Cool (free!) Layout Zones Script

Today Martinho da Gloria of Automatication is releasing the first version of a script that enables a use to select InDesign page elements and convert them to a placed InDesign file automatically.

The script enables a workflow in which different InDesign users can work on different sections of the same page simultaneously.

In addition, the script also enables the user to convert the placed InDesign file back to native objects…in other words, it enables you to "round trip" the page elements into a placed InDesign file and back to native elements again.

When you install the script, it creates a new Layout Zone submenu in InDesign’s Edit menu, which means you don’t have to open your Scripts panel to use it.

I did a demo this morning for the attendees at this week’s combined InDesign, Vector, and Acrobat Conferences in Miami Beach.

InDesign CS3 enables a user to import or place another InDesign document onto a page, and this script takes that feature one step further by enabling the user to define a geometry within an InDesign document, and then essentially export that geometry as a new, linked InDesign document that someone else can edit. This is great for defining the frame size for an ad within InDesign, and then exporting that frame for someone else to build the actual ad that will be placed into that frame. The same thing goes for a story or article on a spread that requires another user to do the layout. Just create some place-holder frames for the article and then run the script to convert it into a placed InDesign file that another user will open and edit.

The script is available on the InDesign Secrets website.

I’ll be posting a more in-depth step-by-step article on the script later today, but wanted to alert users to its availability immediately.

The main issue that has arisen in testing the script so far has been occasional stacking order changes when a place document is converted back to native objects. The version distributed on InDesign Secrets appears to have fixed this issue. If further updates are required, Martinho will send them to InDesign Secrets for distribution.

This is a very cool and very useful script. If you work in a collaborative environment you should give it a try.