly being replaced by that of a "content module" that can be easily hooked into others by the user. Roger Black, keynoter in our (Seybold Seminars Amsterdam) Creative Pro conference had interesting notions about that. This will also have repercussions of what you expect to be able to do with PDF documents. You'll also see increasing native support of XML in PDF, instead of just being available as an import or export option. David Brailsford, keynoter in the (Seybold Seminars Amsterdam) PDF conference made a compelling case about where this is all heading.

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