XML round trip with InDesign?

Subject: XML round trip with InDesign?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Lech Rzedzicki <xchaotic -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 08:05:26 -0400

Lech Rzedzicki wondered: <<Has anyone been successful with defining a
workflow with InDesign where they import XML into it, changes are made
and they are later exported for other outputs? The very reason
InDesign is used, is that Print output is very design-heavy (and
actually quite beatiful), so quite a few bespoke layout changes are
made to text imported from XML, which ultimately makes it separate
from the single-sourced master and disconnects that version from our
other outputs (web, iPhone, Kindle etc).>>

I haven't done this particular type of round-tripping, but I've done
similar things with other software (e.g., for editing Web sites). The
key to success is to use carefully defined paragraph and character
styles for as much of the formatting as possible, and use the same
style names in both the authoring software used to create the source
files (e.g., Word) and the design software (e.g., InDesign).

InDesign also offers a feature in which you can automatically update
the InDesign layout to account for changes in the external source
files used to create that layout. I haven't explored this feature, but
for basic text editing, it probably works well.

<<What I would want to do at the least, is for any text changes that
are made in InDesign to be imported back to the master source...>>

That's backwards: ***always*** make the changes in the master source
files, then transfer the changes (either manually or automatically)
into the layout or output files. That's the only way to ensure that
all your versions will remain consistent, particularly in large and
complicated projects. If someone finds a problem that needs to be
fixed in InDesign, they must be taught to communicate that change to
the people responsible for creating and maintaining the source files.
Then someone (usually the editor) must take responsibility for
ensuring that the changes are made correctly. Layout changes can be
made in InDesign without affecting the source files, but you must
teach your colleagues the difference between a layout change and a
change in the content; content changes must always be made in the
source files.

<<I can not change the fact that people apply the changes in InDesign>>

Yes you can. <g> You just have to explain why this is a problem and
teach the people to avoid the problem. For example, many of these
changes can be made by understanding how to correctly use named styles
(e.g., defining line break parameters) and hyphenation (e.g., creating
a custom hyphenation dictonary) and layout controls (e.g., defining
the text box size). Sometimes you need a large and scary manager to
convince them that this is necessary. But it's worth the effort, and
in my experience, you can almost always succeed if you make this a
cooperative endeavor rather than simply dictating how people must work.

<<but what I can is perhpas make them to use an XML editor so that
they edit and re-import the master instead?>>

Although that's possible, it's unlikely, particularly if they're
graphic artists. All generalizations are odious because they do a
gross injustice to some members of a group, but in my 20 years of
experience, graphics people are interested only in learning new
graphics software, not in learning (to them) unrelated progams. In
their defence, modern graphics and layout software is sufficiently
complex that it can take up all one's mental resources to master, and
it's unfair to ask them to add to this burden by mastering software
they won't often use.

A solution that is more likely to succeed would be to investigate the
Adobe InCopy software, which automates the process of editing the
external source files and ensuring that the changes are reflected in
the final InDesign document.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geoff Hart (www.geoff-hart.com)
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Effective Onscreen Editing:
http://www.geoff-hart.com/books/eoe/onscreen-book.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------------

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References:
XML round trip with InDesign: From: Lech Rzedzicki

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