Automate cost-efficient processes through scripting
That Corona has a significant impact on any business no longer needs to be said. Since the outbreak, most of us were forced to question the workplace. No longer being in 1 physical location as a team, brought new challenges to every marketing department, editorial team and prepress environment.
Working from home became the new standard and IT departments had to shift up a gear. Everyone suddenly had to have VPN access, the necessary video conference tools such as Teams or Zoom had to be installed, colleagues needed access to central network locations, ERP, PIM systems and so on.
Also the known processes are now more than ever questioned. The physical separation of the workplace means that not all tasks can be carried out as naturally as before. Lower internet connection speeds and introduced security protocols often limit the user’s options. The available project budgets are also under more pressure than ever, which means that time-consuming repetitive actions that used to be done manually now suddenly have to be done automatically. But not only with existing projects are tasks scrutinized, also with new assignments additional thinking is now automatically provided to eliminate all manual and time-consuming steps as much as possible. Automation is often not only about saving costs or giving colleagues the space to focus on their core tasks, but also about preventing errors. Tasks performed using automated processes always follow the same logic, in the same way, usually faster and error-free.
2020 has become the year where digital transformation has received a boost in many companies. The Covid-19 pandemic is truly revolutionizing the ways we work and projects we take on. Editorial, marketing and prepress automation is now more than ever a must for those who want to support cost-effective, error-free, high-performing and robust teams. Scripts can be an important part of this, and with the advent of Node.js, a lot of options become readily available. Whether you choose to do it yourself or want to rely on a partner, high-performance solutions can support every creative team in performing repetitive actions faster and error-free. Would you like to know more about the possibilities for your team, or are you looking for a similar training? Don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts.
Adobe InDesign’s big brother: Adobe InDesign Server
Anyone working as a designer or marketer will undoubtedly be familiar with the Adobe InDesign program. Solid tools ensure that this application is one of the most exquisite solutions for print related challenges such as business cards, catalogs, product sheets, etc. For more than 15 years this application has been the default solution for all those who work professionally and creatively with page layout. Annual updates ensure a constant supply of new possibilities and features.
What is much less known is that Adobe InDesign also has a big brother, Adobe InDesign server. This robust solution has untamed performance for any graphics challenge.
InDesign desktop vs. InDesign server
What you could already deduce from the name, is that this big brother is intended to be installed on a central server or in the Cloud. The desktop version consists of a core engine on which a user-friendly user interface was added, allowing designers to visually build the most beautiful designs quickly and efficiently. The server version uses that same underlying powerful engine, but the front-end was replaced with a robust SOAP interface. This gateway allows developers to execute instructions on that same server through programming code. By removing that “ballast” that a user interface brings, a whole lot of performance is delivered in its place. In addition, the desktop version has the limitation that only one document at a time can be processed. Several instances of the server version can be activated simultaneously, which can then be addressed on the fly. This makes it possible to process several documents concurrently, as if you had several physical servers at your disposal.
So if you want to process thousands of documents within a limited amount of time, this solution is the right one for you.
If you want to generate documents in PDF from an ERP, PIM or your own business application and are looking for available technologies, you will often end up with one of the many free or commercial PDF modules. These often all have the same limitations in graphic possibilities or require an enormous amount of programming work.
Therein lies the strength of Adobe InDesign Server. Anyone who wants to generate documents automatically wants them to perfectly match the corporate branding. Whether they are technical sheets, catalogs or personalized documents such as invoices, they all have to reflect the corporate identity. So anyone who can rely on a designer can sleep on both ears. Designs developed by creatives can quickly be adopted by the development team. But even companies without the availability of creative professionals need not fear. Developers can work by themselves, creating new documents. The ability to use templates provides the necessary flexibility. Whether it is to modify existing documents, process them or generate new files, Adobe InDesign Server contains all the necessary features to include this without problems.
Often graphic studios and marketing teams have a large amount of time-consuming repetitive tasks, of which they can be relieved easily. Adobe InDesign Server has all the assets to be a solid solution in the creative automation process.
Also for those who develop an online shop or portal that offers personalized solutions – such as generating their own business cards or personalized labels, editing Adobe InDesign files online, placing print-related orders with real-time previews, downloading personalized brochures and catalogs – Adobe InDesign Server is the perfect solution.
Adobe InDesign Server is available for macOS and Windows. Note that system requirements depend on the number of instances used.
For the latest technical specifications, visit here.
Adobe InDesign Server licenses are available in different variants. Regardless of the solution chosen, they are renewable or terminable annually.
The 4 main licenses are:
- Premium license: Publicly available, internet or intranet based application with annual subscription
- Limited license: Internally available, (semi) automatic publishing solution, available within the own network with annual subscription
- Developer license: Release or testing of Adobe InDesign Server-based solutions by software developers, allowing them to evaluate the software. Live production is not allowed and all generated PDF files contain a watermark. This license is free with an “Adobe Technology Partner” or an “Adobe Enterprise Partner” membership
- Demo license: Free 90-day demo license that allows customers to test Adobe partner solutions.
Each form of license has its specific pricing. It is important to note that some software manufacturers that use Adobe InDesign Server in their solution have enforced special terms with Adobe for its use. So good advice is incredibly important to determine the right price.
Maybe you are looking for a solution to automatically process Adobe InDesign files, but there is no perfect match between the needs of your company and the features of this solution. Then there is an alternative available. Enfocus Switch offers the ability to quickly develop robust automations, without programming knowledge. This solution can integrate both an Adobe InDesign desktop and Adobe InDesign Server application into the roadmap of tasks to be performed. If you choose Adobe InDesign Desktop in combination with Enfocus Switch, the lack of simultaneous file processing – and thus lower processing speed – will be more than compensated by a user-friendly interface and a lower license cost.
Adobe InDesign Server is a graphically powerful Enterprise solution that handles large volumes of documents just fine. Because it handles Adobe InDesign documents originating from the desktop version flawlessly, it is the most appropriate solution for creating and processing graphic files quickly and automatically. Because the solution runs autonomously on a central server, tasks that might previously have been performed on local workstations can now be processed automatically in the background. As a result, efficiency gets a huge boost.
10 helpful tips on automating repetitive tasks
Anyone who often has to perform repetitive tasks knows that with the use of the right solutions, many tasks can be automated. This can save you enormous amounts of time and money.
Anyone who has been trying to find solutions to automate tasks for several decades may have started out with home-grown solutions such as “Quickkeys” or “AutoIT” to capture and execute screen actions. However, the highly accessible way to increase productivity was also its Achilles heel and often caused problems.
Now, many years later, automation has gained sufficient maturity in the form of robust server solutions that stand in stark contrast to the once popular client-side tools. Several powerful tools are available to all those who want to take steps to perform operations automatically. One such solution is Enfocus Switch, a solid application that after 15 years no longer needs to prove its worth.
What is Enfocus Switch?
Enfocus Switch is a modular workflow solution that allows repetitive tasks to be performed quickly and automatically. Setting up an automation is done in an intuitive and user-friendly application. Through different building blocks, a workflow is put together. Due to the simplicity of configuration, it is always possible to quickly adapt or expand an already existing flow.
Installation is incredibly fast and after a few minutes you can get started. Performing a complex setup or installation of database environments is not an issue. For both beginners and experienced users, the very accessible interface offers enough options to get started quickly. Often sufficient knowledge is present after a few days of training. With or without the guidance of a reseller, results can be achieved quickly. However, often important points of attention are overlooked that can have a significant impact.
We would therefore like to give you these 10 handy tips:
1. Organize your flows
A flow consists of different ‘flow elements’, individual steps that take up tasks and that can be connected to each other. It is important that you build your workflow by placing the elements in a logical order, preferably in maximum 2 directions. E.g. left to right and top to bottom. Flows that are worked out in all directions with overlapping connections quickly become very unclear and create unnecessary complexity. Also provide enough space between the flow elements to improve readability.
2. Use logical names
Logical names can prevent a lot of ambiguity. Give not only your flow, but also your flow elements and connections logical names. This increases the readability of your flow.
3. Use ‘Recycle bins’
One of the powerful flow element types is the ‘Recycle bin’. This element can not only automatically delete files, but also provide a temporary backup in different places in your flow. Do you want to know which files were processed at a certain place in your flow in the last 72 hours? Then add a ‘Recycle bin’ with an option to keep the files in that location for this duration.
4. Error handling
A flow can take on several tasks in succession. Those who build a flow often consider the optimal scenario: I get ‘this’ type of file, and ‘that’ needs to be done with it. But then the flow is put into production, and soon it turns out that the files received are not always identical to what we expected. And so our automation collapses like a house of cards.
A good flow not only performs operations, but also checks that what we received is what we expected. And so it may be that by adding all those additional validations, our flow becomes many times more complex than initially anticipated. It is important to always ask the question: what can go wrong? And include all those scenarios in the flow.
However, ‘Error detection’ is one side of the coin. The other side is ‘Error handling’. How do we escalate any errors? A possible solution for this is to automatically send an email to the responsible person that not only notifies him or her, but also gives an accurate description of the problem.
5. Document your flow
Flows can do their job just fine for years without performing further modification. Over time, it is not always clear anymore what the function of the worked out solutions was. In each flow element, you can add information in the Description field. It is important that this information is always maintained, and that every change in the flow is worked out again in the documentation.
6. Use Switch apps
As we know from other applications, there is also a kiosk available for Enfocus Switch with a nice selection of free and paid modules that add additional functionality. Should additional needs arise, perhaps a solution can be found quickly through this channel.
7. Use scripts
8. Use API’s and external apps
Those who want to process tasks that use live data from other applications can also turn to Switch. If your ERP, PIM, DAM, … systems have an API (Application Program Interface), then it can probably be addressed via Switch. If your application doesn’t have an API, but uses a database environment such as MySQL or Postgress, then it can be addressed directly. A whole range of graphical programs can also be integrated into a flow.
9. Backup your flows
Building flows can be incredibly fast. However, sometimes working out the right solution takes more time. Taking a backup of a flow when making changes should not be overlooked. Sometimes you want to go back to a previous version and then a backup is super handy. Should problems occur with your server, a recent backup is always a peace of mind.
10. Monitor your flows
“Measuring is knowing.” Enfocus Switch includes by default a web-based dashboard module that can be custom configured. This way, you always have a real-time overview of the status of your files.