InDesign scripting : lesson 28

we’ve already looked a fair bit at how to export pdfs from InDesign using applescript. see lessons 08, 09, 10, 11, and 12 plus InDesign scripting : bringing it together. but these scripts have relied on pdf export presets and, as it turns out, there’s a really good reason NOT to use an export preset when creating a pdf.

presets invariably export a ‘print’ pdf, but these often have tiny white lines criscrossing the screen. this is an unfortunate side effect of transparency flattening and is quite off-putting to clients, who incessantly ask “is it going to print like that?”. but if you export an ‘interactive’ pdf, you don’t get the dreaded white criscrossy lines (strange but true — who knows why?).

now, at this stage, you can’t save interactive pdf settings as export presets. but that don’t matter none — cause we got applescript.

this script is a stripped back version of a much larger one — with additional export options and email generation. this post will focus mainly on the syntax for exporting interactive pdfs — so refer back to the posts listed above if any of the other bits are confusing.

the first part of the script generates a dialog like this :

  set mgDialog to make dialog with properties {name:"How you want this exported then?"}
  tell mgDialog
    tell (make dialog column)
      tell (make border panel)
        tell (make dialog column)
          make static text with properties {static label:"PDF export setting : ", min width:140}
        end tell
        tell (make dialog column)
          set mgResolutionButtons to make radiobutton group
          tell mgResolutionButtons
            make radiobutton control with properties {static label:"72ppi layout", checked state:true}
            make radiobutton control with properties {static label:"96ppi layout", min width:180}
            make radiobutton control with properties {static label:"144ppi layout"}
          end tell
        end tell
      end tell
      tell (make border panel)
        tell (make dialog column)
          make static text with properties {static label:"Document option : ", min width:140}
        end tell
        tell (make dialog column)
          set mgDocumentsButtons to make radiobutton group
          tell mgDocumentsButtons
            make radiobutton control with properties {static label:"active document only", checked state:true}
            make radiobutton control with properties {static label:"all open documents", min width:180}
          end tell
        end tell
      end tell
      
      set mgResult to show mgDialog
      if mgResult is true then
        set mgResolution to selected button of mgResolutionButtons
        set mgDocuments to selected button of mgDocumentsButtons
        destroy mgDialog
      else
        error number -128
      end if
    end tell
  end tell

that gives you a dialog that looks something like this :
screen grab of script dialog

and captures the results into two variables : mgResolution and mgDocuments

it’s important to remember that a radiobutton group returns an integer – starting at 0 – not the label assigned to the selected button. for example, if you select the second option in the top radio button group you will get ‘1’ as the result (not “96ppi layout”)

so, the next thing we need to do is assign variables depending on the choices made in the dialog :

  if mgDocuments is 0 then
    set mgDocList to name of active document as list
  else if mgDocuments is 1 then
    set mgDocList to name of every document
  end if
  if mgResolution is 0 then
    set mgResolution to seventy two ppi
  else if mgResolution is 1 then
    set mgResolution to ninety six ppi
  else if mgResolution is 2 then
    set mgResolution to one hundred forty four ppi
  end if
  
  my mgExportInteractive(mgResolution, mgDocList)

you’ll notice here that when re-specifying the variable mgResolution we don’t use quotation marks (it’s seventy two ppi not “seventy two ppi”). this is because the three options shown above are constants defined by the developers. if you want a different resolution you can use an integer between 72 and 300 (eg. set mgResolution to 200).

that last line passes the two final variables (mgResolution and mgDocList) to the subroutine that does the actual work (mgExportInteractive).

now, it’s not really necessary to use subroutines, but they are a great way to make scripts modular. it makes it easy to cut and paste whole chunks of reusable functionality into a future script (and you WILL do this as you get more and more into scripting).

there are two subroutines in this script, the second one is called from within the first one :

on mgExportInteractive(mgResolution, mgDocList)
  tell application id "com.adobe.InDesign"
    set properties of interactive PDF export preferences to {interactive PDF interactive elements option:include all media, generate thumbnails:true, pdf magnification:fit page, pdf page layout:single page, flip pages:false, PDF JPEG quality:maximum, open in full screen:false, page transition override:from document, PDF raster compression:JPEG compression, include structure:false, page range:all pages, export layers:false, export reader spreads:false, view PDF:false}
    set raster resolution of interactive PDF export preferences to mgResolution
    repeat with i from 1 to (count of mgDocList)
      set active document to (every document whose name is item i of mgDocList)
      my mgProcess()
      tell active document
        export format interactive PDF to mgFilePath without showing options
      end tell
    end repeat
  end tell
end mgExportInteractive

on mgProcess()
  tell application id "com.adobe.InDesign"
    set mgFolder to file path of active document
    set mgDocName to name of active document
    set text item delimiters of AppleScript to {"."}
    set mgDocName to text item 1 of mgDocName
    set text item delimiters of AppleScript to ""
    set mgFilePath to mgFolder & mgDocName & ".pdf" as string
  end tell
end mgProcess

now, if you scroll all the way out to the right, you’ll see an interesting thing. oh, all right, you don’t have to scroll all the way out — I’ll tell you — there’s a piece of code there that says “… export reader spreads:false …”. why is this interesting? because, in CS5 (the version this script was written for), exporting reader spreads in an interactive pdf is the default and there’s no option to change it in the standard export dialog box (this has been rectified by CS6). but you CAN change it through applescript — a rare case of something you can do with applescript which cannot be done with the native program. running a script containing that piece of code will change all future exports as well — so you may want to add another line to your final script to reset it back to the default “true” — it’s up to you.

so, that’s the basic syntax for exporting ‘interactive’ pdfs rather than ‘print’ pdfs. check the dictionary for all the other settings you can adjust through applescript.

to download the complete functioning script, you can go here.

have a good one

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