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Interfaces retrofit front ends with pagination: vendor's work brings PC/Mac pagination to older classified systems.

Interfaces retrofit front ends with pagination

Vendors' work brings PC/Mac pagination to older classified systems

Interfaces developed by separate vendors recently have brought pagination to the production of classified advertising sections at two newspapers using older Digital Equipment Corp.-based systems.

In early September, the New York Times group's 30,000-circulation Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., began live pagination of classified pages using a back-end solution supplied by Dewar Information Systems Corp., Westmont, III., that works with data from its Atex system.

Proposed about six months earlier, Dewar said work on the project was completed in three months. The paper said it expects the change to cut production time in half.

By capturing the typeset dump file of ads generated on the Atex classified system, the paper now produces its four- to five-page daily classified section using DISC's classified pagination product. The file is captured by tapping the RS-232 serial cable connecting the Atex front end to a Compugraphic CG9600 typesetter.

When captured, a program written by DISC converts the typesetter commands to DISC's own internal composition language commands, yielding files that can be manipulated at a high-end PC workstation running DISC's pagination software. DISC supplied both hardware and software.

DISC president Steuart Dewar said that while "it was done as a project for Leesburg," the interface his company supplied was not entirely custom work. He said it can be used at other Atex installations, which do not necessarily represent "a totally closed architecture."

"That was just the first one that we put in," he said, noting pending talks with two other Atex users and a third newspaper regarding similar projects. "The solution itself is really pretty independent of the front-end system," said Dewar, who expected no difficulty in providing similar solutions for other newspapers running different combinations of front ends and typesetters.

The installation in Leesburg is an outgrowth of DISC's experience in similar projects over the years. Dewar said his company had long offered newspapers a phototypesetter translator, or "little black box," with software that converted one typesetter's coding to another's. He said one black box converted Fototronic TXT code into ICL coding for an Autologic Micro 5.

Dewar said two such translators ran for years on a Chicago-area paper's old DEC system, converting code at far less cost than what the original vendor would have charged to write a driver for the new typesetter.

"It even converted fonts and did some line rejustification to compensate for the fact that they had a different font package," he added.

A similar project seven or eight years ago picked up Fototronic galley output from an Indiana paper's CSI classified system, converted it to Compugraphic 8600 code and provided for output of six columns across the film width.

At about the same time DISC was at work in Leesburg, Deadline Data Systems Inc., Topsfield, Mass., installed a two-way interface between a 10-year-old Xenotron/ECRM 7000 classified ad system and a Hyphen OPI (Open Prepress Interface) server at Courier Newspapers in Tunbridge Wells, England.

Deadline Data said the interface links the classified system's DEC minicomputer with a network of Macintosh text and graphics workstations connected via Ethernet to the OPI server running on a Sun Microsystems Spacrstation.

The interface allows sorted classified ad data files to be called directly onto QuarkXPress pages on a Mac workstation. Deadline Data developed a Quark Xtension to convert classified ad formats and composition commands into XPress style tags. The Xtension also provides for translation and automatic on-page positioning of classified headers, boxed ads, logos and other graphic elements.

Graphics are called as medium-resolution view files in PICT format, which can be freely moved, edited or manipulated. Each contains an OPI "comment" identifying its corresponding high-resolution image residing on the fileserver in encapsulated PostScript (EPS) format. When a completed page is ready for output on one of two ECRM Pelbox 108-pica recorders, high-resolution images are substituted for the view files and merged with the classified text.

Deadline Data acquired rights to the Xenotron/ECRM 7000 classified and editorial systems in 1989. Since then it has provided hardware, software and system integration services to more than 65 newspapers worldwide.
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Author:Rosenberg, Jim
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Nov 2, 1991
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