14 InDesign Features Sitting in Your CD Case

August 19, 2004 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

InDesign CS users, did you ever wish ID could create crop marks around a selection? Export all the stories in a document to text files with one click? Do Illustrator effects like Punk, Bloat and Twirl? Fill a frame with a bunch of shapes, all randomly sized, filled, stroked and rotated? Clean up a text file? Automatically add ruler guides around the edges and center point of a frame? Change an ellipse to a rectangle and vice versa?

No need to file a feature request, it already can do all these things, and a few more. Just open InDesign's Scripts palette (Window -> Scripting -> Scripts) and double-click the script that provides the feature.

I'll wait while you check it out …

Back so soon? I knew it. Betcha your Scripts palette is empty. Most ID users' Scripts palettes are, in my experience.

Although these free scripts (fourteen total) are included with the purchase of InDesign, they don't get installed by default. You have to install them yourself from the installation CD. The good news is that it's easy to do so, and you don't have to quit InDesign first or anything.

Add the Scripts

1. Find the InDesign CS installation CD. If you bought the Creative Suite (multiple CDs), ignore the Install CDs, and look for one called Resources and Extras that came with the set.

2. Load the CD and look for a folder called Adobe Technical Info. Inside there you should find this folder path (the path may be slightly different depending on which CD you've got): InDesign CS -> Scripting -> Adobe Sample Scripts -> JavaScript -> a bunch of JavaScript files all ending in ".js".
Depending on your platform, you'll also see a folder containing the same scripts specific to Windows (VB Script) or Macintosh (AppleScript). The JavaScript ones are cross-platform, so I'll use them for this example. In the end they work the same.

3. Select all the JavaScript files on the CD, then right-click (or Control-click) and choose Copy.

4. In the Finder or Windows Explorer, navigate to your Adobe InDesign CS program folder, the one that's installed on your hard drive. Open that up, and open the Presets folder inside. You should see a folder called Scripts, but if it's not there, go ahead and create one. Open the Scripts folder, right-click/Control-click, and choose Paste to copy the scripts into it.

Now, check your Scripts palette in InDesign again. Voila! There they be.

You'll have to experiment with how they work — try selecting something and double-clicking a script in the palette to see what sort of dialog box opens up. Adobe included very little documentation for end users. It appears they exist more for teaching purposes, as "proofs of concept" for people who want to learn how to script InDesign. But they work perfectly fine, even if you're not interested in that.

Oh, But I AM Interested in That

If you look on the CD in the Scripting folder, you'll find a monstrous document, InDesign CS Scripting Guide.pdf (1800 and some pages!) to help you out. Copy it over to your hard drive.

Don't freak out at the size, it's that large mainly because it covers much of the same material three times over: Scripting InDesign with AppleScript, with VBScript, and with JavaScript. The author of the guide is Olav Martin Kvern, Adobe staffer/wizard who's the co-author of Real World InDesign CS (which also does a great job of covering scripting), among many other books. Be glad Olav wrote it, that means the Scripting Guide is understandable to "normal" people, non-scripters like you and me.

Must Have More

Many more InDesign scripts, most of them free as well, can be downloaded from Adobe Studio:

I found a great one there that exports a series of single-page PDFs from a multiple page ID document.

If you have questions about the scripts, or want to try rolling some of your own, the very best resource is the InDesign Scripting forum (combined Mac and Windows) on Adobe's web site:

Olav hangs out there, as do many other scripting gurus, and they're generous with their time and expertise. Pretty cool to get help from the best, for free.

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