Posts tagged "workflow"

Using content from InDesign documents in CQ5.5

When Adobe acquired Day Software, it got not only a revolutionary Web Content Management system, but also a revolutionary Digital Asset Management platform based on CRX, Day’s implementation of the Java Content Repository. Quick to recognize its potential as a binding agent for an end to end Adobe workflow that included asset creation and management, campaign deployment, measurement and targeting, and campaign refinement, CQ quickly jumped to the forefront of many of our minds here at Adobe.

Adobe Drive 3 can connect to a CQ DAM and provide version control for Creative Suite assets. While this functionality existed with CQ5.4, in CQ5.5, there are some built-in examples of how CQ can extend an InDesign workflow to the Web. CQ5.5 ships with a couple of workflow scripts designed specifically for InDesign Server, which is required for them to function. Without InDesign Server available to CQ, what follows won’t happen. If you are a CQ customer and would like to try this for yourself, download the InDesign Server trial and install it on the same server where you keep CQ5.5. Otherwise, read on and you’ll get a sense of what’s possible with CQ DAM and InDesign Server.

InDesign server must be running and servicing requests on port 8080. On my Mac, I issue the following terminal command to fire up ID Server prior to starting CQ. I assume that it’s similar on Windows:

/Applications/Adobe\ InDesign\ CS5.5\ Server/InDesignServer.app/Contents/MacOS/InDesignServer -port 8080

Once it’s running, it’s safe to start CQ in author mode. We’re looking at an author instance, not a publish instance, from this point forward. Once it’s running, you can mount the repository with Drive 3. Open Drive 3 and connect to your DAM. In my example, I’m running CQ on my local machine, hence the localhost connection.

Once connected, I can browse content in the DAM as if the DAM were a filesystem. CS apps such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, InCopy and Bridge understand that when CQ DAM is mounted via Drive, they can check files into and out of the DAM and access versions of those files in the DAM. This article isn’t about version control, though, it’s about repurposing content from InDesign in CQ5.5.

When I drop an InDesign file into the DAM via Bridge, Bridge creates a version and checks the file into CQ. In CQ, the appearance of that InDesign file fires off a series of workflow steps that, with the help of InDesign Server, create previews of that file, extract an IDML rendition of that file, extract text and images from that file, and assemble those items into a Page node in CQ. It’s this page node that’s the really, really cool product of ingestion.

Page nodes are reference-able in CQ using a reference component. Normally, when you place a reference component onto a page in CQ, you double click it and browse to the page you want to reference. Unfortunately, when CQ and InDesign Server make the page node of your InDesign file, it places that page into the “renditions” folder, which is a reasonable place to store it. Unfortunately, the Reference component doesn’t know how to look into the Renditions folder for this Page note. Fortunately, a colleague on the Chinese Solutions Consulting team, Joseph Lee, figured out a simple solution that allows us to use this page node as a source of content for other pages on our CQ site.

In the diagram above, the selected page node needs to move up two levels in the hierarchy so that it is at the same level as the jar:content node, just below the InDesign file’s primary node. We can drag it up there in CRXDE Lite, but that’s pretty “dirty,” as Joseph was quick to point out. Looking at the workflow, however, he identified a single modification that puts the page node into a place where it can indeed be found by a reference component. Note that it will no longer appear in the Renditions tab when you browse to the InDesign file in DAM, however. I think that the trade-off is worth it, though.

The change we need to make is in the DAM Update Asset workflow. Browse to your workflows console and double click DAM Update Asset. At the bottom of the workflow, there’s a step called Page Extraction. This is one of the new steps that’s included in CQ5.5. You need to change the Page Root Path to “/.” (do not include the quotes) just like below. This will instruct the workflow to create the page node directly below the InDesign file’s primary node. Once you’ve made the change, click OK and then Save in the upper left hand corner of the window. Now, you’re ready to reuse content from your InDesign files in your CQ pages.

To see this in action, let’s look at what the reference component will see after this workflow change, and after we either ingest a new InDesign file or make a change to it and check it back into the DAM, either of which will trigger the InDesign Page Extraction workflow and fix the page node location. Once you do this, you can now browse to it from a reference component.

In the figure above, I have selected a story that’s present in my InDesign document. Here it is in InDesign:

Now, here it is on my CQ page.

Now, here’s the really, really cool part. Nowhere in this process was I required to send my InDesign document overseas for XML extraction in order to get its content back into my Web Content Management system. Ingestion took literally seconds and allowed my authors to use the text and images from my InDesign documents immediately. In addition, when a user makes a change in InDesign and checks the document back into the DAM, the text will update in my CQ Author instance so that I can gracefully publish it to the Publish instance when I am ready.

Thanks again to Joseph Lee for his elegant but powerful suggestion to expose the page rendition to reference components.

I know that this workflow is a demonstration of capabilities, but what an amazing demonstration it is. A capable developer could develop components and workflows which would allow a CQ user to edit that same referenced copy, and then would fire off a workflow to re-inject that content back into the InDesign document. How about the situation where a CQ user mocks up a page layout and then pushes a button to tell InDesign Server to build an InDesign document using a specific template and the text and images from the repository. The possibilities are endless.

I firmly believe that CQ5.5 and its ability to drive InDesign Server heralds the beginning of a new era in multi-channel communications. Already the lines between print and web and apps are blurred. With InDesign Server and CQ5.5, those lines disappear entirely. Now, content truly becomes independent of presentation, which frees the marketer or publisher to extend their reach in existing channels and expand their businesses into emerging channels.

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Nested Overlay conundrum and solution for DPS

One of my customers’ favorite aspects of Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite is how new features appear every 6 weeks or so. This rapid pace of development means that the DPS team can respond to customer requests for new functions in the Overlay Creator and the Folio Producer parts of the solution. One of the recent changes was the addition of what are known as Nested Overlays.

Nested Overlays allow you to combine multiple overlays into one object. For instance, you can now include a buttons, videos or a Pan and Zoom Overlay in your slide show. This is very handy when trying to create an interactive slide show like you see on popular news sites: there’s a photo with some text under it and six dots along the bottom, and when you touch a dot or swipe across the image, it takes you to the image or video that’s in the slide show.

I have heard from customers that while this seems to work on the desktop Content Viewer, it often fails on the iPad. I was surprised, so I did some investigating and here’s what I learned.

When you build a slide show, you need to create a Multi-State Object, or MSO. This MSO is a container for all of the different slides you want to present, with each state in the MSO representing a slide. Inside of each state, you can include DPS overlays. In my example, I have three slides in my slide show, so I have three states in my MSO. On the second slide, I have a Pan and Zoom Overlay, because the text is too big to fit in the space I’ve allowed. When I preview on the desktop, this works as expected. When I preview on the iPad, however, it doesn’t work.

The solution is easy, and I came upon it after following some of my own advice. When I first began teaching about interactive features in InDesign CS5, I exhorted my students to “think like a developer!” This meant that they needed to start naming their design elements if they wanted to have a productive relationship with the Flash developer who would take their comps/projects and turn them into full-fledged apps. This reduced guesswork and established a workflow that fostered collaboration between the two. Until InDesign CS5, designers all worked in Photoshop and sent layered PSDs with layer comps and written instructions to the developers, who chopped them up and added interactivity. This Photoshop-centric is still prevalent today, and it is fraught with errors in communication. I promote the idea of using InDesign as an interactive comping tool, however, and make judicious use of the layers panel to name my design elements. The key here is how InDesign names objects when you don’t.

By default, InDesign names all of its objects with the name of the primitive surrounded by brackets, like <rectangle> or <graphic frame>. If you place a graphic, the name becomes <nameofthisgraphic.psd> or whatever the graphic’s file name is. If you type some text, the first few words of the text frame become the name of the object, plus those surrounding brackets. It turns out that these names look suspiciously like HTML tags, but as tags, they have no meaning. I think (and I expect to get either some dope slaps or back slaps for this) that the webkit part of the iPad Content Viewer gets confused when it sees these names in the nested overlays. If you change the name of the overlay from InDesign’s default to something without brackets, your overlay will work as you expect.

In my example, I drew a box and pasted my text into it in order to make the Pan and Zoom overlay. InDesign named the box <graphic frame>. We can see this in the Layers panel. One of the great features of the Layers Panel is that we can use it not only to reorder the objects within a layer, but we can also use it to change the names of the objects. When I change the name to More Than Professors and update my folio, my overlay works as expected. It is not necessary to adhere to a strict Action Script naming convention, which would have a name like moreThanProfessors. The Content Viewer doesn’t seem to be bothered by spaces in the name, but if you’re going to be working with a Flash developer, then you should consider talking with them about how they want objects to be named.

On the left, the result with InDesign's default name. On the right, the result with my custom name.

Changing times require changing workflows. For interactive design and DPS specifically, it is time for designers and developers to share best practices. While naming conventions have never been a concern of a print designer, they are critical for a developer. In InDesign, these two worlds collide, and the collaborative workflow I have been preaching for the last two years is now paying off.

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Adobe DPS course available at Lynda.com

There is a new course available at lynda.com to help users get started with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.
with: James Lockman
Course Description:
Up and Running with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite shows designers how to create interactive publications for tablet devices using Adobe InDesign and the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Introducing this emerging publishing platform, author James Lockman discusses the DPS workflow, comparing it with existing EPUB and print workflows, and highlights key layout and design considerations when designing for DPS. The course explains how to incorporate hyperlinks, slideshows, panoramas, audio and video, and pan and zoom capabilities as a means of adding value to a publication. Lastly, the course sheds light on compiling interactive folios and testing and publishing finished projects. Exercise files accompany the course.
Topics Include:
  • Determining your digital publishing market
  • Designing for an interactive publication
  • Creating buttons
  • Setting up image sequences
  • Building the panorama viewer
  • Configuring audio and setting video playback options
  • Creating a web viewer portal
  • Structuring articles into folios using the Folio Builder
  • Testing a folio locally
  • Publishing folios
  • Building viewers for iPad and Android
Duration:
2.68 Hours
Here’s a sample:
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Establishing Trust in an ad hoc Electronic Signature Workflow with Acrobat

I had a customer ask me about why signatures in their PDFs that they had signed with Acrobat would not verify. Doing a little digging, it became apparent that while the group had created and begun using signatures in Acrobat, they had not established trust within the group.

An electronic signature, like a pen-and-ink signature, is only as good as your belief that the signature is genuine. In a paper workflow, we can witness someone applying their mark to the paper. We use ink because it is hard to remove from the paper. How, then, do we trust an electronic signature when we can’t witness the signature being applied to the PDF?

There are several mechanisms to establish and maintain trust in the context of Adobe PDF workflows. In this article, we’ll look at the ad hoc signature workflow. In order to for a signature workflow to work, we need two elements: signatures and Identities. In this workflow, all of the parties create electronic signatures and Identities with Acrobat, and all of the parties must exchange Identities in advance of using the signatures.

Digital Identities

In Acrobat X, signatures depend on digital identities, so we must start with creating an identity. When you have a document open, you can click on the Tools panel and then choose Sign & Certify>More Sign & Certify>Security Settings… At any time, you can find these controls under Edit>Protection>Security Settings…

Note: Click on these or any of the following images to view them full size.

You create a Digital Identity in the Security Settings Panel. A Digital Identity is a file that contains information specific to you, such as your name, email address, and company contact information. In addition, it contains half of a key that can be used to decrypt content that you have encrypted. This is important, because the person with whom you are sharing a signed PDF needs this key in order to be able to decrypt your signature and verify that you are who you say you are. Without this key, we don’t have trust in the workflow, so the key is how we establish this trust.

Let’s make a Digital Signature. In the Digital Signatures panel, click the Add ID button and then choose A new digital ID I want to create now and then click Next.

Now, you need to enter your personal information, select an encryption strength, and also make a choice about how you’ll be using this ID. In this example, I have entered my personal information, chosen my region, and have chosen 2048-bit RSA encryption. The default is 1024-bit RSA for backwards compatibility, but in this age of WikiLeaks and other data security compromises, I’ll opt for more modern protection. I’ve also chosen to use this digital ID for Digital Signatures and for Data Encryption. This is the default setting, but you can choose to use this ID exclusively for either Digital Signatures or Data Encryption.

 

A note about Unicode Support: if you need to use this signature in a region that uses Unicode characters, such as many parts of the Middle East and Asia, then you will want to enable Unicode support here as well. Enabling Unicode Support will expose another set of fields that allow you to enter Unicode data in addition to the Western characters.

Having made your choices, click Next.

Now, choose your password. This is a tricky business, since once you create the signature, you will need to know this password in order to use it. Ah, yes, in order to use it, you need to know its key to entry. This protects you from anyone else using the signature to impersonate you. To this end, choose a strong password. Acrobat X provides a thermometer that lets you know how strong your password is, or how hard it would be to guess. It bases this strength on a number of factors, including use of upper and lower case, use of special characters, apparent randomness of the string, and length of the string.

 

When you’re done, click Finish to complete the ID creation process, then close the Security Settings panel.

Establishing trust

Now that we have an ID, we can share it with people with whom we want to exchange signed documents. In a paper workflow, we can compare an ink signature against a government-issued ID, such as a passport or a driver’s license. In an electronic signature workflow, we exchange Digital IDs in advance of exchanging signed documents. This establishes the trust between the participants and allows Acrobat to verify the signatures on documents as having come from trusted sources.

There are several ways to exchange Digital IDs in Acrobat X, and I’ll focus on the two easiest ways to do it.

Let’s pause a moment to consider what’s being shared when you export an ID. An ID is an encrypted token that contains your personal information. The encryption scheme depends on two very large prime numbers. When you encrypt a signature (or any electronic content), the encryption routines use the key in your ID to do the encryption. Under this scheme, if someone has one of your two prime numbers, known as a public key, they can use it to decode your encrypted content. Sharing the public part of your ID is critical to establishing trust, because it enables the person with whom you are exchanging signatures to read the encrypted information in your signature.

Having that out of the way, let’s go back to the workflow. From the Security Settings panel, choose the ID you want to share and then click the Export button.

Here you’ll have to decide whether you want to email the ID to someone or save it somewhere on your computer. If you choose to email, then Acrobat will compose an email containing instructions as to how to import the ID. It will also include the ID as an attachment to the email. If you choose to save to a file, then Acrobat will save the ID as a file to the location of your choice. You will then be able to send it to whomever needs it without having to return to Acrobat. Make a choice, and click Next.

Acrobat creates an email message that explains what to do with the attached ID

In either case, Acrobat exports the ID as an FDF file. The recipient just needs to double click on the FDF file to install in either Reader or Acrobat.

You can also request that someone send you their ID. In Acrobat X, click on Sign & Certify>More Sign & Certify>Manage Trusted Identities and then choose Request Contact…

Enter your name, email address and phone number. Enable the Include my Certificates option, and choose Email request. Then, click Next…

In the following screen, select the ID you want to send and click Next. Then, enter the email address of the person with whom you want to exchange IDs. Click Send for Acrobat to compose the email and send it with your computer’s email program.

Making your digital mark

Now that we have created an ID and established trust, it is time to sign a document.

Open the PDF you want to sign. This PDF could be a PDF with a special form field for signatures or it could be a document with no signature field. If you have permission to sign the document, then you will be able to apply an electronic signature. The Sign & Certify panel has several options in it, including Sign Document and Place Signature. There is a subtle difference between these options: if the document is an electronic form and there is an existing signature field, then Sign Document will put the signature into the signature field. If there is no signature field on the document, then it behaves the same as Place Signature. Place Signature asks you to draw a box on the PDF where you’d like the signature to be.

Note: There is also an option called Apply Ink Signature, but that makes an annotation that looks like you signed the document with a pen. It is not an electronic signature like we’ve been discussing up to now and should not be used in an electronic signature workflow unless both parties agree that the annotation-type signature is acceptable as a signature. I want to take advantage of the work we’ve put in up to now, so we’ll be talking about Signing and Placing a Signatures.

I’ll assume that you are signing a document that does not have a signature field. Choose Sign & Certify>Place Signature. Acrobat will ask you to draw a box where you want the signature to go. Once you release the mouse from drawing the box, you’ll be able to determine which ID to use and also how the signature looks.

Choose the ID you want to use from the Sign As drop-down menu. Choose the ID that you used when you established trust earlier and enter the password for that ID.

You have options as to how the signature will appear on the document. By default, Acrobat includes your name and some of your personal information from the certificate. It is common to add a photo or scan of an ink signature to an electronic signature. To change the appearance, click on the Appearance menu and choose Create New Appearance…

Enter a name for the new appearance and configure the graphic option. You can have no name, choose to show your name, or choose the Imported graphic option and then browse to an image file. You can select just about any image file type that Acrobat can convert to PDF and have it appear in the signature. In this example, I chose a jpeg. You can also enable or disable different fields from the certificate. Make your choices and click OK.

When you have set all of your options, then you can click the Sign button to sign the document. You must save the signed PDF immediately. You may want to establish a naming convention for your signed documents, such as original_filename_SIGNED.pdf for signed PDFs. Having saved the PDF, you are done.

Final appearance of the digital signature with image

Final appearance of the digital signature with image

Note: If you are the last person in the workflow who needs to sign a document, then you may want to lock the document after you sign it. You can enable that option before you apply the signature.

Once signed, you can validate signatures in the Signature panel. This panel appears in any PDF that has a signature applied. You can also hover your mouse over a signature, and the tooltip will tell you whether the signature is valid. You can also click on a signature to check its validity.

There are times when you would want to remove a signature from a document. If you are the signer, then you can right-click on the signature and choose Clear Signature from the contextual menu.

Extending signature workflows to Reader users

You can include Reader users in your signature workflow by saving your PDF as a Reader Extended PDF. From the File menu, choose Save As>Reader Extended PDF>Enable Additional Features… A notice will appear letting you know what features will be enabled for Reader. Click Save Now to save the Reader Extended PDF. Give the Reader Extended PDF a name like original_name_Reader_Extended.pdf.

Conclusion

Once you create a Digital ID, then you can establish trust with someone else and exchange signed documents with them. Remember that you’ll need to establish trust by exchanging IDs with the other person in order to validate signatures.

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