7 Replies Latest reply on Dec 17, 2014 7:28 AM by dmsduco

    Reusing content "done right"

    dmsduco Level 1

      Please give me your thoughts for a proper workflow for reusing content.

       

      One current example:

      We have some similar products which each need their own manual.

      See examle: https://db.tt/iPp2oulb

      (draft awaiging translitons).

      As you can see, content is seperated in chapters using these white areas.

       

      Manuals for the similar products will contain:

      - some 100% identical chapters

      - some chapters with minor changes (different product name for example)

      - some completely new chapters

       

      Because products are continuously updated, all content is subject to frequent change. Modifications vary from some minor text changes, to adding/deleting stuff.

      I prefer not to link as many content as possible, without sacrificing too much flexibility, instead of simple copy/pasting, as it will require me to make the same updates in all manuals.

       

      Some possibilities that come to mind:

      1. Use the linked content feature (using "Place and Link").

      Allthough I never really used it (only recently switched from CS5), the big drawback here is that it doesn't sync layout (position), unless it's grouped, but this narrows editing flexibility (update group -> ALL objects change, even the objects that i don't need to change).

      2. Using one PDF per chapter, and place that PDF (or even INDD).

      This gives complete synchronisation between chapters in every document, but doesn't allow any minor product-specific changes, plus it's a hassle with document sizes.

      3. Snippets. I hoped this was the holy grail for reusing content and still allowing some changes. However snippets simply place a copy of the original content. Every link to the original content is lost (such a shame!). I wish they would function as real links (like placing an .ai illustration for example), with extra "per object" linking options available making local changes possible.

       

       

      Any thoughts on this?

      Other tools / workflows / plugins / … recomended?

      Thanks in advance!

        • 1. Re: Reusing content "done right"
          John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          I do what you're describing using placed .indd's.

          This gives complete synchronisation between chapters in every document, but doesn't allow any minor product-specific changes, plus it's a hassle with document sizes.

          When product-specificity is needed, edit the placed .indd, Save As... to a product-specific folder, and subsequently re-link. That's what you'd have to do with non-common content no matter what format you link.

           

          Not sure what you mean by "document sizes." Page size? File size?

           

          If your body of documents uses a lot of differing page sizes, it can get difficult to manage with placed .indd's, but by sticking to some strategically standardized layout conventions, you can make chunks of content sort of "modular" via cropping of the placed pages; and that sometimes helps the scheme from defeating its own purpose.

          • 2. Re: Reusing content "done right"
            Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

            4. Database publishing

            5. FrameMaker, which supports conditional content per tag, and variables like product name.

            • 3. Re: Reusing content "done right"
              dmsduco Level 1

              Thanks for the suggestions!

               

              With multiple product-specific .indd versions, what is the advantage over simply copy/pasting content between documents?

              Since there is no link between the linked .indd files it still requires making changes on every link…

               

              With document size, I mean page size indeed.

              'Place and Link' and snippets don't have a page size which is really handy. They simply contain the objects. Placed (linked) objects can be resized to fit the other manual while still keeping the link to the original content. While all manuals have the same standard A4 format, the height of the "content blocks" could vary.

               

              I wich 'Place and Link' would sync relative position as well. Perhaps a feature request.

              • 4. Re: Reusing content "done right"
                John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                dmsduco wrote:

                 

                With multiple product-specific .indd versions, what is the advantage over simply copy/pasting content between documents?

                I surmise you're thinking in terms of whole documents. I do it by chapter or by section, and sometimes by page.

                 

                For example; lets say you have a family of products that all use the same "Care and Cleaning" instructions. You set up that content in a "master" InDesign file "X-Series Care and Cleaning.indd" and place it in each X Series manual. It's common to them all, so you link one master to them all. Do the same for any other common chapters, sections, or pages. When common content must change throughout the series, you have just the master to edit. Design your documents so that the product-specific content is discreet, perhaps to sections like "Model Specifications" and store those sections together with other content specific to the same product.

                Since there is no link between the linked .indd files it still requires making changes on every link…

                Not sure what you mean by that.

                • 5. Re: Reusing content "done right"
                  John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  Test Screen Name wrote:

                   

                  4. Database publishing

                  5. FrameMaker, which supports conditional content per tag, and variables like product name.

                  Viable perhaps if building a body of 1000's of multi-sourced documents from the ground up, and you have stout systems support in a major organization. Many companies' product offerings spawn significantly fewer user manuals, jockeyed by small teams or even a single individual equipped with little more than Adobe apps and a local network.

                  • 6. Re: Reusing content "done right"
                    Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

                    That lets out database publishing, but FrameMaker may be useful. I use it for multiproduct manuals.

                    • 7. Re: Reusing content "done right"
                      dmsduco Level 1

                      Thanks for the advice.

                       

                      I found an old topic similar to mine, which i can't find anymore unfortunately.

                      Advice was similar, but there was a mention of InData from Em software. Not sure if it fit's our needs, but it seems to bring some Framemaker-like functionality to InDesign. Didn't have the time to test it though.