7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 15, 2010 6:55 AM by Karl Cartwright

    Variable Data in Symbol

    Karl Cartwright Level 1

      Windows XP AI SC3

      Not sure if AI is suited for this or not...

       

      I would like to be able to create a symbol, that when placed in a document, it can pull from a dataset to populate certain data.  The customers phone number and address for example.

       

      I have played around with variable data for some things, but trying to accomplish this has been less than fruitful...

        • 1. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
          Junk Mailer Level 3

          Search "Creo + Darwin". Not sure what your budget is, but I think Darwin

          will accomplish what you are trying to do.

           

          -JM

          • 2. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
            JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
            I would like to be able to create a symbol, that when placed in a document, it can pull from a dataset to populate certain data.  The customers phone number and address for example.

             

            I can't surmise at all what exactly you are trying to accomplish. You want to "place" something in a file and have it "pull" a phone number and an address. What are you "placing" and how? "Pull" it into what? What provides the data connection link (match field; primary key) between whatever is doing the "pulling" and whatever is being "pulled"? You want the phone number and address to "populate certain data." What is "certain data"? (To my mind, a phone number and address are data.)

             

            Please try to more completely describe exactly what you are trying to accomplish. What do you mean by "placing a symbol?" Are you talking about the actual Place command? Are you talking about an Illustrator Symbol? What do you mean by "pull from" a dataset? Are you talking about a DataSet in the sense of Illustrator's Variables palette? Where do the customer's phone numbers and addresses reside? Are they already entered in DataSets? An external file? Is the "symbol" (or Symbol) a value within the DataSet?

             

            JET

            • 3. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
              Junk Mailer Level 3

              I think it would require an Excel spreadsheet or .csv file or some 

              other external database file format. The Darwin app I mentioned 

              includes a plugin that works with InDesign though, not Illustrator. I 

              don't believe Illustrator has the capability to import a data set as 

              it stands right off the shelf...

              • 4. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
                Karl Cartwright Level 1

                First, I would like to accomplish this within AI if possible, so whatever tools AI may give me, is what I am talking about.

                 

                Specifically, I was referring to AI's "Variable" panel and Dynamic object.  Dynamic Text to be more exact.

                 

                I can create a "Data Set" from the Variable Panel within AI.  I can save that as an XML.  So the structure of the Dataset File is pretty straight forward, and can be created or edited outside of AI.  I am pretty sure I can get the Dataset file to load when a file is opened (custom plug in).

                 

                So, if I have a template that has Dynamic Text elements, I should be able to open a file and have the data pulled from the XML dataset on open, automatically populating the variable text elements.

                 

                This will work well for variable text elements that are in the document.  However, if I create an Illustrator symbol and try to make the text dynamic, it does not appear to work.  I can go through the motions, but loading different datasets doe snot appear to affect the symbol.

                • 5. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
                  JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
                  function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                  I  don't believe Illustrator has the capability to import a data set as it stands right off the shelf...

                   

                  Illustrator has its XML-based Variables palette. It also supports scripting via Javascript and VBA. So yes, there are ways to use delimited data in Illustrator. But the parameters of the problem have to be clearly defined.

                   

                  JET

                  • 6. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
                    JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
                    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                    Specifically, I was referring to AI's "Variable" panel and Dynamic object.  Dynamic Text to be more exact.

                     

                    So all the Variables are text Variables? There are no GraphData, Visibility, or LinkedFile Variables involved?

                     

                    For my own purposes, I have devised a Javascript that populates the Variables Palette with DataSets from ordinary tab-delimited text. But again, I would have to see a thorough description of your problem to tell you if it is applicable to your situation.

                     

                    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                    I am pretty sure I can get the Dataset file to load when a file is opened (custom plug in).

                     

                    Assuming the XML file is formed to Illustrator's liking, you could also probably accomplish the auto-import with a Javascript that runs at launch. But that would, of course, just load one row (one DataSet) of the data into the bound objects. What's the big deal about using the Import XML command when the file is opened?

                     

                    So, if I have a template that has Dynamic Text elements, I should be able to open a file and have the data pulled from the XML dataset on open, automatically populating the variable text elements.

                     

                    Again, I don't know what you mean by "have the data pulled." The bound objects on the page will only contain one DataSet (one "row" of the data, were it tabular data) at a time. You could then use a mere Action (macro) to cycle through the DataSets and export the versions, if that's what you're talking about. But a startup script would only import the data Variable Library into the Variables Palette. Again, that's a one-shot deal; I don't see what's the big deal about invoking one command in the UI to load the whole Library.

                     

                    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                    This will work well for variable text elements that are in the document.  However, if I create an Illustrator symbol and try to make the text dynamic, it does not appear to work.  I can go through the motions, but loading different datasets doe snot appear to affect the symbol.

                     

                    Ilustrator Symbols cannot be bound as Variable objects. There are four types of Variables: Text, GraphData, LinkedFile, and Visibility. Why do you need this to be a Symbol? Is it required that multiple instances of the same column from the DataSet occur in various places on the page? If so, the Variables Palette is probably not your best solution. You would have to have multiple columns in your DataSet containing the same value, because even with ordinary textFrame objects, you cannot bind several to one Variable.

                     

                    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                    First, I would like to accomplish this within AI if possible, so whatever tools AI may give me, is what I am talking about.

                     

                    Workarounds are conceivable. But frankly I probably wouldn't bother (again, depending upon the specifics of the problem). InDesign provides a proper and straightforward data merge feature that works with ordinary tab delimited text, so you can enter the same placeholder as many times as you need on a page, and anywhere within a textrange (whereas Illustrator's Variables feature does not allow binding of multiple variables within a single textFrame).

                     

                    JET

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Variable Data in Symbol
                      Karl Cartwright Level 1

                      Thank you, this is very helpful.