InDesign scripting : lesson 31

in lesson 30 we looked at an applescript to change rows of a particular height to a new height throughout an entire InDesign table. here’s an example of slightly more complex table formatting.

no doubt you would use table and cell styles when setting up your own tables — to assist with formatting changes further down the track. but sometimes you need to work on tables that other, less diligent InDesign users have set up. and if you’re doing that on a regular basis, or if the tables are extensive, it makes sense to automate the tedium.

we’ll look again at the table from the last lesson :
screen grab of table before formatting

in this table, all cells have the same settings :
screen grab of control panel showing table settings

but now we want the reversed row heights to be a little wider and the blank rows to be narrower. first we need to change all the rows to a specific height before working on the other rows. to do this we change the ‘at least’ specifier to ‘exactly’ by changing auto grow to false :

tell application id "com.adobe.InDesign"
  tell active document
    tell table 1 of selection
      set auto grow of every row to false
      set height of every row to 5
      -- rest of script to go here
    end tell
  end tell
end tell

then we can use the cell fill colour to address the reversed rows only :

set height of (every row whose name of fill color is "C=0 M=100 Y=100 K=50") to 6.5

we need to use a different tactic for the blank rows. here’s one way — address every row that comes before a reversed row :

repeat with x in (every row whose name of fill color is "C=0 M=100 Y=100 K=50")
  set mgName to name of x
  try
    set height of row (mgName - 1) to 2
  end try
end repeat

the ‘name’ of a row is its number — so the first row in a table is row 1. that’s why we need the try statement — the first reversed row is row 1 and there is no row 0 to change to a height of 2 — so the script would throw an error without that try.

if we run that script the table will look like this :
screen grab of table after initial script run

the only remaining problem, as the observant will notice, is that there is at least one cell (and probably more) which is now too small and has overset text. an extra line in the script will fix that :

set height of every cell whose overflows is true to 9

the compiled script is short and simple :
screen grab of compiled script

… and the completed table looks like this :
screen grab of completed table

this is just a taster for what can be done with table formatting through applescript. whether or not you end up using scripting with your own tables depends on your workflow, how big your tables are, how often you work with tables, etc, etc. sometimes table are just too small to justify the time it takes to write or edit a script. but table scripting could be another powerful tool in your production arsenal — anything to minimise the monkey-work.

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InDesign scripting : lesson 30

here’s a little quickie script to help those of you who like to specify exact row heights in your InDesign tables. changing column widths is easy, but changing row heights throughout a table is a pita.

let’s say you want to change all the reversed rows in a table like this, from 9mm high to 6mm high :
screen grab of original table

ordinarily you’d have to select each row, one after another, and set it to the new height manually, but with applescript we can automate it.

first we’ll create a dialog for the user to enter row heights into :

tell application id "com.adobe.InDesign"
  
  set mgDialog to make dialog
  tell mgDialog
    tell (make dialog column)
      tell (make dialog row)
        make static text with properties {static label:"Enter row height you'd like to change."}
      end tell
      tell (make dialog row)
        set mgOldHeightField to make text editbox with properties {edit contents:"current row height", min width:250}
      end tell
      tell (make dialog row)
        make static text with properties {static label:""}
      end tell
      tell (make dialog row)
        make static text with properties {static label:"Enter height you'd like it changed to."}
      end tell
      tell (make dialog row)
        set mgNewHeightField to make text editbox with properties {edit contents:"new row height", min width:250}
      end tell
      tell (make dialog row)
        make static text with properties {static label:""}
      end tell
    end tell
  end tell
  
  set mgResult to show mgDialog

  if mgResult is true then
    set mgOldHeight to edit contents of mgOldHeightField as number
    set mgNewHeight to edit contents of mgNewHeightField as number
    destroy mgDialog
  else
    error number -128
    destroy mgDialog
  end if

  -- rest of script to go here
  
end tell

first the specifications for the dialog are created, then the dialog is displayed to the user, then the results are captured into two variables — mgOldHeight and mgNewHeight. notice these variables are forced into numbers — for obvious reasons — so, if the user enters non-numerical data the script throws an error.

the resulting dialog looks like this :
screen grab of generated dialog

the rest of the script is simple as :

  tell active document
    tell table 1 of selection
      set height of (every row whose height is mgOldHeight) to mgNewHeight
    end tell
  end tell

here you’ll notice we’re addressing “table 1 of selection” which means that, for the script to work in this form, the first text frame containing the table must be selected (as shown in the screen grab above). you can also have all the text frames selected, but if you have nothing selected, or only the second frame selected, you’ll get an error.

that’s it. run the script, fill in your details, and all matching rows throughout the table will be changed almost instantaneously :
screen grab of filled dialog

screen grab of altered table

of course there are other ways to write the script — so that no selection is necessary, or every table in the document is addressed, or whatever — this is just the simplest form for this functionality.

the next scripting lesson will look a bit more at formatting InDesign tables with applescript.

til then, keep grunting.

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