Seybold Show Floor Alive if not Jumping

SAN FRANCISCO -- Although this weeks Seybold Seminar publishing conference here isnt as crowded as past shows, many exhibitors are expressing relief that theyre not seeing the "ghost town" that afflicted last weeks Web2001 conference and exhibition, held in the same hall. Still, even during a quick walk through San Franciscos Moscone Center, the signs of a sinking economy and an unease about traveling were evident.

For example, the entire hall was not used for the show. And floor space that has been occupied in the past by stalwarts such as Eastman Kodak, Olympus, Fuji Film and Imacon remained blank. Despite that, and the fact that most major exhibitors made their product announcements prior to the show, many exhibitors said they were seeing high interest in their wares.

The largest presences on the floor (which was separated into Moscones North and South Halls) were the installations – calling them "booths" is a misnomer -- of Apple Computer Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.

The software

Apple announced in a keynote speech that it would release Mac OS X 10.1, an update to the companys next-generation operating system, this Saturday. And though there were plenty of hardware and peripherals in display at Apples site, Mac OS X 10.1 was center stage.

Adobe, one of the largest players in the print and Web publishing market, not only had a large booth but supported rows of kiosk-sized booths of third-party developers who were showing off their products, which ranged from Photoshop plug-ins to turnkey publishing systems that integrated with Adobe software.

Adobe itself was demonstrating Illustrator 10, the companys vector-based drawing application, and the upcoming InDesign 2.0 page-layout software. Both were being shown on Mac OS X, for which they are both native applications.

Illustrator 10, which was first previewed at this summers Macworld Expo New York, will sport new tools and support for symbols, as well as tighter integration with Adobes other products, echoing the companys tag line for the conference, "Adobe Everywhere." Adobe expects to ship Illustrator 10 in the fourth calendar quarter of 2001.

InDesign 2.0, which had also been previewed at Macworld Expo, received its official announcement just prior to the Seybold show. The new version boasted Extensible Markup Language support, the long-awaited table creation, transparency and more. Adobe representatives said it will most likely be released in the first quarter of 2002.

Both were written to Mac OS Xs Carbon set of APIs, which allows programs to run both on Mac OS X and Mac OS 8.x and later.

Adobes Portable Document Format, or PDF, was the basis for a number of new tools and products throughout the show, including Xinet Inc.s prepress networking software, Quite Softwares Quite Revealing transparency tool, Cason ITs filters and more.

However, the "E-Book/Digital Rights Management" showcase area of the show seemed to draw only light foot traffic, even though Microsofts main booth abutted it.

Ironically, directly behind Adobes booth was Quark Inc., Adobes main competitor in the print world and maker of the reigning champ of page-layout applications. Hoping to retain that crown, Quark was handing out CD-ROMs containing a beta version (which expires after 90 days of use) of QuarkXPress 5.0. The Mac version of Version 5.0, Quark has said, will run only in the Classic compatibility layer of Mac OS X; however, the company has said it is readying a Mac OS X-native version for release "soon" after.

Glen Turpin, corporate communications manager for Quark, said that the company was focusing on finishing up Version 5 as well as prepping the Carbon-based successor. He said that one of the largest challenges to the latters adoption by print pros, who are notorious for not changing away from what "just works," will be that the yet-unnamed Carbon version will break compatibility with all existing XTensions, third-party plug-ins that add features to XPress.

"Thats why we havent added certain features, such as multiple undos, that would break XTensions, to 5.0," he said. "We only want to make developers go through that once."

He added that Quark is extending its developer support and planning co-marketing pushes but said that the company hasnt yet published its XDK (Xpress Developer Kit) yet.

Procreate, a private brand of Corel Corp., unveiled KPT Effects, the genetic descendant of Kais Power Tools. This set of nine Photoshop plug-ins will be available in October.

The hardware

Normally, printers and scanners are the big hardware players at Seybold shows. Surprisingly, most major manufacturers were devoting a larger-than-usual percentage of their booth space to devices that once would have been dismissed as too much on the consumer side.

Ink-jets made a good showing at both the Hewlett-Packard Co. and Epson booths. Both companies, in fact, were making few distinctions between their professional and consumer ink-jet lines, reflecting perhaps not only advances in ink-jet technology but the still-growing small publishing market.

Similarly, HP, Canon and others were showing sub-$500 digital cameras cheek-to-jowl with their high-end offerings.