Giving Scripts Descriptions with Tooltips

Adobe InDesign ships with a limited set of scripts within the scripts panel. While these scripts are appropriately named, they do not contain tooltips that elaborate on how the script works or what each script does.

For users of InDesign who rarely – if ever – open the scripts panel, this is not really an issue. But for users who have embraced the power of scripting within InDesign and have acquired or created scripts, the scripts palette can become quite unwieldy. Left unchecked, the scripts panel can get to the point where it is unknown what many scripts do, how they work (i.e. if they had a user interface or were designed to be implemented in specific workflows) or if they still work since they were added to the scripts folder.

It is possible to organise the scripts folder into categories using Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. Even so, there are still hundreds of scripts, and the file naming of the scripts often leaves very little to the imagination.

Scripts can have tooltips

Seasoned scripters will be aware of this, but for InDesign users who have used scripts but cannot write them, this practical tip may be of some use.

It is possible to have better descriptions in the form of tooltips – some script authors have the foresight to add such a tooltip to a script so that when one hovers over the script name in the scripts palette, a good description of the script was given instead of relying on the filename. Such an example is IDentify, from InDesign javascript expert, Jongware.

desc1

Luckily, it is possible to add tooltips to scripts that do not have them. To demonstrate, a description will be added to the empty text frame script. To do this, Right click (or control click) on the script while in the scripts panel of InDesign and choose “Reveal in Finder” (or Explorer on Windows). Once the folder window is presented, open the text editor (NOT a word processor but a plain text editor) of choice.

desc2

The following script needs a description added to it. To do this, add a line at the start of the script that looks like this:

//DESCRIPTION:type the description of what the script does here

(since it is known what the script does, a better description will be written)

desc3

Save the file and return to InDesign. Return to the script panel and hover the cursor over the script that was just edited.

desc4

And there it is – a better description for the script, in case the script isn’t used for a while and its purpose becomes forgotten.

Never, ever, EVER tick this checkbox when making a PDF!

A rather obscure and never before used checkbox in the export PDF dialog box has caused great concern for one particular reader, and that was the ability to create a PDF that has visible guides and grids.

To illustrate what happens, the following example will be used. Take the front of this flyer for a band, and note the gridlines in InDesign.

notthebutton1

The flyer is ready to be sent to the client so a PDF needs to be made. For the purpose of this demonstration, the [High Quality Print] setting that is one of the default presets for Adobe InDesign will be used, with one exception: The checkbox at the bottom “Visible Guides and Grids”

notthebutton2

The PDF is now created but unlike other PDFs, the guides and grids are not only visible, but will end up on the final print as well! The illustration shows that the guidelines can be selected with third party tools such as Enfocus Pitstop Professional.

notthebutton3

In this reader’s case, the checkbox was clicked mistakenly and fortunately for them, the eagle-eyed prepress staff that were about to print the artwork had noticed the lines and fixed the situation accordingly. However, the issue had highlighted several important points:

There are many features of InDesign that are somewhat obscure and would be used rarely, but is there really anyone out there that would ever feel the need to show their clients the grids and columns on a PDF, yet alone output them to a print-ready PDF?

Only instance that comes to mind would be a client that insists items on a proof are not lining up. Using this feature (with the appropriate gridline in the file) would create a PDF that would show the client that in fact the items do line up as intended… but is this a situation that arises often enough to warrant such a button in the export options?

Reader thoughts are definitely welcome on this topic!

Now contributing to InDesignSecrets.com

Just a short note to say that I am now contributing articles to InDesignSecrets.com – my first article: Making scalable shapes with Data Merge. The site is a great resource that I have regularly visited over the years and it is a resource that I often recommend to anyone with InDesign queries.

Happy reading!

If there’s something strange… in InDesign… who you gonna call?

It is nice to be known as a go-to person concerning questions about InDesign, but often there are questions about InDesign that I simply have no answers for. When questions concerning InDesign arise, that is when it is time for me to:

  • Ask a colleague
  • Look at some of the manuals on my desk
  • Use the help menu of InDesign itself
  • Go onto the internet

Normally the latter happens more often than asking a colleague or referencing the books. The sites that are typically visited first are:

Forums

The Adobe InDesign forum (above) and InDesignSecrets’ own forum are both fantastic resources that often hold the answers to questions that may arise.

Prior to asking the question straight away in a forum, use the search facilities in case a similar issue was answered already. If there is no joy using the search, then ask the question, ensuring the following are stated:

  • The operating system
  • Version of InDesign
  • (if scripting) the script language being used
  • The actual question

Stating all of this saves a lot of time for people who may have the answer to the question. Simply stating “help me”, “won’t work” or “this sucks” in the headline won’t tell a potential respondent what the specific issue is, and in many cases responders will just move onto the next post that has a descriptive headline.

Each forum has its own rules but I like to think that the following should apply to ANY advice website (and it should go without saying to use appropriate “netiquette”):

  • Be nice! Forums are typically user to user, so save any frustration about the product to those who made the software, not other users who likely share the frustration. This also means that anyone answering a post is doing so in their own time and are doing so on a voluntary basis… bear this in mind.
  • Mark as answered! If a forum has answered the question and there is a facility on a forum to mark a question as helpful or answered, please do so. It tells any respondent that their help was useful; it tells other users what the answer may be, and it lets future respondents know that the question has been answered and they can then invest their time in unanswered questions. Specifically on the Adobe forums, it gives the poster of the correct or helpful question “points” that shows their status within the forums. More information on Adobe forums points can be found here.
  • Don’t hijack threads for unrelated issues. Contributing to a post is one thing, taking over and redirecting the thread is another.
  • Be patient! Don’t “bump” old posts of yours… unless there is new vital information that may help any respondent.
  • Have reasonable expectations of the forums. There is a sub-thread of the InDesign forums dedicated to scripting within InDesign and it is there to serve people who write their own scripts whilst using InDesign. While the contributors to this forum are happy to help out with specific scripting queries, it is unlikely they will write a script from scratch for a specific issue.
  • Detail. If there is a specific issue, set out the steps that were taken that led up to the issue and use screengrabs if possible. This gives future respondents a chance to identify the fault, or try to attempt to replicate the fault on their own machine to see if it is a user-specific issue or if it affects every user. It doesn’t need to be War and Peace, but it needs to have more detail than a Twitter tweet.

Social Media

Twitter is great for the purpose of keeping up to date with new developments as regular forum posters and providers of good information often tweet news on updates, bugs and other developments.

Reddit also has a sub-reddit for indesign = r/indesign (as well as r/creativecloud etc) and the rules follow normal Reddit and forum rules. Admittedly it is not the first place that one would assume would have an appropriate answer, but the sub-reddit is useful and does have an “answered” feature similar to the Adobe Forums.

Youtube can be an unlikely source of answers for InDesign questions. There are hundreds of tutorial videos made by InDesign users and bloggers that may answer more common questions. It is also a source of “lifted” material from paid sites, but I have no doubt that the owners of the original content will take the time to search for their own titles on youtube that shouldn’t be there, and make copyright claims in due course.

Specific Sources

There are some unlikely sources of InDesign information. Some are via scripting resources such as:

  • Github
  • Sourceforge
  • Macscripter
  • Stackoverflow

There are also dedicated learning sites such as Lynda.com that are well worth the subscription, and feature lessons from InDesignSecrets contributors amongst other professionals.

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