3 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2009 3:17 AM by Kasyan Servetsky

    Data Merge, Retrieve External Data? Automation?

      I have a problem, and I'm hoping someone here can point me in the direction of a solution.  It's a little complicated, so I will try and explain it the best I can...

      I work for a trade only giftware supplier, I produce presenters for a team of sales agents who sell our products all over the country, the printed version of these presenters have barcode labels stuck on them (the company won't spend the money on getting barcode imaging software) which works fine.  However, in the electronic world we live in the Agents would like to be able to email these presenters too their customers.  This is not a problem.  My problem is getting the description, pricing and packaging information into the layout. This info would normally be on the barcode labels that are stuck onto the printed version.

      At the moment, I use Automator actions to import all the pictures required, and then another Automator action to import the file names (which are also the product code) into the text boxes.  As both are imported in the same order the code & image match up just fine.  I then run a few simple find and replaces to strip extensions etc and fiddle with the layout until it looks like the image attached.

      Ideally what I'd like is a script / automator action / another way to use the 5 digit code within the box to link to a Excel spreadsheet - see attachment.  Which would allow me to populate the text frame with the additional information.

      When I hit a brick wall trying to find a way to do this, I decided that maybe I should start from scratch.  Using data merge, I'm able to import all the information I need into InDesign from the Excel spreadsheet, and even the image too.  The problem with this method is that not every image contains just the one product.  Some contain 2 or 3, in which case, 2 or 3 pieces of information are needed, which screws up the data merge approach.  Using the first approach this isn't a problem as every product has a box, I manually duplicate boxes that correspond to images with more than one product, these are named 12345_12346.tif

      Have I missed a blatantly obvious soloution here?  Does any one have any solutions, this have been driving me nuts on and off for months now!



        • 1. Re: Data Merge, Retrieve External Data? Automation?
          Kasyan Servetsky Level 5

          Hi Chris,


          Although you give a detailed description of your workflow, it’s really hard to give you a concrete advice without seeing your files: before/after the work is done, your Excel spreadsheet, screenshots, etc. The attachments in this forum are not working.

          But I want to draw your attention to this book: Designer's Guide to Adobe InDesign and XML.



          Most probably, looking through a this book you’ll find the solution you need.



          • 2. Re: Data Merge, Retrieve External Data? Automation?
            Level 1



            Thanks for the advice Kasyan, I'll try another way to show you my files, this is an example of the finished page layout, you can see the boxes where the barcode labels would normally be stuck over the top.

            And here's a screen shot of a sample Excel spreadsheet:


            I've just realised that it's not that much of a big deal (it was blatantly obvious after all) to import all the data & images using the data merge feature, I end up with something that looks like this:

            The top right image has 2 products in it, but I have all the information imported, I just need to manually adjust the @photos column to reflect images with more than one product.


            So I guess my question is now, if I was to purchase the book you mentioned, would it be possible for me to go from the very first page layout of the jewellery boxes to the one above with all the information filled in?  Can XML read the 5 digit code, find it in a spread sheet and then insert the additional pricing & quantity data?  If it is then I could reproduce the layouts without too much hassle and have all the information I need, if it's not then I can only use the data merge approach with new layouts.


            Thanks for you help so far...

            • 3. Re: Data Merge, Retrieve External Data? Automation?
              Kasyan Servetsky Level 5

              I can’t answer your questions without investigating your workflow thoroughly. I’m studying this book – completed about 2/3 of it by now. If your document contains repeating structure, this book will help you a lot. I think XML uses the same principles as Data merge, but offers much more flexibility and possibilities.

              Contact me in private via e-mail, may be I can help you.