What Type of File is XML?

Automation 2 min read , February 19, 2021

by Toon Van Rossum, Switch Product Manager, Enfocus

Smart jobs and digital job tickets

Automation, XML, JDF, blah, blah, blah. What exactly are we are all talking about? We’re talking about how our production sub-systems can talk to each other. XML gets tossed around like we all know what that means. It turns out that there is no mystery. There is no magic. It’s just a simple nested instruction set. That’s not to say that an XML can’t be very complex, because it can. Conceptually though, they’re nothing to be intimidated by. “I leave that stuff to the nerds.” Leaving it to the nerds is all well and good except when a solution provider or integrator asks you if you are using XML in your workflow.

Now, stay with me for the next bit because this is what causes non-nerds to glaze over. It’s worth it to understand this, though. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. Who cares? Right? Without it in your workflow, it very well could stand for eXtra Manual Labor. If you have a web storefront or MIS or both, then there is a pretty good chance you can get an XML file from it. Great? Still don’t care? PDF is what you need, right? Absolutely, that’s the job file. But, a PDF which is married to an XML is a smart job. A smart job is a job that carries its own digital job ticket throughout your shop.

You can think of XML as a nested bullet list or a folder structure or a directory path. Yes, folder structure and directory path are just about the same. It’s a Mac/Windows visualization thing. Each folder is an XML node or tag and inside each folder, the file would be the XML data. No matter how you get it into your head, it’s categorized job information. It’s also data that can drive automation.

Switch decides on your behalf

Here comes the salesy bit. Enfocus Switch understands XML. It honors and respects the sanctity of the smart job marriage. The XML data is used by Switch to make logical decisions about job processing and to route jobs throughout a workflow. I know, you’ve heard that before. Here’s why it should make sense. If you take a look at the XML file below, you can make some decisions about how this job could be ganged, that the press needs to be set to duplex, that the print quantity will be 525 (you’re allowing 25 over for finishing setup) and that the flat trim is 11 x 17.

All of these decisions and others can be made by Switch, thousands of times a day, and made without the distractions that can affect a human. This also means that a prepress team doesn’t have to try to read a thousand job tickets in a day. XML is human readable, machine understandable language that becomes a digital job ticket and can be paired with a PDF to make a smart job. A smart job in Switch is a highly automated job. No mystery. No magic.

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