Posts tagged "InDesign"

Many ways to make content for Adobe DPS 2015

I presented a talk entitled Creating Content for Mobile Apps with Adobe Digital Publishing Solution at Adobe MAX 2015, and the recording is available here.

While the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is a magazine platform that had many Enterprise applications, the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution (DPS 2015) is an Enterprise platform that can be used for magazines. Magazines are one of many use cases for which DPS 2015 is appropriate, and in this session, we see how to use a number of content sources in addition to InDesign to make articles for DPS 2015. These include but are not limited to Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Muse, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Captivate, Adobe FrameMaker and even Adobe Acrobat.

It is clear that content producers have more choices than ever when it comes to making, managing and deploying content to readers on tablet and mobile devices. Adobe DPS 2015 offers Enterprises a flexible, measurable and cross-platform solution for a wide range of communications use cases.

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InDesign Server questions and answers

Customers often ask me about InDesign Server. InDesign Server? Yes, it’s true. InDesign is available as a server, which makes document automation possible for many kinds of businesses. It offers InDesign functions as a service, accessible through SOAP or other communication protocols. It is not the desktop version of InDesign available in a browser.

Companies have successfully used InDesign Server as part of workflows that:

  • Make greeting cards
  • Produce mutual fund documentation
  • Generate personalized mail pieces
  • Assemble and print on-board schedules on a cruise ship
  • Render InDesign documents as PDF for online delivery
  • Layout quarterly catalogs for industrial parts suppliers

These are but a few of the use cases for which InDesign Server is appropriate. In all cases, InDesign Server is part of a larger business process, usually driven by a web site or a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution such as Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Assets. InDesign Server is also included as a component of many commercial Variable Data Publishing (VDP) and Print on Demand (POD) solutions, but those servers are licensed only for use with those commercial solutions. You can learn more about InDesign Server partners at the InDesign Server Partner Guide.

InDesign Server is a service, really, that responds to questions like:

  • “Hey, InDesign Server. If I give you this InDesign template, can you merge this XML file onto it and then give me back a print-ready PDF?”
  • “Hey, InDesign Server. Here’s an InDesign Document. Can you extract all of the text frames as RTF files and re-link them back to their original frames and then save InDesign file as a new document with _relinked added to its name?”
  • “Hey, InDesign Server. Can you make a new document, import the style sheets from this other document, then import all of the images in this folder, each on a new page, and apply the object style ‘image’ to each image and put a metadata caption with the copyright data in the lower right hand corner of each image, and then export each page as a new PDF with the file name corresponding to the filename of the image placed onto it?”

Of course, those questions must be written as scripts in one of four languages: Adobe ExtendScript, JavaScript, AppleScript or Microsoft Visual Basic. AppleScript and VisualBasic are only available when the server is running in an Apple or Windows operating system, respectively. There is an SDK and many examples available at There’s really no limit to what you can do with InDesign Server, so long as you have coders who can ask the right questions and so long as you have enough capacity to process the volume of jobs you expect to handle. There are many companies who use InDesign server to build photo books and greeting cards from customer-supplied photos, for instance. They create web sites to help customers design their books and cards online, and the actual print-ready files are made by InDesign Server. They process thousands of jobs per day, so they need to have enough capacity to keep up with their demand. How, then, do you architect an InDesign Server application from the perspective of the servers themselves?

Here’s three questions you need to ask to help scope an InDesign Server application, and then some more detail about InDesign server.

  1. Will your use case allow internal and external users to access the InDesign Server directly? If you use InDesign Server to render an InDesign document as a jpg or pdf and then post the jpg or pdf on your web site, the end user does not have direct access to InDesign server. If you make a web form that lets your end user customize a document and deliver it to them on demand, they do have direct access to the InDesign server.
  2. What is your failover or disaster recovery requirement? The deployment architecture allows for both multiple dedicated servers as well as multiple instances on servers with multiple cores. The licensing will depend therefore on how you mix dedicated servers and instances on those servers.
    The deployment architecture will also depend on maximum expected throughput. We usually look at the peak demand per minute or quarter hour or hour, depending on the use case, as well as the end user tolerance for delay between requests and results.
  3. How do you plan to support development for InDesign Server applications? Deployments typically have one or more development instances, and then two or more dedicated production servers with multiple instances available on each server to provide fault tolerance.

InDesign Server is available as an add-on to a managed services instance of AEM. Customers can also purchase InDesign Server on their own from their channel partner or from Adobe directly, depending on their relationship with Adobe. 60-day Trials are available at

InDesign Server is licensed based on use case and deployment architecture, and it is available as an annual subscription like Creative Cloud. Enterprise customers can license in three year terms as part of an Adobe Enterprise Term Licensing Agreement (ETLA). Other customers can purchase annual subscriptions from their favorite Adobe reseller. Consult the Indesign Server Buying Guide for more information.

Across the use case axis, there is Limited and Premium.

  • Limited allows a customer to use InDesign Server for an application that only their employees can access. It does not allow the customer make an interface that exposes the InDesign Server to any external user. They would purchase Single- or Multiple-Instance licenses depending on how many documents they would process per day, hour or minute.
  • Premium allows a customer to use InDesign Server for an application that external users could access as well as internal users. Consider the photo book use case where they have a web site that allows customers to upload their photos and buy a photobook. The book is made using InDesign Server driven by a web application. Again, volume would determine whether you would choose Single- or Multiple-Instance licenses.

The deployment architecture axis has two options as well: Single-Instance or Multiple-Instance.

Single-Instance allows one instance of IDS per server per license, and Multiple-Instance allows multiple instances of IDS per server per license. There is no CPU counting required, as the Multiple-Instance license includes an unlimited number if instances on the same server hardware. For instance, if a customer has a 16 core dedicated server with 32 GB of RAM, they could use one IDS Multiple-Instance license and kick off 15 simultaneous instances of IDS at a time (InDesign Server is single-threaded and uses a single core per instance and ideally 2GB of RAM). Other customers choose to deploy many Single-Instance servers on different hardware for fault tolerance and disaster recovery. InDesign Sever has a job queue manager, but many customers choose to build their own queue manager and load balancer. Adobe Experience Manager includes an InDesign Server load balancer and queue manager as part of its integration with InDesign Server. Some customers choose to deploy many Single-Instance servers, while others choose to deploy few Multiple-Instance servers, based on their requirements and available server resources.

How do you decide whether to choose Single- or Multiple-Instance architecture? It is common for high volume use cases to have at a minimum of two Multiple-instance servers, each that can process multiple simultaneous jobs. Two servers provides for fault tolerance, but it does not account for disaster recovery, which would include another instance in a different data center. The number of servers is usually determined by the typical job characteristics measured in seconds to process a typical job, divided by the number of available instances, and compared against the maximum number of jobs that are expected to be processed in a meaningful time interval, usually one minute to an hour. If you are running a financial services company that is generating three hundred complex proposals per hour, and each proposal takes 15 seconds to process, and you have 3 cores available on your server, then your server can handle 3 jobs/15 seconds * 3600 seconds/hour =  720 jobs per hour. Since you need to process 300 jobs per hour, per proposal type, you have enough capacity. But, if you need to know if you can handle the volume at the end of the trading day, when you only have 15 minutes and not an hour to get the proposals out, then your server will fall short and you should likely add another server or two to the cluster.

The last consideration is how you plan to develop and test your applications. You should have at a minimum of one development server that matches your deployment configuration, and there is a Development license available with the same use case and architecture considerations. Developers use their development tools of choice. It is common to use the ExtendScript Toolkit, which is part of Creative Cloud. Using ExtendScript Toolkit, developers can connect to a desktop InDesign to test and debug their scripts. Once they are satisfied with the performance and results, those scripts would either be moved to the InDesign Server Scripts folder or would reside in the web application or DAM, which would send the scripts as part of their job payload.

InDesign Server offers customers document automation capabilities that can provide brand consistency, high volume document creation and even new business opportunities. Whether part of a commercial solution or part of a custom application, InDesign Server delivers performance, flexibility and quality to automated document processing.


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AEM Assets workflow for automatic PDF generation from InDesign files

Many of my Enterprise customers ask how they can use Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) to automate the production of common derivative files from their InDesign files. Derivative files, you ask? InDesign files often represent the “source of truth” for many business documents, from manuals to data sheets to publications and many more types. These documents must be transformed from InDesign into something else (hence the term derivative) in order to be made available on a web site, for instance. The usual method is to export a PDF from InDesign and then upload the PDF as a new asset into the repository. This puts added burden on the author of the InDesign file as well as introducing the possibility of error due to incorrectly set PDF job options. This gets even more complicated if the author must make versions suitable to send to a commercial printer as well as a version that’s optimized for reading online as a PDF. This article provides techniques to automate the production of a web-optimized and print-optimized PDF from any InDesign file that appears in AEM Assets.

This article assumes that you have access to Adobe Experience Manager Assets and InDesign Server. In this example, I use AEM 6.1 and InDesign CC Server 2015, but the technique should work with AEM 5.6.1 and higher and ID Server CS6 and higher. You need to ensure that you have configured your AEM Author environment to work with InDesign server according to the documentation found here. The foundation of any successful integration (beyond configuration!) is the combination of Scripts, Workflow Models, and Workflow Launchers.

You can download a package that contains the scripts and a workflow model you can use today. When you install the package, you will have new scripts located at /etc/dam/indesign/scripts and /etc/workflow/scripts. You will also see a new Workflow Model located at /etc/workflow/models/dam/. The Workflow Launcher must be reconfigured, since I didn’t want to disrupt your existing workflows after you install the package.


Scripts tell AEM or external applications what to do, and they form the basis of any InDesign Server-based solution. There are two sets of scripts used here: one set for InDesign Server to generate the PDFs and the other for AEM to move the resulting files. First, let’s look at the JavaScript to tell InDesign Server what we want it to do and how we want it to respond to the request.

There are a number of InDesign Server scripts included in the basic AEM installation, and I’ve modified /etc/dam/indesign/scripts/PDFExport.jsx to request specific kinds of PDF from InDesign Server.  In addition, the script writes the new PDF files into the InDesign file’s /renditions node. These two scripts are located at /etc/dam/indesign/scripts/PDFExport_Print.jsx and at /etc/dam/indesign/scripts/PDFExport_Web.jsx. I could have easily combined these two operations into one script, but I wanted to leave you the option to easily enable or disable each one according to your requirements. You can also combine them yourself or make them fancier, responding to properties you set on the InDesign file in AEM (via XMP) and read out with InDesign Server. Here is the code for PDFExport_Web.jsx, which is almost identical to PDFExport_Print.jsx. The difference is in the value of pdfExportPreset in line 31, the filename set in line 56, and the function return value set in line 57.

// Export any Indesign document as PDF

//==== get soap arguments ====
if (app.scriptArgs.isDefined("credentials")) {
 var credentials = app.scriptArgs.getValue("credentials");
} else {
 throw "CQ host credentials argument is missing";
if (app.scriptArgs.isDefined("cqHost")) { 
 var host = app.scriptArgs.getValue("cqHost");
} else {
 throw "cqHost argument is missing";
if (app.scriptArgs.isDefined("resource")) { 
 var resourcePath = app.scriptArgs.getValue("resource");
} else {
 throw "resource argument is missing";

try {
 //==== create a temporary folder under InDesign server tmp directory to fetch and export ====
 // added randomness to the folder name
 var exportFolder = new Folder("tmp-" + (new Date().getTime() - Math.floor((Math.random()*10000)+1) ));
 fileName = resourcePath.substring (resourcePath.lastIndexOf ('/'), resourcePath.lastIndexOf ('.'));
 var sourceFile = new File(exportFolder.fullName + fileName + '.indd');
 var outputFile = new File(exportFolder.fullName + fileName + '_web.pdf');
 var pdfExportPreset = "[Web Preset]" // Set your PDF Web-ready Export Preset (joboption) here.
 // You can use any joboption file installed in InDesign Server

 app.consoleout('Fetching resource from CQ: '+resourcePath);
 fetchResource (host, credentials, resourcePath, sourceFile);

 var document =;

 with (app.pdfExportPreferences) {
 viewDocumentAfterExport = false;
 var myPDFExportPreset = app.pdfExportPresets.item(pdfExportPreset);
 document.exportFile(ExportFormat.pdfType, outputFile,myPDFExportPreset);

 // close the document
 //==== remove the original resource and send the export back to CQ ====

 //==== send file to CQ ====
 var target = resourcePath.substring (0, resourcePath.lastIndexOf ('/')) + "/renditions";
 app.consoleout('Posting this file to CQ: '+outputFile);
 app.consoleout('Posting to location: ' + target);
 putResource (host, credentials, outputFile, fileName + '_web.pdf', 'application/pdf', target);
 returnValue = "PDF for Web exported and posted successfully";
} finally {
 //==== remove the temp folder ====
app.consoleout('Finished PDF for Web export using '+pdfExportPreset+' joboptions');

To use these scripts, you need to have a PDF Joboptions file installed in InDesign Server to export your PDF. When you install the package, you will find a new folder at /content/dam/InDesign Server joboptions that contains two PDF Export Presets for InDesign Server. Move these two files to Applications/Adobe InDesign CC Server 2015/Resources/Adobe PDF/settings/mul and then restart InDesign Server to load the new settings.

Now that we have the InDesign Server pieces in place, let’s look at the AEM script. This is an ECMA script, which is very much like JavaScript, and it’s located at /etc/workflow/scripts/move-pdf-renditions.ecma. I’ve written it as a function that’s called twice, once for each PDF rendition, so it’s easy to add or remove other renditions as you see fit. This script will be called from the Workflow Model, which we’ll look at next. Here’s the script code.

var renditionExtension = "pdf";
var mimeType = "application/pdf";

var workflowData = graniteWorkItem.getWorkflowData();


function movePDF (renditionPostfix) {
 if (workflowData.getPayloadType() == "JCR_PATH") {
 var path = workflowData.getPayload().toString();
 var resourceResolver = graniteWorkflowSession.adaptTo(;
 var resource = resourceResolver.getResource(path);
 if (resource !== null) {
 var asset =;
 if (asset !== null) {
 var name =, ".");
 var renditionName = name + "_" + renditionPostfix + "." + renditionExtension;
 var rendition = asset.getRendition(renditionName);
 if (rendition !== null) {
 var renditionResource = resourceResolver.getResource(rendition.path);
 var stream = renditionResource.adaptTo(;
 var targetPath = asset.adaptTo( + "/" + renditionName;
 var assetManager = resourceResolver.adaptTo(;
 assetManager.createAsset(targetPath, stream, mimeType, true);
 } else {
 log.debug("rendition " + renditionName + " cannot be found on asset " + path);
 } else {
 log.debug("Item is not an asset: " + path);
 } else {
 log.debug("Item does not exist: " + path);

Workflow Model

There will be a new Workflow Model in your Workflows list called DAM Update Asset with PDF move located at /etc/workflow/models/dam/update_asset_pdf/. It is similar to and derived from the standard DAM Update Asset workflow that comes with every AEM installation. I have changed one existing step (Media Extraction) and added a new step (a Process step called “Move PDFs from Renditions”).

These two workflow steps are different from the standard DAM Update Assets workflow

These two workflow steps are different from the standard DAM Update Assets workflow

The Media Extraction step is designed to convert InDesign documents to other formats required by AEM Assets for a number of key functionalities. These include generating sub-assets (images that are embedded within the InDesign file), page images, extraction of text, and metadata synchronization, among other things. Media Extraction sends the script (and a pointer to the InDesign file) as its payload to InDesign Server. InDesign Server then runs the script and returns something to AEM. It is important that you do not remove any of the existing scripts that Media Extraction launches, but you can always add additional steps. Here, we added two additional scripts to the workflow step: PDFExport_Print.jsx and PDFExport_Web.jsx

The Print and Web PDF Export scripts have been added to the Media Extraction Workflow Step.

The Print and Web PDF Export scripts have been added to the Media Extraction Workflow Step.

Immediately after Media Extraction, I added a new Process step that executes an ECMA script in AEM. For many users, they will access AEM Assets via their desktop using the AEM Assets Companion tool or the Creative Cloud Desktop tool, so this workflow ensures that they get the renditions they need in a place that’s easy to find. Also, users of AEM Assets will be able to search for these PDFs like any other asset under management. This script copies the PDFs from /renditions as new assets adjacent to the InDesign file. It is best to leave the PDFs in /renditions so that they can be used by components that might offer the PDF as a download, for instance.


The new Process step executes an ECMA script that copies the new PDF files so that they are accessible on the desktop.

Workflow Launcher

Lastly, it is necessary to change the Workflow Launcher that is triggered whenever a file appears in the repository or whenever a file is modified in the repository. I did not include this change in the package so that you can install the package with no impact on your running system. When you are ready and have tuned the scripts for your workflow, then you can enable the Workflow in the Workflow Launcher panel.

In your AEM Author instance, click on Tools>Workflow>Launchers or visit http://localhost:4502/libs/cq/workflow/admin/console/content/launchers.html (of course, point at your Author instance!). Select the /content/dam(/.*/)renditions/original that has no condition on it (see screenshot below) and click on View Properties, and then on Edit.

Select the proper Launcher and view its properties

Select the proper Launcher and view its properties

The Launcher is designed to run a workflow when a specific condition is met. This workflow looks for any file that appears in the repository and then runs the DAM Update Asset workflow on it. You need to change the workflow to DAM Update Asset with PDF Move and then Save the changes.

Change the workflow that is triggered by the Launcher

Change the workflow that is triggered by the Launcher

Once you’ve saved the Launcher, you are ready to test. Upload an InDesign document into AEM using your preferred method. You can use drag and drop in a Browser window, AEM Assets Companion, or CC Desktop Tool. If you happen to catch the InDesign Server console, you will see new entries that report on whether IDS was successful at exporting PDF renditions. In a short while, your new PDF  files will magically appear next to the InDesign file. Now, go ahead an edit that InDesign file and save it back to AEM Assets. Again, the workflow will run and new PDF files will replace the existing ones, ensuring that you always have access to the latest versions. And, since they are assets under management, you can always revert to earlier versions of the PDF by looking at the asset timeline in a browser.


This new workflow and the scripts that support it expose a new behavior for AEM Assets. While convenient for the user, since it automatically generates useful and necessary derivatives of the source InDesign asset, it enforces known good business processes by encapsulating approved PDF Export settings into he workflow. It also reduces errors by automating a task that otherwise would require several configuration steps in InDesign before they could export the PDF.

I hope that you find this useful, and that you use it as a starting point for further InDesign Server automation using AEM Assets.

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New Layer Override behavior in InDesign a boon to fashion and product design

Have you ever placed an Illustrator file into InDesign and then used the Layer Overrides capability to turn layers on and off for that file? Have you ever placed the same Illustrator file several times with different Layer Overrides on? If you have, then you likely work in apparel or footwear design and use AI and ID in your workflows. You have also likely cursed out loud when you made a change to the Illustrator file’s layers, only to have to reset the Layer Overrides for each of those placed AI files in InDesign. If this sounds like you, then I have some good news.

The InDesign CC 2015.1 release includes an innocuous little switch that will change your life. Really.

Here’s the scoop. There is a new checkbox in the Preferences>File Handling that lets you change how InDesign handles Layer Overrides for placed AI and InDesign files. Enable the “Hide New Layers When Updating and Relinking” option to use the new behavior.

New option in Preferences>File Handling

Enable this option to prevent new layers in AI files from appearing in ID when you update the link

After you enable this option, you will no longer need to adjust the Layer Overrides on placed AI and InDesign files when you add new layers to the placed graphic. Yes, that’s right. Let’s say that you are working on colorways for a new shirt, and you typically do this by adding new layers to your base CAD artwork in AI. You can now place that AI file into an InDesign file many times and set layer overrides to expose the different colorways. When you add new layers to the AI file and update the link in InDesign, the new layers will no longer appear in InDesign. If you delete layers in the AI file, then those layers will disappear in InDesign if those deleted layers are enabled.

Can I get an “hallelujah!” from all of the folks who deal with the drudgery of updating Layer Overrides over and over as the colorways change over time?

Now, you may be asking yourself what happens with Photoshop. In the InDesign CC 2015.1 release, there is no difference with the way that Photoshop Layer Overrides work, so you will still need to go adjust the linked graphics in InDesign if you make or delete layers in your Photoshop files. However, with the constant pace of innovation here at Adobe, it is very likely that InDesign will enable the new behavior for placed Photoshop files in a later release. If you see an InDesign engineer on the street, give them a knowing nod and a thumbs up. This little feature is a big one indeed.

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FIRST Robotics uses DPS for its Game Manuals

One of the great benefits of working at Adobe is that Adobe believes strongly in community involvement and volunteering. Every Adobe employee is encouraged to use their skills and passions outside of their jobs as volunteers and board members for nonprofits and other community organizations. I take this to heart as a volunteer with FIRST Robotics.

James working as a Game Announcer at the Granite State District FRC event in Nashua, NH, 2015

James working as a Game Announcer at the Granite State District FRC event, 2015

FIRST Robotics offers programs for elementary, middle school and high school students around the world. These programs expose students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through sport-like competition. Students receive a challenge at the beginning of each competition season and then build robots to address the challenge. Depending on the age of the participants, the challenge may be to solve an important problem such as water quality or delivery of affordable health care, or it might be to play a game that requires careful planning of both robot design and gamely strategy.

The elementary school program is called Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr.FLL). In Jr.FLL, students prepare a presentation to address the challenge. As the students get older, the programs become competitive and the teams must design, build and program a robot to address the challenge.

The middle school program is called FIRST Lego League (FLL). In FLL, the robots are made of Legos and use Lego NXT or EV3 controllers. The robots always operate autonomously, and there is only one robot on each side of the playing field at a time. The robots perform tasks related to the challenge, but do not generally compete directly with another robot.

In high school, teams compete alongside other teams called Alliances to try and outscore other alliances. There are two high school programs: FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). In FTC and FRC, the robots operate autonomously for the first few seconds of the match, and then the students drive the robots for the remainder. There is usually a period at the end of the match, known as the “endgame,” where the rules change or an additional challenge becomes available. There is not always an endgame.

FTC uses Lego NXT robot controllers on larger robot frames, but they are transitioning to Android controllers for the next season. FTC matches consist of two robots per alliance and two alliances on the field at a time. FRC uses a National Instruments roboRIO controller and frames up to 120 lbs. FRC matches consist of three robots per alliance and two alliances on the field at a time. There is a ton of YouTube video out there; just search for FLL, FTC or FRC. I volunteer with FRC as a play-by-play announcer at competitions and occasionally as an event judge.

The FIRST App home screen on an iPad

The FIRST app features a home screen with sections for each program.

Common to all FIRST programs is documentation. Each program has a range of program-specific documentation, including but not limited to:

  • Rules for each competitive season
  • Coach and mentor guidelines
  • Team notifications
  • Curriculum help
  • Change logs for all of the aforementioned documentation

Managing all of this documentation is a challenge, as the documentation changes regularly with real consequences for teams. For instance, it is common early in the competition season for game rules to change that might impact robot design. Also, teams are encouraged to ask questions about the rules, and those questions and answers are often summarized in the game documentation. Teams need to be informed in a timely manner so that they don’t proceed with designs that might not align with the game rules.

Another challenge is timing. Game rules are announced to the world at specific times on specific days. This is done through global simulcast so that no team has an advantage over another team when it comes to the game rules. Traditionally, documentation has been provided via password-protected PDFs on the FIRST web site. At the end of the simulcast, the password would be revealed and the teams could begin to read.

When we started talking about DPS with FIRST, these two challenges were topmost in our minds, and when I say “our,” I mean the Adobe team. I can’t speak for what was topmost in FIRST’s collective mind. We all believed that DPS could solve the update problem as well as the timed release of content problem very well, so we put it to the test in January of 2015 with the reveal of the 2015 FRC Game, Recycle Rush.

You can download the FIRST app from iTunes or from Google Play. You can also read the FRC Admin Manual, Game Manual, Team Updates in the DPS web viewer.

For FRC Kickoff, I went to a local college with most of the teams from Maine to watch the simulcast together. Many of the mentors and students had their mobile devices, and many had the FIRST app on their device ahead of time. As the game was revealed and as the password for the PDF was shown, the game manual for Recycle Rush appeared in the FIRST Game Manual app right on schedule. One of the mentors sitting next to me watched this happen. He looked at me and asked if he needed a password. I smiled and asked him to open the manual and find out. He tapped on the manual and began to read. Smiling, he looked up and said, “Wow. That was cool!”

A text push notice about a Game update.

The next test came a week later when the first updates were to be published. The manuals are made in InDesign, so the team at FIRST was able to make the adjustments and publish those changes from InDesign. Once published, teams needed to know that the changes were available, so FIRST used the built-in DPS push notification service. I and my team all received the notices on our iPads and our iPhones, and swiping or tapping the notice took us right to the updated content.

As we moved through the competition season, I watched how teams used the manuals. Many teams had it on their phones as well as their tablets, as they frequently returned to the manual to confirm design choices. Later, as the season progressed, they were looking carefully at the conditions which might lead to penalties. Even through the District Championship event, with teams having competed in two or more precursor events, teams still made frequent use of the manuals.

The design of the manual is as important as the content, and FIRST produced a clean, readable, and highly functional tool to help teams play the game and ultimately to be better competitors. Kudos to the FIRST documentation team, who produce manuals for all of the FIRST games.

I’m headed to the FIRST Championships in St. Louis, Missouri this week to volunteer some more and to see all of the FIRST programs draw to a close for the 2014-2015 season. It has been a pleasure and a delight to help bring the manuals on DPS to fruition and then to see the positive reaction and real world usage of the tool. I’m looking forward to helping the manuals evolve as the 2015-2016 season gets underway.


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