Switch Metadata Module

Switch Metadata Module

Switch is an automation tool for both OS
X and Windows that can automate a whole host of repetitive tasks that are very often still done manually. Switch is built up in a modular way around a core engine and a number of
modules that extend its functionality. This movie focuses exclusively on the
Metadata Module. It is recommended that you’ve already
watched the movies on Switch Core Engine and the Configurator Module before this
one. As the name suggests, the purpose of the
Metadata Module is to add support for using and creating
metadata in Switch. Metadata is data or information about
the data and this can be of two kinds. It can be
information about the data itself. How was the photograph taken? What application generated the file? To what production order does the file belong? And so on… But it can also be information about how
the data should be processed. On what paper should it be printed? To what factory does the file have to be
sent after processing? What is the intended trim size? Which is not necessarily the same
as the trim size of the data. And so on… The metadata can also be
available in two different forms. It can be part of the data itself or it
can be in a separate file, usually XML. Examples of metadata that
resides inside the file itself include the XMP part of certain file types
like PDF, Photoshop and InDesign for example. When the metadata is supplied in a separate file, it is almost always in the form of an
XML file. One comes across JDF or Job Definition
Format files as well on a regular basis. But these are also just XML files. Let us first concentrate on using metadata. The two main areas in Switch
where the metadata of a job is being used is in conditions with variables, and in text with variables. In the movie on Switch Core Engine you have already seen how Switch can route jobs along different paths in an intelligent and
flexible way. But with the addition of the Metadata
Module this intelligence and flexibility are increased significantly. You can now draw on both
the internal and external metadata and use any piece of information that is
present in it. Here’s an example with a condition. The metadata says whether the job should be processed as a black-and-white file or as a color file, so we can use that to
route the job to the correct PitStop Server instance. And here is an example with a single line
text. The mail address of the person who
should be informed in the case of a problem is taken from the metadata to make this
property of the mail send element truly variable. In combination with the Configurator Module the Metadata Module brings all that
information within the reach of all third-party applications that integrate with Switch. The third-party application may not have
support for dealing with XML files directly, but Switch makes it possible anyhow. Let us now look at creating metadata. From the previous examples it will be clear how the presence of metadata can lift the automation of a flow to a higher level. But what if your business system is not capable of providing it? In a Submit point you can define any
number and type of information fields that a Switch client user will be
requested to fill in when submitting a file into the flow. Here we see the process of
submitting a file. I provide all the requested information
up front, touching the file only once. Switch stores the information in an XML format and attaches it automatically to the job. It is therefore available throughout the flow for making the routing decisions and filling in the correct values for element or configurator properties. It is worth noting that connectors made
with one of the Connect products can also link into a Switch Submit point. In that way you can delegate the process, or at least a part of it, to the person
who is submitting jobs to you. Watch the movies on the Connect products for more information. Some configurators will also attach metadata to a job. PitStop Server, for example, can attach an XML report to the job. When a job has metadata attached to it, regardless through what method it got
there, it can be exported in order to be used by another system than Switch. And should that other system expect a
specific XML structure you can transform the XML available to
Switch into another structure using the XSLT transform element. As you can see the Metadata Module
further increases the power of Switch to help you achieve an even higher level of automation. Be sure to watch the videos on additional modules as well to see how these can further expand the
power of Switch.

Daniel Ostrander

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