6 Replies Latest reply on May 31, 2013 9:11 AM by abevyolarks

    Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?


      I have just been brought in to a new company that issues one page (and separately saved) biographies using inDesign. The biographies use a standard style, with a great deal of reoccurant information (company details, logo etc) and then some personal info that makes up the biography.


      The company recently underwent a re-brand which now means some 1000 of these biographies are displaying incorrect logos, colour schemes, font, watermark, contact information and company details.


      I want to amend this, upgrading them to the new style guidelines. And for my personal sanity would like to automate the process as much as possible. Any ideas on how best to tackle this would be greatly appreciated!


      My thoughts are as follows:


      1. Partial Automation: - Perhaps I can export swatches, colour profiles and font settings from the updated templates and retrospectivly apply them to all the old ones. This would get me a good deal of the way there... but would still leave an issue on changing all new company details. If I could apply this in bulk I could flag the files for a small amount of editing next time they're needed.
      2. Partial Automation: - Perhaps with a better understanding of the master pages tools I could create a default collection of swatches and space layout and import data into certain fields manually?
      3. Full Automation: - I would love it if some combination of the above and InDesign scripts were possible to use to achieve this... but I am not optimistic. Perhaps the better idea is to use the exportallstories.js script to scrape all the relivant data from my old files. From there I would need to write a python file to identify the relivant fields (namely: Name, Title, biography). I could then migrate these details to a spreadsheet and save it as a .csv file. From here I might finally be able to re-import it back into my new template style using the <<Automated Data merge>> functions! It's a bit hieth robinson and would require some careful thinking on python expressions to get everything into .csv correctly.... but I think it's crazy enough to work. Any assistance on ideas here... or ideas about how I automate this to batch export to RTF (without 1000 tiedious "ok" dialog box clicks) would be greatly appreciated.


      Any help, advice or pointers to relavant literature would be greatly appreciated.


      Other Info:

      I am on CS5

      Windows 8 (i know... i know...)

      I can get a python IDE up and running pretty quickly

      Am happy to migrate this to my native linux for some parts of this process if there are tools/i can use the command line to get things done quicker!




        • 1. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          I'm sure the scripters can probably help you (see InDesign Scripting) but there may be a lot you can do without a script, and may want to do in any case.


          For example, if there is a lot of common material that never moves, I would consider re-building all the files so that they all use a placed copy of a master document page that has this information on it. Next time there are changes, you update the master doc, then refresh the links.


          Without seeing what you have, it's hard to know what will and won't be useful, but if there is a lot of common content that is on master pages (presumably because the files were created from a common template, you can consider adding the files to a Book (.indb file) and using the synchronization features to do things like update styles, fix the master page on one document and synch it across the whole book, or add swatches (note that synching will not remove existing styles or swatches, only add new ones or update definitions for for existing same-name instances).

          • 2. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
            Eugene Tyson Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            For the Automation of swatches and fonts - you could insert all the files into a book






            As for all of the other information - I don't know a quick and easy way I'm afraid.



            I'm not sure if there's a script to combine InDesign files?


            Perhaps check the Scripting Forum.



            Basically you need all the FIles to combine into 1 large InDesign File.


            Then you can edit the swatches and fonts etc and they should change throughout.



            Then you'd need to separate them again after your edits.


            Well someone put a script for that together http://forums.adobe.com/message/4749653

            • 3. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
              abevyolarks Level 1

              That's very encouraging Peter thanks for the rapid feedback. I will look more deeply into master document pages and the idea of a book file, i'll need to jump a learning curve there but definitely sounds easier than all this programming milarky.


              Yes great shame I can't share further file details here but obviously the content itself is somewhat sensitive. I might be able to outline relativant fields however. I'll do a bit of reading and come back to that.

              Thanks again.

              Still, any further ideas are still welcomed!

              • 4. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
                TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Don't forget that you can search and replace in all open files. Don't

                know if InDesign will let you open 1000 files at once -- but if you

                could, you could do a find and replace for all the text at once in all

                open documents.


                If you want a custom script (definitely the easiest way) contact me

                privately, or ask in the scripting forum.



                • 5. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
                  peter minneapolis Level 4

                  You've obiously got a great understanding of how algorithmic/programming methods can accomplish much. However, you've got a zillion individual files and all the batch-mentality suggestions here assume that all zillion files are constructed alike.


                  BIG ASSUMPTION!


                  One of your initial steps should be to inspect the files. Perhaps they'll fall into groups of possible likeness - for instance, created between certain dates, having very similar file sizes, or perhaps having the same user (File > User.)


                  NOTE: There's no default user name, and the user name is at the application level (IOW, all documents made take the name that was entered into File > User, or "unknown user," so this may not help.


                  If there's some uniformity with groups, then a batch operation on the files may work well.


                  However, your idea of working with InDesign's Data Merge might be more workable, assuming (careful!) that you can extract all the necessary data items from the files, and manipulate them into a uniform data-file format, like CSV, that works with Data Merge.


                  Good luck! Please report back when you have some results - what worked, what didn't work. Feedback on results is one of the most helpful features of these user-to-user forums.











                  Peter Gold

                  KnowHow ProServices

                  • 6. Re: Batch Automating Design update on 1000 InDesign files- Any ideas?
                    abevyolarks Level 1

                    Thanks all for the replies, it's given me a great deal to think on.


                    I have discoved some of this information is helpfully stowed on their website. Am going to contact the IT guy... if i could scrape right off it or better yet get access to their mySQL or whatever perhaps that'd be the fastest way to make my magic .csv and then batch import all.


                    As for plans b-z:



                    • Eugene Tyson I looked into what you suggested about using books. I've still got a problem with importing all to one file if anyone knows a handy script that'd be much appreciated. I still obviously need to read up on master pages, when i've been dragging the style it seems to sandwich both the new style and old style together... so perhaps the data in isn't clean enough anyway (cleaning +1000 files would probably take longer than ctrl+c ctrl+v on all of em)
                    • Peter, you're exactly right. Dirty in dirty out on data right? I've found that given that these files were all made with the same workflow, there is a great deal of consistancy. If its 100% i cannot yet tell, but if i export using the story export .js it seems to me i could either scalp off the bottom most five files (which seem to inevitably contain the valued data) or ponder clever if statements that will detect if it's got something that might be a name or just our latin placeholder text. But yes... i figure whatever a good deal of checking will be invovled.
                    • Ariel, Your help would be greatly appreciated and I will pm you and anyone else who would be willing to get stuck into this challenge!! The main one for me right now would be the automated importing of files in bulk into a single story... perhaps the automated use of the other story export script... or if you were feeling extremely talented, doing all the work in indesign itself, opening files in sequence in a folder, stripping out the contents according to rules (that we could base on the regularity of it's content) or placement (they're generally in the same area) and saving that out to a txt file or even better a .csv!!


                    anyway I'm teetering between this being a fun challenge and a utter nightmare, but the looming idea of manual data entry is enough to propel me on. Any help / discussion or further thoughts would still be vastly appreciated!


                    thanks all and have a great weekend.