InDesign tip : #31

the last couple of scripting lessons (#30 & #31) showed a couple of examples of how to use applescript to assist with reformatting an existing table. but if you are setting up your own tables you’d use table and cell styles to make your life a little easier.

as with paragraph, character and object styles — if you are going to use particular formatting settings more than once in a document, it’s smart to create a style for those settings. so, if your document has several tables with similar formatting, you’d create a table style. this example only has one table, so we’ll just look at cell styles.

when we first change our text to a table it will look something like this :
screen grab of unformatted table

then we start to create the table formatting we want :
screen grab of partially formatted table

to create the cell style for the reversed row, highlight that row and then choose “New Cell Style…” from the flyout menu on the cell styles panel (windows > styles > cell styles) :
screen grab of cell styles panel flyout menu

you can also access this functionality directly from your control panel :
screen grab of cell styles menu in control panel

the new style takes on the formatting of the selected cells. we’re calling that style ‘header row’ and you can see that, as well as the colour of the cells, the cell style will also apply a paragraph style to the text in those cells. that is, the paragraph style does not need to be applied separately — it’s part of the cell style :

then repeat the process for each different cell type. for this table we’ve created three different cell styles :
screen grab of new styles in cell styles panel

the easiest way to proceed from here is to first apply the most common style to the entire table. to select every cell in a table, first place your cursor somewhere within the table and then move your mouse to the top left corner of the table until you see a downward pointing arrow, then click.

here we’ve applied the ‘basic row’ style to the entire table by clicking that style in the cell styles panel (or from the control panel dropdown) :
screen grab showing entire table with bsaic row style applied

then go through and apply the other styles to their relevant cells (here we’re doing entire rows in the same style) :
screen grab of table with complete formatting

now here’s why you’ve gone to all that trouble … when the client comes back and says they want all the reversed rows to be thicker and all the blank rows to be thinner (or any of a gazillion other possible alterations), you don’t have to change each row individually (or use applescript) you just change the cell styles. unfortunately InDesign does not yet allow you to specify a specific cell height in the cell style (who knows why), but you CAN change the spacing — or cell insets. here we’re changing the top and bottom insets for the ‘header row’ style from 1mm to 2mm :
screen grab showing cell style options for the header row style

and like magic the entire table is updated automatically :

so, if you’re working with tables but not using cell styles, you’re probably working way too hard.

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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
    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
    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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