The following comments are conclusions by William J. 'Bill' McCalpin on the ACIF Survey conducted by MHE from Jan 5, 2005, through January 21, 2005. This survey was not scientifically done in that MHE did not contact a select population; rather the survey was reactive in that the responses came from members of an AFP discussion list who volunteered to participate. Thus some results could be skewed for example, all the respondents but one stated that their company used ACIF, which is likely a higher percentage than in practice.
The most important conclusion is that nearly everyone who uses ACIF uses it to collect print resources to bundle along with the print file. It is clear from the comments made by a number of respondents that not only does this help in archiving, but also it considerably simplifies resource management, particularly when the printer to be used is not on the same host as the resources.
The second conclusion is that almost no one uses ACIF to convert older AFP structured fields to the current MO:DCA definition; in fact, it's likely that most respondents didn't know that it did so. And since most AFP parsers such as PSF have an architecture that continues to support even obsolete structured fields, it's also likely that most users would not need this feature anyway.
The next conclusion is that two-thirds of the ACIF users use ACIF to create indexes. These indexes can be used with a variety of IBM products such as Content Manager OnDemand, RMDS for OS/390, Workflow, iSeries as a part of the OS, and is required by some 3rd party software.
Also note that two-thirds of the ACIF users use ACIF to archive AFP but it's not necessarily the same two-thirds as those who create indexes. Fifteen respondents said that they use ACIF to create indexes and fifteen respondents said that they use ACIF to archive AFP, but only ten of the respondents use both features of ACIF at the same time.
This leaves one-third of the indexing users not using indexing to prepare for an archive, and it leaves one-third of the archive users using some other indexing process to load the AFP documents into the archive system.
Two of the respondents (about 8½%) indicated that they used ACIF for neither indexing nor archiving. One respondent indicated that they used ACIF only to convert line data to AFP for an archive system, and the other respondent indicated that they used ACIF only to bundle the print resources with the AFP. Indeed, at least five other respondents indicated that they used ACIF to bundle print resources with the AFP specifically to enable printing or processing on other hosts (where the resources may not be available), but these other respondents also use ACIF for other purposes.