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How to build Scripting in Indesign?

To one degree or another, anything you can do manually in InDesign can be automated via a script. Such scripts can be written in Mac-only AppleScript, Windows-only Visual Basic Script, or cross-platform JavaScript. They can do something as simple as preload the Swatches panel with your corporate colors and they can perform highly complex, multistaged operations such as turning a blank page into a press-ready layout. Using scripts, InDesign can also be connected to other applications—for example, data from a spreadsheet or database can be sucked into InDesign and laid out automatically. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and coding skill. Covering what can be done and how to do it is far beyond the space available in this tome. Entire books have been written on the subject, and Adobe wrote one of the best—the InDesign CS3
Scripting Guide. There are three variations of the InDesign CS3 Scripting Guide: one each for Apple- Script, Visual Basic Script, and JavaScript. You’ll find them as PDFs in the Adobe InDesign Documentation\ cripting folder on the InDesign or Creative Suite DVD. If you don’t have your DVDs on hand, you can also grab copies free of charge from
You’ll want to begin with the Adobe Intro to Scripting, progress through InDesign CS3 Scripting Tutorial, and use the JavaScript Tools Guide CS3 and the three script-language-specific versions of the InDesign CS3 Scripting Guide for reference. Accompanying the scripting tutorial and reference documents are hundreds of sample scripts that do everything from creating printer presets to unlinking text frames, placing text files to laying out events calendars. In addition to those, there are hundreds of other scripts floating around the Internet, most created by other InDesign users to address specific workflow needs. A great place to look for them is the Adobe Exchange at There you can find many scripts (and more!) for InDesign and every other Adobe product. I would hope you’ll find ones that function on your platform.
When you’ve written or obtained scripts you’d like to use, you have to give them to InDesign. Do that by closing InDesign and copying the scripts to the correct location for your platform: Mac OS X: Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version 5.0/Scripts Windows XP: Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Adobe\InDesign\ Version 5.0\Scripts Windows Vista: Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\InDesign\Version 5.0\Scripts When you relaunch InDesign, the scripts will be available in the User group on the Scripts panel, which can be opened by choosing Window >Automation >Scripts. Under Application in the panel, you’ll also see numerous sample scripts that are not in the locations noted above. If you want to delete these, you’ll find them in the InDesign application installation location:
Mac OS X: Applications/InDesign CS3/Scripts/Scripts Panel/Samples Windows: Program Files\Adobe InDesign CS3\Scripts\Scripts Panel\Samples To execute a script on the Scripts panel, double-click it.
Note that many scripts function only when a specific condition has been met—such as pre-selecting certain types of objects or highlighting text. Indeed, many scripts that manipulate or work from objects require that objects be named. This is where the Script Label panel comes into play. The Script Label panel (Window >Automation >Scripts) has no buttons, no flyout menu, and, apparently, nothing else. Actually, the entire panel is a single text field. Select an object on the page or pasteboard, click once inside the Script Label panel, and begin typing a name or label for the object. That’s it. That’s all it does. But, once named with the label a script expects, the object can then be manipulated by the script.
Script writers can attach scripts and scripted functions to InDesign documents and to menu commands; doing so, while incredibly powerful, represents a security risk. Consequently, Adobe shipped InDesign with the ability to run such scripts turned off. In InDesign’s preferences, on the General pane, the Enable Attached Scripts option is that control. To allow the execution of scripts attached to documents, check Enable Attached Scripts.


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