Using InDesign Server with Flex

As part of the Adobe developer week, we asked J.P. Terry, VP, Client Services, SmartDoc Technologies to present a case-study on how SmartDoc integrated InDesign Server with Flex. You can see the recorded presentation at…
http://seminars.breezecentral.com/p97264097/

The entire week of presentations can be found at http://www.adobe.com/communities/developerweek/

Questions and answers follow in the next part of this blog…


Here are the questions and answers from the session:

any word if AS3 and the flash 9 player will support the parsing of XMP data at runtime. So in this instance the flex app might only display the pictures that the user is authorized to see based on some xmp data.XMP is a method of stashing information into an Adobe document ( More information about XMP at http://www.adobe.com/xmp ) . In this case, it probably wouldn’t be a good solution for storing this type of data. It would probably be easier to store user permissions in a database of some sort – which could easily be queried at the time that you create the instructions for building the document, and images could be included – or omitted – based on that users permissions.

What your plug-in exactly doing?Our server InDesign Server CS2 plug-in serves as a helping tool to ease the developer’s job and to boost the system’s performance. The plug-in provides the following advantages:

  1. It provides functionality that is difficult to write with server-side scripting
  2. It provides a highly customized command set in C++ to wrap a group of tedious and time consuming script commands together for better performance. Our plug-in provides functions to mark up the indd file, cycle through database records, and other common variable data publishing tasks.
  3. It works together with our service program to handle job queuing, load balancing, custom error handling and moving the indd file between client machines and our InDesign servers.

How you prepre customer’s preview of the template?In this case study, a jpeg image is created from the document. It would be just as easy to create a PDF or SVG representation. Keep in mind that there may be some performance lag if the document is fairly complex.

Given an inDesign template with several pre-tagged elements (XML model), is it possible to restrict a designer from changing the pre-defined XML model and only allow for layout modifications (within InDesign desktop application)?If a designer is using InDesign, they will have full access to the XML tags – there isn’t any built-in way to prevent them from changing them. HOWEVER – it wouldn’t be much of a trick to create a script that would validate the XML being used for a document.

can Indesign perform similar tasks as Crystal Reports?

  • InDesign server – by itself – doesn’t have any database query or connectivity.
  • InDesign Server is a composition engine that enables the same rich formatting, layout and typographic controls as the desktop product.
  • InDesign Server solutions focus on quality, vs quantity.

Does the server have a webservice api – Can I send it a rest or soap call to return a doc?No – InDesign Server only does composition – and would rely on external programming to provide these services.

Can you give another example of how someone would use ASN Basic as oppose to ASN Premium?ASN basic would be useful for a developer that wants to learn to use InDesign Server, and provide freelance services to other developers. If you are planning to use a solution in production, then you will need a license, which requires a premium ASN membership.

Will SmartDoc be offering their job queue subsystem as a product ?Our plug-in is not yet available as a shrink-wrapped product but we do offer corporate licenses to the plug-in and service software, custom consulting and training

How fast PDF processing from web?This would depend on the complexity of the page that you are creating. A document with 1,000 pages of high-resolution graphics would take much longer than a single page of text. This would also depend on the performance of the machine you are running InDesign Server on.

Can Flash content be incorporated with Indesingserver?If you are exporting Flash to JPEG, or extracting text from a flash application, then, yes – this could be incorporated into an InDesign Document. Unlike PDF or Photoshop files, Flash files cannot be directly imported into an InDesign document.

svg and html?SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is an XML format for vector images. InDesign can export a page to an SVG image – as well as PDF, EPS and JPEG.

i am still confused as to the connection end from flex to indesign server. my confusion lies more so in the area where the flex app sends information to and from the database. how does the data get pulled once its in the database. are there techniques in building the database so that indesign server has an easier job of retrieving the right info?InDesign Server doesn’t poll the database – the information is provided to InDesign server by an application that you create. That application could be a script, or a c++ product that queries the database and then instructs InDesign how to properly create a document based on that data.

Can the positional information be a part of the XML file containing variable data for tagged elements?No. XML is content only. By the way, there is an excellent tutorial on using XML with InDesign located here.

Besides tagging elements, is it possible to retrieve the X-Y position of an element within a document, or say a canvas?Yes. A script or plug-in can easily retrieve the location of an element.

How do I get in touch with JP?J.P. TerryVP, Client ServicesSmartDoc Technologieswww.smartdoctech.com jp@smartdoctech.com732-452-3800