InDesign Scripting, InDesign Extension, InDesign Plugin: What They Are and How They Help Graphic Designers, Marketing Managers, and Managing Directors in Everyday Publishing Work.

What is InDesign scripting?

Scripting in Adobe InDesign is a method of programmatically using functions in InDesign. An InDesign script consists of JavaScript code. When Adobe InDesign executes the program code, tasks within InDesign are carried out automatically. Print publishing processes can be automated by using InDesign scripting.

For example, an InDesign script can create a text frame, fill the text frame with text, and assign the text a paragraph format. Likewise, more complex tasks are possible; for example, automatically generating data sheets, price books, e-catalogs, or even product catalogs hundreds of pages long.

For whom is InDesign scripting intended?

For graphic designers working on print projects, InDesign scripting saves time and increases the quality of the produced materials in everyday work life. Repetitive tasks can be completed rapidly without errors through InDesign scripting. Hundreds or even thousands of images, layouts, prices, or other elements in InDesign can be customized or updated in one workflow. This approach boosts productivity while allowing more time for creativity. Last-minute changes (e.g., updating prices) are easier to do as well.

Marketing managers can apply InDesign scripting to increase the recognition value of the brand by producing catalogs and other marketing materials that conform to corporate identity (CI) guidelines. Scripting enables the reuse of available data from a product information management (PIM) system or media asset management (MAM) system, increasing efficiency and accuracy when creating marketing collateral.

InDesign scripting increases the degree of automation of print publishing processes. Managing directors and CEOs can apply InDesign scripting to increase the quality of customer communication through standardizing and reducing errors. Higher quality leads to lower production costs of catalogs and price sheets, reducing time to market as well. In addition, InDesign scripting guarantees the currency of content (prices, item data), which supports sales and distribution over the long term.

What is an InDesign extension? What is an InDesign plugin?

An InDesign extension is a collection of InDesign scripts together with a user interface. The user interface allows a graphic designer (Adobe InDesign user) to control various functions the script can perform.

To installing an InDesign extension in Mac or Windows, a program package is copied into a particular directory. After this, the extension is available for use in Adobe InDesign in the menu “Window” > “Extensions.”

An InDesign plugin is developed in C++ code. An InDesign plugin extends the functionality of InDesign by adding functions that are not standardly available in InDesign. In contrast, InDesign extensions always use functions in InDesign that ship with the standard InDesign product. Because Adobe InDesign runs an InDesign plugin faster than it runs an InDesign script, an InDesign plugin is the better choice when the speed of execution (i.e., performance) is of utmost priority. However, the effort needed to develop an InDesign plugin is higher than that of an InDesign extension.

Which programming language is used to develop InDesign extensions?

The user interface of Adobe InDesign extensions is developed with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The script itself is developed using a special Adobe JavaScript dialect that is designed for access data in the InDesign Document Object Model (DOM).

Since December 2022, InDesign has also partially supported the Adobe Unified Extensibility Platform (UXP). Adobe UXP is a platform for Adobe Creative Cloud applications, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe XD. T+S is closely monitoring the further development of UXP for Adobe InDesign. As soon as the integration of UXP in InDesign has reached a point at which it can meet most of the needs of our customers, T+S will offer InDesign extensions developed with Adobe UXP.

Many possibilities to automate publishing workflows

InDesign scripting offers innumerable possibilities of automating and accelerating publishing workflows while removing errors and sources of error. If you would like to find out how you can successfully apply InDesign scripting and InDesign extensions in your publishing processes, please contact T+S.

Find out how you can successfully apply InDesign scripting and InDesign extensions in your publishing processes.

Discuss your needs with our expert, Michael Tschuschner.

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