Creative Communication publishes students’ poems and essays from all fifty States of the United States. They receive many thousands of entries through their website and other sources, and publish hundreds of books a year.
The data is all input into a database, and until recently it was processed by a custom application and output in Quark Express.
For various reasons, they decided to move their process over to InDesign, and they approached us to make the transition efficient and beneficial. They had quite a few issues:
- Their original process required a lot of manual work for each book including better fitting of the text than what they got from their custom import.
- The import was a multi-step process, and they wanted it to be more efficient.
- They were not completely comfortable yet in InDesign, and they were looking for someone who could help them make the right decisions in properly setting up their documents.
- They were hoping to minimize the number of pages in the books, because each page saved represented huge savings in printing.
We were happy to be able to help them on all counts and we even connected them with a PHP/SQL programmer to improve their web database system.
We helped provide them with the following:
- Reference to a php programmer for their web programming
- Creation of correct template files
- Consultation on font purchases
- A script which took the data exported from their database and provided them with a completely formatted InDesign file.
The script we wrote for them was extremely intelligent:
- It brought all the data in from the data file and formatted all the text.
- It varied and maximized the column widths to fit as much text into the column space as possible while keeping typographic quality.
- It calculated how much space each article occupied and pieced the text together like a puzzle.
- It shuffled the pages to give a random look.
- The script calculated all the sizing and formatting necessary fro the template used.
The benefits of our solution over the application they had originally was the following:
- The script we provided is a complete automation solution. No manual intervention is required. This saved them a tremendous amount of work.
- The typographic quality of the books are vastly superior to what they achieved with their original system.
- We were able to produce books that were up to about 5% smaller than what they achieved previously. This resulted in considerable savings.
- Since the script made all the necessary calculations from the document template, adapting it to other uses is as simple as changing an InDesign document. This negates the need to reprogram the script as their needs change.
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