[InDesign automatisieren – Keine Angst vor Skripting, GREP & Co, by Gregor Fellenz, dpunkt.verlag, 2015, €29.99.]

War on Time-Consuming Tasks

As a developer, trainer and project manager involved in print and digital publishing workflows for ten years, Gregor Fellenz attended radical transformations in his area of expertise, notably the emergence of strong needs in optimizing, structuring and automating. While fifteen years ago we could still create and manage layouts in a sequential way without worrying about data processing and digital devices, no publisher today can ignore cross-media issues.

Dealing with Web or EPUB devices, for example, requires a deep control on document models (DOM hierarchy, XML or IDLM specifications, etc.) and therefore new skills and tools for manipulating the underlying components. Automating tasks was a luxury in the past, it is now a necessity.

That is the starting point of Gregor's book, which deliberately focuses on the most pragmatic aspects of InDesign automation, including XML processing, GREP tricks and, of course, scripting.

A Great Introduction to InDesign Programing

“InDesign automatisieren” is organized around three perfectly balanced sections, of about 100 pages each: Getting started with automation, InDesign programing with JavaScript/ExtendScript, and Automation in practice.

Although I am not able to assess the educational content of the book—because of the language barrier—I am still very impressed by how the author has distributed and presented the key stakes, from the basics to more advanced notions, and always using examples, screenshots, graphics, or short JS codes to illustrate the point.

Two pages from the book highlighting its practicality.

In this regard, the InDesign Object Model chapter (“InDesign-Objektmodell”, p. 150-208) is full of teaching tips that help the reader to get into a very dense universe. The document hierarchy is first shown as a tree, then classes, methods and properties are gradually unveiled as the details are drawn.

The cookbook part (third section) provides a lot of valuable scripts that make life easier, including GREP-oriented snippets and daily routines involving either footnotes, tables, graphics, documents or external files. An entire chapter is dedicated to a Word-based workflow (importing, styling, indexing) while the final chapters specifically address EPUB and XML issues.

Note. — The book officially deals with CS3 to CS6 Scripting DOM, but most scripts will run with CC as well, since the author focuses on the core infrastructure.

All provided scripts are carefully documented and most of the technical material is mirrored on the book website, including a full GREP reference (PDF).

I also have to mention that Gregor Fellenz is very active in the InDesign scripting community. He has made a lot of amazing resources freely available, such as his InDesign ExtendScript API or this “Selected List of InDesign Scripting Resources”. Just for these reasons beginner and intermediate InDesign programmers owe him a debt of gratitude.

So what is sorely lacking in “InDesign automatisieren”?
A translation into English!

• Details and ordering: www.indesignjs.de

• Scripts and additions: github.com/grefel/indesignjs