Last week during the InDesign Conference: Master Class in Seattle, one of the seminars I presented was called "Repurposing: Print to Web." If there ever was an exercise in frustration, it was trying to come up with content for this seminar. I spent weeks fretting about it, scouring the web for an answer that wasn't there.
How do you get content that's sitting in a regular InDesign layout file out onto a web site? Other than making a downloadable PDF? Or copying and pasting text from frames to text editors?
InDesign v2 (not CS2, I mean circa 2002 version 2) had an Export to HTML feature that was dropped in CS and stayed dropped in CS2, with nothing to replace it. (Except Package for GoLive, which is a nightmare. And I love GoLive, so I've tried, believe me.)
Oh, and we have XML, which is not quite the same thing, but it's got that "ML" in there so you think it should help. Have you tried it? It doesn't help. Well, not without a phalanx of content management consultants and programmers at your side, armed with scripts and tags and XSLTs and the Book of Runes and holy water just in case.
I was whining about this with a friend at the conference, wondering what I could possibly show people during the session that they didn't already know or hadn't already tried. He joked (joked, since the conference took place *at* Adobe's campus in Seattle) that I should demo converting an InDesign document to QuarkXPress with Markzware's ID2Q plug-in:
.. then convert the Quark layout from print to web by changing the Layout properties. Hey, I thought about it! I was desperate!
But in the end, I didn't do that, because I've tried it before, and Quark-generated web pages (especially those that started life as a print project) need a LOT of work if you're trying to get that content into an existing web site with its own CSS. I once spent ten hours with XPress trying to wrestle a converted annual report into submission before I admitted defeat and went the copy/paste route. It was tedious, but much faster, in the end.
XML Does Save for Web
One thing that I showed during that session that was actually worth something, I think, was how a mere mortal (a print designer, in other words) could use InDesign's XML features to at least get the graphics in web-ready state.
Yes, you could collect all your placed images via File > Package, and then run them through a real Save for Web feature (in Photoshop, Illustrator or GoLive) one by one to get optimized GIFs and JPEGs. The problem, besides the extra work, is that often what you want for the web site are the graphics as they appear in your layout, after you've cropped and scaled them, applied transparency, hidden layers via Object > Object Layer Options, and so on.
Guess what: You can do this with XML. Very simply! You don't need to know anything about XML to do so, either. Basically, you just tag your images, then export the XML. You don't even have to look at the XML file … just find the images folder that it creates, and your JPEGs and GIFs will be in there.
Here are the detailed steps (yes, one day I'll include screen shots … in the meantime I'll just try to be very clear):
1. Open the Tags palette from InDesign's Window menu.
2. Create a new tag called "image" (choose New Tag from the palette's menu or click the New icon at the bottom).
3. Zoom out so you can see a full spread or two at a time, and with the Selection tool, shift-click all the images you want to export as GIF or JPEG. You'll have to do this for each spread.
4. With the images selected, click the "image" tag in your Tags palette. (If "Show Tagged Frames" is turned on in your View > Structure submenu, you'll see the frames gain a non-printing colored border as you tag them.) If you accidentally tagged a text frame or something, just click the Untag button in the Tags palette.
5. Repeat for the other spreads until all the images you want to export are tagged with "image."
6. Choose File > Export and in the Format dropdown menu, choose XML.
7. The Export dialog box asks what to name and where to save the XML file. You're not actually going to use this file, so just note where it's saving it. That's where your images folder will be, too. Click the OK button.
8. In the resulting Export XML dialog box (nice and small), ignore the General settings and click on the Image button. In Image Options, choose Optimized Formatted Images if you want to retain the modifications you applied to the images in your layout. Otherwise, choose Optimized Original Images to make GIFs and JPEGs out of the original image files. In GIF and JPEG options, choose the settings you'd like applied.
9. Click the Export button, and bang! Your images are good to go. Where are they? They're in a folder called "images" in the same folder you saved the XML file to (in step 7). You can toss out the XML file, you don't need it.
Okay, so it's not quite Save for Web, but it's pretty close! And with an image-heavy publication, this could save you a ton of time.