Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saving filled in forms

Adobe Acrobat allows you to create fillable forms that can be filled in on-screen by anyone with the free Adobe Reader. However, Adobe Reader users cannot save a filled in form with the form data, even if the form is not password protected. If you need to save a filled in form with the form data, there are two well-known options, and one sneaky option:

1. Users of Adobe Acrobat Standard, Acrobat Professional, Acrobat Elements or the old Acrobat Business Tools (no longer available) can save filled-in forms with the form data.

2. Users of Adobe Reader 7.0.0 or later can save filled-in forms with the form data if the form has been “Reader-enabled” by someone with Adobe Acrobat Professional 8. This is a new feature of Acrobat Professional 8, and there are some Adobe license restrictions that prevent this from being used in high-volume applications.

3. You can “print”the filled-in PDF file to an image (TIFF) file with a print driver. One such driver that is already installed on many Windows systems is the "Microsoft Office Document Image Writer." When a user prints with this driver, they get to choose a name and location for the resulting TIFF file. The black and white TIFF that results can be 100, 200 or 300 dpi depending on the driver settings. This TIFF can then be saved for archival purposes or viewed with the Microsoft Office Document Imaging program or a similar program. There are other freeware and shareware "print to TIFF" drivers available for both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Adding files to a "book"

An InDesign Book is a collection of individual InDesign files. Creating a book makes it possible to break long documents into smaller chapters or sections, with each chapter or section an individual InDesign file. Creating a book allows you to do automatic page numbering across all the individual files, create a table of contents or index for the entire book, print or create a PDF of the entire book, and much more.

To create a book, just choose File > New > Book. This places an empty Book panel on your screen. You can add individual InDesign files to the book by choosing Add Document from the Book panel menu, or by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom of the Book panel. If you have a large number of files to add to a book, adding them this way is tedious. Here's a better way: just drag and drop InDesign files from the Macintosh Finder, Windows Explorer or Adobe Bridge right into the Book panel. You can drag and drop multiple files at a time. You can even drag and drop a top level folder, and all the InDesign files in that folder, as well as all the subfolders, will be added to the book!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Push and pull pages

InDesign CS3 offers a new way to move document pages or master pages from one file to another, the Move Pages command in the Pages panel menu. It works like this:

1. Open two documents.

2. Select one or more document pages in one of the files, and choose Move Pages from the Pages panel menu.

3. In the Move Pages dialog, you will see a drop down list next to "Move to:". Choose the second file that you have open from this list.

4. Choose where in that document you wish to move the pages to using the "Destination:" drop down list.

5. Click the OK button.

The procedure above lets you push pages from the active file to any other open file. If you select one or more Master Pages in step 2, the Move Pages option in the Pages panel menu changes to Move Masters, letting you push the selected masters to another open file.

You can also pull master pages from another InDesign file (it doesn't need to be open) into the file you have open. To do this, choose Load Masters Pages from the Pages panel menu.

Unfortunately, you cannot pull document pages from one file into another. Document pages can only be pushed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Placeholder (Lorem Ipsum) text

When you have a cursor in a text frame in InDesign, you can choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text to fill the text frame with "lorem ipsum" nonsense text. This can be useful if you need to format some text before the actual text is available.

If you'd prefer text other than the standard "lorem ipsum", you have some options:

1. The Greek Machine lets you specify what sort of text you want (Latin, marketing speak, hillbilly, pseudo German, and more) and then it produces text you can copy and paste into InDesign or any other program. The Lorem Ipsum Generator offers Greek, Russian, Arabic, Esperanto and many other variations.

2. g-design has created a Lorem Ipsum Widget for the Macintosh.

3. Rorohiko has created a free InDesign plug-in called Lightning Brain ChatterGoofy, which creates several different types of nonsense text right in InDesign.

4. You can create a text file named "placeholder.txt" and put it in the top level of your InDesign CS2 or CS3 application folder. The next time that you choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text, the text from your placeholder.txt file will be used.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Create stripes in InDesign

The Gradient Swatch Tool and the New Gradient Swatch command in the Swatches panel tool makes it easy to create and apply gradient blends in InDesign. In a gradient blend, one color normally "blends" gradually into the other. But you can also create Gradient Swatches that create stripes, like this:

You can do this in InDesign by dragging adjacent color stops in the New Gradient Swatch dialog box exactly on top of each other. In other words, working left to right on the gradient ramp, you would first create a white stop at 0%, then another white stop at 10%, with a black stop "on top" of the white stop at 10%, then another black stop at 20% followed by another white stop at 20%, and so on.

To make it easier, I've created a sample InDesign file that you can download that contains sample linear and radial "striped" swatches. Download the sample file, and choose Load Swatches from the Swatches panel menu to load these swatches into your InDesign file. To change the colors of the stripes, just change the colors of the "Color 1" and "Color 2" swatches. The file works with both CS2 and CS3.

This is pretty obscure, but maybe someone will find a use for it!