21 Replies Latest reply on Oct 7, 2013 6:11 PM by JETalmage

    Can Illustrator increment labels?

    Mickey McFly

      Hi, we'll be getting a laser engraver, and have been considering Illustrator to format the designs. Some of our engravings will include serial numbers. So I was wondering (having never used Illustrator) if I could create a file containg, say 10 identical engravings - except for an automatically incrementing serial number (I would set the first serial number, and the 9 others would follow). The 10 engravings would be applied to 10 similar parts simultaneously.


      Am I looking into the right kind of software?



        • 1. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
          [scott] Level 6

          Illustrator does not do auto-incrementing.


          You may be able to implement something using variables and scripts. But by default, there's no mechanism in Illustrator for what you're seeking.

          • 2. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
            Wade_Zimmerman Level 7

            A variable of that nature would require a data base that generates the sequence and a script to update the variable in Illustrator.


            However you could set up the numbers manually save it as a data set do the same for the next sequence of 10 numbers and save that as a data set and so on then when you load the art which can also be a variable, then load the data sets but this is worthless if the sequences differ from art to art and when printing you will have to do ten at a time oose the data set and print again.


            You can script this but it takes a very good script creator to do this. I am sure it would not be cheap.


            There might be a plug in.

            • 3. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
              JETalmage Level 6

              This page describes two AI Javascripts that can be used to create serial numbers.




              Of course, it's also a trivial matter to use the Fill Down command of whatever spreadsheet program you already have on your computer (Excel, etc.) to generate a list of serialized numbers, select the column, copy, and paste into Illustrator:




              • 4. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?

                Thanks for the response. Are those scripts hosted anywhere else by chance? I've tried looking and can't seem to find them anywhere. We are running a charity event and would like to add serially incremented numbers to the tickets.





                • 5. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                  rcraighead Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  If you have access to InDesign, you might find it's Data Merge feature much easier to use. Just place your AI graphic in InDesign and setup a variable based on a spreadsheet.

                  • 6. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                    pctechtv Level 1

                    Does any body have the scripts that JETalmage is referign to. I would like to see how they work. I click the link but it seems to be gone. Thanks

                    • 7. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                      rcraighead Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      This may not be what JETalmage is referring to. It is a script to convert Excel to AI-compatible XML file, for use with the AI Data-driven graphics.


                      • 8. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                        pctechtv Level 1

                        Thanks so much. Where would I begin using this script, Excel or Illustrator? I know something about adding scripsts to Excel via the Developer Tab. I tried there and via Illustrator Scripts folder. I am using Illustrator CS6. I am anxious to see how this works.

                        • 9. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                          rcraighead Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          If my memory serves me right, you can drag an Excel file onto the script and it will generate an AI-compatible XML file of the Excel text file.


                          Hmm… after opening the zip file, it may be a PowerPC application. Sorry, it won't work on newer Macs.

                          • 10. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                            pctechtv Level 1

                            Thanks for trying anyway. I am on Windows. I am pretty good with Excel and found a way to do it. Wanted to try your help as well. I have never used the Variables Panel much in Illustrator I am now discovering that it is a powerful tool. I like InDesigns DataMerge features but some times more than what I need. I find I have better control over intrecate graphics if I just keep them in Illustrator. Some times I link my Illustrator files in InDesign and use DataMerge, and it works great. Exploring the Variables Panel more and experimenting I see I don't always have to combine Illustrator and InDesign, I can just use Illustrator. Thanks again!

                            • 11. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                              rcraighead Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              Sure. It's been several years since I used that tool. It simply converted the Excel text file to an XML file compatible with AI. Glad you found a solution. There seems to be very little documentation on that portion of AI.


                              FWIW… Here are a few samples of variable graphics I did, using AI and PSD several years ago. The skater card was done exclusively in AI and could not have been accomplished using InDesign data merge.


                              • 13. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?


                                Hi, I am trying to find a way to automate the population of text fields from an excel to illustrator.

                                Example pictures above is of some keyrings we laser engrave. The date text at the top changes as does the bottom message. I am hoping these can easily be linked to an excel doc.

                                The central numbers will ilkey need to be a dynamic image. I would the artwork to have multiple keyring data i.e. in a jig.

                                The ideal would be:

                                • we fill in the excell sheet from the info on the customer order - copy and paste
                                • we open up the illustrator file which gets auto poulated from the excel sheet ideally 30 keyrings at a time
                                • We send this through to the laser
                                • Job done


                                In your experince with the label creations and incrementing numbers, can this be done? Any way you might be will to help set this up?

                                • 14. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                  Monika Gause Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  You will need to script this.


                                  Maybe take a look at data merge in InDesign?

                                  • 15. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                    Tony073MBS Level 1

                                    Thanks for the quick reply.

                                    Not keen on using in design in addition to illustrator, as need it to be a simple process. Do you know someone who could script this?

                                    Is there a tutorial on how to script?

                                    I have a variety of products I need this to work with. Currently we are amending individual artworks within a template for each order i.e. multiple orders with varying details in one ai. file. Hope this makes sense?

                                    Needless to say, it's taking a lot of time and I would like to streamlne the process.

                                    • 16. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                      Monika Gause Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      There are a couple of talented folks in this forum who might be able to script this.

                                      • 17. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                        JETalmage Level 6

                                        We send this through to the laser

                                        What exactly does that mean? Are you "printing" to the engraver directly from Illustrator? Are you able to do the same from most any program, regardless of whether the artwork being sent is a raster image, vector paths, or live text?


                                        ...ideally 30 keyrings at a time...

                                        Does this mean you want to gang up 30 pairs of front/back images, each with different data, on a single print sheet? If so, what is the size of the overall sheet, and what is the final trim size of each instance?



                                        • 18. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                          pctechtv Level 1

                                          Monika Guase, makes a good point abot looking a DataMerge in InDesign. It is pretty easy to use and imports Excel data very well. Would have to use its Variable panel and that can be more (like Monika Gause said) script intensive. Tell does the data have to start from Excel? This video from Deke McClelland (who is and Illustrator master) show you a way to quickly update a claendar in Illustrator. Move forward to the part when he works with the text in the calendar.



                                          • 19. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                            pctechtv Level 1

                                            Sorry Jet he says at the end it is the other movie, the next one, that he shows how to update the text in the canlendar days. I had originally watched it on Lynda.com. I thought this was all of it, but it is in the next movie where you can see the easy way to update a caledar in Illustrator. You can go to Lynda.com, and I think they have a trail which lets you view the movies.

                                            • 20. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                              Tony073MBS Level 1

                                              Hi Jet, we are printing to the engraver directly from illustrator. I only know you can definately print from corel draw and illustrator. I will ask the question. The artwork is sent to the printer via a proram called 'job control'. It's essentially a printer driver which allows you to set the power and speed of the laser.


                                              We would ideally like to gand up 30 front, then flip and do thirty backs. Each will have differnt data on one print sheet. The overall bed size can be upto 600x300mm. Each keyrong is 45x30mm. We are buying a laser with a larger bed size.


                                              What are your thoughts?

                                              • 21. Re: Can Illustrator increment labels?
                                                JETalmage Level 6

                                                What are your thoughts?

                                                Based on your description so far and the text-only sample shown, my thought is: This is more a data handling problem than a graphics problem. I would not dink around with Illusrator, InDesign, Corel Draw, or any other mainstream graphics program for this. I would build a turnkey solution in FileMaker Pro (a database program) which would automate the whole process from initial data entry to final output, including the automatic layouts of the 30-up front/back arrays.


                                                That assumes that the software driving your engraver does not require vector paths (i.e.; does not work like a HPGL plotter), but can basically send any line art to the engraver, including raster images, much like an ordinary desktop printer does.