Friday, April 13, 2007


I attended an InDesign seminar today. It was put on by NAPP and taught by Taz Tally. It was very well done. I was thinking about the favorite things I learned today and in keeping with my previous post of the little (but important) things, I'll post a couple little things which make a big difference.

  • In the Preferences>Type, you can set a preference for text to be linked with Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. For someone who has written programming books, I can tell you this is huge.

  • Again in Preferences>Type, the Text Only setting when pasting text.

  • Using the Story Editor to view and edit just the text in a text box. It even shows you which text is overflowing. What a nice feature to be able to focus on the text when you need to.

  • Under Windows>Output select the Separations Preview. Very cool.

  • Under New Paragraph Styles>Drop Caps and Nested Styles check out the Nested Styles.

  • The Table>Convert Text to Table... feature. Just select some delimited text and apply it and you have a table.

It was a great seminar at a very reasonable price ($79 for NAPP members). I was surprised at the number of people that showed up (450-500). The workbook was followed pretty closely, so it will be a useful reference/reminder for what was covered.

When I was an instructor at Sun, I suggested more than once that the 5-day classes were too expensive and too much of a time time commitment for a majority of potential students. Given the enormous turnout for this seminar, I think my feelings are justified. Not only was it only one day, but it had no labs. He just delivered the information (no questions during the lecture either). That lecture only could have been a negative but it was very efficient and I think made effective by the high quality of the workbook. I've been review the book and my notes this evening and trying out some of the material demonstrated. I plan to attend the next seminar NAPP puts on in Denver.

The Little Things Mean Alot

I was working on an animation in Flash the other day. Traditional frame-based animation in Flash is not something I normally do. I was starting to get irritated with having to constantly use the mouse to advance to the next frame so I started looking for a short cut. After looking through the menus and the list of shortcuts you can redefine, I couldn't find anything. I posted to a group of Flash users and within minutes I had two replies... you use the comma and period keys to go to the previous and next frames, respectively. After learning that, I had a vague memory of going through a Flash 2 or 3 tutorial and learning that, could they have been there since v2?

Now let's see if I can help anyone else out with a really obscure key. I've been doing a lot of drawing in Flash recently and I don't know what I'd do without knowledge of the "G" key. When drawing, it is very useful to have snapping on so existing points can be easily connected, aligned, or merged by snapping them together. But often snapping is a problem when you're trying to move to a specific spot. Well if you press and hold the "G" while moving the point snapping will be temporarily disabled. I can say enough how useful this has been. I have to credit the book Illustrating with Macromedia Flash Professional 8 for showing me the light (which I first mentioned here).

Saturday, April 07, 2007

ExtendScript Toolkit

I don't know how I never knew about this, but the ExtendScript Toolkit that comes with the Adobe Creative Suite is really useful. I've done some scripting of Illustrator in the past and it took a bit of work looking up the various objects and their relationships. With the ExetendScript Toolkit you can see and examine the objects that are active, drill down into them, to make your script writing much easier. It is a debugger to boot.

Note that the Adobe Updater does NOT update the ExtendScript Toolkit. After discovering it, I did a quick web search and found that the latest version is 1.0.3 and I was running 1.0 (even after running the Adobe Updater).

You can download the latest version here.