as far as i know, there's no way of actually importing text variables - they have to be entered manually.
need to know more about the catalogue and how it is set up at the moment.
have you considered using layers for the base and 5 different sets of prices? its lazy but once the prices are set up for one variety (in one text thread which flows above the data that is referring to) that the layer could be duplicated and the second price variety is inserted, etc?
for me it would depend how far the project is at the moment (e.g. all finished but now going nowhere as text variables won't work; or still on the drawing board) because if the doc isn't made at the moment, setting up the document using XML data may be the way to go, provided you are familiar with long documents and XML as i have found it to be a steep learning curve which, while it does work, takes me ages to get it working.
have you considered any third party plug-ins which make catalogues using indesign, such as emcatalog, cacidi livemerge, easycatalogCS or the like?
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Actually, this sounds like a perfect use case for Conditonal Text.
Thanks, not sure if I found the same thing you were talking about but I solved my problem.
I created a tab-separated text file with all my pricing, then I used the "Data Merge" (Window->Utilities->Data Merge) and was able to do exactly what I wanted!
The catalogue is still on the drawing board, so I'm happy I found this feature before we created anything
Great to know there is such a feature, as I'll definitely make use of it for the different addresses on the back cover.
For the pricing, using conditional text doesn't avoid the problem of having to enter all the gazillion of prices by hand
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you should be able to export to IDML and fill in the conditional text or text variables inside the IDML in an automated fashion, and then open the IDML.
Awesome. This method is more complex than the Data Merge (for this specific case), but can be used for already-made catalogues!
Conditional text would work quite well with Data Merge. Add all the different prices usingData merge, then you can use Find/Change to assign Conditions based on the currency symbols.
not so sure about using datamerge as a solution for this scenario. for VDP where hundreds or thousands of records only have a few items changing on a page/pages... sure.
must admit i had "text variables" confused with "conditional text" in my original reply to the OP. in any event, there is no off-the-shelf way to take an XML or txt file and import them as conditional text entries. John's suggestion will work but (correct me if i'm wrong) requires either scripting or taking the IDML into something like OxygenXML and deciphering the code, so again wouldn't be "off the shelf" and something that would be easily picked up by everyday users of InDesign.
but the OP has FIVE records with HUNDREDS of items changing in pages. the excel file would look like this:
Book price 1 price 2 price 3 price 4 price 5 price 6 price 7 price 8 price 9 price 10 price 11 price 12 price 13 price 14 price 15 price 16 price 17 price 18 price 19 1 2 3 4 5
and so on...
and the data merge panel would look like this:
(hundreds of records)
never tried doing a data merge with 5 records but 600 items, but the OP will be scrolling all over the place in the data merge panel to place the next price field.
do the databases at the moment contain everything which would populate a catalogue item (e.g. pictureURL, name, description, SKU, price) or do the databases ONLY contain prices with the catalogue items already in indesign as template? if the latter is the case, carry on with the Data Merge solution, otherwise if the answer is the former, i'd stick to my guns and use an XML based solution.