Conditional text in PageMaker?

Subject: Conditional text in PageMaker?
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 12:16:41 -0400

Melissa Fisher asked about a problem a colleague is having
producing a price list: <<We produce different versions with
their own variations of products and prices, and currently
they are maintained as separate PageMaker documents...
Ideally I think he'd like some kind of database tool to produce
the list from.>>

I'm reasonably certain that PageMaker 6.5 lets you use
conditional text on a frame-by-frame (rather than paragraph-
level) basis, so you could create different versions that way,
but that's only part of your problem; what you're really
looking for is a way to export database information into
PageMaker and quickly (ideally with no effort at all) format
it. There used to be a database publishing add-on for
PageMaker that did much of this work, but I don't recall the
name; Adobe might be able to help you. (Quark and Ventura
have attracted most of the develoment effort in database
publishing.) If your data is reasonably consistent (e.g., same
number of parameters for each item in the price list, or for all
items in a given section), it should be easy to do what you're
looking for. For example:

1. Use the database to sort the data, select only the data you
want, and output the results of the query as a tab-delimited
ASCII file. Produce one such file for each section of the
manual or for each specific purpose (e.g., different versions
of the price book, types of data with different numbers of
2. Create a style in PageMaker called (say) "Section 1 prices",
and apply this to each line of text in Section 1. (You'd have to
create one such style for each individual need; for example,
section 1 might have 4 columns, whereas section 2 might add
a fifth column, and would thus require a different paragraph
3. Place the files in a PageMaker template that contains the
necessary paragraph styles, each file right after the
appropriate heading.

Voila! You're done. It's kludgier than a fully automated
process, but works reasonably well. You can use Applescript
(if you're on a Mac) to automate much of the grunt work too.
You'll have to customize this approach (and maybe throw up
your hands in despair) if the data are really complex (e.g.,
don't fall into nice, table-like rows and columns), but you'd be
surprised just how much you can do with the approach I've

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Though the editor is the author's ally, she should never forget that
she is also the reader's first line of defense."--Shoshanna Green

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