Although the AFP Consortium was only formed in 2004, its creation was two decades in the making.
After all, it was back in 1984 when the AFP format was designed by experts at IBM. This revolutionary file created an indexed record of files produced by printers, independent of the software used to send the file, allowing print room operators to distribute large jobs across a wide range of different printers with ease.
These files required very little storage space, meaning that the nation's largest enterprises were able to create an accurate record of printed files.
They were also able to control a number of print settings, such as the formatting or the form of paper output, and they could do so across a range of operating systems. It was a hugely popular medium for storing and presenting information and soon became a recognized standard for the print industry.
The AFP Color Consortium
IBM was very keen to improve on what they famously described as the platform as a "cornerstone" of electronic document management. In 2004, the instigated the formation of the AFP Color Consortium (AFPCC), a group of print industry leaders, with the aim of developing colour management support for AFP. The open collaboration project allowed this to be successfully achieved.
Following this success, IBM allowed the consortium complete scope of the AFP architecture for an open collaboration project to find further improvements. This wasn't necessarily in IBM's original plans - but it was obvious that open collaboration was the way forward for continued development of AFP. It was following this decision that the group changed its name to the AFP Consortium (AFPCC).
The AFP Consortium
Japanese electronics giant Ricoh bought out IBM's print division in 2007. As part of this acquisition, the two companies formed a joint venture called Infoprint Solutions, which officially took over as the founding member of the AFPC.
The group now is now populated with key thought leaders representing the likes of Oce, Xerox, MPI Tech, Isis Papyrus, Kodak, Hewlett Packard and Lexmark among others. There are around 30 members each with their own unique ideas for pushing AFP further still.
Members communicate electronically on an ongoing basis and hold four meetings across the world a year, normally in North America or Europe. Many small upgrades regarding text speed, diagnostics and checkpoint recovery have been made.
The group appears to be doing plenty to ensure that AFP remains the top medium for print file storage almost twenty years since it was invented and has often been seen with many associated tasks like afp conversion for document types.
In a recent interview, the group's president Harry Lewis was confident that this would continue for some time.
"We have a road map of planned enhancements that stretches as far as the eyes can see. We have a backlog of things various members want to see tackled," he said.
IS/3 is the newest standard of AFP files developed by the consortium in 2011. As providing support for the newest fonts, images and graphics, it also provides the most efficient method of colour management and image management.
If this is anything to go by, then there are certainly some exciting times ahead for the AFP Consortium.