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Last modified: September 30, 2003
Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML)

[April 09, 2002] Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML) Version 2.0 Supports Digital Print Job Ticketing.   A communiqué from Tracy Burkovich announces the release of the Personalized Print Markup Language specification version 2.0. This version of the specification includes support for digital print job ticketing, and has been endorsed by several key industry partners. PPML is designed for "XML-based, efficient printing of documents with reusable and variable content. It was developed through a special program of PODi (The Digital Printing Initiative), a consortium of leading companies in digital printing. The main purpose of the PPML language is to provide object-level addressability and reusability; it provides an open, XML-based architecture for digital print projects. PPML was first introduced to the market at the worldwide 'drupa' exhibition in Dusseldorf in May, 2000, and has become the first widely-adopted print stream based entirely on an open standard. The PPML version 2.0 architecture includes generic printer control. This means PPML 2.0 jobs, including advanced printer features such as duplexing, finishing, and paper selection, can be created without knowing what machine will print them. Any PPML-compliant printer with the appropriate features will accept the same print file, no matter what software created it and what printer does the output. The PPML job ticketing architecture is designed to support ticket data in any format." [Full context]

[January 12, 2002] "The Personalized Print Markup Language is a new, XML-based, industry standard print language developed by the world's leading manufacturers of print technology for high-speed production of reusable page content. It has been developed through a special program of PODi - the Digital Printing initiative, a consortium of leading companies in digital printing. The purpose of this language is to provide a fast, industry-standard way to print documents that have reusable content. The language uses XML, the Extensible Markup Language, as its syntactical base, giving it an affinity to many Web-based applications... PPML is an open, interoperable, device-independent standard that will enable the widespread use of personalized print applications. It is a standard developed with commercial intent, to create commercial impact - to genuinely change the economics of personalized printing." [From the PODi information server, 2002-01.]

[January 12, 2002]   Pageflex Persona Publishing Application Supports Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML).    The version 1.5 release of 'Pageflex Persona' from Pageflex, Inc. offers enhanced support for the Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML) specification, providing [one of] "the first variable publishing solutions to use XML as the intermediate data format between a profile database and the page composition process." The Persona desktop application offers improved optimization for PPML and for CreoScitex VPS (Variable Print Specification) output drivers. [Full context]

PPML description from Dave deBronkart: "PPML is a new printer language gaining widespread support in variable data printing applications. PPML uses XML as its syntactical base, and can access page content files generated in many different formats. Applications will ultimately range from desktop to high-end digital printing presses. PPML output is being integrated into a variety of complete workflows, several of which can use other XML methodologies. We envision a fully automated workflow of the future, in which data may flow directly from its source to automated production equipment, untouched by human hands, with every aspect of the process expressed in XML. In such a workflow, PPML will be the printer language by which content and page layout are delivered to the output system." [Paper presented at XML Europe 2001]

Hierarchical structure of PPML: "PPML is a hierarchical structure, in which the properties and resources of an element are inherited from its enclosing ('parent') structure. The contents of the child element may temporarily override (or mask) the parent's properties and resources; when the child element ends, the previous state is restored. [1] A PPML element (the highest level) can contain resource definitions and JOB elements. [2] A JOB element (a set of personalized documents) can contain resource definitions and DOCUMENT elements. [3] A DOCUMENT element (which prints one complete document, of one or more pages) can contain resource definitions and PAGE elements. [4] A PAGE element can contain resource definitions and MARK elements. MARK elements are what actually cause page content to be printed onto a page, using ink or toner. PPML, JOB, DOCUMENT and PAGE are known as levels in the PPML hierarchy. [5] A MARK element (which places image marks on a page) can contain two kinds of content elements: OBJECT and OCCURRENCE_REF. (Each of these content elements contains smaller elements as well.)..." [v1.5 spec]

PPML and printer languages. "PPML is independent of printer language: PPML can be used to create output that will support any printer language. Manufacturers will decide which languages a particular machine will support. PPML machines have already been announced that will support PostScript, PDF, TIFF, and JPEG. We expect to see support for numerous other languages in the future. For information on a specific product, contact the manufacturer. This is comparable to choosing a laser printer today: if you want, you can buy a printer that supports PostScript, PCL, or some other combination... PPML is a meta-language. It describes the structure of jobs, documents, and pages. It places 'marks' on a page via PPML <MARK> elements, which point to content data, such as EPS files [Encapsulated PostScript]. PPML itself does not describe page content; rather, it selects content elements, to be placed on a page. For instance, there is nothing in PPML that says 'Go to this point on the page and draw a three inch circle filled with red.' Instead, the PPML code might say 'At this point on the page, place file ThreeInchRedCircle.EPS.' [from the FAQ]

PODi "offers a free Developer Support discussion forum for PPML. Additional specification information available through the forum includes (1) A PPML Quick Reference Card, which summarizes the PPML language on a Single page, and (2) Errata document (list of known errors in the current specification)."

PPML origins: "PPML 1.0 grew out a combined proposal approved in July 1999 by the PPML Working Group. This proposal was a merger of proposals from Scitex, Barco and Pageflex: Scitex, by way of its VPS language, contributed the foundation for the basic object model, object-level granularity, and job structure of PPML; Barco contributed the foundation for the production-centric parts of the specification, including major work on imposition; PageFlex contributed the original proposal for an XML-based language called PPML. NexPress contributed substantial work from its proposed vPDF specification, and Xerox presented additional information at the July conference based on its substantial experience with its VIPP PostScript-based variable data software..." [from the May 2001 specification]

PODi PPML Working Group [v1.5]. In alphabetical order: Adobe Systems: John Green; Agfa: Roger Baeten and Marcus Delhoune; Barco: Dirk De Bosschere; EFI: Margaret Motamed; HP: Bob Taylor; IBM: D. R. Palmer; Indigo: Sigal Krumer and Ouri Poupko; NexPress: David Blaszyk, Tim Donahue, and Wayne Minns; Pageflex: Peter Davis; Scitex: Jacob Aizikowitz, Israel Roth, and Reuven Sherwin; Xeikon: Anthony Porter; Xerox: Steve Strasen.

PODi, the Digital Printing initiative
150 Lucius Gordon Drive, Suite 110
W. Henrietta, NY 14586
(585) 239-6063 voice
(585) 239-6093 fax

Principal References

Articles, Papers, News

  • [September 30, 2003] "Adobe and Xerox Announce Strategic Initiative to Promote Print Production Workflow Standards. Adobe PDF, JDF, XML and PostScript Technologies Incorporated Into Xerox FreeFlow Initiative." - "Adobe Systems Incorporated and Xerox Corporation today announced an initiative to jointly support and promote the widespread adoption of emerging print industry standards for both static and variable information workflow technologies. The standards include Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), JDF (Job Definition Format) job ticketing, Adobe PostScript, XML (Extensible Markup Language), and variable information workflow technologies. The initiative is part of Xerox FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection that improves digital workflow -- the process by which print jobs make their way from creation through final production and fulfillment... Adobe technologies are incorporated throughout the latest release of the Xerox FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection. (1) Xerox DigiPath Production Software 4.0 with Adobe Acrobat, PDF Libraries and PDF plug-in support as part of a full and robust Adobe PDF workflow. Adobe PDF is supported throughout all of DigiPath's functionality, including scanning, preflight, imposition, editing, storage, viewing and printing. (2) Xerox DocuSP 3.7 Controllers for production printing with Adobe PostScript 3, PDF Libraries and Normalizer solutions for reliable, consistent print output, native PDF consumption and the highest quality PPML support. (3) The Xerox VIPP Thin Printer for high-volume production, tagging and delivery of optimized Adobe PDFs from the same print data streams used for production printing, using Adobe Acrobat, Distiller Server and PDF Libraries. These PDF files can be used for single or multi-set proofs, archiving, electronic distribution, and Web presentment of variable data documents produced from Xerox VIPP applications. As part of the new initiative, Adobe and Xerox are undertaking joint efforts to drive acceptance of the JDF standard for job ticketing, and to develop integrated solutions that leverage the strengths of their respective variable data printing technologies. Both companies embrace PostScript, PDF, XML and variable data print streams to provide the broadest possible range of one-to-one business applications. Consistent with these priorities, Xerox is supporting the latest PPML Graphic Arts Conformance Subset standard across its line of production products and one-to-one solutions architecture..." See also "Job Definition Format (JDF)."

  • [April 04, 2003] Interactivity, Personalization Expand the Limits of Print." By Andreas Weber (DigitaldruckForum). In The Seybold Report Volume 2, Number 24 (March 31, 2003). ISSN: 1533-9211. "No longer chasing the elusive 'run of one,' interactive variable printing is finding its niche. At the PODi conference in Rome, PPML came of age; at Cebit, we saw how it can fit into the future of print communication. Since March 1999, expert teams in companies large and small have been feverishly debating the details and have managed to reach an agreement on PPML. For the first time in printing history, we have a generally recognized convention for a Personalized Print Markup Language. PPML is no off-the-shelf software product. Rather, it is a kind of digital 'container' in which all the parameters necessary for variable-printing jobs can be collected. The significance of PPML lies in the value it provides: 'maximizing the reuse of assets to minimize transport and printing costs.' JDF, PDF/X-3 and XML are the standards with which PPML most closely interacts... A decisive factor in the success [of PPML] was the founding of PODi, the Print On Demand Initiative ( The organization brought PPML to life in record time. Version 1.0 came out in March 2000, and version 2.0 is being released in April 2003. In parallel, PODi has gathered a unique collection of case studies. It is constantly being updated and is published as a 'book on demand.' PODi spokesperson David deBronkart says: 'It took an incredible amount of work to ferret out these 'best practice' examples and document them properly.' But the effort was worth it; digital printing has never before been documented in such detail and so effectively... In light of PPML and variable data exchange, two trends stand out: (1) Digital printing is moving away from the concept of the 'run of one.' (2) Digital printing permits high-volume production, with every piece individualized in real time and press runs in the millions... PPML significantly enriches the workflow for communication via print media. It encompasses preflight, soft-proofing and printing, as well as data verification. Still more important, PPML allows the development of tools for print providers, marketers and agencies that make it easier to plan, lay out and produce individualized printed pieces, and to integrate digital printing into the planning of multi-media advertising campaigns..."

  • [April 9, 2002] Press release: "New PPML Version 2.0 Adds Job Ticketing, Expands Scope and Power Of PPML Applications." PODi, the Digital Printing initiative, has announced a significant step forward for its PPML print architecture. PPML Version 2.0 has many new features. It increases automation by adding support for digital print 'job tickets,' provides better support for different workflows, and defines a method of reliably moving PPML jobs from system to system. PPML now fits the broadest range of print workflows of any XML application. The PPML 2.0 architecture includes generic printer control. This means PPML 2.0 jobs, including advanced printer features such as duplexing, finishing, and paper selection, can be created without knowing what machine will print them. Any PPML-compliant printer with the appropriate features will accept the same print file, no matter what software created it and what printer does the output. The PPML job ticketing architecture is designed to support ticket data in any format. The first implementation formally defined by PODi uses JDF, the Job Definition Format managed by CIP4. Because of PPML's open design, when other industries develop digital job tickets they can be supported by PPML. "This initiative has driven the completion of standardization in digital print - document structure through PPML and now control information by linkage to JDF. We expect the combination to be highly effective, and are delighted that it's been supported by the major vendors in the sector," says Martin Bailey of Global Graphics Software, CEO of CIP4 (, the organization that manages JDF. "It uses a practical, focused set of JDF features to achieve the goal of interoperable file exchange from software to digital print, and should advance the shared objective of PODi and CIP4 of growing the print industry by improving efficiency." Version 2 of the PPML specification also solves a persistent problem that has nagged the world of print production since the onset of personal computing: the need to create complex, multi-file projects that will transfer reliably to another machine, even on a different operating system..." [cache, HTML version]

  • [May 2001] The PPML Print Language in XML Workflows for Digital Print." By Dave deBronkart. Paper presented at XML Europe 2001, May 21-25, 2001, Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC), Berlin, Germany. Also available in PDF format. [cache]

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