What is middleware?

Magazine "Image Reports" covers OneVision as middleware:

"Basically, middleware creates an ecosystem, integrating systems from file input to shipping – and it does so independently of machines and software systems already in use."

What is ‘middleware’, and why should large-format PSPs care? Well, as OneVision Software marketing manager Raphael Gruber, reiterates, everyone is talking about end-to-end digitisation of production processes, but what about the bit in the middle? We know that integration and connectivity are important, but so often systems do not properly ‘talk’ to each other. Middleware is intended to smooth out that problem.

As Gruber points out, if a digitisation and automation project is designed holistically, the focus is on middleware – software solutions that enable vendor-independent integration into existing system landscapes, thus enabling comprehensive connectivity.

Basically, middleware creates an ecosystem, integrating systems from file input to shipping – and it does so independently of machines and software systems already in use. The middleware flexibly integrates with all existing systems and links the individual components with each other. This allows each component to focus on the task in the production process for which it was created. The Rip is not loaded by oversized files, and the utilisation of the printing and finishing machines is optimised. The middleware prepares the files accordingly, making production smoother and more efficient.

New markets or distribution channels, such as Webshops, can also easily be handled, as the middleware controls and prioritises them accordingly.

The middleware first connects to the file input. This can be Webshops, ERPs, MIS, but also hotfolders, email inboxes or any other system that outputs structured data. The middleware retrieves order information and production files from these systems. Each file is checked individually, corrected if necessary and optimised for production. The prepress process is thus fully automated. The middleware then transfers the prepared print file to the appropriate press/printer, and optimised cutting files to the cutting systems. Order sheets or shipping labels can be generated for logistics and shipping too.

Wide-format printers in particular – where applications and jobs can be so varied – can obviously benefit from such systems. It is often mistakenly assumed that individual jobs cannot be automated, but it is possible.

When selecting middleware, it is important to ensure that the software is as flexible and dynamic as possible as that’s when the strengths of middleware solutions truly pay off.

Digital job tickets are the key to dynamic and highly flexible processing. They contain all the relevant job details, allowing print files to be routed accordingly in the middleware workflow. For example, a flag is routed to automatic hemstitching, whereas a mega poster is automatically tiled into individual panels, or small-format stickers are nested to save substrate.

→ Read the full article on the image reports website


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