Variable-Data Software

In printing, specifically digital printing, computer applications (either standalone or incorporated into prepress or printing systems) used to customize output. In other words, such software allows different data to be printed on successiobe pages utilizing a common page layout. Common applications for variable-data software can include printing a different PIN code in successive telephone or bank cards, different mailing addresses on successive magazine covers or letters, or other such uses. Although variable-data sioftware is still in its infancy (there are only a handful of companies marketing it), it is receiving a lot of attention. The most commonly-used variable-data packages allow for the defining of variable text boxes in page layout programs such as QuarkXPress or PageMaker, and the variable data can be imported from a database file into these boxes during RIPing. When sent to a digital press, each successive page contains different data within the consistent page design.

Users of these new systems—are there are not that many—have reported marginal success. However, the manufacturers—Barco, Agfa, Xeikon, Indigo, and IBM to name five—are releasing upgrades at a steady clip.

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