The Birth of Parallel Workflow Management Systems

The Birth of Parallel Workflow Management Systems

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Publishing has evolved and so has the production process. Once it was all print-focused, and then came digital – digital post, digital first with SGML, XML and now HTML5.  A few years ago, production was carried out like a serial chain, with copyediting, galleys, first proof, author review, revisions cycle, second pass etc. The lead time for the production cycle was much higher. And with the advent of ebooks, the ebooks production cycle started after the print, which made the overall length of the cycle much longer.

The industry started focusing on parallel workflows to find ways to work on the publications simultaneously. Some of the steps towards that goal were digital first, simultaneous publishing etc. That’s why our production process is not a relay race anymore, where the first runner hands over the baton to the next and the next to another to complete the race. Today we have several runners running in parallel with multiple batons. Today, it is not about who comes first, but who covers the maximum distance in shortest time possible. It is all about efficiency.

This created the need for a comprehensive solution that could enable all the suppliers in the value chain to work simultaneously during production. Publishers and service providers started to focus on those lines and developed multiple publishing platforms solutions. The success and efficiency of such solutions depend on what all stages of the entire production cycle could work simultaneously. Obviously, print and editorial could not be simultaneous, but composition & editorial and design & ebooks could be simultaneous.

You never know, the editorial process and customers reading books could be simultaneous too! Imagine a reader reading the first pass on a device, while in the background the production process is going on!  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But remember, what was once termed crazy are today’s innovations.

Let’s wait and watch to see what could be the next step in our workflow systems in the publishing world.

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