I'm an independent developer working on a data management platform (which I would like to commercialise at some stage but certainly not right now). The primary reason for developing this is to form the base for another system I'm developing with a small independent school to help them manage all of their administrative tasks more effectively. This means that more or less every need, in terms of document production, management and publication must be supported by a system that they use.
Below is what I need from the system where document production is required. I'm just wondering if someone can help me get some perspective on whether or not InDesign server is my only option. The core of the systems are web based, hosted with MS (Azure) and built using C# on an SQL background. I'm not even sure about how I would run an InDesign server instance to link with this setup but that is a separate challenge (suggestions welcome).
Document features already managed.
Essentially, I need to be able to do everything in code so that the system can spit out documents as required without them having to think about layout or design. From everything I've heard about the costs of InDesign server and having looked at the subscription costs for printui - it is far too expensive for a business that operates on a very small budget. At present, this system will just be used by them - and that may well only ever be the case so I'm starting worry about what I can do. I am aware of the PDF creation libraries available to simplify document production and am also considering that route. This whole project is largely about labour saving to reduce costs on the business, so being able to just create InDesign templates and upload them would be the ideal solution for us.
I hope that someone is able to offer some help or just talk through ideas with me as this whole area of the system is slowing progress quite significantly.
Good questions and thoughts on this. Does your client have InDesign on the desktop? Because that is how they would build the initial .idml/.indd templates to be uploaded into InDesign Server. All the server is is a headless client that listens for connections and does the heavy lifting from end systems.
You are right in that it is not cheap. We have multiple-instances of InDesign server and it runs near six figures on costs + maintenance (initially). But our clients also have seven figure budgets for the projects we are building for them...
We use Ghostscript (C# implementation) for some PDF work but InDesign does the heavy lifting when we have have variable templates and complex system. It works wonderfully and is quite powerful.
Setup wise I have my InDesign server(s) running on dedicated VM's and using Corba for load balancing and queuing.
All in all probably a big overkill for a client with a small budget.