If all you want is for them to be able to edit the text, but not the layout, the correct tool is InCopy. You cannot secure a .indd file in the way you are proposing.
Unfortunately, InCopy is a professional software made for professionals. It's a good solution when the client has the money and resources.
My problem is the clients I have are like UN-type, not good at InDesign, mess up native InDesign files, work on very tight budget, will never buy additional software etc.
That's why I thought a plug-in might exist. I'm sure it'd benefit lots of graphic designers.
Probably not enough who are willing to pay for the development costs (if it's even possible, which it may not be) when InCopy does what you want. Have you looked at using a PDF with commenting, or CS Review? The client can't do wholesale editing, but maybe they shouldn't be.
InCopy, by the way, is less expensive than a full copy of ID, which they will need to edit the .indd file.
Unfortunately, InCopy is a professional software made for professionals.
And just exactly how would you describe InDesign?
Sorry, but Peter was dead on. InCopy will allow them to see the layout and make changes to only the text that you export out as InCopy content. An InCopy license is only about $250 and if they already know enough about InDesign to ruin a layout it won't take more than a couple of hours of training to learn to use.
If you want to pursue that, contact me privately. I do remote training for this type of thing via Connect sessions.
At least I now know such plugin doesn't exist. Not sure it'd be popular or not but talked to a couple designers the other day,
they said it'd be really helpful too, they face similar situations with clients not willing to pay for a full job. This doesn't apply to clients who have money to pay for full jobs.
I work with low-budget companies / organizations who're not interested in investing in software or training.
They like, have a license for InDesign and can play around a bit and put out flyers for their office, that's all. They don't even know
they're supposed to pay for fonts so I keep using fonts that are delivered with InDesign. So yes, InDesign is a professional software that some non-professionals can still use a bit. I don't even want to know how they proceed with final files to send to the printers. I guess they (printers) must fix alot!
Working with PDF and commenting is not always possible. When working on a full-job it might be, but when working on a template, it's the client who's going to put the text in the publication, not me. I just prepare a template with styles with a few pages as examples.
That's because humanitarian organizations prefers paying expensive international office staff with no knowledge of graphic design instead of hiring a professional one (locally) to do their jobs. It's total non-sense, but it's how it is and gives us independents some work, even though it's badly paid.
Well, basically if they want templates you need to deliver templates, and setting up locked layers is a good idea. I'd also put some big red non-printing notes on things saying that the locks are there for a reason, and should not be undone unless you know precisely what you are doing. The bottom line is if you deliver an editable file, you have to expect that it will get edited, and the client needs to understand that you can't protect them from their own lack of training (to make it polite).
As a work around what about this:
Put the text on its own layer.
Save the file as a temp file to supply to the customer.
Delete all layers but the text layer and send them this temp file.
They can edit the contents and send it back so you can copy it back onto your original document.
Supply a low res pdf so they can see what the job looks like.
messy sort of solution but it might be a way of doing it
can't password-lock layers in indesign.
understand the OP's frustration. if you want to preserve the branding or design, how about this solution:
prepare the elements you don't want changed and make a PDF of them; then place the PDF back into the indesign file so it is treated like a picture. put it in a layer if you like so that there are clear "editable" and "do not edit" layers with the pdf on the "do not edit" layer.
what the customer will find is that they won't be able to edit the elements of the "do not edit" layer unless they know how to edit files in acrobat or illustrator. admittedly, a customer could painfully cut and copy the pdf and then move elements, but it'd be a bit of effort.
Top idea, sounds like a good way of doing it.
I stumbled across this topic because a coworker said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could password protect certain layers in the InDesign doc before sending to the customers. And I said, "Maybe there's a plugin out there for that." So, it's not as wild of an idea as you might think and you aren't the only one who wishes you could do this. :-)