by Piet De Pauw, Head of Marketing, Enfocus
Enfocus PitStop Server has been around a while. That’s because it works. And it works very well. In not so many words, it’s a centralized PDF validation and repair tool. Okay, maybe we should put it into more words. PitStop Server allows you to put all of your automated PDF preflight and correction on one server. That means anyone in your shop can drop files into hot folders and let PitStop Server run Preflight Profiles and Action Lists.
Hot folder processing is what I would call grassroots automation. There is a small manual step, followed by powerful automated processing, which is finished with another small manual step. PitStop Server automation saves prepress teams loads of time. It also nails down consistency by keeping all of the processes in one place. Without getting into the plethora of checks and fixes that are possible, it should be mentioned that PitStop Server can also send an email regarding the results of its actions.
To integrate PitStop server with other solutions in your shop, you could have the successful output folder set to be the same as an imposition, RIP or DFE input folder. If that were the case, prepress would be dropping PDF files into a PitStop Server input folder and upon successful preflight and repair, the PDF gets placed in the input of the next hot folder based solution in the workflow chain.
So, your workflow is looking something like this:
The automatability of PitStop Server becomes exponentially more powerful when the Switch Core is brought into the workflow arena. As a matter of fact, the above screenshot is actually a Switch flow. Before I get into what Switch looks like, let’s talk for a moment about PitStop Server setup.
- Create a hot folder in PitStop Server
- Tell PitStop Server which physical folder to monitor
- Attach Preflight and Action Lists to the hot folder
- Tell PitStop Server which reports and where to place them
- Tell PitStop Server which folders to put jobs that pass or fail
That covers the basics of a working PitStop Server hot folder. Sure, it can use variables for smart preflight, send a notification email, place job files in assorted folders after processing and has a mechanism for handling sub-folders in a job. It’s powerful and easy to configure.
Now, what can Switch Core do for you? That same basic set up is basically the same to set up. Except in the Switch interface, it is a visual representation of where files are coming from and going to. The list of additional features will make you feel like you’ve doubled your capabilities.
- Flexible workflows without folder structure limitations
- Browser-based job tracking and overview (job boards)
- Automatic file reception and delivery via FTP and email
- File sorting and routing based on file type, file naming, job and document variables
- File renaming and archiving
- Split and merge PDF files
- Zip and unzip job folders
- Conversion of PDF to JPEG
To accomplish the same PDF in, file check, then PDF out workflow, the steps you take in Switch are just as straight forward as PitStop Server.
- Create an input folder on your network
- Put that folder at the beginning of a Switch flow
- Place a PitStop Preflight and/or Action List step in the flow
- Put your PitStop Server output folder in your Switch flow
How about a side-by-side?
Each of the folders in the Switch flow is assigned to the same physical folder as in PitStop Server. Prepress will drop files in the same place and resulting files will end up as expected. However, the PitStop Server hot folders would not be active. In fact, they would not have to be created in PitStop Server first in order for Switch to work with them. This example just illustrates how to accomplish the same setup if migrating from PitStop Server to using it with Switch Core. When PitStop Server and Switch Core are installed on the same server, Switch can use your Preflight Profiles, Action Lists and variable sets without any additional configuration. They are selectable from the Enfocus PitStop Server configurator properties in Switch.
From there, you can build on that flow. You can duplicate it and add different functions. Switch can get files from an FTP site or email, unzip, sort, then route the files to the PitStop Server tasks that you already have established. After the PitStop stage, files can be routed, renamed, regrouped, emailed, placed back on an FTP site or whatever you want to happen next. Only in the Switch core scenario, no one is touching the files in between each step.
And for some icing on the automation cake, Switch lets you create custom dashboards to keep track of your workflow at the points you want to know about. In the dashboard below, it’s tracking a history of jobs, current percentage of jobs at pinch points in the workflow, and total number of live jobs.
Adding Switch Core to a PitStop Server implementation obviously has advantages. Sure, things will look different, but PitStop Preflight Profiles, Action Lists and Variable Sets are created and managed the same way that you’re used to seeing them. Stepping up to a more open automation platform may seem daunting, but once you dabble in some PitStop Server embellishments, you’ll be ever asking, “what can I have Switch do, next?”