Publicious Links: The Dude, Where’s My Blog? Edition

And we’re back.

Sometime Monday the domain mapping that transforms mild-mannered “pubtech.wordpress.com” to it’s super hero identity “publicious.net” expired. Silly me, forgot to pay the bill. For about 48 hours, I was thinking I had offended some very important bots in Internetland. All the incoming links to Publicious disappeared and traffic was down more than 90%. It felt like Publicious had been put in solitary confinement.

After the inital shock, I said, “Oh well, whatever. Home alone at last. Now that everyone’s gone, I have all the time in the world and the whole internet to myself. Maybe I’ll just put on some Carpenters, kick back with bag of Cheetos, and check out SpongeBob On Demand.”

Every sha-la-la, Every whoa-o-oh, still shines.

patrick-carpenter

But then I got lonely. I finally figured out I should check one of the sites that links here and see what happens. Bingo. A hop, skip, and credit card payment later, I am once again master of my domain. Now, help yourself to some Cheetos. On with the show.

Might as well start with my latest post at InDesignSecrets.com, Snippet Style InJectors. I stumbled on this idea when I was preparing for a presentation last fall, and noticed that all the document resources used by a snippet get placed before the snippet itself. I said to myself, “Self, this could be useful someday.”

Drawn! the cartoon and illustration blog has an interesting video of an artist laying out a comic book in InDesign. You’ll never look at the Pencil tool the same way again.

Miverity has a tutorial on how to build a Flash XML slideshow app for a website.

Smashing Magazine has an article on Ten Simple Steps to Better Photoshop Performance. Life is short, no time for beachball cursrors.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog has an good article on ebook format wars. Which one will end up the Betamax of the 21st century?

Speaking of which…

InformationWeek weighs in on the same ebook format issue, with a Sony v. Amazon angle.

Gigaom is ready to declare a winner: Adobe, because of Sony’s embrace of EPUB.

Relatedly (is that a word? if not, I just made it one) Digital Media Buzz has the scoop on Adobe’s Open Source efforts.

Thinking of using an online word processor? Read Linux.com’s comparison of GoogleDocs, Zoho, and Buzzword.

Quick, how do you make a dotted line in Photoshop? Sitepoint has some nice quick tips about using Photoshop brush options for dotted lines and such.

One NYTimes.com writer thinks the bloom is off the Rich Internet App rose already, with the arrival of Google’s Chrome. Please, don’t be evil, Google. Please.

Graphics.com has some ‘tony tutorials (as in duotone, tritone, etc).

Finally, if you’ve ever wished to see Photoshop and Illustrator battle to the death as giant transformer robots with foul language (and who hasn’t?) I recommend checking out GoMediaZine’s ongoing Photoshop vs. Illustrator series.

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X-Treme Rogue Spots: Issue 1

Sometimes when I’m creating templates I feel like an X-Men style mutant. Able to see things others don’t see or care about. Finding latent threats hidden in plain view. Finding myself enthralled with a single-dimensional world where colors are brighter than the real world. (Hey, it’s been pretty gray in Chicago lately.)

And one of the things that I find myself running into pretty frequently, especially with files that have been saved up from a previous version of InDesign, is something I like to call rogue swatches. (Now do you get the X-Men reference?)

Anyway, I opened a file recently to turn it into a template. There were several pieces of art that had been linked but that I wasn’t given. I knew that these art pieces were going to be placed in the final document by someone else and I didn’t need the art to create a template. And I knew that my document was going to be printed in 1-color. And that color was the very acceptable, but very boring Black.

However I couldn’t find the unwanted Pantone spot swatch in my document and went through every paragraph style and character style trying to find where it was used. I didn’t have the linked art to see which piece of art might be bringing the swatch into my palette so I decided to delete everything to try to find it. I deleted all the art frames, all the paragraph styles, all the character styles, all the object styles, all the table and cell styles. I ended up with a document that only had guides in it, and that blasted swatch.

rogueswatch

The designer confirmed that there should be no spot colors in the final document. So I began looking for other methods of deletion. Based on several websites (none of which had the cognitive abilities of Professor Xavier) I created a set of steps that seem to work most of the time.

Step 1
Choose “Select All Unused” in the Swatches palette. You should be able to “Delete Swatch” by clicking the trash can icon. If it is greyed out like the screenshot above, then move on to the next step.

Step 2
Export your document as an Interchange Document. Open the .inx file you’ll find located on your hard drive. Try to delete the unused swatches again. Not feeling super-powered yet?

Step 3
Create a new InDesign file. Select all of the unused swatches and delete them. Grab your rogue swatch from your original file and drag it to this new document. If any other swatches come through with it (seems to happen for me in CS3), delete them. Create an empty frame and fill it with your rogue swatch. Export this file as a pdf. Place the pdf in your original file. Delete it. Your chances of being able to select the rogue swatch and delete it should be greater now. But still no? Ay yi yi! I know how you feel.

Step 4
Create an empty Illustrator file. Create a new swatch that has the exact same name as the rogue swatch, but the swatch makeup doesn’t matter as long as it does have a color applied. Make sure that it is saved as a spot color if your rogue swatch is spot, and process if your rogue is process. Save this as a .ai file and as a .pdf. Open your original InDesign file, place both elements on your page and delete them one at a time. You should now be able to delete the rogue swatch.

I sincerely hope you can delete the swatch. If you can’t, please, please contact me. I’d love to take your file and see if I can figure it out. Seriously! Cause my super-power? Total geekery.

Family Cookbook 2.0

Now that all our Easter eggs have been consumed, let’s continue on with that XML theme with a little project to illustrate the joy and pain of bringing old content into the brave new world of cross-media publishing. The goal is to take the files from old print project, languishing on some dusty CD in the basement, and give them new life as spiffy Web content.

The content we’re going to work with is a cookbook. And yes, I did hear that collective groan from across cyberspace. If you’ve read anything about XML and publishing, you know that all XML demos are based on cookbooks. I think it’s a law or something. Actually, I really did want to update the cookbook and put it online, so I grabbed it for this demo.

I’ll break the demo up over a few posts since it’s too much to digest in one sitting. It hurt to write that one, but I couldn’t help myself.

The cookbook was a personal project. I made it when my son Ethan was a baby, to say thanks for all the help everyone gave my wife and I at the time. I was also inspired by the memory of a great-grandmother, Nana Mac, a legendary cook who never wrote down any of her recipes.

plish-nanamac.jpg

Now they’re all gone with her. I wished that my kids could be connected in a some way, to the great people who came before them. So I sent out a request to all family members to submit their favorite recipes and any interesting stories that went along with them. I got a nice response, 54 recipes from 28 people.

I transferred all the recipes from hand-written index cards, or copied and pasted from e-mails into a Quark layout. Like my fellow Southeastern MA native, Emeril Lagasse, I kicked it up several notches. I probably went overboard, with not one but two indices, a forward and a dedication, and of course drop shadows on every page “burned” with ShadowCaster. I figured out the imposition and printed 30 copies of the pages on my Epson Stylus Color 740i, which matched my Bondi Blue iMac. The Epson still cranks out pages today. Never fed it an OEM ink cart either. The inkjet gods must be smiling on me. I bound the books, using a cordless drill and hand-bent staples. Ouch! Talk about old world craftsmanship! Could have used one of these sweet book staplers. Then again, maybe I should’ve just gone to Kinko’s. But the whole point was to do it all myself on the cheap. The book came out quite nicely, if you forgive the slight shingle of the pages, and the fact that I didn’t laminate the covers, so they get a bit smudgy in the kitchen.

plish-cookbookcover.jpg

I undertook this project in the spring of 2000. Those were the days when the wooly mammoth known as Quark XPress 4, roamed the Earth and dominated the publishing world with a 90% market share. Yes, there was a new thing called InDesign, but I laughed at it. Version 1.0 would launch, sort of. Everything else I tried to do with it caused it to crash. I mocked it as Illustrator with multiple pages. When InDesign 2.0 came out I quickly changed my tune. But that’s a story for different day.

Thus for our current project we have the dusty old Quark 4.04 file and a couple of pieces of art. Nowadays, I pretty much bleed Adobe Red (Pantone 485). I don’t own or know the versions of Quark XPress after 4.11. This is a problem for a few reasons, not the least of which is, if I upgrade all my machines to Leopard, I’ll be without Classic support, and thus without Quark. There is a workaround: have a partition running Tiger/Classic, but that’s like having to keep a second stereo in the living room to play your 8-track tape collection. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade. I must at least check out, if not actually buy XPress 7. I’m looking forward to it, but with the same feeling when you meet up with an old friend you haven’t seen in years: a mix of curiosity and unease. What’s changed? Will we still get along? Does he still remember the secret handshake (keyboard shortcut)? For now, we’ll attempt the Extreme Cookbook Makeover with InDesign CS3, Syncro Soft’s Oxygen, and Dreamweaver.

One last a stupid question: Why is it when I type “Dreamweaver”, I hear the song from ’70s? “Ooohh, dreeeeem weavahhh, I believe we can reach the morning liiight.” Maybe it was Wayne’s World that resurrected those dying neurons. But I am suspicious there’s also a K-Tel Records commercial playing endlessly in some dark corner of my mind. That would explain a lot. Hopefully my curse will not now become yours. OK, this blog is over 3000 words old, let’s finally do stuff.

CookBook Makeover

Step 1: The Conversion Drop Ye Olde XPresse File onto InDesign CS3. On my vintage G4, 40 seconds goes by before the Open progress bar appears. Tempting to go play on the Web, but in the interest of science I will ignore my ADD instincts and wait it out. For about a minute we get the “Converting Regular Spreads” message. Hmmm. What exactly is a “Regular” spread? Does this mean there are “Irregular” spreads? “Atypical” spreads? “Highly Unusual” spreads? I’d hate to have InDesign tell me it was converting “Unprecedented” spreads. Then again, that seems a little exciting. I have seen this dialog box a hundred times, without ever really comprehending it. Do I care enough to Google? Apparently so, and here’s the answer: “Regular” spreads are document pages, the ones that actually get printed in the book, as opposed to “Master” spreads which hold master pages. Hoping for something more interesting weren’t you? So was I, but we move on.

Next up, Warnings. “Shadow attribute not supported for characters.” OK, I don’t remember ever shadowing characters, but I’ll take your word for it, InDesign. Go on. “Missing Fonts.” No surprise here. Almost all the files I ever open were created at another time in another place, so this is my default state of existence. I was born missing fonts, man. I could load the entire Adobe Font Folio, add everything from Linotype, ITC, and ImageClub and somehow I’d still be missing FranklinGothicDemiCaramelMacciato.

What I really need is a preference like this:
plish-pinkenough.png

Alas there’s not, so we dismiss, and we’re in. Let’s take a look around.

plish-cookbookconvert.gif

All the recipes have the title and chef in inline text frames, like they did in the XPress file. To InDesign, that content is out of the flow of the story. So merging content is one hurdle to clear before we export the XML. Everything seems styled; that’s good. Thanks, Y2K self. Hmmm, the ingredients are in 2 columns. That might need to be cleaned up before I apply tags. There are a few scraps of whitespace trash lurking here and there, but I think we can make a go of it.

Since we’re starting with a converted XPress file, I am reminded of a neat InDesign feature which may be of some use to people. Normally if you choose InDesign > About InDesign… you get the lovely InDesign Purple (DIC 2618 or 40c100m) Credits window, with the version number. But if you add the Command key, you get an info-packed window called Adobe InDesign Component Information.

plish-idcomponent.gif

All the supertechy details of your document’s existence are laid bare, including whether or not it was converted from Quark XPress or PageMaker, all the versions of InDesign (including the build number) that touched the file, whether it is crash-recovered, opened with missing plug-ins, etc. It’s like doing a DNA test on your InDesign file. This info has helped me in the past with troubleshooting, in terms of hunting down what was causing a file to crash, and where in fact a file came from.

Note that like in the screen grab, Write Log File is grayed out until you save the document. If open this window with no document open, it still works, you just get the top of the dialog filled out with info about InDesign’s state for troubleshooting application problems instead of document problems.

OK, that’s all for now. Next time we’ll do text clean-up and tagging.