7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 15, 2017 6:22 AM by Manan Joshi

    The Limitations of Live Captions?

    Northern Anorak


      Just wondered if anyone could offer any general advice about the possible benefits of using Live Captions for a project which I’m currently working on.

      I’m in the throes of setting up an 800page InDesign document (split into smaller files and chapters) which should eventually include about 300 graphics produced in Illustrator (CS5.5 versions – the company will not currently fund an upgrade to CS6). Traditionally, we have always included the graphics captions as part of the Illustrator image as we found they had a habit of being forgotten about by the authors if they were to be added at a later stage in InDesign. If we’ve also needed to include sequential figure numbering we’ve typed them in manually in Illustrator – a bit plebeian but on smaller documents it has worked well enough.

      Given the size of this document, I’ve been looking at the features of Live Captioning but have run into the following queries – can anyone help, please? For the purposes of these questions, let’s assume I am working on Chapter 2 and need to caption up 3 graphics: Fig 2.1, Fig 2.2 and Fig 2.3:

      1. The text for a Live Caption needs to be included as metadata in the Illustrator file. Is there any way to print this out with the Illustrator image (directly beneath it would be ideal) to ensure it does not get forgotten about by the author? I’ve Googled and Googled and it doesn’t appear to be possible – have I missed something? If not, I would definitely recommend this as a product feature for CS7!
      2. Is it possible to mix up the text styles in a Live Caption? We use three part captions, the first being the figure number (in bold), the second being the benefit (also in bold) and the third being a description (in italics).A typical caption would run something like this –
        Fig 2.1: Environmentally-friendly energy. Our use of horses to pull the trams rather than engines reduces carbon emissions and will protect the local parkland.

        I can separate out a style for the figure number via the Numbering Paragraph Style but if I go the Live Caption route and write the rest of the caption via Illustrator’s metadata I can’t seem to distinguish between the benefit text and the description text unless I turn it into a Static Caption. Is this possible within Live Caption?
      3. Live Captions appear to only be able to run to one line in length without resizing / retracking?
      4. Finally, getting the captions to automatically renumber if the locations of the graphics are moved around seems tricky. Let’s say I've got my three images in place – Figs 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3. The order comes through to move 2.2 to the front of the document – in effect turning it into Fig 2.1.As it’s in its own frame, the numbering in the Live Caption does not flip to 2.1 automatically as it would if I were using a series of linked text frames. The only solution seems to be to delete and then re-generate the first Live Caption frame after the image has been moved which then auto-renumbers the ones that follow.

      I can see the benefit of Live Captioning for ensuring a particular piece of text always accompanies a particular image. For anything more complex it appears to be a bit of a pullava. I’m tempted to just stick with doing everything manually in Illustrator or are there ways to automate everything easily using Live Captions and cross-references which I’ve missed?

      As always, thanks in advance for any and all advice offered.

        • 1. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
          Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          I think you're expecting more from Live Captions than they can produce.


          I don't have the answers to all your questions because I've never attempted such a complex project.


          1. I don't know of a way of printing out metatdata from Illustrator

          2. I think a caption can only automatically include one character style. You would have to add the others manually or via script.

          3. Live captions are definitely limited to one line (just like text variables).

          4. I've never attempted numbered captions so I don't know about that.


          You should explore options for InDesign scripts that might be able to help.

          • 2. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
            Pickory Level 3



            I think a lot of what you are after can be done with scripts.


            Here is a free script that attempts to create a report.





            • 3. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
              Joel Cherney Level 5

              You should explore options for InDesign scripts that might be able to help.


              Steve's analysis is bang-on correct. Because I have done many, many projects similar to yours, I'd say it a different way: "You should explore options for InDesign scripts that can recreate functionality from FrameMaker, without, you know, actually using FrameMaker." Your need for numbering of three hundred illustrations (which I'm betting are technical in nature, no?) is just the sort of thing I would have done in Frame a decade ago.

              • 4. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
                peter minneapolis Level 4


                Joel Cherney wrote:


                "You should explore options for InDesign scripts that can recreate functionality from FrameMaker, without, you know, actually using FrameMaker." Your need for numbering of three hundred illustrations (which I'm betting are technical in nature, no?) is just the sort of thing I would have done in Frame a decade ago.



                Hi, Joel:


                I'm curious about which InDesign scripts you've found, and/or used, that reproduce FrameMaker functionality, which functionalities, and the degree of success. If this seems to take the thread off course, I'd be happy with a separate thread, or if you think it's of too narrow interest, private email would work for me.

                • 5. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
                  Jean-Claude Tremblay User Group Manager

                  Here how I would have approach this.. See if it can help you.


                  1. Metadata description is added to illustrator graphic using Bridge.

                  2. Graphic placed in InDesign.

                  3. Create a Paragraph Style with a named Numberining List with a character style for Fig., add a Nested Styles option for the second bold part ending at a sentence. The main text is Italic.

                  4. Make a Live Caption setup. Using Description, the paragraph style and put the results on his own layers. Not grouped.

                  5. If using CS6 make an Object Style with only the Text Frame Option for Auto-Sizing Height only. From the bottom.

                  6. Place all you graphics in InDesign.


                  Then when ready...


                  7. Select all the Graphics in the Link Panel, and choose Generate Live Captions.

                  8. Then use this Script: "TomaxxiVARIprocessor" - > http://tomaxxi.com/downloads/

                  9. When executed, the script allow you to convert the specified variables to text, and apply a object style at the same time.


                  This should allow the nested style to kick in, allow reflow, and also apply the auto-fit text option.

                  Sure you will loose the Dynamic updating of the "Live" Captions, but if you ever need to redo them, just trash the Caption Layersm and redo steps 7 to 9.

                  • 6. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
                    Northern Anorak Level 1



                    Many thanks for your replies so far.


                    Joel - you were bang-on correct, the document is a technical sales tender. Many, many moons ago we used FrameMaker for our tender production, then we switched to Microsoft Word (ugh!) and now I'm gradually pulling everyone over to InDesign.


                    Thanks also for the advice on scripts, but I work within a highly restictive IT environment - I can't even put a font in the fonts folder, our IT section have to do it for me (nb: am I right in thinking there is a special fonts folder just for CS which our IT section might not have blocked access to? If so, could someone please tell me where it is - I use Windows 7 as my OS). For this reason, scripts aren't really an option for me - they would need to be vetted and installed by our IT section and they will most likely make a song and dance out of the whole procedure. I need to stick with what's possible for CS on an out-of-the-box basis with no room for customisation.


                    Reading the above, it would seem we will have to stay with our standard procedure of manually adding the captions in Illustrator and the numbers in InDesign. A bit steam-powered but we know it will work. And I'll definitely be adding the option to print metadata to the CS7 wish list - it really does surprise me that it's not already there, especially in relation to Bridge.

                    • 7. Re: The Limitations of Live Captions?
                      Manan Joshi Level 4

                      I have created a solution for wrapping issue of Live captions, have a look at GitHub - Manan-Joshi/TruLive-Caption: Live caption for Images in Indesign


                      Suggestions for addition/modification of features are welcome. I will incorporate the suggestions if they meet generic requirements