25 Replies Latest reply on Sep 17, 2012 11:05 AM by peter minneapolis

    Text Variables

    zimbop Level 1

      Is there a setting that will make it obvious when a text variable has been used? As far as I can see it's not possible to tell visually if a piece of text has been placed by using a variable or if it was just typed.

        • 1. Re: Text Variables
          Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Switch to the Story Editor (Edit > Edit in Story Editor).

           

          Story Editor.jpg

          • 2. Re: Text Variables
            zimbop Level 1

            Tanks for the info. I was hoping there may have been an option tucked away somewhere to show this in regular view.

            • 3. Re: Text Variables
              Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Since you can view the page in the Story Editor with a simple shortcut, (Cmd/Ctrl-Y), I'd call that a pretty fast way of viewing the information.

              • 4. Re: Text Variables
                zimbop Level 1

                It is a pretty fast way, but requires that you switch views on every page and won't be alerted to their use passively. So I take it that the actualy answer to my question is a not then

                • 5. Re: Text Variables
                  Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  There's actually another way, but the view is so subtle that it's hard to see.

                   

                  If you turn on Type > Show Hidden Characters, you'll see a very subtle line outlining the variable. If you're using the default blue selection color of Layer 1, it's very hard to see. If you make the layer selection color red, it's a little more visible. It's around the words Untitled-3 in the image below.

                   

                  HiddenCharacters.jpg

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Text Variables
                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                    Depending on what formatting is already applied, this may or may not help you:

                     

                    Make a new character style called Variable and in that style add a custom underline to use as a highlight. Use Grep Find/Change to find all variables and apply the style.  Before going to output either redefine the style to remove the highlight,  run Find/Change again to remove the style, or just delete the style and replace with none and uncheck the preserve formatting box. The last option is probably the worst of the three fro removing the highlight as if you need to edit again you'll have to re-establish the style.

                    • 7. Re: Text Variables
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      Steve Werner wrote:

                       

                      There's actually another way, but the view is so subtle that it's hard to see.

                       

                      Thanks, Steve. I never know that was there.

                       

                      Other than being more obvious, the other advantage to the character style would be it shows even in preview mode when hidden characters don't.

                      • 8. Re: Text Variables
                        zimbop Level 1

                        Steve Werner wrote:

                         

                        There's actually another way, but the view is so subtle that it's hard to see.

                         

                        If you turn on Type > Show Hidden Characters, you'll see a very subtle line outlining the variable. If you're using the default blue selection color of Layer 1, it's very hard to see.

                        Aha! Thanks Steve, that's a little easier to work with in my current workflow. I'm surprised though that there isn't anything more like the preference to highlight custom tracking/kerning.

                        • 9. Re: Text Variables
                          zimbop Level 1

                          Peter Spier wrote:

                           

                          Depending on what formatting is already applied, this may or may not help you:

                           

                          Make a new character style called Variable and in that style add a custom underline to use as a highlight. Use Grep Find/Change to find all variables and apply the style.  Before going to output either redefine the style to remove the highlight,  run Find/Change again to remove the style, or just delete the style and replace with none and uncheck the preserve formatting box. The last option is probably the worst of the three fro removing the highlight as if you need to edit again you'll have to re-establish the style.

                          Thanks, this is a good solution if you have a pre-existing problem with text vars, but I was looking for something in everyday use that would passively alert me to when text vars were in use by someone who had handled the document before me. Re-use of templates means that checking to see if text vars have been set doesn't necessarily mean they've been used.

                          • 10. Re: Text Variables
                            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                            Running the find/change takes only seconds.

                             

                            I'm afraid I don't understand the differnce between a "pre-existing problem" with text variables and aletering you to when a variable has been used by someone else in a document handed off to you.

                            • 11. Re: Text Variables
                              zimbop Level 1

                              Pre-existing might be if someone before you has used text vars inconsistently when the house style is that every instance of a particular piece of text should be placed as a text variable - so you have to go through and ensure this is the case, _and_ you have already identified the issue.

                               

                              Passive alert would be the same as highlighting of spelling issues, custom tracking/kerning. It's simply handy to be aware of these things as you are editing a document. This is all I was looking for, and wondered if there was an option buried away in a preference for example.

                               

                              I don't mean to take anything away from your solution, I was just hoping there was an alert built in already that I had overlooked (and it appears there was, albeit a rather subtle one!).

                              • 12. Re: Text Variables
                                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                You didn't offend me, I just wasn't clear on when you would or wouldn't want to highlight beyond the built-in (which I didn't know about when I was posting my original response).

                                 

                                Two things, seems like a better highlight might be a useful addition to the interface, so you should file a feture request at Adobe - Feature Request/Bug Report Form They like to see a business use case -- so thell them how it would save you tons of time, money, and headaches from misprints.

                                 

                                The other ting is if thes are template based files, you might want to add the character style to the template so it's already there in case you want to use it (you could, for example, use find/change to apply it to variable to which [none] was applied if all varaible are supposed to have some other character style).

                                • 13. Re: Text Variables
                                  zimbop Level 1

                                  The other ting is if thes are template based files, you might want to add the character style to the template so it's already there in case you want to use it (you could, for example, use find/change to apply it to variable to which [none] was applied if all varaible are supposed to have some other character style).

                                  Ah! Excellent point.

                                   

                                  I hadn't thought about the ability to find/grep based on variables. What a shame you can't don't appear to be able to change found results to specific variables. 

                                  • 14. Re: Text Variables
                                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                    I'm not sure you can't. You can change to formatted contents of the clipboard, so if the clipboard has a variable...?

                                    • 15. Re: Text Variables
                                      zimbop Level 1

                                      Peter Spier wrote:

                                       

                                      I'm not sure you can't. You can change to formatted contents of the clipboard, so if the clipboard has a variable...?

                                      Works! Thanks Peter, I should read these forums more often

                                      • 16. Re: Text Variables
                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                        Yeah, I learn a lot here.

                                        • 17. Re: Text Variables
                                          peter minneapolis Level 4

                                          What about a GREP paragraph style that applies the character style to Any Variable or a specific variable? This is passive, but the problem remains how to remove the appearance at output time. Is there a passive way to ignore the character color, using something like an ink alias?

                                           

                                           

                                          HTH

                                           

                                           

                                          Regards,

                                           

                                           

                                          Peter

                                          _______________________

                                          Peter Gold

                                          KnowHow ProServices

                                           

                                          Peter Spier wrote:

                                           

                                          Depending on what formatting is already applied, this may or may not help you:

                                           

                                          Make a new character style called Variable and in that style add a custom underline to use as a highlight. Use Grep Find/Change to find all variables and apply the style.  Before going to output either redefine the style to remove the highlight,  run Find/Change again to remove the style, or just delete the style and replace with none and uncheck the preserve formatting box. The last option is probably the worst of the three fro removing the highlight as if you need to edit again you'll have to re-establish the style.

                                          • 18. Re: Text Variables
                                            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                            'Morning, Peter.

                                             

                                            That's also a pretty interesting idea, and I'm starting to think maybe even better than the one I came up with. You could define a spot color and alias it to Black, for example, and the color would show in layout mode and regular preview mode, but not overprint or seps previews (or , of course, actual output). You'd have to define the character color to Overprint Fill, as well, if you want it to overprint, because otherwise the aliased black will knock out while the default overprints.

                                            • 19. Re: Text Variables
                                              peter minneapolis Level 4

                                              Thanks, Peter S! I think I'm a pretty clever guy, but not as clever as the two of us combined. I'm not experienced in managing the non-printing-but-visible tricks, though sometimes I theorize usefully about things I'm unskilled in.

                                               

                                              I tried (and failed) to set up a swaatch/ink property that would always trigger a preflight error, to alert users to reset the character style to print without problems, in case there's no way to build it in; your suggestion seems to manage the automation. So, I learned that preflight is another weak area for me.

                                               

                                              I tested the GREP style approach before posting, but for a while I had problems making both the Find feature, and the GREP style, work in InDesign CS6! They wouldn't find any variable at all. It worked in CS5.5. After a bunch of failures I noticed that the  CS6 file wasn't saved; it works fine in a saved file. Would you say that failing to find in an unsaved file is a bug worth filing?

                                               

                                              [EDIT] An afterthought: supposing the character color was other than Black - would this be more complex to manage by ink management? [/EDIT]

                                               

                                              HTH

                                               

                                              Regards,

                                               

                                               

                                              Peter

                                              _______________________

                                              Peter Gold

                                              KnowHow ProServices

                                               

                                              Peter Spier wrote:

                                               

                                              'Morning, Peter.

                                               

                                              That's also a pretty interesting idea, and I'm starting to think maybe even better than the one I came up with. You could define a spot color and alias it to Black, for example, and the color would show in layout mode and regular preview mode, but not overprint or seps previews (or , of course, actual output). You'd have to define the character color to Overprint Fill, as well, if you want it to overprint, because otherwise the aliased black will knock out while the default overprints.

                                               

                                              Message was edited by: peter at knowhowpro

                                              • 20. Re: Text Variables
                                                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                                Not sure which suggestion was managing the automation -- yours doesn't have a preflight problem, and the find/change approach requires the user to have a memory of their own.

                                                 

                                                As far as filing the bug, I'd say yes.

                                                • 21. Re: Text Variables
                                                  peter minneapolis Level 4

                                                  When I tested the GREP style and found that it failed to find any text variable, before I discovered a saved file was required, I tried Find to see if there was a difference between it and GREP style. IOW, was there a problem with finding a variable in InDesign CS6 that only affected my installation, or hasn't anyone tried this task and discovered it fails? My initial instinct was to use a GREP style, specifically because it required no user activation.

                                                   

                                                  Of course, now the possible problem remaining is that some users might be bothered by the the displayed distinctive non-printing marking on text variables, so they might try to clear it by whatever creative operations they can think of.

                                                   

                                                  I'll report the bug.

                                                   

                                                  Regards,

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Peter

                                                  _______________________

                                                  Peter Gold

                                                  KnowHow ProServices

                                                   

                                                  Peter Spier wrote:

                                                   

                                                  Not sure which suggestion was managing the automation -- yours doesn't have a preflight problem, and the find/change approach requires the user to have a memory of their own.

                                                   

                                                  As far as filing the bug, I'd say yes.

                                                  • 22. Re: Text Variables
                                                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                                    Hmmm,

                                                     

                                                    I just tried both the GREP style and a Find/Cahnge on an unsaved file and they work here....

                                                    • 23. Re: Text Variables
                                                      peter minneapolis Level 4

                                                      I should have been more specific: brand-new never-saved file on Mac OS 10.6.8. Not sure if Windows would matter. IIRC, when I tested in ID CS5.5, it worked because the test file was opened from an IDML that had been file exported from CS6; so, technically, there was an existing disk file, unlike the brand-new never-saved test in CS6. If you have a few spare cycles and are still interested, please try once more with a brand-new never-saved file.

                                                       

                                                      Regards,

                                                      ___________________________

                                                      Peter Gold

                                                      KnowHow ProServices

                                                      • 24. Re: Text Variables
                                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                                        New never saved file here, too.

                                                         

                                                        Replace your prefs and check again.

                                                        • 25. Re: Text Variables
                                                          peter minneapolis Level 4

                                                          I didn't replace prefs, but I had to restart the OS, and now in a retest, there's no failure in a new unsaved file.

                                                           

                                                          Regards,

                                                           

                                                           

                                                          Peter

                                                          _______________________

                                                          Peter Gold

                                                          KnowHow ProServices

                                                           

                                                          Peter Spier wrote:

                                                           

                                                          New never saved file here, too.

                                                           

                                                          Replace your prefs and check again.