Advance “Australia Fair” Notice would have been nice

Those of you reading this article and living outside Australia may not be familiar with Advance Australia Fair, it is Australia’s National Anthem. The anthem is relatively new – adopted in 1984 to replace the previous anthem “God Save the Queen”; and is two verses in length.

So what does this have to do with this blog about prepress and InDesign advice? Well, in this instance, that a change without prior notice can cause major issues, and in this article, I’ll explain how it did just that recently.

Young to One

The Australian National Anthem can be a polarising topic, but in this article I want to put all politics aside and look at the practical effect this change made. For readers unfamiliar with the anthem, here is some context.

In November 2020, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian suggested a one-word change to the second line of the anthem to better reflect the country’s history prior to colonisation. The line that was previously:

For we are young and free

Would now become:

For we are one and free

This was not the first time an amendment had been suggested to the anthem, and in a news cycle dominated by COVID-19 and the US Elections, it was a story that was largely out of sight. However, unlike the other suggestions, this change was not only accepted – but literally implemented overnight, with the announcement by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on New Year’s Eve 2020 that the change would be made effective on January 1, 2021.

The effect of virtually no warning

In Australia, the school year starts late January and ends early December. This means that unique materials produced for schools for the new school year are normally produced between December and January, including school diaries.

An item requested by many schools to appear in their diaries is the Australian National Anthem, as it will be sung at various events such as assemblies, sporting events, etc.

Unfortunately, the timing of the decision is frustrating. The majority of school diaries are printed between October to December, meaning any diaries that featured the previous anthem were now incorrect. It also meant that any affected diaries that were in production had to be changed, and could mean reprinting single leaves or entire sections of a diary, depending on the printing method used. It could also mean having to reprint entire diaries that had already been perfect-bound; or for coil-bound diaries, the process of unbinding, replacing the affected page and rebinding the diary with a new coil.

I understand why the change to the anthem was made, and understand that January 1 is a convenient date on a calendar as it represents a new year, with Australia Day four weeks later. However, the lack of prior notice has caught not just my own employer off-guard, but anyone who makes similar collateral for schools.

Seen this before?

When preparing diaries for clients, every effort is made to ensure the correct dates and information is used, such as public holidays and school terms. Usually, these dates are planned and gazetted well ahead of time, but there are times that they have changed unexpectedly. One example was in October 2015 when the Queensland Government changed Labour Day from October to May for the next year. This was a mild inconvenience as most diaries were still in the round-tripping stage of their production and could be updated, but there were a handful of diaries that did need sections reprinted.

Yes, a phrase can be used to explain away mistakes in a diary, such as:

while correct at the time of printing, these dates are subject to change without prior notice

but that phrase doesn’t mean much when people that have relied on a date printed in a diary, only to learn – to their own inconvenience – that the date is incorrect.

Last thoughts on the issue

I understand that this is likely to be a one-off issue, but to cause so much rework was frustrating, simply because of a decision made by the Prime Minister – made with good intentions at its core – was done with virtually no warning to implement the change.

Yes, it’s only one word that changed, and yes I’m sure customers may be forgiving of the circumstances, but if the change to the anthem was far more major, then I don’t think customers would be so forgiving.

Personally, if there were to be changes to the Australian National Anthem, how about replacing the word “Girt”? It just means surrounded or enclosed, and isn’t it even in the wrong tense for the verb “Gird”? I also feel that Australia could be better represented by songs in 80s popular culture such as Land Down Under, Great Southern Land or Sounds of Then.

Lastly, even though it breaches part of the anthem’s protocols, the anthem can be sung to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island” or “Working Class Man” by Jimmy Barnes.

New Year’s Message for 2021

Given that the last general news update about this site was November 2012, it’s about time to provide another news update about the goings-on at Colecandoo.

10 years of Colecandoo in April 2021

April 2021 will mark ten years since Colecandoo.com was launched. The site started its life in the year 2000 on a former employer’s web forum in the form of a rant about what frustrated me about the files I had to handle on a daily basis. Upon being given the suggestion to turn frustration into education, I started documenting pain-points and writing suggestions on better practices for anyone who may be experiencing the same pain-points.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I had enough material to create a book, but given the pace of change in the printing industry, it would not be long before the information was out of date and revisions or reprints would be necessary, so what better platform to convey this information than a website?

In early 2013, interest in the site would be turned up to eleven. I was contacted by InDesignSecrets whether I would be interested in writing an article about Data Merge for InDesign Magazine. Since then I’ve written a few more pieces for the magazine, along with close to 30 articles for InDesignSecrets, and spoken at two conferences in an official capacity (as well as unofficially at CreativeWOW sessions and Ignite sessions).

Since starting this site, I’ve spoken at over a dozen events, including Adobe user groups, Adobe Community Professionals, as well as former and current employers.

My thanks go out to everyone who has supported the site, also to those who have gone out of their way to rally behind me to open doors I would have never thought imaginable. For years I’d wanted to be able to put suggestions and pain-points to Adobe Software Engineers directly, and through support of readers of the site, I’ve been able to do this several times.

Ten years on, some pain-points have gone; some pain-points remain, and new pain-points are introduced. I imagine that with the rise of Canva and the Affinity suite that there will be more to come, so stay tuned!

Data Merge to Single Records Pro beyond expectations

It has also been two years since the launch of the pro version of the Data Merge to Single Records script. The script had been on the back-burner for years after releasing the free version but I’d released the pro version after receiving dozens of direct requests for it. I didn’t think there would be much demand for the script from others, but two years on it has been downloaded more than I’d expected. To everyone who has purchased the script, thank you very much and I hope the script is saving time in your daily workflow.

Youtube

Many regular readers will note that it has been close to three years since the last upload to the Colecandoo YouTube channel (make sure you are subscribed to the Colecandoo). The aim of the channel was to show some tips and techniques that are hard to convey in the written format of the blog, and also had plans of monetizing the channel over time.

Preparing videos for YouTube takes many more hours and resources than writing articles for the blog. I also would like to increase the production values of the videos that are produced with better audio, graphics and on-site footage to demonstrate real-world applications of techniques shown in the videos. But in this environment that has been difficult to do, and in terms of production – I’m it! There’s no additional director, editor, producer, sound engineer, ADR… I’m it!

YouTube has increased the barrier to entry for monetization in 2019, effectively postponing monetization of the channel indefinitely. In short, eligibility hinges on having over 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within 12 months, in addition to providing advertiser-friendly/family friendly material.

Put simply, I’d like to continue making the videos and hope to do so in the future, but at the moment – videos are on-hold… for now.

Affiliate links

In 2021, I’ll be adding a page dedicated to Amazon affiliate links, and may mention affiliate links in articles that I write. These will always be mentioned up-front because the first and foremost aim of this site is to provide prepress and InDesign advice to anyone.

For those unfamiliar with Amazon affiliate links, they are links to products on Amazon that – if a person who clicks upon a link then makes a purchase using that link – will allow revenue to be passed back onto the person hosting that link, which in this case is Colecandoo.

To come in 2021

COVID-19 has been devastating and 2020 will largely be remembered for this reason alone. Vaccines may be on the way but won’t resolve the crisis on its own, nor do it in a timely fashion. We must still play our part by social distancing and maintaining good personal hygiene.

This year has been a slower year for articles for reasons that should be self-evident – with two articles prepared, compared to 14 articles in 2019. I aim to correct this for 2021.

I also aim to revisit some scripts on the site, and add new scripts to the list, including pro versions of scripts such as the wall planner script.

Additionally, I’d also be interested to hear thoughts on whether or not to set up a Patreon, and also thoughts on merchandise through Redbubble or Teespring.

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous new year for 2021, and in the words of my old Design Manager, “Let’s Do This!”.

Can I get a (Microsoft) Word in edge-wise?

Further to my article in April 2017 the InDesign team have certainly received the message loud and clear, and have now implemented some long-awaited improvements to InDesign. To their credit, the InDesign team have also made their communication with their technical staff far more transparent with the “wishform” page, where InDesign feature requests and bug reports can be viewed in real-time, along with their progress. The team have also made it easier to see what will be available in future versions with greater access to the prerelease program.

While I am not in the prerelease program myself, I like to have a look at the feature requests for InDesign to see what may or may not be coming to the next version. My own submissions for feature requests  are usually as a result of:

  • A recent issue I’ve encountered during a project or forum request;
  • An innovation by one of InDesign’s competitors, such as Quark, Scribus or Serif;
  • An innovation in a complimentary application such as Acrobat, Illustrator or Photoshop;
  • Simply finding a bug and reporting it

During the 2018 Adobe Symposium in Sydney, there were frequent mentions of Adobe’s recent innovation, Adobe Sensei. Apart from the obvious submission to the feature requests page for InDesign to adopt Adobe Sensei technology, I was reminded of certain features that I knew existed in Microsoft Word.

IMG_0127.JPG

For the first five years of my working life, Microsoft Word was my workhorse. I’d started my working life in an office performing clerical duties, and I would routinely use Word. Through my employer at the time, my job was slowly integrated into the printing and stationery arm that it had, and once I’d entered my next job exclusively in the printing industry, Word clearly took a back seat. I would refer to Microsoft Office products to import content into the applications I’d used over time, such as PageMaker, Quark Xpress and of course, Adobe InDesign.

That said, new or recent users to InDesign aren’t always from a marketing or graphic design background, but can be self-publishers, clerical staff, project managers, or simply anyone who has been told by their printer that they won’t accept Word files, but InDesign files are fine.

It is important to consider that users of Microsoft Office products can struggle to grasp concepts of usage that are present InDesign, and the learning curve can be steep. I’m also concerned about how new users of InDesign are acquiring their skills, given that hands-on training doesn’t appear to be a big part of this, but rather, methods such as:

  • Teaching themselves
  • On the job training from colleagues
  • Video courses from training sources
  • Video courses from anyone with screen capture software (yes, this includes my Youtube channel)

While reading InDesign forum requests lately, I have noticed InDesign users asking about features they are used to in Microsoft Word, and answers usually range from “InDesign wasn’t set up for that” or “InDesign can’t handle that”.

My question is: “Why not? Word can do this quite easily, and has done for decades!” Personally, there are many features of Office products that I think InDesign could easily benefit from, such as:

  • Macros
  • Calendars
  • Basic print impositions (a Publisher feature)
  • Mail merge
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Autoformat
  • Citations
  • Equations
  • Shapes
  • Smart Art (e.g. flow charts, venn diagrams, etc)
  • Charts and graphs

It is true that many of the features listed can be accomplished by third party scripts or plug-ins, but I would argue that if software with a lower price tag can accomplish these tasks without having to make further financial investment in a plug-in that may be obsolete upon the next CC update, how about adding these features to Adobe InDesign? It would make it easier for Office users migrating to InDesign, and would give veteran InDesign users some handy tools that were not previously available.

Post CreativePRO New Orleans update

It’s not often that I post an editorial on the site, usually the articles featured on the site outline a procedure, tutorial or general advice. For today’s post, it is worth standing on my soapbox to announce a few items:

Another great CreativePRO Conference

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This year’s CreativePRO conference was recently held in sunny (and humid!) New Orleans between June 4-8. As expected, the conference was fantastic and I left with even more pages in my notebook filled with tips, this time on Illustrator, Photoshop, and somewhat surprisingly, Excel. It was also an opportunity to appear on-stage at two brief CreativePRO organised events – the Ignite session and the CreativeWOW session.

The 2019 event will be hosted in Seattle, Washington, and marks the 10th year of the CreativePRO events that include the InDesign Conference and PEPCON.

25th article on InDesignSecrets

It was also during the CreativePRO conference that my 25th article on InDesignSecrets was published. As well as hosting this blog, I also prepare articles from time to time over at InDesignSecrets.com, so definitely check out the great articles there, as well as their Facebook page.

Youtube Hiatus is nearly over

Those familiar with my Youtube Channel will notice that it’s been some time since the last Colecandoo video was posted. Be patient, more videos are on the way. I can only say that 2017-2018 has provided perfect storm of events that have given less incentive to create video content on the Youtube platform, whether it be the “Adpocalypse”, demonetisation, or increasing the barrier of entry for monetisation. That aside, I would also like to add my Colecandoo character as part of the videos, and this requires more experience with Adobe Character Animator… as I say, the videos are on their way.

If you’re not familiar with my videos on Youtube, feel free to have a look here. As usual, if you want to be notified of new content, make sure to subscribe and click that bell that Youtube makes people click.

See you at MAX 2018

If you’re heading over to Los Angeles in October 2018 for Adobe MAX, I will see you there.

 

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