“If there were a Nobel Prize for this kind of thing, my letter of recommendation to the Swedish Academy would be in the mail by now,” Science online editor Stewart Mills wrote in an e-mail about the round-trip XML production cycle David Tompkins, Science’s preflight operations director, is working on.

When Tompkins was first hired by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2001, Science was using an analog workflow and hand-drawing mock-ups on blank Xerox paper. Within a year, the company became one of the first, along with Time Inc., to transition to an all-digital PDF/X1A workflow.

When he came on board, “It was an opportunity to create a prepress department from scratch,” Tompkins says. Since then, he’s accomplished many other feats—including the integration of digital ad booking and tracking solutions and the building of Intranet workflow solutions for tracking production between departments.

Tompkins estimates savings of about $300,000 a year since the switch to a PDF/X1A workflow in 2001, along with $100,000 to $200,000 in printing costs since the quality of files have improved so much.

Now, with its planned move to an XML workflow, Tompkins says production time for Science will likely be cut in half, which will lead to significant cost savings when considering a production staff of about 30.

Tompkins says Science is only a couple months out from implementing a full round-trip XML production cycle. The first milestone—importing existing content—has been completed. Now, he and his staff are working on the exporting process while he trains the art, production and editorial teams in InDesign CS3 and XML Toolworks. He is also working on the implementation of a Digital Asset Management system, which allows for streamlined repurposing of content and disaster recovery.

VITAL STATS: Science has seen cost savings upwards of $300,000 a year since Tompkins implemented a PDF/X1A workflow in 2001. Now, the XML workflow he’s developing looks to cut labor time in half.