Web to Print – A Case Study In Why DAM Vendors Need To Design More and Code Less

Web to Print

Yesterday, Silicon Publishing posted a guest article I wrote for them, Why DAM Vendors Should Leave Web To Print to the Experts.  In the piece, I describe the multitude of ways in which complex requirements like Web to Print can trip up unwary DAM vendors:

As should be obvious by now, the development of Web to Print technologies is a complex undertaking, primarily because it involves resolving two different realms (as the name would suggest). This is a very specialised form of software engineering which most DAM software developers do not understood well. To carry out this task properly and in a way that can be adequately supported and maintained almost certainly will involve hiring a dedicated technical team. Effectively, this is like setting up a completely separate product which is delivered within the ‘wrapper’ of a DAM platform.” [Read More]

I have some experience of developing Web to Print solutions as part of DAM platforms about 13-14 years ago.  At the time, Flash was the only game in town in terms of providing a WYSIWYG interface for users to enter text and choose graphics.  Only myself and one other person in our firm had any knowledge of Flash and ability to write code in its ‘ActionScript’ scripting facility, which made the pain even more acute.  Flash had numerous issues of its own, but combine this with the need to then translate the ‘WYS’ side of the equation into the ‘WYG’ in the form of print output via something like PDF (which has its own varied selection of idiosyncrasies) and the exercise quickly became a byword for trouble and strife.

I still encounter a good number of vendors who think building this kind of thing in-house is a good idea.  I suspect this is because really they prefer writing code to designing scalable and stable applications (and certainly far less than running profitable software businesses that their customers say good things about).  This is symptomatic of the Roy of the Rovers mentality which still pervades section of the DAM software market.  Meanwhile, their more enlightened competitors have already grasped that this is not the kind of thing to be attempted in-house.

If DAM software products have a core USP or strength it is the fact they can weave themselves into the fabric of an organisation and become the hub around which a lot of other technologies can be integrated.  This is the fundamental point to understand about successful DAM platforms – whether you are buying or selling them.

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