myFabulousAgent – the technology explained

The XML import function can simply be called up using the menu item and Adobe InDesign imports the XML into an open template or InDesign file. The XML is then available in the document. Within Adobe InDesign, the XML can be assigned to individual frames using Drag&Drop or paragraph styles and fonts can be assigned to individual XML elements. Recognition of tables in CALS format is also available (from version Adobe InDesign CS4).

This approach is helpful for single and non-recurring operations and enables you to use XML content and Adobe InDesign with ease.

Automation of the XML import in Adobe InDesign

Further support is also available beyond the approach described so far. Adobe has used a dedicated namespace aid and/or aid5 (from Adobe InDesign CS4) for this in order to provide some interesting automation features.

If you assign an attribute aid:pstyle to an element and specify an existing paragraph style in the InDesign document as an attribute value, this paragraph style is automatically assigned during the XML import.

Other such elements also exist, for example, aid:cstyle for assigning fonts or aid:table for assigning a table. The attribute href is an exception. This attribute is used to assign images.

XSLT, XML and Adobe InDesign

The attributions, such as aid:pstyle, aid:cstyle etc., can be easily integrated into the existing XML using an XSLT stylesheet. This XSLT stylesheet can either be called up outside of Adobe InDesign or the XSLT can be specified directly in the import dialogue of Adobe InDesign. This means assignment can be carried out automatically depending on the context.

This XML import saves you manual assignment. If you import this XML into Adobe InDesign, you will still be disappointed, however, because there is no automatic assignment to frames, no creation of new pages, no checking for overset, no scaling of images, etc.

XML import in Adobe InDesign – the standard

The XML import concept started by Adobe InDesign has several strengths as it enables you to react to XML structures in diverse ways. The separation between the graphics specialist, designer and XML structure remains. This led to Acolada taking up this concept and developing it further.

Today, numerous new functions are available to make automation of XML and Adobe InDesign viable.

These add-ons include functions that assign a text to a frame or assign an image to a frame and, at the same time, change the size of the image or frame and assign an object style. For this, Acolada introduced a new namespace with ac.

This means the command ac:layer=”Bild” assigns the element the information that this element should be output on the image InDesign layer.

A check of text flow has also been implemented. The add-on checks whether there is overset in a frame, and if so, lets this overset flow through to another frame on the next page. Here, both of the text frames are of course linked.

Additional functions to check the text flow

The most important function when importing XML in Adobe InDesign is checking the flow on a page or across pages.

Here, not only is the overset check available, but also handling frames in relation to each other.

We call this function dynamic frames. Dynamic frames calculate their size depending on the placement and size of other frames on the page. This means an image can be any size and the image caption will be placed directly underneath the image.

Another application is demonstrated by a table of technical data which is to appear directly below a product photo.

These automatic features are solved with the dynamic frames function. This intervenes during the XML import in Adobe InDesign directly and checks the content and required frame sizes.

Check table layouts dynamically

Special functions are also available for tables. These can influence the width of columns depending on the content of a cell. Here, the widths of the columns can be defined in a fixed or dynamic manner. They can be calculated from an interval or from the required number of lines within the cell dynamically. This means tables can automatically adjust to the environment and be automatically optimised to the layout and width of the frame. This option saves a considerable amount of time in the post-layout.

XML add-ons for Adobe InDesign

What do I need for this?

You will need an InDesign plug-in from Acolada, which is currently available for the versions InDesign CS6 to InDesign CC 2019. This plug-in expands the Adobe InDesign XML functions by the functions described. It also ensures that you are able to export the XML out of Adobe InDesign again in order to use it for translation processes or further production in a modified or corrected form.

The plug-in can of course also be used integrated in the Sirius CMS XML authoring system.

Catalogues, technical documentation, textbooks, magazines using Adobe InDesign

Application areas for the XML plug-in for the XML import function in Adobe InDesign

The plug-in was originally designed for the field of catalogues and therefore meets the highest requirements when it comes to automation and flexibility. Using the XML interface, automated catalogue applications can be created and improved for product information systems (PIM) and data management systems (SAP, MDM). Today, many databases have XML export interfaces. This XML export can then be used as the import format for the XML import into Adobe InDesign.

Talk on the topic of XML imports and InDesign

Download the following talk to find out more about the XML import using Adobe InDesign: Download talk about Adobe InDesign and XML imports in technical editing