Ten Reasons Why Prinergy is Still Dead

by admin on November 9, 2009

Updated Tuesday morning based upon comment from Prinergy developers

Okay, if you have been following the story about layoffs at the Kodak Burnaby locations, you will know that 1) This blog is saying that significant development on the Prinergy workflow software is all but halted - that Prinergy is dead and 2) Officially, Kodak disputes this allegation, stating that Prinergy development will continue in Israel.
It is known that a transition team from Israel is scheduled to do an immediate two-week visit to the west coast of Canada for knowledge transfer. And not everybody is being laid-off: There will a remnant (about 10) of the Prinergy development team left in place to handle ongoing transition issues.
However, despite assuming that the "new" team are competent software developers (a safe assumption, in my experience, if you have to generalize, Israeli developers are usually quite competent), they will fail. They will fail because of the ten nine reasons listed. And it won't be their fault, it's just that the odds are insurmountable.

1. Merge, merge, where's the code base and who gets to merge?

When a group of software developers get together and write a bunch of code, there is a need for a software application that takes of care of the problem of version control. There is not one Prinegy version. There is Prinergy 5, there is version 4, there is Prinergy for packaging, there is Evo which Prinergy without the database. All of these version of Prinergy share some but not all of the massive code base which stored and maintained by a program called Perforce
Now let's say the Isreali team has Perforce experience and Perforce licenses. Even if they don't that's sorta okay because the licenses are cheap and Perforce is pretty easy to use. Prinergy used to be store and configured by a program called Clearcase, which wasn't nearly as user-friendly. So they dodged a bullet there. But here comes another one: Where are you going to keep the Prinergy code base? If you put in Israeli, then zero coding can be done by any of the remnant development team in Vancouver. Leave in Vancouver, and how the heck is Israel going to get hands-on experience with the Prinergy code? The solution is to have a transcontinental set-up of |Perforce able to accept code merges from either city. This is possible but non-trivial.

2. Prinergy Component: The Workshop (Client)

This should be easy. I mean this is just a Java client, right? Get a guy who knows some java, and can modify a GUI without making it too ugly, and we're done. Oh wait, does the coder know CORBA? That's the middleware between the client and the server. Oh hopefully, you have a guy who knows that. And whataminute, what about those caching tricks coded in the client to hide latency issues in communicating with the server? Hmmm...not such a cakewalk now, is it.

3. Prinergy Components: The Trapper

Everybody knows what trapping is, right? It's the overlapping of colors so that you don't have a thin white line between colours if the plates don't align perfectly on the press. Prinergy has a vector trapping. Guess how long it took to code the trapping engine. It took a team of 3 guys 2 years plus. Now was that three-man team made up of one journeyman developer and two college students? No, guess again. Try Ph.d's. In math.
What, you guys have two weeks to learn how to maintain and upgrade the trapping engine? Oh my.

4. What's the Big Deal About Flexo Anyways

So, there is this variation of Prinergy called Powerpack. Yeah, yeah, you see there are these printers who do something called flexo. Yeah, it's really weird. Don't say pages, say 1-ups. Oh and don't say impositions, say step-and-repeat. Trust me on this. By the way, whatever you do, don't tell them that you can't make head or tails of the trapping engine. PRETEND EVERYTHING IS FINE. Believe me when I say the flexo guys are really sensitive about trapping. BTW, the step-and-repeat work is done in a program called Pandora. Fortunately, Pandora is owned by Kodak. Unfortunately the coders are based in Shanghai. Um, do any of you guys speak Chinese?

Number #5 is deleted according to feedback in comments from a Prinergy developer. Python is not in the architecture of RBA

5. Python is not just a big scary snake

Prinergy has some neat little automation hooks called RBA which stands for rules-based-architecture or really-badass-automation or something like that. I forget. Anyways, it's allow you to automate many functions of the Prinergy system. It's written in Python. You got guys who know Python? You don't? Uh-oh. Oh well, let's forget about updating the RBA libraries or making patches. Wait, some of Kodak's biggest customers are in love with RBA. Time to break out the tutorials.

6. You put a database in there?

Oracle version 10 is at the core of Prinergy 5. You have an Oracle wizard, don't you? No? Well you have a guy who knows SQL, right? Do you or don't you? Sooo, suppose you have performance programs and you can't figure out if it's the workshop (you pray that it is) or an SQL script. Let me tell you something: Somewhere in Germany there is a Prinergy site that runs SIX VLF platesetters, day in, day out. What ever you do, don't let Prinergy run slow. Ever.

Okay, those are six reasons. But those were the easy ones. Mere programming hurdles. And with a little bit of knowledge and time, they can be surmounted.
Oh wait, let's talk about time. A logistical factor which is not working for you right now, to say it diplomatically. Let's look at time constraints.

7.Two weeks in, four weeks left

So you're in Vancouver and you're talking to a guy and you realize he has critical knowledge in head. But you don't have the right guy in place to suck the critical knowledge out. How much time do you have? Well, if you are lucking, you got three months. If not, you got four weeks. There are three groups of developers at Burnaby right now: Guys leaving in 4 weeks, guys leaving in 3 months and the pathetically small remnant. Now everybody will help you up to the very last day of their employment because of professionalism and let's face it, because of pity. But they are not going to tell you the questions you should be asking. You'll figure the right questions to ask eventually. But will you figure it out in 4 weeks?

8.Bonus, bonus, where's the bonus?

Unless I have heard incorrectly, the guys who have been given 3 months notice haven't been told their what their severance packages will be. Is this sneaky? You bet it is, because under Canadian law, working notice is the same as giving out severance pay. Do you follow? Okay, let me try again. It's safe to assume the 3 months guys aren't getting a bonus. And they haven't been promised a package. But they have been given notice. In Canada, an employee in good standing is entitled to anywhere from 3 months to 2 years working notice or severance pay. For example, let's say upon consultation with the lawyer who takes into account a multitude of factors, the employee named Fred Biznak is entitled to 4 months notice. That means that the company can either give Fred four months severance pay or tell him in 4 months, he is toast. In the eyes of the law, both are the same. Of course, in the eyes of Fred, one is a reasonably sweet deal, the other is a monstrous shaft.
The three-monthers at Kodak, how do you think the morale is? More importantly, are they even going to bother to stick around for 90 days?

9.This Stream inkjet thingie, is it important to Kodak?

So these new-fangled inkjet presses, they will have Prinergy in front of them? These presses are in beta? What is the schedule for these puppies to go into full production and make some coin for Kodak?
Well, let's all get together down on our knees and pray that none of the Stream installations find any problems with Prinergy because you are not going to see any service packs released for months, maybe even a couple of quarters. Can Kodak handle any delay on getting the Stream inkjet to market. Let's look at the numbers. No.

10.What about Victoria?

The team doing Prinergy Insite got canned too. Is anybody flying up to south part of Vancouver Island to ask that team about the web front-end of Prinergy. Holy Moses, has anybody even phoned the number of the Vic office just to see if anybody is still there to pick up the phone?

But the scariest question of all is why? Why did Kodak do this? Maybe after all the smoke blows away, they can see cost savings of about $10 million a year. But what will it cost the company if the Stream project is delayed to market by one or two months or even a quarter? How many customers will delay buying systems until they are assured that Prinergy is in the hands of a software team that knows the code base inside and out? Did Kodak really think they could whack 90% of the Prinergy development team and shrug it off saying "Just a routine shift of personnel. Nothing to see here. Move along now."

So many questions. No good answers.

{ 20 comments }

Gordon Pritchard November 9, 2009 at 9:23 am

Ex or soon to be ex Prinergy developer?
I’ve received a job opportunity for developers in a B2B company. Contact me at pritchardgordon @ gmail (dot) com

Hope it’s OK to post this DJ

Tele2002 November 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

DJ, this is very sad news for the guys and girls who have poured their heart and soul into a product. Do we know if the product is taking a new direction? It’s not unusual for software to have it’s code base rewritten to support future development, both Adobe and Quark have done it, Dalim have done it, Agfa have done it, so would it be that unusal for Prinergy to get a whole new internal engine from some new coders?
What I think is extremely sad for Kodak is that they haven’t given the existing team (well that is what I am assuming) the oppertunity to do this, to reinvent the software they know so well…. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was some bright spark in procurement or HR that was tasked with saving $$ without evaluating the inpact on the industry…….
Oh and do we know who the consultants were? Was it one of the big boys who know nothing about our industry?
And one last comment – this one is to all Prinergy owners….. get those enduser license agreements and support contracts out….read, read and re-read them!

Jeff Collins November 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

We would love to hire former Prinergy/Insite devs for W2P company.

Jeff Collins
502-876-7771
uscollins@gmail.com

JC November 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

They really wrote the RBA engine in python and then make the end users write scripts in basic?

Never used perforce so I can’t comment on that specifically, but I’ve never worked on a large project where the development wasn’t spread out over multiple time zones. I doubt the cross continent issues will be a big deal as long as everyone is fluent in english. IMHO Items 3, 7 and 9 are enough to paint huge clouds of doom above the whole project.

If someone had a dozen million or so lying around, they could probably hire a couple dozen ex-Prinergy guys to build a superior workflow solution. License a rip, stir in a couple of good HCI guys and you should be ready to sell out to HP (or Kodak) in 2-3 years.

Michael J November 10, 2009 at 4:00 am

Why did Kodak do this?
Anyone have any thoughts about the idea that Kodak is getting ready to spin off the whole print piece and focus on the consumer business? I’m thinking that KKR just took a big piece. Their only interest is unlocking the value. From outside looking in I think Kodak could never really figure out how to integrate Creo and the delays on Stream are going to cost them big time, with HP and Oce already out in the market. Now this stuff with Prinergy….?

So… with all the M&A going on and with KKR in the game, are they getting ready for a nice sale to some big hedge fund money or perhaps China? Put some real focus on the offset workflow piece tie it into the digital stuff and let the consumer brand live and be well, but in a different company.

Ken Boyle November 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

Ok, can’t let this go on.

Prinergy Rules-Based Automation, aka RBA, is not written in Python.

RBA is written in C# (primarily) and has native support for VB for .NET in the interface as well as support for imported DLLs written in the language of your choice.

Apart from occasional references to the Parrot Sketch, there is no Python in RBA.

Capt. Esko November 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Time to dust off all of the old Nexus boxes that you guys dropped for kodak

thomas clifford November 10, 2009 at 8:16 pm

WOW… I know this is a sensitive subject, but there seems to be more nay say’ers here then a conspiracy theorists tweet-up on September 11th. I’m just as much an armchair QB as the next guy, but do you really think for a second that Kodak would knowingly drive their showcase, award winning, bread and butter workflow into the ground? I’m mean seriously; we’re not talking disc camera or VHS camcorder days here. This is the real deal. Seems like you all want Prinergy to fail. Then what do we do… Apogee? Come on. Agfa’s workflow is such a distant second.

I think what we are really sad about is the secret sauce of Creo days is all but gone. Aaaa we all remember the House of Blues bashes and Friday adult beverages at Creo…but focusing on what we had and not what we have and what’s to come does us little good. I’m confident Mr. Bracken and team are hard at work dong what they think is best. Prinergy has made a lot of money over the years. Getting costs under control is job one now… and Kodak is doing what needs to be done to stay afloat.

We’ve all seen the financials. Kodak had to do something. I know we are talking people and families. I’m sad to see some great Creo/Kodak folks go. Very sad in fact. I have worked with some of these people for almost 15 years. They will be missed.

I’m behind Kodak on this move. It’s not like I have much of a choice, but I’m giving them the benefit of doubt there. We need Kodak just as much as they need us…

stimpy November 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

They have some good programmers in Israel but the problem with the setup they have over there will be a marked increase in the release cycles compared to the current Burnaby team. The test and development departments in Israel, from my experience, are interfaced in a highly structured way, a holdover from the Scitex days. The development, requirements planning, and test regimes look good on paper, with all the blocks nicely arranged, but the controlled releases take literally years to roll out. Expect new major features to be several years away from release at a minimum. I don’t know how project management is going over there these days but from what I saw they were very much into standard PMI practices, which means S L O W and rigid development.

I always say that companies should stick with what they are good at. Kodak is one of the best companies in the world at relentlessly reducing staff, revenue, and earnings. Their management is obviously sticking with a formula that has “worked” for the past 2 decades. I suppose one could say they are concentrating on their core competencies.

prinergyX November 11, 2009 at 12:46 am

Prinergy IS dead, long life Prinergy! I think this is great; Kodak will make their next version of their workflow (lets call it Prinergy X or even better Prinergy RIP) cheap and off-the-shelf and build it from scratch. For that it will reuse their R&D department that was ‘almost’ successful in releasing the Kodak MIS software (again RIP). The team in Israel can now do in whay they do best, it can sell something inferior and pimp it up to something typically Kodak style. Something like their cameras, not an IXUS but something simple and cheap. I guess it is all in the selling (it helps if you know the Epicor consultancy language). It is a misconception that customers need something like a db driven WF or even RBA. Top management is always right.

Rest In Peace Prinergy.

Tom Bouman November 11, 2009 at 7:40 am

I would not worry at all regarding the Stream products. The Stream technology is being launched under the brand name of Prosper. These presses are driven by the Kodak 700 Print Manager that was jointly developed in Israel and the US. So it is proven that cross boundary development is possible and that the Israeli development team is quite competent.

The Prinergy to 700 Print Manager connectivity is already in place and was most recently shown at Print 09. Having further Prinergy development and testing in the same building with Prosper’s DFE is actually a good thing. Prosper Presses can run with or without Prinergy and with an open interface can use other products as well (but we still prefer Prinergy). Prosper also does not use the trapping mentioned above.

I won’t diminish the efforts of those in Vancouver. These people and their expertise will certainly be missed but these products are by no means finished. Scheduled releases and product upgrades and support will be done elsewhere but a professional services & customization team remains to ensure that customer solutions are well integrated and supported.

Guy November 11, 2009 at 1:48 pm

> do you really think for a second that Kodak would knowingly drive their showcase, award winning, bread and butter workflow into the ground?

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence” ?

Anyone who has worked on a large software project *knows* what is going to happen. I’ll bet no one who made the decision has ever worked on a large software project. The Creo secret sauce was getting the people who know the impact of the decision involved in making the decision. At its core it is just good business sense which in one version or another is applied by all leading technology companies.

Vermin November 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Tom. What do you know? Exactly? No#1. And when did thee know it? Where do you get your insights and info? The Dayton Gangbangers are barely hanging on after no raises no bonuses and no sack lunches for 2 years. And all the while anything requiring Intelligence and critical thinking runs off to Isrealville. Explain that? What did Scitex Holding know and when did they?
With all the shifting workloads back over to ScitexLand i.e. Isreal? What Gives. Most 15plus Vet’s spend 4 hours a day Stock trading. No wonder workloads are shifting to other countries. I gotta believe an eatherquake’s about to Rock your N.E. worlds and finally lay off or fire a bunch of ancient noah ark wood. Nobody wants to do anything. Who’s in charge? OMG Bureaucratic Ohioians at it again. Where’s Santa? Can someone share ANY information truthfully? That’s all we ask isn’t it?

Smells Like Onions January 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I heard that Prinery is dead. Some that the Israel Developing Team will resurrect the Brisque workflow. I think that 2010 will be a year of spin and stories trying to keep printers in line to spend money on a workflow that will never reach version 5.2. Printers are already talking that Prinery is dead and any wise printer will NOT spend money on a new workflow when there are too many unanswered variables out there. Current Prinergy customer will stay where they are. Other customers who are approached by sales will not buy into Prinergy unless a consumable deal in their favor is made or they are just plain stupid. If you do your research, flags should have gone off when Vancouver was dissolved. The RRDs of the market will be a huge indicator as to where printers will lean.

Hey there... March 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm

This is probably really late but as someone with knowledge of what is going on at Kodak I can assure you they have no clue what they are doing. Much of the Vancouver teams code was sent to Israel but some of it was sent to the US to be maintained and upgraded. I’ve personally spoken to people at both locations and they are all pretty clueless as to what they are working with and many of them have little experience or formal education in software development. From what I’ve gathered Kodak has decided to find the cheapest developers available regardless of their qualifications. These same people are currently working on a Prinergy replacement but as far as I’ve seen it is a total disaster due to inadequate leadership, poor planning, and a total lack of knowledge on the part of many of the developers. The funny part is that Kodak has many companies lined up to buy this Prinergy replacement that isn’t even half finished and has glaringly obvious architectural problems that can’t be fixed without another complete re-write (there have already been two that I know of after 3 years of development). This is why they don’t care one bit if anyone actually has any serious Prinergy knowledge because as you said, Prinergy is dead.

Interesting March 30, 2010 at 6:50 am

I guess this is where all the Kodak brain power went….

http://www.vikisolutions.com/index.html

Viki?? July 22, 2010 at 8:23 am

Did these guy find any business? Or did they spend their severance package on a webpage?
The last news item was posted in May.

admin July 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

Hah, working from home with kids and swamped with contracts since December 2009.

(got laid off from Creo – not Kodak – in 2004, a loooooong time ago)

Afshin January 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Viki here. We are too busy writing software for our customers – and slow in posting messages and creating newsletters. We founded Viki Solutions in March 2010. We are re-inventing online proofing, portal to workflow, web2print, direct mail and campaign management. Business has been fantastic with zero sales and advertising! Vproof & Vsend API (online proofing application with an API) and Vportal are in production. We are in the process of building sales channels. At this time, direct sales are available with us but only on a limited first come first serve basis.

We are partnering with companies in order to provide a full system solution. Last partnership was with Enfocus.

For more details please contact me directly.

Viki Leaks March 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Hey Afshin,
Hope you won’t forget about planning before coding and testing before delivering, in all your excitement.
Mike

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