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Hi, Jack. These are not necessarily trivial questions.
1. Would it be possible in CS5 to design the ePub file simultaneously with the print PDF? (at the moment I guess we are sending new books to India for conversion...)
I'm not an EPUB person, but yes, you can export the same InDesign layout to EPUB and Print PDF. I'm not sure to what extent there will be compromises such that you need to make changes to the layout that favor one or the other. I'm sure others will chime in, since EPUB is the next big thing and many people are on the EPUB bandwagon...
2. (Apparently) there is a tension between Adobe and Open Source/XML software as Adobe wants to keep you corralled and we want to be free. How free does Adobe allow us to be in CS5?
I don't think this question is terribly meaningful, and I don't think the stated assumption is quite correct either. InDesign lets your export a layout to XML according to some fairly rigidly-defined strictures. You must tag the elements of the document that you want exported, and to some extent this is a manual process. And if you care about formatting overrides within text boxes, you will have trouble.
But InDesign also has an XML file format that represents the entire document: IDML. You can export the document to IDML and then use
XML tools to pull out any sort of information from the document that you like. It is all there.
3. How easy will it be for us to create a template in InDesign that takes the flow coming out of our MySQL database through the search and save function (?) and places it in the template?
I don't know what you mean by search-and-save. InDesign has a feature, Data Merge, that reads CSV or TSV files and wil replicate content to match based on field definitions you establish. It is basically a Mail Merge.
InDesign can also read in XML input, but it cannot repeat elements of it, with the exception of adding additional pages to support a long text story.
4. Any information on InDesign's version control? (if this even exists)
Non-existent. At one point Adobe had a product called Version Cue but I believe it died with CS3.
Thanks for your quick response! This has answered some of my questions and I am working on finding out what exactly the "search and save" function is and will post an update when I know.
Thanks for your help,
Regarding creating files for EPUB, this requires some study on how to prepare you file in InDesign. It also probably a good idea to upgrade to InDesign CS5.5 which has much improved EPUB support.
As for study, I suggest Elizabeth Castro's book, EPUB Straight to the Point. http://www.elizabethcastro.com/epub/
Also Anne-Marie Concepcion's videos on Lynda.com. InDesign CS5 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad
And another good source of info about EPUBs are two webinars coming up soon by eBook expert Gabriel Powell. The first one is Thursday this week—Learning the Secrets of Creating eBooks in InDesign:
The second one next week is on Advanced eBook Formatting:
If you use the code SN-001, you can get $20 off the price, saving about 25%.