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Between the slumping economy and innovations that are changing the way designers work, the publishing industry finds itself in the midst of a major transition. And that appears to be weighing heavily on the minds of attendees at this week's Seybold Seminars conference in Boston.

Seybold is the twice-a-year trade show where designers, publishers, and industry watchers convene to learn about the latest products and trends affecting their businesses. It's also the place where publishing heavyweights such as Adobe and Quark can weigh in with their views on the state of the industry. Seybold also gives attendees the chance to reflect on where publishing is headed.

There's not as much reflection at this year's Boston event- attendance is down noticeably from past shows. And MacCentral's Peter Cohen reports that several vendors at this year's show have expressed concern about what the poor showing means for the future of such trade shows. Macromedia, for example, chose not to attend Seybold, instead holding its own event to unveil Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio.

Part of the blame for the lower attendance goes to stumbles of the dot-com market. "We are a mirror of the industry," Seybold Seminars and Publications President Gene Gable told Macworld's Kelly Lunsford. "When a specific industry has problems, we reflect that. And when the entire economy has a problem, everyone reflects that."

Still, all the news from Seybold hasn't been bleak. At a keynote session Tuesday, Adobe outlined its vision for publishing anytime, anywhere, on any device. The vision-part of Adobe's Network Publishing initiative-uses the Internet, dynamic media standards such as XML, and Adobe products including GoLive and InDesign to establish a single publishing workflow capable of creating, managing, and delivering content in print, online, and to wireless devices. The presentation by Adobe CEO and President Bruce Chizen included several demonstrations of how Adobe software will help network publishing flourish. Adobe's keynote also marked a farewell appearance for retiring co-founder John Warnock, who thanked Seybold attendees for their past support.

(It was a busy week for Adobe, which also announced the availability of Adobe Content Server 2.0, which lets publishers and distributors secure and sell Portable Document Format-based eBooks. And it released a beta version of its Acrobat eBook Reader for the Mac.)

At its keynote, Quark highlighted its new collaborative publishing tool, Active Publishing Server. The company also fielded questions about QuarkXPress 5's release date -it'll ship when it's ready, company officials said-and OS X.

Since print publishing is a major market for Apple, it's not a surprise that technical seminars discussing Apple products and related services have been a big draw at Seybold. Among the topics of discussion: digital photography, ColorSync, digital asset management, streaming video, PDF, QuickTime, and Mac OS X.

Speaking of Mac OS X, plenty of publishing vendors announced compatibility between their products and Apple's new operating system. Chromix showed off a preview of ColorThink 2.0, a new version of the color-management tool set that adds OS X compatibility as well as other features. DiamondSoft announced that an OS X version of Font Reserve Server should arrive sometime in the second quarter of 2001. None of Wacom's products work on OS X yet, but the company did confirm to MacCentral that it's on track to release an OS X beta driver in June. With a fairly short beta test planned, Wacom hopes to have finished OS X drivers for its tablets at Macworld Expo in July. Finally, eGrail announced that its eponymous Web-based content-management system will work on OS X, as well as Unix, Linux, and Windows NT.

In other Seybold product announcements:

  • Elisar Software announced the availability of MediaRights, its digital rights enforcement package.
  • Asanté displayed displayed a new router designed for cable and DSL users that supports its 802.11b-compliant wireless networking card.
  • Openpages announced that its ContentWare content-production system now supports Macromedia FreeHand.
  • Hablador released Hablador Connect: Adobe GoLive Extension, a WebDAV-enabled plug-in that makes GoLive 5.0 software serve as a front end for Hablador's own content-management system.
  • PictureIQ unveiled PictureIQ TransForce, a new imaging server.
  • Banta Integrated Media demonstrated DesignMerge Web, which lets QuarkXPress users create templates for customized print materials that can be modified by Web users.
  • MacSourcery, which develops specialized screensaver software applications using Macromedia Flash and Director, changed its name to ScreenTime Media.
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