Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Printing booklets in InDesign

Both InDesign CS2 and CS3 have a feature that will quickly rearrange the pages of a "reader spread" document into "printer spread" order, and then print the pages on a duplex (double-sided) printer.

The CS2 feature is located in File > InBooklet SE. By checking the Create New Document option, InDesign will create a copy of your document in printer spread order. You can then use the normal InDesign print dialog box to control duplexing, printing front sides only, etc.

In CS3, the feature is located in File > Print Booklet. This command always rearranges the pages into printer spread order as the document is printed, which works fine as long as you have a duplex printer. If you don't, you will need to print the "front" side of each spread, then flip the pages over, reload them into the printer and print the "back" side of each spread. You can't do this with the File > Print Booklet command in CS3. Here's a slick workaround:

1. Create a PDF of the document in reader spread page order.

2. Open the PDF in Acrobat 8.

3. Choose File > Print.

4. In the drop-down list next to "Page Scaling", choose Booklet Printing, choose Front Side Only for the "Booklet subset" and print the spreads. Repeat for the back sides after reloading the paper in the printer.


Monday, June 25, 2007

InDesign templates

When you save a file as a Template in Macintosh InDesign CS or CS2, the file is saved as a Mac OS X "Stationery Pad" file. This is a dumb feature of Mac OS X that is poorly implemented. Every time that you open the template, a new file is automatically created. If the template is named "foo.indt", a file named "foo copy.indt" is automatically created in the same folder as the original file.

This is really clunky, because a) it is unlikely that you will want to leave the file named "foo copy.indt"; and b) the filename still carries th .indt filename extension, which indicates that it is still a template file, which is untrue.

The workaround is to save the file as a Template in InDesign, and then close the file. In the Macintosh Finder, select the file copy that is created, and choose File > Get Info. In the Info dialog box, deselect the Stationery Pad option, and select the Locked option.

The next time you open the file, it will open as a "Read-Only" file. When you choose File > Save, you will automatically be prompted for a new file name.

Windows InDesign CS and CS2 doesn't have this limitation, nor does InDesign CS3 on Macintosh or Windows.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Check out Adobe Magazine

The June 2007 issue of Adobe Magazine is now available as a free download. The current issue is a 33-page PDF formatted for on-screen viewing. I haven't read it through yet, but it looks like it contains some interesting content.

If you want to read about what is happening in the Quark world, download the latest issue of X-Ray Magazine, also in PDF format.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

InDesign "Import Options" shortcut

If you check the Show Import Options choice in the Place dialog box when you are importing text or graphics into your layout, you will be see some options before the file is placed. If you are placing a Word file, the dialog box will let you choose how much formatting to import with the text, whether or not you want to convert quotes to typographer's quotes and how to map paragraph styles. If you are placing a PDF file, you can choose which pages of the PDF to place.

The trouble is, once you check this box, you will see the options dialog box every time you place text or graphics files, until you deselect the box.

The solution? Just leave the Show Import Options choice deselected, and hold down the shift key while you click the Open button when you want to see the Import Options dialog box. This will affect only the current graphic or text file you have selected. The next time you place a file, the Import Options dialog box will not appear, unless you hold down the shift key again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Create contact sheets in InDesign

I've written an article for the June/July 2007 issue of InDesign Magazine about how to use the Tools > Create InDesign Contact Sheet command in Adobe Bridge to create contact sheets.

First of all, if you are serious about becoming a "Jedi Master" of InDesign, you should subscribe to InDesign Magazine. (Enter the discount code "BACKPAGE" to subscribe for $39 (1-year) or $69 (2-years). Each issue packs in an unbelievable amount of InDesign-specific information.

The Create InDesign Contact Sheet command is a great way to automate contact sheet, photo album, catalog and coffee-table book production with either InDesign CS2 or CS3. Since the Create InDesign Contact Sheet "command" is really a Bridge script, its features are largely undocumented. That is where my article is useful.

The Create InDesign Contact Sheet command also contains numerous bugs and doesn't quite work as expected. For this reason, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the JavaScript code, and produced a much-more-useful version of the script for InDesign and Bridge CS3, as well as some other helpful scripts and templates for both CS2 and CS3. Again, all the background information you need for using these scripts and templates is in the InDesign Magazine article. However, if you want just the scripts and templates, you can download them here (906k zip file).

You can also read more about this at InDesign Secrets.

Friday, June 08, 2007

GREP searches in InDesign CS3

The Find/Change dialog box in InDesign CS3 has several new features, including the ability to do "GREP" searches. GREP searches use “regular expressions” to allow you to search for patterns in text. For example, you could use a GREP search to find all the email addresses in a document and make them blue, or find all telephone numbers, regardless of format, and reformat them with periods like 888.555.1212.

Today, while preparing a quick reference guide for one of my classes, I needed to search through a file that contained about 1200 paragraphs, and delete the 900 or so paragraphs that contained the phrase "none defined". Entering ^.*(none defined).*$ into the Find what field of the GREP section of the Find/Change dialog tells InDesign to find each occurrence of the phrase "none defined" and then select the entire paragraph containing the phrase. In the Change to field I entered nothing, clicked on the Change All button, and was done. A huge time saver.

The GREP syntax is pretty twisted. If you like programming, scripting or Sudoku you will be able to learn GREP as needed. Here are a few resources to get you started:

First, visit the GREP section of the Adobe help resource center. Then download a handy GREP quick reference guide in PDF format. Issue #17 of InDesign Magazine has a great non-technical article by Sandee Cohen on how to begin learning GREP. Here is good GREP reference site.

If you don't care to tackle learning GREP , at the very least, keep a text file on your hard drive that contains examples, like the one above, that you can copy and paste as you need them. You don't have to understand GREP to use examples that closely match what you need.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why you should care about 3D

Adobe's recent release of new tools for working with 3D images has me all jazzed about the possibilities for designers working in 2D design. Consider this scenario:

Tom is a product designer. He's hired by a large retailer to design a new table lamp. Tom creates a lamp prototype in 3D modeling software such as 3ds Max, Maya or SolidWorks.  Instead of showing the client hard copy or a regular PDF file that shows only static views of the lamp, Tom instead uses Adobe Acrobat 8 3D to create a 3D PDF file that can be opened with Adobe Reader. When the client opens the PDF file, they can grab the image of the lamp, select different preset views, rotate the lamp freely, see an exploded view of the pieces of the lamp, view cross sections, everything short of picking up the lamp and dropping it on the floor. All this with just Adobe Reader. Here are some examples of this in action.

Meanwhile, a graphic design firm is working on the early layouts for a product catalog using Adobe InDesign. Rather than importing a sketch of the lamp to use for the layouts, the designers can use the Photoshop CS3 Extended Plug-In for Google 3D Warehouse to quickly locate a generic lamp in the vast Google 3D Warehouse, rotate and scale it to the proper size and orientation, and produce a PSD, TIF or JPEG image to import into the InDesign catalog layout for concept approval.

Once the client approves the lamp design, Tom sends the original 3D "object" file to the manufacturer to begin production of the lamp. It may take several months for the actual lamps to be produced, but the advertising agency need images of the lamp now for a teaser campaign to begin building the public's appetite for this wonderful new lamp. No problem. Tom can send the same 3D object file to the designers at the advertising agency. The designers there can use Photoshop CS3 Extended to open the object file and rotate the lamp in 3D space, scale it, and composite it with a photograph of a desk. They can easily change the color and texture of the surfaces of the lamp, and map a logo onto the lamp's surface, all in Photoshop. Once the photo looks "real", it can be saved and placed in the InDesign layout for the advertisement.

This is the beginning of 3D data being exchanged as easily as clip art and stock photography is used now.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think this is something you will use? I'd like to hear your feedback.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Four updates from Adobe

Four notable announcements from Adobe in the last few days:

1. Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8. In addition to all the features of Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, this version lets CAD users in architecture, engineering, manufacturing and product design create PDF files from 3D "object" files. Users with the free Adobe Reader can then view the PDF files and grab, rotate, examine and annotate the objects in the PDF.

2. Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended Plug-In for Google 3D Warehouse at Adobe Labs. This cool plug-in for Photoshop CS3 Extended lets you search and download thousands of 3D models from the Google 3D Warehouse into Photoshop CS3 Extended. This technology should be on the radar of all designers, even those firmly in the 2D print world. I'll blog more about why this is important in a future post.

3. Bridge CS3 2.1 update. This update adds performance improvements as well as a couple new features. The update can be downloaded and installed via Help > Updates in any CS3 application.

4. Camera RAW 4.1 update for Adobe Photoshop CS3. This update adds support for a slew of new digital cameras, but also adds a few feature improvements.