18 Years is Not Enough!

It's hard to believe, but our database publishing tool priint:comet turns 18 years old. With InDesign 2.0, we released the first version for the automation of InDesign documents. That's reason enough to summarize what a full-blown automation tool should do. Because it is about much more than just the automated creation and updating of InDesign documents.

In the beginning there was the updating of documents

In desktop publishing, automation started with a simple update of DTP documents based on external data. A typical use case was and still is the subsequent updating of prices or updating for other countries and markets. Individual elements in the InDesign document (text, images, text frames, tables) can be updated using the priint:comet placeholders. The InDesign user has live access to the data of the connected systems:

This basic functionality has been extended over the years to include change management. Here, the InDesign user can interactively decide whether changes should be applied or not. Of course, this does not apply to prices, which always have to be updated, but rather to the efficient handling of longer text content that has to be adapted to the existing layout in InDesign. Here, the task palette helps to check whether changes should be applied later. In addition to the task list, the places in the InDesign document that are different from the content of the data source are also graphically visualized.

The automated page layout

Building a thousand-page catalog with complex tables and in the different language versions at the push of a button is the dream of every desktop publishing automation designer. Of course, our Database Publishing Plug-Ins offer this possibility- on the InDesign workstation as well as on the InDesign Server.

The automation possibilities have been extended more and more over the years, but we have always remained true to our principle: templates are created as simply and graphically as possible in InDesign, with our customers having the capability to change the templates themselves as they like.

Automated page layout after that the deluge?

Of course, an automated InDesign document can be updated with new data, but is that sufficient for a modern database publishing solution? We think not!

That's why priint:comet offers the unique feature of layout reorganization. The pages are created automatically before any manual finishing work- allowing products to be added or deleted as needed. (This is a very common practice during page correction or page transfer to a new publication and often presents a real challenge for efficient work.) For this reason, priint:comet supports a delta alignment: content (e.g. products) is automatically exchanged, the page break is re-executed and the manual changes in the layout are retained. The result is automation that combines closely and efficiently with creative freedom.

This challenge not only applies to individual DTP documents, but also requires layout matching between InDesign documents. For example, when a master version of a catalog has been created and which different language versions have been derived. [In this case, layout changes from the master can be transferred to the different country and language versions, both on the InDesign workstation and server-based.

Automation is not enough

Data-driven automation is not sufficient for a holistic process. Rather, it is also about an efficient way of working that cannot be solved by automation. That is why the priint:suite offers digital workflows in the integration with InDesign and Illustrator, such as digital annotation. The task palette shows users not only the tasks that change due to data updates, but all types of tasks:

Summary and outlook

The Database Publishing Plug-In priint:comet is much more than just an automation tool. It offers functions and processes for efficient creation, updating and reconciliation of DTP documents that are both modular and scalable. Customers can decide how much automation they want to start with. Like the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day"- this motto can also apply to automation projects as well as to the development of InDesign plug-ins.

Have we run out of ideas after 18 years? Surprisingly not - quite the opposite: our customers are always coming up with new ideas for what else they would like to automate. One focus for priint:comet 4.3 will be Camunda BPMN workflow integration- an exciting and forward-looking topic to connect Adobe InDesign with a BPMN workflow engine.