New PDF-to-InDesign Plug-In Announced

I’m getting caught up from the flood of Macworld, and I wanted to highlight a few gems I found at the show. My first discovery of the week was a new PDF to InDesign conversion plug-in from Recosoft. They were demoing the plug-in live on the show floor and I was impressed with the results. The plug-in runs inside InDesign and converts a PDF into an editable InDesign layout. The conversion results will of course be constrained by how the original document was designed and how the PDf was created, but even their beta build showed off quite well.

In a perfect world, you would always have access to all original source files. In lieu of perfection, this new plug-in might save your butt. Recosoft says they’ll ship this plug-in in Q2 2007 for Mac and Windows users.

So I’m curious, have any of you needed a solution like this? Anxious to get your hands on this plug-in?

A new way to pick colors :: Kuler

I live in the Pacific Northwest (sometimes called the Northwet), most of the colors I see up here tend toward the gray, green, and occasional blue; but mostly it’s gray. We tend to get excited when we see new colors and have a hard time selecting good combinations when working colors outside our occluded gamut. Or at least that’s my excuse. Now there’s hope for the likes of me.

Adobe released a new online tool called Kuler today. It’s a rich internet application (RIA) that provides tools to help create color palettes and a community to share your creations with. You can tag your creations, share them, search by keyword tags and download any palette as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file for use in your CS2 applications. http://kuler.adobe.com is part of Adobe Labs, so input and comments are part of the process. Use your Adobe ID or get one there, and you’ll need the newest Flash Player to explore.

Give it a whirl. It’s a blast!

InDesign Does Multiple Page Sizes

Thanks to our great partners over at DTP Tools, InDesign can now be used to create multiple page sizes in a single InDesign document with their new PageControl plug-in. Now there have always been workarounds such as cobbling together multiple files in the Book palette or using various page arrangement tricks, but this new plug-in makes it much simpler.

The plug-in has been in the beta stage for about a month, but it was finally released yesterday and it’s lookin’ great. Perhaps the best part about the plug-in is that it doesn’t create any new palettes or menus. Instead, it integrates with the existing Pages palette in InDesign and let’s you create and manage multiple page sizes, multiple master pages, and so on.

I have to admit that this isn’t a feature I’ve yearned for, but I’ve met enough folks who are gonna be thrilled with this announcement. The only “catch” with this plug-in is that anybody attempting to open these “modified” InDesign documents must have the free reader plug-in installed. The reader plug-in is in fact free, but we all know it will still trip up a few folks. In that case, you can export your InDesign layouts with multiple page sizes directly to PDF and the results are fantastic.

Can I just make one suggestion? No matter how you deliver your InDesign files to your printer, will you promise me that you’ll call your printer and give them a heads-up first? Talk about a curve ball! :-)

Set Sail for the ADIM Conference

Ahoy there, mateys! The tenth annual Art Directors Invitational Master (ADIM) Class is ready to set sail. The new Web site launched today with full conference details and registration information. This year’s event is slathered in a heavy coat of pirate theme and will be held at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose, CA from April 25-28, 2007.

You’ll have so much fun at this unique conference that you won’t even realize how much you’re learning about the latest Adobe software applications. Did I mention that your registration fee includes a copy of Creative Suite 3.0 Premium? Yes, 3.0. It’s not a typo!

InDesign Does Super Duper Script

I was recently working with a notable ad agency that’s in the process of upgrading from Creative Suite 1 to Creative Suite 2 and they had some unique requests related to type handling in InDesign. Essentially, they wanted several superscript variations of certain characters for use in the ads they design. Considering the level of complexity of their requirements, I suggested the best option might be to recut their typeface or create a good collection of character styles.

Then I told them that if they could live with only two flavors of superscript, then InDesign already had all they tools they needed! This trick is so easy it’s almost silly, but it’s not something I’ve seen many people try:

  1. Open the application preferences (Command/Control-K) and select the Advanced Type category.
  2. Assign a negative percentage, such as -50%, to the Subscript position value.
  3. Now create your second superscript variation by assigning the subscript text attribute.

Voila! That’s all there is to it. You see, InDesign makes the reasonable assumption that superscript is going above the baseline and subscript is going below the baseline. This means that two positive values move the text in opposite directions, which might seem a bit odd if you think about it too much. The solution is simply to give subscript a negative value which moves it in the opposite direction and provides for a second variation of superscript. I’m sure it’s obvious by now, but you could reverse this trick and create two variations of subscript if that’s the problem you’re facing.

I’d love to hear back if this solution solves any real world problems out there!

InCopy ACE Exam Now Available

It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally posted an InCopy ACE Exam. Now all of the InCopy trainers and consultants out there can get certified and “prove” your proficiency. I realize you’ve been getting along just fine without the exam, but at the same time we all know some clients want a bit of reassurance the first time they hire you. Now how do you go about adding this cool new badge to your Adobe Scout uniform?

  1. Normally, you’d see the exam listed on Adobe.com, but the page hasn’t been updated yet.

  2. To be an InCopy CS2 Certified Expert you also need to be an InDesign CS2 Certified Expert. You should be able to take the two exams in any order you like, but if you’re still reading this post, you probably already have your InDesign CS2 ACE.
  3. Go directly to http://ibt.prometric.com/adobe and take the exam online.

The exam costs $50US and you have a whole two hours to take it. There are only about 40 questions, so I doubt you’ll need all that time. The cut score (ACE exams are multiple-choice, pass/fail) is 73%, so study up and let us know who it goes!

Work Smarter, Not Harder with Photoshop

There’s a great new Photoshop book hitting store shelves entitled Working Smart in Adobe Photoshop CS2 by Conrad Chavez. Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s already a boatload of Photoshop books out there, so do we really need another one? Well, I had the privilege of doing the technical editing on this book and I’d say it’s unique for at least two reasons:

  1. It’s a lean, mean book. Instead of trying to teach you everything under the sun, it’s a focused read under 300 pages. (This means you’ll probably actually read it, unlike the stack of Photoshop books on most designer’s book shelves.)
  2. It’s about about efficiency and working smart. No step-by-step tutorials, no cheesy neon styles, no quizzes. It takes a step back from the minutiae and looks at the overall efficiency of the workflow.

This is good stuff, folks. Don’t miss it!

More InCopy Goodness

Hey all you InCopy fans, there’s a new free InCopy CS2 tutorial posted in the Adobe Design Center. For an experienced InDesign user, this will probably be pretty basic information about text formatting, but it might help you get some of your InCopy users up to speed. If you like what you see in this tutorial, there’s more where that came from. Check out the book that Mike Richman and I co-authored: The Adobe InCopy CS2 Book.

In the meantime, what other InCopy tutorials wold folks like to see. What do you want to learn about?

Breeze Tip #1 – Hide Your Ugly Face

It could be that you don’t have your web-cam on hand, or maybe last night was just rough enough that this morning you don’t want to broadcast your face to the world. Whatever the reason, there are times when you want to use Voice over IP (VOIP) in your Breeze meeting, but not the camera portion of the Camera and Voice pod. At the same time, you’d rather have a photo of yourself in the room to give the place a more personable feel instead of the generic icon shown in the AV pod when video is not being used.

Here’s a trick that’ll get you what you want…

Continue reading…

FontAgent Pro Supports Auto-Activation for InCopy CS2

There have been a variety of workarounds until now, but our friends at Insider Software have released a new auto-activation plug-in for InCopy CS2 with the release of FontAgent Pro 3.3. This means writers and editors using InCopy can now enjoy the blissful ease of auto-activation just like their InDesign-using co-workers. FontAgent Pro is a Mac-only solution, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only font management solution that offers auto-activation for InCopy users.

After you install the software look for the disc image called “FontAgent Pro Plug Ins.dmg” in the FontAgent Pro application folder. That disk image includes all the auto-activation plug-ins and easy-to-read instructions. Enjoy!