Is the term "blueline" still used?

I’m proofing a client’s RFP for catalog printing services. It’s the same wording they’ve been using since the 90s, and one of the things that caught my attention was their referring to the printer’s proof as a blueline. They don’t expect an actual cyan on white printout, they expect to do online proofing. I’m curious if anyone still uses the term blueline, or if it should be retired.

Wow! There’s a term I haven’t heard used for at least 40 years.

Bluelines were contacts proofs made from the same negatives used to burn the printing plates. Printers would run the negatives through a machine that used the negatives to expose photosensitive diazo paper. Any clear spot on the negative (type, lines, shapes, halftones, screentints, etc.) would cause the diazo paper to turn blue. The unexposed parts of the paper remained white.

I’m having a hard time imagining anyone still using that term since that entire process has been replaced by several subsequent generations of other proofs, such as match prints, colorkeys, digital hard proofs, and more recently, PDFs.

Short answer for me is no.

Slightly longer answer, back in the day, I’d get a color accurate proof (such as a 3M Matchprint) and then a blueline or dylux proof that would be imposed, folded, trimmed and stitched (or whatever bindery was called for).

These days I get a color accurate proof (usually an Epson inkjet) and then a “digital dylux” which will be imposed, folded, etc. The digital dylux is in rough color and is only used to proof imposition and bindery.

This has jogged my memories from my beginning days in this business as an intern. I’d talk to the designers older than me, and they’d tell me how they used to do things.

Here in Salt Lake, there were two downtown stores that originally began business as places architectural and engineering firms could get blueprints and bluelines made. One was called Salt Lake Blue; the other was called Reuel’s Photoblue.

By the time I came along, Reuel’s Photoblue had turned into an art and graphics supply store. Salt Lake Blue had headed off in the direction of selling drafting and engineering supplies. Both are out of business now.

Referring to today’s digital proofs as bluelines is a little like referring to downloaded digital music as 45 RPM vinyl records.

Right at the beginning of my career I saw one or two, but that was only in publishing, which, back then, moved forward in geological timescales. Everyone else had moved on, but even then I only remember seeing them a few times. I’d completely forgotten about them until now. I’m not sure they weren’t called something else over here. I don’t remember now.

Wow, you guys been doing this at least a decade longer than I have.
The only thing we ever called a blueline were the blueprints printed using the ammonia smelly offset transfer. And then only rarely. They were just blueprints. Man, I hated making those things.

It’s like I’m travelling back in time – but with more advance age, other things go with it, although I don’t remember what it is.

I saw some once in my first year at an ad agency around 1994/1995, but some clients took a few years to adapt their vocabulary. We rarely used PDFs back then, and sometimes it could be useful to take one last look at the films before the plates were developed. Blueprints made that easier. Rarely, films were even cut and pasted at the last minute. :joy: I once raced across town on a motorcycle to deliver a disk with one word on it that was then cut and pasted into a text because fish was being transported refrigerated, not frozen. Shortly after, the agency got an ISDN data connection for the Mac network. Modems for Internet only later.
My job was that of a graphics designer. :motorcycle::smile:

Yeah, the good ol’ days: shipping discs around (SyQuest, Zip, Floppy, optical), shipping mechanicals around before that, all of the tools that were used to make mechanicals … I simultaneously miss those days and am so glad we’ve moved on.

I had occasion to go up in the loft the week and had a Ereal nostalgia trip. I found a box with 40 and 80 meg syquest and a load of zip drives.

Two or three years ago, I finally got around to transferring everything I still wanted off dozens of Zip disks and Jaz drives. Everything I had on all those disks that I still wanted fit onto a couple of thumb drives. I shut my eyes, gritted my teeth, and threw away both the disks and the drives.

I remember when the Zip drives first came out. I wanted one badly. In a sea of ubiquitous beige computers and peripherals, the Zip drives were blue. Getting excited over a color change seems a bit stupid now, but at the time, both the (huge at the time) 100 MB storage capacity and color made them both useful and very cool.

Funny you mention Zips. That was another thing they had on the RFP. They were telling the printer the files would be transferred to them by either Zip, CD, optical disc, or FTP.

They forgot Pony Express and carrier pigeons.

Back in the mid-'90s, I was in graduate school and teaching a first-year design production class under the direction of a professor on my graduate committee. He came up with the curriculum, but I was expected to teach it.

The curriculum consisted of practice lessons on using ruling pens, triangles, circle templates, rubber cement, french curves, amberlith, and various other outdated techniques and pieces of equipment. In a lesson on how to use a stat camera, one of the students asked why I was teaching this crap that hardly anyone had used for ten years. My honest answer would have been because the technophobe professor I’m working for thinks people still do it this way. Instead, I mumbled something about them needing to know the processes, both past and present.

A few days later, I got into a shouting match with the professor about having to teach students production methods they would never use in their careers. I refused to teach his class the following semester. He remained at the school for another 10 or 15 years before retiring. I suspect he was teaching first-year students how to use ruling pens and cut overlays right up until the last minute.