I was writing a press release recently, and I was just about to write a heading that has been something of a mantra the past 20 years: “Standards are the Future”. But I paused, realizing the product I was describing is completely standards-based, thanks to recent technology advances. I corrected the title, and I think now is the right time to declare victory for web standards over proprietary technologies and walled gardens.
As of 2015, web standards-based approaches at last make complete sense for the majority of software use cases, at least those that our company works with on a daily basis. Sure, there are places where walled gardens and native software have a valid reason to exist, but those have become the exception rather than the rule.
We have been working hard on our Silicon Connector product, and as it grows exponentially in popularity, its value versus any alternative connecting Adobe InDesign to DAMs and cloud-based storage systems is being confirmed again and again based on the feedback of thousands of users around the world. Here are both the specifics of the roadmap and the general software product development lessons learned from product feedback over the past 3 years, especially during the past 6 months.
Software development is a crazy business. Every time you feel you’ve mastered a programming language or framework, it’s declared obsolete, and you’ve got to crawl your way back up a learning curve to master something new. These changes are never under your control—they are handed down from on high, from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, or whichever corporate tail it is that wags your particular dog. They make a change, and we scramble to adapt. You know, as if our livelihoods depended on it, or something.
I’m not exactly complaining, mind you, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than learning something new. But there are days when I wish I’d taken up, say, shoeing horses. There is no “Horseshoes 2.0” on the horizon.
It started with beer.
It was the year 2000, and I’d just taken a job with the Developer Technologies group at Adobe. I’d been working on InDesign scripting as a contractor, but now I was a full time employee. This meant, among other things, that I had to respond to scripting questions from developers.
Most of the questions were quite basic. How do I make a new document? How do I enter text? Then, unexpectedly, a question came in that involved moving text from an HTML page on a web server into an InDesign (1.5 or 2.0?) layout using Visual Basic.
The guy asking the question was working for the Saranac brewery in Utica, New York. The brewery offers custom labels for special events—birthdays, graduations, wakes, and so on. Customers can go to the brewery’s web site and enter the text they want on their label, view a proof PDF of the label, and order beer for their event.
Silicon Publishing has built InDesign Server Solutions the past 14 years for the largest organizations in the world: from Web to Print applications for the likes of Shutterfly to Database Publishing applications for companies including Royal Caribbean. In this context we have seen well over 30 “Digital Asset Management” (DAM) systems from third parties providers such as MediaBeacon, Widen and Adobe, as well as a number of home-built concoctions, some of which have actually been quite powerful.
We are not DAM-centric: we focus on InDesign Server automation and in most cases we integrate this with whatever asset management the client has running. Only quite rarely do we encounter clients at the point they are contemplating a new DAM. So we have made pretty much every popular DAM out there work, at least to the point of serving assets to our publishing applications.
Features of Silicon Designer, the flagship product from Silicon Publishing.
There is an explanation of what Silicon Designer is and how it works here.
There is an explanation of how it evolved here.
You can find out more about the people that created it here.
Thank you to all that have contributed to Silicon Publishing and to the evolution of this product over the years.