9 Replies Latest reply on Feb 22, 2012 4:43 PM by Rik Ramsay

    Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel

    abrandberg Level 1

      I am busy creating a catalogue for a toy company with hundreds of products. Each product has an image, a name, an article-number, a price, etc. This information is given to me in an Excel spread-sheet, with an accompanying folder with the images.

       

      The catalogue will be changed regularly as products will be removed and new products added with each season, so it is imperative that it should be relatively quick and easy to update. As it is now, I have to manually copy-paste in the information for every single product each time the catalogue is updated - which takes HOURS (sometimes days) and, as you can imagine, becomes incredibly tedious after a while.

       

      I have tried to use Data Merge, which works perfectly in theory, as long as it is only one single page you are trying to merge. But I need to create both left-formatted and right-formatted pages (entire spreads).

       

      Linking to Excel tables within InDesign isn't ideal either, as it isn't entire tables I want to embed - just single cells to specific places.

       

      I guess you could say I want to link specific textboxes in my InDesign document to specific cells in my Excel spreadsheet, that then can be automatically updated when the Excel file is updated. Kind of like how one links images, but with text instead.

       

      Am I making any sense? I'll attach a few images here to try and make things clearer...

       

      Thank you so much for any help in advance!

       

       

      (Images are linked rather than embedded, so that they are not scaled down in size).


      http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/9648/screenshot20120222at447.png

      http://img828.imageshack.us/img828/4457/screenshot20120222at445.jpg

      http://img442.imageshack.us/img442/541/screenshot20120222at446.jpg


        • 1. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          Until I got to the point where you said some pages have a different layout I was all set to tell you how to perhaps trick Data Merge into doing the job (and maybe Data Merge whiz coley will have some bright ideas), but, frankly, this looks like the sort of job that would go better with one of the commercial catalog plugins.

          • 2. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
            abrandberg Level 1

            Well give it a go anyway! It might help for the pages that have the "normal" 8-image layout, seeing as they are the biggest part of the job?

             

            And what commercial catalog plugins are you referring to? How do they work, and how much do they cost?

            • 3. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
              Rik Ramsay Level 4

              You could try merging each section separately and then combining later in a book. The advantage of this is you can design one page per document and let merge take care of the rest - that way you can have 6 images on one document, and 8 on another without issue. i.e. one document for the pre-school and one for the wheels and motors etc. The Overview could just be a page you manually insert, but even this method would be massively quicker than doing each product invidually.

              • 4. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                peter minneapolis Level 4

                Peter Spier wrote:

                 

                Until I got to the point where you said some pages have a different layout I was all set to tell you how to perhaps trick Data Merge into doing the job (and maybe Data Merge whiz coley will have some bright ideas), but, frankly, this looks like the sort of job that would go better with one of the commercial catalog plugins.

                 

                I'm just theorizing, but because the overview looks like a table of contents, you might consider building it as a TOC from the caption paragraphs in the finished merged document. If the catalogs will be published as PDF, each TOC entry can link to the page where the item resides. Whichever tool creates the catalog shouldn't matter.

                 

                 

                HTH

                 

                 

                Regards,

                 

                 

                Peter

                _______________________

                Peter Gold

                KnowHow ProServices

                • 5. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                  I was referreing to the differnt layout of some pages having 6 images, some 4, not the really oddbal pages that clearly are not part of a merge.

                   

                  In any case, what I was going to suggest was to make a single page template for the merge, with only the merge fields and guides on it. Make sure that guides are placed so that each finished image/caption is surrounded by gudes that snap to them. After the merge is complete you can turn on Layout Adjustment, convert the file to facing pages, and apply left and right masters with headers, footers, new margins and new guides positioned as you want the recto and verso to appear. With any luck, everything will move.

                  • 6. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                    abrandberg Level 1

                    Firstly - thank you so much for your replies thus far!

                     

                    Secondly - I just realised that Data Merge actually isn't a good solution at all. Since I want to be able to link individual Excel cell information to InDesign textboxes and have them update automatically (like images do), Data Merge won't work. Because after a merge, it creates a completely new document that isn't linked to the spreadsheet, meaning that I can't update the old Excel file without having to create a whole new document. And since I move around most of the images to make them fit (6 on this page, 8 on that page, one covering 2 spots, etc) after the merge, the final document isn't linked any more and can't be easily updated..

                     

                    Bummer. Back to square one

                    • 7. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                      Rik Ramsay Level 4

                      Since I want to be able to link individual Excel cell information to InDesign textboxes and have them update automatically (like images do), Data Merge won't work. Because after a merge, it creates a completely new document that isn't linked to the spreadsheet, meaning that I can't update the old Excel file without having to create a whole new document.

                       

                      Actually, that's not true. If you set the document up in master pages, once merged it keeps all the links to the data. You still have the problem of having to open up the document to update the data source and if there are any additions you may have to run the merge again, but it keeps the links "live".

                      • 8. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                        As Rik says, if the template is buuilt onthe maste page, the links are maintained. That said there have been problems reported that photos disappear when you select update data source in the Data Merge panel menu, and I'm not at all sure waht would happen if you change the master pages.

                         

                        Seriously, you should be looking at the catalog plugins. This is a major job, and it needs the right tools. A plugin will probably pay for itself many times over.

                        • 9. Re: Trouble creating a catalogue with data from Excel
                          Rik Ramsay Level 4

                          I'm not entirely convinced InDesign could not handle this project with relative ease. I did a very similar project only a few months ago and the most time consuming part of my setup was replacing the files in the book.

                           

                          Depending on your updates, having the data in the master may not prove all that helpful. It is great if you just plan on replacing existing data/images but if you were to add any new products, unless I am mistaken, the document will not generate the extra fields. In that case you would need to run the merge again. But that is also a very straight-forward and quick process. If you save the template file and update the data, it will quite happily run the merge again without much time.

                           

                          For me having each section as a different template with different page layouts allows me to make changes to those individual parts without affecting the whole document. Granted I still need to re-link the files in the book then export as pdf again but in all it doesn't take much time.

                           

                          Once you have the setup done, updating etc will be pretty quick. If your only doing it 4 times a year (seasonal), I would think InDesign is more than adequate.