Using Eclipse to edit IDML

In some of my MAX presentations, I edited IDML files in Flexbuilder. Since a couple of folks asked for instructions on how to set Flexbuilder up to do this, I’ll post it here. It’s actually pretty simple…

IDML (InDesign markup language) is an XML representation of an InDesign document. You can export an InDesign document to IDMLM, edit the XML inside the IDML, and and the re-import into InDesign to create a modified version of the original InDesign document. I use Flexbuilder to open the IDML package, make changes, and resave.

Here are the steps…1) Install ZipEditor into FlexBuilder2) Map .idml files to .zipIn more detail, here’s how to do this.Install ZipEditor into FlexBuilderThe magic behind this trick is using an open-source plug-in for Eclipse called ZipEditor. Download it here. You probably already know this, but Flexbuilder is a souped-up version of Eclipse, and as a result, you can install a multitude of new features through Eclipse plug-ins. ZipEditor is one of them.Download this file, and unpack the resulting .zip file – probably by double-clicking on it. This produces a folder containing two other folders, “features” and “plugins”. In the plugins folder, you’ll find “ZipEditor_1.0.6.jar” – your version may be different if there has been an update since I posted this. Copy this .jar file into the plugins folder in the Flexbuilder application folder. Nothing changes, but you now have the ability to open .zip files in Eclipse.Map .idml files to .zipRestart Flex, go to preferences, and drill down into General -> Content Types -> Archive -> Zip Archive. Add *.idml as a file association.Restart, and you should now be able to select IDML files and open them. Use File->Open File and browse to a .idml file. You’ll soon be looking at a new tab showing the root contents of the idml file. Dig through the folders and you’ll find the stories and spreads associated with the file. If you make changes, you’ll need to save the file you changed, AND the idml archive containing the changed file.You can find documentation on the IDML format by pointing a browser at, clicking on the “Documentation” tab and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.If you know of an easier way to install this plugin, please let me know.mnr

One Response to Using Eclipse to edit IDML

  1. Lynn Grillo says:

    Another neat tool for editing IDML packages is the AIR app on Adobe Labs called PDFXML Inspector. It works perfectly. You can edit the XML and save the changes back into the IDML file and subsequently see the change reflected in the ID file. Bottom of this page: