Posts in: Web-to-Print reviews
29/12/2006

Digital StoreFront (DSF) from EFI (Electronics for Imaging) is a complete, server-based solution for Web-to-Print. EFI refers to this product as “Ecommerce for Print”. DSF is targeted to medium-to-large print operations.

 

Available Features

DSF combines a simplified user interface, template-driven documents module, File-Print to PDF module and shopping cart interface to produce a very capable web-to-print solution. Any print order can be used as a template.

Catalog, VDP, Advanced Native File-to-PDF conversion and credit-card modules are available as options. EFI has recently converted DSF to use JDF-based ticketing.

Available language versions of DSF include English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Norwegian.

 

Simple, Intuitive Interface

dsf_catalog_vdp_ss1.jpgA run through the demo found on the EFI website reveals a well-planned interface that allows individuals at all skill-levels to place orders. The interface is built around a familiar catalog/shopping cart model. The number of drop-down lists and other variable items is kept to a minimum.

In addition, customers can order office supplies or other products by simply adding these items to their shopping carts.

 

Basic System Requirements

The minimum hardware requirement for a DSF server is a 2.4GHz P4 running Microsoft Server 2000 or 2003. The Microsoft .NET framework is required. MS Office XP or Office 2003 is required for advanced file conversion.

Performance

While the minimum hardware requirements are surprisingly low, EFI claims that multiple corporate customers with multiple print centers can be deployed on a single DSF server.

 

Availability and Cost

EFI markets their web-to-print solutions, including DSF, directly to consumers. A one-year technical support contract is required with the purchase of DSF. EFI also offers on-site training courses for all of their web-to-print products.

Pricing for a basic DSF system is in the $60K range. A complete system with optional modules, installation, training, and support contracts can cost up to $70-80K.

 

The Good

dsf_print_services_ss1.jpg

DSF is a capable, flexible web-to-print solution. EFI markets a full-range of print products and DSF integrates easily with these products. Foreign language support is a definite plus.

The Bad

The base product does not provide a complete web-to-print solution. Several modules that are included with web-to-print solutions from other vendors are optional. IE 6 is the only browser supported. DSF includes excellent native file support, however the only preview option available is PDF.

 

The Ugly

Cost – DSF is definitely a high-end solution, and the costs involved would eliminate DSF as a solution for many medium-sized customers. Overall cost of ownership is quite high as well, mainly due to the cost of tech support and training.

 

The Bottom Line

DSF is a complete solution for medium-to-large commercial, corporate and public sector web-to-print operations. Initial cost, the need to purchase optional modules and the cost of support all contribute to a high cost of ownership.

Stay tuned to this blog for a review of PrintSmith, EFI’s web-to-print solution for small to medium sized print operations.

 

-Randy Boulter-

Copyright 2006 Zetaprints

13/07/2008

Cost centers are of no interest to casual customers, but regular business customers, specially corporate ones love them. Their accountants do, perhaps.

We always had an option of giving a list of cost centers per catalog, but it may be hard to maintain, so we added a new feature – free text cost centers.

Simply enter * as the only text in the cost center text box in catalog details and the user will get an additional field for entering a free text cost center in the order form.

More details here.

29/12/2006

My name is Randy Boulter, and I have been asked by Zetaprints to write a series of reviews of currently available web-to-print products and services. I have a diverse technical background, with a degree in Digital Electronics and 20-plus years experience in various digital technologies. The list of potential review candidates is quite large, and I hope you will join me over the next few months as I post several reviews each week to this blog.

 

 

07/01/2007

PrintSmith Site is an add-on module to EFI’s PrintSmith product. PrintSmith is a complete MIS solution for small to medium sized print operations, while the Site add-on module provides basic web-to-print capabilities.

A quick look at PrintSmith

PrintSmith is a networked, client-server application for automating most of the tasks involved in a print operation. It includes control of estimating, invoicing, AR, and pricing. It also has extensive reporting capability in all of these areas.

PrintSmith is a large, complex program that requires considerable training to become proficient in its use. A functional demo is available for download from the PrintSmith website.

 

PrintSmith Site Add-on suitable for small print operations

PrintSmith Site provides a very basic, catalog-based web-to-print capability.  Its site_front_page.jpglimitation of 100 customers (catalogs) makes it suitable only for small print operations. The monthly transaction limit of 15K transactions is more than adequate for most small print operations.

Pricing for this product is quite high – PrintSmith with the Site add-on costs approximately $10K to deploy with recurring annual fees of approximately $4K. The price breakdown is as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

Initial cost

PrintSmith with Report Writer licensed for 6 users 4580.00
  PrintSmith Site add-on 1995.00
  On-site installation and training (3 days @ 1395.00/day 4185.00
  Total initial cost 10,760.00
Recurring Costs Monthly web-hosting fee for PrintSmith Site 250.00
  Optional yearly maintenance contract 1000.00
  Total (annual cost) 4000.00/yr.

                

As you can see from the breakdown, EFI’s business model is geared towards charging for service after the sale. Technician support is expensive, and the hosting fee is unreasonably high, especially when one considers that there is a maximum of 100 customers.

 

A closer look at the Site Add-on

The live demo of Site, which can be accessed via the PrintSmith website, reveals a simple, unattractive storefront application. The site can only be accessed using IE with security settings lowered (Java and Active-X scripting enabled). Apparently there is no support for other browsers, as I could not even logon to the site with Firefox (with Java plug-in enabled).

I could not locate a demo for the back-end of Site, so I cannot speak to the difficulty of site_order_page.jpgmaintenance and administration. A very basic VDP capability is included, but without a demo of the backend, I cannot say what the complexity limit for artwork and templates is. However, if the live demo is any indication, then VDP templates and document creation is limited to only the most basic level.

I have asked the PrintSmith people for more information concerning template complexity, personalization of the site URL, and file upload limits. I will address these issues in a future post if answers to these questions are forthcoming.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, PrintSmith and the Site add-on are not very printer-friendly. The initial cost, installation, support fees, and exorbitant web hosting fee all contribute to a very high cost of ownership. Products such as Printerorder.com and Printerpresence.com provide a better web-to-print solution for considerably less money.

Stay tuned for more reviews of web-to-print products.

Written by Randy Boulter

Copyright 2006, Zetaprints.com

23/10/2009

A minor tweak to template details XML allowed us to include cached user input.

Supplying user id and hash (ID, Hash) as part of api-template requests adds Value attribute to text and image fields in the template xml. This attribute contains the last used value for that field, but not necessary with the current template.

It is very convenient to users to get their last input as they try different products. Consider including it into your custom implementation.

Our web-to-print extension for Magento will include this feature in the next release some time this week.