On the road for Production Studio

One of the things I like about travelling for Adobe is how it allows me to concentrate on work. Being in the hotel where the event is held removes the worry about occasional bad traffic situations common in asia, and the usual conundrum of the “normal” life where I live. A gym a few floors down my room, a bar at the lobby and of course a pool is literally a few steps away. And yes, despite of the work we have to finish, we’ve gotta admit that these facilities were always there for the taking.

I’m now in Bangkok for my first Production Studio Launch. Thanks to Bob and Hart for doing the Singapore Launch (I learned a lot in a day… so thank you thank you so much for the wealth of info!). It was fun that the guys were here for exactly 2 whole days I think, and then off to Australia they went.

We will be travelling to Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, Jakarta – Indonesia, Manila-Philippines in the next few weeks, and our events will be back to back to back (that means, a press release on the Macromedia acquisition, the Acrobat 7 3D road show, and of course my new favorite — the Production Studio show). Just in case this is the place to go to register for our events.

Bangkok on Food
Som Tam is a must in Thailand. It’s never the same anywhere else! And so I had Papaya salad with every meal since I arrived last night. And I’m still not tired of it.

Never ever miss the green curry beef/chicken/pork. The freshness of the basil, the creaminess of the coconut milk and the heat of the chilli… coupled with a scoop of just-cooked steaming fragrant jasmine rice! Ooooh yum…. ’nuff said.

A must-try is the Pad Thai. And make sure you buy it from the street hawker! It’s not the same from a proper resto. But if you’re a bit conservative, at least try the version the sit-down restos serve. It’s still very good. Pad Thai is the most fun to eat because you get to flavor it your way! Given 4 different sauces to dress your noodles up, the possibilities are endless!

Thailand on handicraft
The Thai people have a natural flair for style and are very good with their hands. The country provides them with bountiful natural resources from wood to silk. Thai furniture and accessories are very distinctive and very tasteful. For this trip, I am on the look out for the perfect cushion covers!

The Thais
They are friendly, polite and respectful. They smile all the time. And did I already mention they are very creative? The graphic design and video industry here seems to be booming. Movies like tom yum goong even make it outside of Thailand and showed to the rest of Asia. On the streets, banners and billboards are impressively done! I have yet to see a display of bad design here in Bangkok.

I am so happy to be here to present yet another collection of tools that they can use. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

And since I am here, I still am looking forward to more sumptuous meals and some serious shopping (if time affords me that), and maybe a few interesting conversations with these creative people in the coming days before I head back to si ngapore for a breather.

Come Join our events!

We’ve got a lot in store for you these coming months! visit http://events.adobe.co.uk/events/cgi/main.cgi?country=as and choose the event you want to attend. We are touring the whole south eas asia to show off the Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio and the all-new Acrobat 7 3D.

Hope to see you there!

in the land of publishing, no man is an island

Believe it or not, even if tens of thousands of graphic designers or freelance writers say they work alone, they never really do. And if you ask me, publishing is actually one of the most collaborative process I’ve ever been involved in. Take the graphic designer that gets his worked tweaked by the art director. Or the freelance writer that gets his masterpiece overhauled by the over-compensating editor. And what about the 3-man layout team trying to finish a 250 page monthly fashion magazine? Oh, and I haven’t even started describing what a nightmare it is when the layout team and the editorial staff start “working together”.

it’s never just yours
Sometimes, in fact, you don’t even feel you own a certain file. If you’ve ever tried to sneak in a few changes when your layout artist is out on lunch, or if you’re standing behind someone dictating changes to the file, you know what I mean.

It’s not only troublesome to manually pass printed edits of your copy to your designer, it’s also slow and to a certain extent inaccurate. Imagine a text flowing one or two extra lines… and then your designer spends a whole day trying to readjust the layout. Only to cancel the changes and bring the old copy back.

Because our design process for both layout and copy are free flowing, things could change from one look to the next in a wink of an eye. And you get your editors or your designers chasing after the other just to match and make the design and the copy “fit”.

The way it is


Traditionally, you have two groups working together on a single publishing project: The layout guys and the writers. The diagram above shows how the two teams start work concurrently, where the writer and editors use a word processing application to write their copy, and the designers working on the page layout with InDesign, for example. Midway through, the writers hand the softcopy of their articles/stories to the designers. The designers, place the text into their layout. Unfortunately for the writers, they do not have direct access to their copy from this point forward (unelss they make like a designer and start working on InDesign too… which, sometimes is just too much to ask). Hence, they settle to use pen and paper. This is where the war begins: when the writer starts to heckle with the designer to change this and that, practically making the designer just the hands that punch the keyboard.

the way it SHOULD be


What we really want to have is complete control over our jurisdiction. Let the writers handle the text, and let the designers concentrate on doing what they do best. This picture represents an ideal workflow. The spread is owned by the designer (working on InDesign). Different frames are assigned to different writers (hence, the higlights to visualize the assignments — they really do show up in InDesign!). And when I say frames are assigned, I actually mean that their is a separate physical file created in the form of an .incx file. This is the magic file that makes true collaboration possible. While the designer has the .indd file open and he is working on it, the writer has the .incx file open too… so that he can work on the copy. It’s really simple: 2 people (a writer and a designer) working with one file each for one project at the same time. They ar not waiting on the other to complete a task and you are letting them do what they do best. Doesn’t it make sense?

.incx for the you
Just imagine: If you could select a threaded text frame in InDesign and just hand that text frame to your copywriter for him to fill with text. He’d know exactly how much copy he needs to write. He will be using your paragraph styles (not the ones that microsoft word so conveniently provides). And if you allow him to, he could actually take a sneak peak of how you’re designing it. The most important thing is that the rest of the objects on your layout are still under your command.

That’s what .incx does (stands for InCopy Exchange). It allows you to package your frames into independent files so that your writers can continue working on their copy while you continue working on your design. AT THE SAME TIME.

For more information, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/incopy/main.html

Getting it right

You don’t use a sledge hammer to pound a nail through a piece of wood. So don’t use Adobe Illustrator to build annual reports and paginated documents. Freehand is not an alternative either because, just like Illustrator, it’s a drawing program.

I don’t know when in the graphic design history creatives started to use drawing programs as desktop publishing tools. These two programs are totally two different breeds of design software with very different purposes.

For one, a drawing program does not have the facilities to control pagination. It may not have a feature set that caters to automatic page numbering, threading text (continous linking of text from frame to frame) and preflight and package features. Because of this, your efficiency in creating these sort of files diminishes, while the program demands a lot of manual inventory and update of settings, you are losing time to deliver more.

If you are a true creative, your goal is to get the program to work for you and not the other way around. Let the software do most of the repetitive task and most of the memory work (where it needs to remember certain settings such as in your character and paragraph styles and in your master pages). Adobe InDesign CS2 here is one such software that fulfills the page layout category. It does one heck of a job and more, may I add.

Get it right the first time by using the right tools and everything else will fall into place. It will be design heaven!