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Newly updated, K4 is a German-originated product shipped in America by MEI. It offers tighter control of the publishing process with task-based workflow giving specific instructions on each user's tasks to keep them on the ball.

Publish and Be Cross

Anything that makes a publisher's life easier has to be good, and publishing platforms have helped behind the scenes, becoming ever more useful. The improvements in version 6 of K4 include handling data from any source. As well as the standard media-friendly Adobe files, it can take data from PowerPoint, Flash movies, PDFs and Excel documents.

What comes in can go out in the form of Web pages, mobile content, printed material, ebooks and other forms. But, K4's big feature is the step-by-step process control. Instead of a content creator or designer opening a page and looking blankly for what they need to do, K4 now offers a task-based user workflow.

Step-By-Step

At each stage of a project, users see specific tasks and individual jobs on a document that are assigned to them. Click on a task and K4 opens the requisite file, be it text, image or layout. The system is multi-tasking and open-ended, so many tasks can be completed by different users at the same time. An editor can check the text while someone else fills out headlines or panel, Web editors can add metadata and so on.

When a task is marked as completed, the user can follow the next step in the workflow while K4 automatically advances the updated document, routing it to the next person or team as defined by the workflow.

These workflows may be a pain to set up initially, but once the template is set, everyone has an easier life, following the graphical workflow charts.

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K4 Version 6 makes the publishing process explicit
 

Behind the Headlines

Another neat trick is the ability to edit InCopy files from anywhere using a Web browser. This frees up those design Macs for the creative types and lets the writers or Web staff access documents from other offices, at home or that oh so stylish Internet Cafe. This feature is powered by a server side plug-in. Additional plug ins include a CMS Editor and XML Exporter.

While K4 is compatible with all the usual publishing systems, source applications and so on, there is also an open API and SDK for companies that need to integrate specialist software into the process. The system is secured with user permission access control to files and log-ins.

K4 is available worldwide via distributors and is already installed in hundreds of publishing houses including the likes of Popular Mechanics, Rolling Stone and Harvard Business Review.