Automated Publishing

Automated Publishing with PatternStream

Overview of Automated Publishing PatternStream®

Automated publishing with PatternStream empowers staff by freeing them from repetitive updating tasks. This desktop-publishing automation is very effective at delivering up-to-date marketing communication files with speed and accuracy. It facilitates an ideal information management strategy.

flow diagram for database publishing with PatternStream

PatternStream automates the publication process: direct from information sources to audience-ready documents. And, the audience-ready documents in pdf format can be: a) printed on any print device, including an offset press, b) viewed on the web, or c) burned to CD (with hyperlinks and bookmarks). PatternStream can also deliver files in HTML, XML, or PPML format.

Just as Microsoft Word provides a proven environment to build documents, PatternStream provides a proven development environment—with a graphical user interface—to build automated publishing applications. Thus, PattenStream is an integrated development environment [IDE].

The software that is built in this development environment is like a black box that Active Lightning calls a publishing machine. A publishing machine consists of a formatting engine provided by a template of formatting definitions and a PatternStream-programmed executable. A single PatternStream publishing machine can produce multiple file types in parallel. For example, a financial prospectus can be produced in both pdf and html (3.2). This technology provides 100% automated delivery of pre-press-ready, or audience-ready documents. No manual labor.

The figure provides an overview of relationships. The automation process begins when an operator executes the software. PatternStream queries one or more databases with SQL statements. The results of each query trigger conditions that drive which content gets published and which formatting gets used. It builds one or more documents from scratch based on instructions in the publishing machine and the data it retrieves. Then it delivers digital documents to the desired network location that are in final form, ready to be used.

Information Strategy

PatternStream automation supports information management built around centralized storage of information in key databases and directories. PatternStream automation automatically delivers the information to different communication vehicles, such as documents or webpages, in the appropriate media. Updates are propagated as frequently as the publishing machines are run. The figure below provides an overview.


network diagram for database publishing and information management with PatternStream

PatternStream can access and deliver files on a cross-platform network. For example PatternStream can pull graphics from a Macintosh server, data from a UNIX database, and Word text files from a Windows PC. Similarly, the files that PatternStream produces can be delivered to a Windows, Macintosh, or UNIX server. PatternStream itself runs on a Windows client or Windows server.

The diagram shows a browser-based interface that can be used to manage data in the databases and/or view the files produced by PatternStream automation. A button on a web page can also be used to trigger PatternStream processing.

See Information Management Strategy for more information on the usefulness of PatternStream to facilitate information management. PatternStream helps CGI and CACI (and formerly American Management Systems) to win government contracts. Some of these success stories as well as other success stories from Finite Matters Limited and Active Lightning are described in Success Stories. See Software Details for more technical information on PatternStream and other software that supports automated publishing with PatternStream. It provides a tutorial where you can view some screenshots of the user interface as well as some guidance about cost.Or see examples of projects that Active Lightning has completed in Portfolio Gallery.

Steps to Start an Automation Project provides a checklist to help with getting an automation project started, including matters to consider in defining and justifying the project.

Patent Award

PatternStream technology for automated publishing is unique and significant. On August 28, 2001, the U. S. Patent Office awarded patent number 6,282,539 entitled "Method and System for Database Publishing" to Finite Matters Limited founding partner, Tony Luca.

Adobe White Paper

A presentation of database publishing that utilizes FrameMaker® is provided by Adobe Systems in the following white paper: Database Publishing (1.12 MB).

Download PatternStream

The demo version of PatternStream provides some sample databases and applications so that you can get a feel for the user interface and the application's capabilities. It is like the runtime version of PatternStream, because it allows you to run PatternStream publishing machines, but not to build them. This demo version of PatternStream can be downloaded from Finite Matters web site: PatternStream download page. Pay Active Lightning or Finite Matters for a PatternStream standard license to receive a key to unlock PatternStream and make all the features available.

Active Lightning

As is the case with conventional manufacturing, tooling a machine requires above-average ability and skill. Active Lightning talent excels at building PatternStream publishing machines.


Options for utilizing PatternStream and the services of Active Lightning:

a)   purchase the Premier license of PatternStream which provides complete development capability and either
— use in-house talent for development work, or
— hire Active Lightning
b)   purchase Runtime license of PatternStream to run publishing machines and outsource the development of custom automation to Active Lightning

Why Adobe Technology?

The developers of PatternStream could have supplied their own formatting engine, but they chose to build the solution using desktop publishing tools from Adobe. FrameMaker, is the industry standard for long document publishing, which allows the most flexibility for documents whether long or short. InDesign is another formatting engine that can be used with PatternStream. Adobe developed their desktop publishing tools with an interface for developers via developer kits. They planned for their software to get used as a jumping off point for additional development. These developer kits supply the internal hooks to control all aspects of the formatting environment programmatically. They support the ability to build automation.
     Professional desktop publishing is usually done in QuarkXPress®, why not use Quark?
     First, it is NOT the case that a manual document produced in Quark or any other desktop publishing program can become a vehicle for automation just by pressing a button. Style definitions for page layout, paragraphs, tables, and characters must be set up formally with style-sheet labels (which designers rarely do); and the interplay of variable data and constant elements must be specified in some way. Automation requires a different effort than straight desktop publishing.
     QuarkXPress is not suited to automation. It does not have the appropriate handles for controlling layout choices programmatically. However, we can also provide an expensive automation solution for Quark via technology from DeskNet if you prefer.

     Why FrameMaker or InDesign? 100% automated production. Click here to learn more.

To see a demo of PatternStream building financial factsheets dynamically, click here.

Or click to see the gallery showcases for these factsheets:
Meridian | MFS Investment Management.