InDesign User Interface mods with Startup Scripts

In Episode 16 of my Youtube videos, I briefly showed a startup script that added several options to the contextual menu that allowed a frame to fit a given size. But it’s not the only way I’ve modified my user interface, so this episode of “Must-Haves” is dedicated to scripts that make minor modifications to the user interface.

The modifications mentioned in this article use javascripts that are installed into the startup scripts folder. Scripts put into this folder don’t have to be double-clicked from the scripts palette, instead they are run when InDesign starts up. So let’s have a look at what features these scripts add to the user interface.

goawaystartupscreen.jsx

Origin unknown

This is a one-line script that instead of adding functionality, actually takes it away… If you don’t like the startup screen showing up whenever no documents are open, add this script to the startup scripts and you’ll never see it again.

PalettenmenusinsHauptmenu.jsx

By Gerald Singelmann (Cuppascript)

This script adds a new main menu item that shows all panel menu items within the one menu.

TomaxxiLAYERS

by Marijan Tompa (Tomaxxi)

This script adds three options at the bottom of the layers panel that allow a layer set to be applied upon the creation of new documents. The layer sets are also customisable.

BookOpenAll.jsx

By Theunis de Jong (Jongware)

This script adds two options to an InDesign book palette – open all documents and close all documents.

FileCloseAll.js

By Marc Autret, Indiscripts

This script adds an item to the file menu, particularly close all.

AddPathOperationsToLayoutMenu.jsx

By Olav Martin Kvern, Silicon Publishing

This script adds the functionality of the pathfinder palette to the contextual menu. This is a great timesaver when working with shapes, so rather than having to click off of the object or objects being worked on to perform a command, simply right click to call up the desired command.

ConvertSwatchToGrayscale.jsx

By Gabe Harbs, In-Tools

This adds an option to the color palette that allows a color to be converted to greyscale based on formulas in the script.

ControlBackgroundExport.jsx

By Marijan Tompa (Tomaxxi)

This script adds a menu item to Adobe InDesign that allows the export PDF option in the background to be enabled or disabled. For whatever reason, I prefer to watch the progress bar of the PDF being created rather than let the task run in the background, so having this option is useful to me.

Unfortunately, this script is no longer available from Tomaxxi’s website, and it’s also not my script to give away. However, this link is an InDesignSecrets.com article where the script was conceived, and similar scripts are available in the comments section of the article.

SortFilesBeforePlace_startup.jsx

by Roland Dreger, Roland Dreger GrafikDesign

Adds the “Sort and Place…” item under the place item in the file menu. Once items are selected, a UI appears prompting for the method to be sorted for the place.

PlaceByContextv4.jsx

by Gerald Singelmann, Cuppascript

Adds a place… option to the contextual menu… but with a major difference. Selected frames will have the resulting images imported into the frames either in the order they were selected; or if marqueed at once, then from a left-to-right, top to bottom order. It effectively does away with the placegun and allows images to be placed directly into awaiting frames.

SwapImages.jsx

by Gerald Singelmann, Cuppascript

Adds three options towards the bottom of the contextual menu – swap images, swap places, and load image in placecursor. Certainly a go-to script and very handy for swapping images on the same page or spread; or swapping images between frames.

TomaxxiPLACE2

by Marijan Tompa (Tomaxxi)

Adds two options at the bottom of the object styles panel that applies a given object style to placed objects. Typically, object styles can only be applied once images have been placed.

выровнять фрейм.jsx

by Eugenyus Budantsev

Translated as align the frame, this script adds four options to the bottom of the contextual menu that allows a text frame or graphic frame to resize to the margin size, page size, bleed size or baseline. Images within a graphic frame will resize to fit the frame, but this can be adjusted by editing the script and replacing the words:

FitOptions.CONTENT_TO_FRAME

with

FitOptions.CENTER_CONTENT

Or another preferred option. See this link for the other options that can be chosen.

Lastly:

In a future Must-Haves video, I will demonstrate other user interface modifications that can be made that are installed in other ways.

Data Merging into the same Text Frame

From time to time, I hear the question along the lines of “how to I get Data Merge to put the next records in the same textframe during an InDesign Data Merge?” Well, if you’re expecting to do this procedure in one step, you are going to be disappointed because there is no one-click, turnkey solution to do this in Adobe InDesign itself.

That does not mean that accomplishing this task is impossible, in fact it can be done, and in Episode 16 of the Colecandoo Youtube videos, I outline several methods of how to accomplish this task, such as:

  • Merge in Microsoft Word beforehand and import into InDesign as a regular text import;
  • Merge in InDesign using the multiple record feature and use one of three scripts to re-thread the text so that it can be combined into one textframe;
  • Use a script from Ozalto that performs this task with almost no effort;
  • Venture into the rabbit-hole that is XML publishing; or
  • Consider one of the half-dozen paid plug-ins that are dedicated to the production of catalogues.

The video demonstrates several scripts that are absolutely essential for this task, as well as a bonus script that will help in everyday InDesign use:

This is a question that comes up often on various forums, and I feel that by showing how to accomplish this task through a video tutorial that it makes it easier to understand why this task needs to be done differently to Data Merge campaigns related to direct mail items or the creation of business cards.

EAN-13s on a budget

colcandoo

From time to time, there will be a need for any designer to add an ISBN barcode or EAN-13 to artwork that is being created. Typically, the customer supplies the number by itself and the barcode is created from that number and placed into the artwork. The question is… how does that number turn into a barcode?

This article isn’t going to be a long and technical article about how barcodes are generated and the math/programming that goes into it. Instead, it will point to some available resources for generating the odd barcode here and there, rather than fully developed software that can batch produce barcodes and integrate with databases.

Most of this post refers to EAN-13 or ISBN style barcodes, simply because since 1 January 2007, ISBNs are 13 digits long and use the EAN-13 barcode format for their barcode structure and appearance. What this in turn means is that a solution that can generate an ISBN can also generate an EAN-13, a standard used by most of the world for generating product barcodes… except if you live in the USA or Canada where UPC is used more often.

To my knowledge, no Adobe nor Quark product (nor any product from its latest rival, Affinity) ships with a barcode module as default, but Microsoft Windows users who use Corel Draw will know that it ships with a barcode module and has done so for the past 15 years (just a hint Adobe if you’re looking for ideas or innovations for the next upgrade to Creative Cloud). That’s well and good, but if you’re like me – a Mac user running the Adobe Creative Cloud, Corel Draw isn’t an option.

If you’re also not in the market for dedicated barcode software (as there are hundreds of products that are available) but would like to create a barcode with the minimum of fuss from your desktop or laptop, there are three alternatives that I would suggest:

Plug-ins

Many of the paid plug-ins that are substitutes for the Data Merge feature of Adobe InDesign typically come with a barcode module or add-on. For example:

But if you’re a designer that isn’t after an enterprise solution for making hundreds or thousands of barcodes, but just wants one barcode for a self-publishing client or a craft brewery for their bottles, then many of these products are probably overkill.

InDesign Scripts

Because I work in InDesign most of the time, having the ability to create a book cover and barcode in the same application has advantages for me. That said, here are three scripts that are worth a try:

BookBarcode by Indiscripts – a paid script for Adobe InDesign (€39). It offers lots of customisation and allows for batch creation of ISBN barcodes. If the pennies are tight, there is a “try” version that creates a “vanilla” EAN-13 barcode without the added features and bonuses that would be required from a book publisher or brand agency.

EAN Barcode generator by Konstantin Smorodsky – free script available from the Adobe Add-ons site. Does one ISBN barcode at a time and is intended for general purpose EAN-8 or EAN-13 barcodes, but since ISBN barcodes fall into this category, this still qualifies. Does not put the human-readable ISBN above the barcode though.

ID Barcode by Nick Morgan and Bruno Herfst – free script that supports EAN-13, ISBN, ISSN, ISMN; some customisation of fonts, includes human-readable ISBN above the barcode, EAN-2 and EAN-5 supplemental barcode.

Websites

To my surprise, there are several websites that can create CMYK, text-as-curves, vector graphic barcodes that are worthy of consideration. Again, the internet has these sites in abundance, but of the sites that stood out were:

Terry Burton’s online barcode generator – This site creates a vast array of barcodes, yet alone EAN-13/ISBN. Options are limited per barcode, but if functionality is your thing, definitely a worthwhile website.

Bookow.com – Generates a vector PDF ISBN barcode. No customisation but contains human-readable ISBN above the barcode and all type is set in OCR-B. There are also other useful tools on the website for book publishers.

GS1 (EAN-13 barcode generator) – The Swiss site of the GS1 organization has a feature that creates EAN-13s. Again, no fancy bells or whistles but it does the job.

Free Barcode Generator – Another no-nonsense barcode creator with some options but without the fanciness of the scripts or plug-ins.

Free ≠ yours to do with what you will

The last 7 links have mentioned free resources, but remember that the creators of these resources have the same bills and overheads that you do. If their script has saved you time and effort, and their website has a way of making a donation, seriously consider making a payment to these developers who go out of their way to not only make these resources, but allow you to use them without charging a hefty sum.

 

 

Data Merge PDF Export vs regular PDF Export

From time to time, I receive feedback on my Data Merge to Single Records script saying that – when exporting to PDF – spreads or hyperlinks won’t work. There is a reason for this and it has nothing to do with the script, but a behaviour (or bug) of how Data Merge exports to PDF.

A regular user of Adobe InDesign will be aware that there are two different kinds of PDF export – print and interactive. What users may not be aware of is that there is a third, more subtle method of PDF export, and that is PDF export during Data Merge.

On the surface, the PDF export looks the same, but the devil is in the detail. When merging directly to a PDF directly from the Data Merge palette (or using the Data Merge to Single Record script), there are options that cannot be chosen. These are:

  • The ability to merge to an interactive PDF
  • The page range (not the record range)
  • Spreads
  • Create Tagged PDF
  • Create Acrobat Layers
  • Hyperlinks
pdfdiff1

The export PDF dialog box via Data Merge. Note that several options are greyed out.

With the exception of being unable to check the spreads checkbox, the other limitations don’t usually pose too many issues when creating print-ready PDFs. I don’t know the reasons why these options are unable to be checked and in my mind it doesn’t make any sense that they should not be able to be selected at all.

But I digress… if interactive PDFs need to be created using Data Merge (for example, a survey where the participant was directly named during the Data Merge) then this cannot be done via the export to PDF directly from Data Merge.

There is a workaround

The solution is to merge to an InDesign file, and then export the merged InDesign file to an interactive PDF.

This situation presented itself in a real-world example where a school wanted to provide an interactive form to the parents of the students. The form would contain the student’s name, class number and teacher from the Data Merge panel, but other components of the document were interactive form fields. The PDFs had the name of the student and the teacher as the filename. The solution was as follows:

  1. Use the Data Merge to Single Record script to merge to InDesign files to a new location using the name of the student and the teacher in the filename.
  2. pdfdiff2

    Using the Data Merge to Single Records script to merge as InDesign files.

  3. Once created into a new directory, select a single file at random from that directory and ensure that it opens correctly without any font substitution. Export this single file to an interactive PDF using the settings you would like to use for the remaining files, and click OK.
  4. Open the interactive PDF that was created to make sure it opens as intended. If so, close the PDF and delete it (the reason will become apparent in a moment).
  5. Close all documents and run the Batch Convert script from Peter Kahrel. If you can’t get to the script palette from here because regular palettes are hidden and replaced with a dialog showing recent documents, go to the Window Menu, Utilities, then Scripts.
  6. pdfdiff3

    Peter Kahrel’s Batch Convert script is used to convert the InDesign files to Interactive PDF files.

  7. Once Peter’s script is open, choose the input folder by pointing to the folder containing the newly created InDesign files. The three checkboxes underneath this option should be unchecked.
  8. Choose an output folder by pointing to a destination folder for the interactive PDFs.
  9. Choose the source format as InDesign and the target format as PDF (interactive).
  10. Click OK

Peter’s script will now begin to work through the files exporting them to interactive PDFs. While this technique works, it’s annoying to have to double-handle files. One other frustration with this method is that the interactive export settings have to be initially created from a “sacrificial” PDF. To be fair, this has nothing to do with Peter’s script, but rather a “feature” (or lack of…) by InDesign. Unlike the print PDF presets, there is no ability to create interactive PDF presets.

This is a feature I would like to see and if you feel the same way, make sure to tell the Adobe InDesign team at their feature request/bug report form. In fact, I personally wouldn’t stop there… instead of having to go through this entire procedure, I’d let them know that Data Merge’s features need to be expanded and improved upon so that workarounds like this should not be necessary.

 

%d bloggers like this: