Print on demand (POD) is the commonly-used term for the full colour digital printing technology that allows a complete brochure, catalogue, flyer, book etc. to be printed and finished ready for dispatch in a matter of minutes

Variable Printing On Demand

Variable Printing On Demand (Gift Voucher Shop Example)

Web based variable printing on demand system a website front-end and remote webservices as link to the graphics engines hosted on another remote server (in a cloud near you). This process can be used for any type of print production quality documentation, from business cards, vouchers, direct marketing collateral, brochures and more.

The process starts with a document designed using Prepress creative design software like Quark Xpress or InDesign. From here 'editable' items are identified and marked for later exposure and operated on via web technology. Both text elements and image elements can be remotely manipulated.

What is interesting about this process is that it starts off as a designed digital document that allows elements to be changed via a web interface. Design-to-Web-to-Print.

The example below is a working demo of this system and allows you to edit falconry workshop vouchers and create print ready PDF files.

Select a falconry workshop voucher to personalize.

Choose a voucher design and click on it. It will open an area showing you which areas are editable, and clicking on these, the content editor is activated.

How high quality printing on demand works (for this engine)

Creative Material

1Source material for the graphics engine is any digital document with it's creative elements (fonts/images/illustrations) created with any high-end prepress application, like Quark Xpress or Adobe InDesign.. in fact even Photoshop and Illustrator can be automated in this fashion.

Creative elements

Data Assimilation

2Once a 'new' document is received, primary checks are done to ensure all fonts and graphics elements are available and that the resolution meets the output (print) requirement. After this the document is exploded into it's seperate elements and entities and stored in a database.

Creative extraction


3A control panel allows the owner of the document to interact with the elements and specify which elements may become available for future mutation and which not. This is an ideal way to guarantee house style and maintain company colors in on demand documents.

Variable preferences

Interfacing & Interaction

4Provide a client via secure remote TCP-IP connecition with all the features needed to Get, Update and Set of the variable print environment. This starts with requesting a list of available documents and ends with requesting a print proof of the mutated document.

User interaction interface

Production, productivity and scalability

You may have noticed this engine is rather slow, the reason is it's running on an old lame laptop and it has a lot to do Both the graphics generation process, the TCP-IP command server and also a webservice that functions as a client for the remoting server. This engine can thus be called over a newwork and also Internet.

Minimal requirements

serverFor the engine to operate in single entity instance mode just like the old laptop, a TCP-IP Socket server process to connect the outside world with the command processor is needed as well as a link to the database and graphics repository.

User interaction interface


winnerTo keep all operations as efficient as possible, only information and data pertaining to the specific request is dealt with by the command processor. As example when requesting a list of available documents, a list of entity id's are returned, if you want to see a preview, you will need to request the preview image for each entity.

This allows distinctive drilldown and effective burst commands for only the specific elements of a document that were mutated by the user during the configuration phase.


ProductionIs directly related to three aspects: Complexity, Variability and Quality. Basically the move elements a document has to deal with, the longer it will take to reconstruct the document. High resolution images take longer to move through networks, render and display that images suitable for website display only.<

The most time consuming is rendering reconstructed documents to industry standard print quality PDF files. As we are dealing with creative documents, everything, layering, shadows, transparency etc all need to be taken into account.


Server NetworkWith this design there are multiple combinations possible to scale-up production.
1. On the same server create multiple instances of the graphics engine with a queue manager to deal with dispatch.
2. Create virtual machines each with it's own TCP-IP port assignment.
3. Replicate the master server entity over several physical servers on the network.
And 4, last but not least, fast ramp up and slow spin down cloud computing are all in the scope of these processes.


ToolsNeed to improve your automated print production system(s) and workflow(s). Contact me and I will show you what options are available.
With more than 20 years experience in graphics automation and high volume production processes, I understand the production pressure and the need for 100% fault tollerant processes and workflows.