hack : power find/replace text

this tip is borne out of frustration at seeing humans do things the hard way when there’s a perfectly simple, less insane way.

i need to convert text from a brief which looks like this :

into an applescript list that looks like this :

screengrab showing applescript list

transforming the text manually is about as inefficient as things get. this is an ideal job for find/replace. it just takes a few seconds to figure out the best way to attack it.

the trick is to remember that find/replace isn’t only for letters, words and spaces. it can also be used on invisible characters like tabs and line breaks.

this particular task can be achieved with just two find/replace passes – then a little cleanup.

any text editor will do, but for this kind of thing i always use BBEdit
(note : this is NOT a paid endorsement – i just love the app)

when i copy the text from word to BBEdit it looks like this :

the first pass changes the text between the numbers :

the second pass changes basically everything else :

(notice how BBEdit specifies the line break as ‘/n’ and the tab as ‘/t’)

then i just need to manually clean up the top and tail :

and we’re done.

keep grunting.

InDesign to merge with Illustrator

ever since Adobe launched their Creative Suite back in 2003 there has been ongoing speculation about when the various elements would be combined into a single application. the obvious contenders right from the start were InDesign and Illustrator since their functionality overlapped in many respects.

the problem has always been, however, that the fundamental architecture of the two products is completely different, even though the user experience is quite similar. the main reason for this is that Illustrator was developed from the ground up by Adobe, but InDesign is basically an expansion of Pagemaker — originally developed by Aldus.

well it appears that the merger is now well and truly in the pipeline with beta testing in full swing. if you’re not yet involved, you can apply to take part in Adobe’s Prerelease Program here

as with most beta versions there is still a lot of clunkiness to sort out, but the developers have also come up with some quite reasonable solutions to the inevitable problems. one example is the tool panel which, by default, is a monster hybrid of the two panels we are already familiar with. but there are also panel presets for just-InDesign and just-Illustrator panels. and now you can also specify your own custom tool panel, just as you’ve been able to do with menus since CS4 :
screen grab of hybrid tool panel

it looks like Adobe are planning to ease users into this new way of working because the new document window will now let you choose ‘artboards‘ or ‘pages‘ as the intent (the rest of the window changes depending on which intent you choose) — effectively keeping the two working styles independent, at least for the time being :
screen grab of new document panel

as with all change there are many who are not happy. generally speaking, it looks like the mainly-InDesign users aren’t too concerned, whereas the Illustrator aficionados are not at all happy (probably because Adobe is attempting to integrate the Illustrator functionality into InDesign, rather than the other way around) — some uncharitable testers have taken to calling the new application IllDesign.

there are also those who, perhaps not without reason, have questioned the timing — suggesting that Adobe had plenty of opportunity during the ten years of the Creative Suite to get this hybrid up and running but that they kept it under wraps to enable them to continue selling the two separately. obviously that is no longer a concern now that everything is integrated into Creative Cloud.

you can read more at the Adobe forums : forums.adobe.com/community/creative_cloud/indesign_illustrator_merge

macgrunt icon

InDesign tip : #35

sometimes your InDesign files may get a little feral and tracking down rogue colours can be a bit tedious. obviously deleting unused swatches is pretty easy, but this doesn’t always get rid of all ‘unexpected’ colours.

here’s the easy way to find those buggers …

first change that random colour into a spot swatch :
screen grab of swatch panel with random colour
changing swatch to spot colour
screen grab of swatches panel showing spot

then set up a preflight profile that treats spot colours as ‘not allowed’ :
setting up spot colour preflight check

this will pinpoint exactly where the problem swatch is being used in your document. then you can decide how to proceed with those elements :
screen grab of preflight panel

if the preflight check doesn’t show anything up, then the swatch is probably being used by a style (paragraph, character or object). delete all your unused styles, and if that swatch still won’t budge then the style attached to the swatch is probably the base for another style — get it?

you can go ahead and delete the swatch, replacing it with whatever other swatch you choose — or not bother, if it’s not being used, it’s not being a problem.

keep grunting.

macgrunt icon

InDesign tip : #34

sometimes things go awry with InDesign and it behaves abominably. sometimes things go even more awry and you can no longer open the application at all. these are the times to trash your preferences. but sometimes even this doesn’t work — and that’s what we’re going to cover in this post.

but first — trashing preferences. the best way to do this is to manually remove two files (if it’s running, quit InDesign to do this). both of these can be found in the user ‘Library’ which is, in recent versions of OSX, a hidden folder which does not normally show up in the Finder’s Go menu. but if you click Go and then hold down the option key — you’ll see Library get added to the list :
two version of the Finder's Go menu.

once inside the library folder, navigate to and delete these two files (after making a backup copy somewhere) :
> Preferences > Adobe InDesign > [version number] > [language] > InDesign Defaults
> Caches > Adobe InDesign > [version number] > [language] > InDesign SavedData

unfortunately, deleting those two files will also delete handy things like print and document presets and whatnot (luckily, things like workspaces, customised keyboard shortcuts, and PDF presets are not lost) BUT it will fix InDesign in the overwhelming majority of cases.

sometimes however this DOES NOT work and InDesign will continue to crash when attempting to start up. this may be caused by some recalcitrant recovery data. so the next thing to try is deleting this folder — also in the caches folder (again, after making a handy backup copy somewhere) :
> Caches > Adobe InDesign > [version number] > [language] > InDesign Recovery >

but once in a purple-polka-dotted moon you may find that EVEN THIS DOES NOT WORK. then it’s time to get radical and delete everything else inside that last level of the caches folder (again, after … you know the score):
> Caches > Adobe InDesign > [version number] > [language] >

if even THAT doesn’t work then … well … you’re on your own. sorry.

macgrunt icon

InDesign tip : #33

this post may become a bit of a hodge-podge of a couple of different things, but the main message for today is …

if you have not already ‘upgraded’ to InDesign CC

the CC version of InDesign is proving to be a real dog — it sporadically suffers from serious time lags for even the most mundane tasks (eg. selecting text) and is clunky in a bunch of other ways (the UI is simply grotesque — quite windows-like — click to enlarge) :
dialogs comparison between CS6 and CC

we’ve already looked at solving one speed issue that’s been with us since CS4 — the live preflight ‘feature’ — way back in InDesign tip : #09.

upgrading your operating system to OS X 10.9 does help the CC time lag issue significantly, but does not completely resolve the problem. so, you need a couple of other workarounds to help speed things up. these are NOT optimum solutions because they take away some handy functionality which many of us have come to rely upon — but they will help to save you from punching yourself in your own head.

with CC, the speed issue seems to become noticeable once you’ve imported a bunch of high res images (anything more than about half a dozen appears to unsettle the poor blossom). so here are two things to change to get things rolling again (somewhat).

the Pages panel generally looks something like this (screen grabs have been taken from CS6, but most versions are similar) :
pages panel with thumbnails

click on the little icon in the top right corner and you’ll get a dropdown menu — select Panel Options … :
pages panel dropdown

then you can uncheck the thumbnails checkbox :
pages panel options dialog

and all you get is blank page previews :
pages panel without thumbnails

then do the same with the Links panel :
links panel with thumbnails

links panel dropdown

links panel options dialog

links panel without thumbnails

while you’re in the links panel options dialog, you may want to have a bit of a look at the other things you can display in the columns (top section of links panel) and the link info (bottom section). you may find there’s stuff here which is specific for your workflow :
links panel with additional rows
the columns of the links panel can be resized (click and drag the little black line between column headings) and rearranged (click and drag the column heading itself).

you may even find it helpful to set up different versions of the links panel for different workspaces (see tip #08 if you have not yet discovered the benefits of workspaces). for example, some people find it handy to have a basic setup (similar to above) for standard work, but a more extensive set of choices for a separate prepress workspace :
links panel extended

as mentioned, this is not an ideal workaround, but if you’re stuck with InDesign CC and you find the time-lag issue excruciating, then give this a go, at least until Adobe get their act together and restore InDesign to its former glory.

macgrunt icon