Creating assignments in InDesign
Video: Creating assignments in InDesignUsing an assignment based Workflow with Adobe InCopy and InDesign is in many ways more automated than using a layout- based workflow, because that assignments panel that we've been working with actually has a lot of commands that are related to creating assignments which we haven't yet done. An assignment is subset of an entire layout. If you imagine in this little diagram that the layout is this long document and from that long document the designer can export multiple individual assignments and each assignment just needs to be as large as one single spread from that long document, then in that way these assignments are faster to open up over the network, the designer has the option of keeping that layout on their local computer, which some especially Mac- based designers prefer, rather than working over the network, and as I said, Adobe InDesign and InCopy have automated ways of creating files and folders that are based on the presumption that you are using an assignment based Workflow.
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In Collaborative Workflows with InDesign and InCopy Anne-Marie Concepción shows how Adobe InCopy and InDesign work together, helping editors and designers collaborate on publications, and save time and money, with no additional hardware, software, or expensive publication management systems. This course shows how to set up for the workflow, how to address cross-platform Mac and Windows issues when working in a mixed environment, how to work with remote writers and designers, and how to integrate with Microsoft Word. Exercise files are included with the course.
- Setting up projects and users on a local network
- Using e-mail-based assignments and Dropbox to manage remote users
- Copyfitting and formatting text
- Using advanced editing tools
- Working with paragraph, character, and table styles
- Tracking changes in InCopy and InDesign
- Creating cross-references and hyperlinks
- Creating InCopy templates
- Combining InCopy with Microsoft Word
- Inserting and formatting images
- Reviewing features specific to InDesign
Creating assignments in InDesign
Using an assignment based Workflow with Adobe InCopy and InDesign is in many ways more automated than using a layout- based workflow, because that assignments panel that we've been working with actually has a lot of commands that are related to creating assignments which we haven't yet done. An assignment is subset of an entire layout. If you imagine in this little diagram that the layout is this long document and from that long document the designer can export multiple individual assignments and each assignment just needs to be as large as one single spread from that long document, then in that way these assignments are faster to open up over the network, the designer has the option of keeping that layout on their local computer, which some especially Mac- based designers prefer, rather than working over the network, and as I said, Adobe InDesign and InCopy have automated ways of creating files and folders that are based on the presumption that you are using an assignment based Workflow.
As I've mentioned a few times already, I actually prefer a layout-based workflow in most cases simply because it's just simpler and more straightforward. You just have one InDesign file that everybody works off of. Using an assignment based workflow has many advantages and it is a workflow that you may want to use at your publication. I think it's easier to understand what assignments are if I actually show you them. So, let's jump over to InDesign. Here we have our favorites catalog, all right, this is the full catalog for Hansel&Petal and no stories are in the workflow yet.
So you know how with the layout-based workflow what we did was we would open up the assignments panel and drag and drop stories onto Unassigned InCopy Content, or we would use the Edit menu and choose InCopy down to Export and export everything or everything on a layer or the selection and so on, and then we'd have to name the stories and create the folder to store them and so one. Well, we take a different tact and it's actually a lot faster, if you're using an assignment-based workflow instead. So, actually the fastest way to do this would be, well, let's start out with showing you different ways to create the assignment.
For example, on this page, let's say that I wanted to create an assignment that was only this spread. An author, using InCopy could open just this spread over the network. I'm going to start out by selecting a few of the stories. We can always add more stories later. Selecting these stories and then dragging them not to that category on the top, but down here onto the New icon which stands for create new assignment. When I do that, the New Assignment dialog box opens up.
I'm going to call this openingspread. You can choose to enter in here the name of the editor to whom it's assigned, but you don't have to, you can leave it empty if you'd like. It's actually more of a use for the designer to keep track of who was originally assigned to work on what. So, I'm going to go ahead and say this is for Joe. The color of the assignment has nothing to do with the color for Joe, the InCopy user. It's just a visual cue for this assignment, as we'll see later on. But pay very close attention to what it's doing down here. It's going to create assignment file, a new file type that we haven't seen yet that ends with the extension ICMA.
When it creates the assignment file, it puts it into a subfolder in the project folder, and the subfolder is expressly for holding the project's assignments, the ICMA files. If it doesn't find an assignment folder there, InDesign will create one. So, if you see, it's going to create a folder called HanselandPetal_Catalog, that was the layout name, assignments. We're going to accept the default type of assignment, Assigned Spreads, and just click OK. We get the same alert about saving the InDesign document as we did for our layout-based workflow.
You can see that InDesign has created an assignment and associated these linked InCopy stories with that assignment. It automatically name these stories, starting with the name of the layout and adding a little bit of the copy found in each frame to make them unique and it's associated them with this assignment, which is assigned to Joe. Now let's take a look at what's happening on our server. Here is our server's project folder. The project folder is called 14_01_createassignments. Here is the catalog file that we opened up and the lock file that InDesign created when InDesign opened up the InDesign file.
Here is the assignments subfolder that InDesign just created solely because we created that single assignment. Here is the actual assignment, openingspread.icma, and then a folder where it exported and saved the linked InCopy files. So see we didn't need to create a stories folder to store these. InDesign is taking care of all the backend file management for us because we're using an assignment-based workflow. Let's go back to InDesign and create a couple more assignments. Before we do that I notice that there were some stories on the spread that I forgot to associate with this assignment.
To do that I'm just going to select these by Shift+clicking them with the Selection tool and then drag and drop them on the name of the assignment. I want to add these stories to the assignment. I release the mouse button, I get the alert to save it, and I'm done. You see how fast that was? InDesign automatically knew where to save that content and it's just saying, well, now that you have changed this assignment, you've changed which stories are associated with it, you should update it. So, I'm going to right-click and choose Update Selected Assignments. You can also just select Update Selected Assignments from the Assignments panel menu.
I'm going to collapse that assignment so we don't look at all those stories and go onto the next spread and we're dragging and dropping here but I want to call your attention to the fact you could just go to the Edit menu down to InCopy and choose Add Selection to Assignment, Add layer to Assignment and so on. All the commands that you can do from the Export menu, you can do for an assignment as well. So you would get your choice of adding the selected text and image frames, whatever you have selected, to the openingspread assignment or to create a New assignment at the same time that you export stories.
You can do that for all the content on a layer, all stories or all graphics. Okay, for the second assignment, I'll go ahead and select just a couple frames and I'll use one of those commands from the Edit menu, Edit > InCopy > Add Selection to Assignment, this time we're going to create a new assignment from the selection, we'll call it middlespread, and we'll assign this to Fran and this time instead of the Assigned Spreads we're going to choose Placeholder Frames. And you'll see what that looks like when we open these up in InCopy, which we'll do in a second, and click OK to save this and there is the second assignment and then let's do this assignment.
We'll select just a few of these on the left-hand side of the page and we'll drag and drop onto the New Assignment icon and we'll call this lastspread, assign these to Kirk, and choose the third option we haven't seen yet, All Spreads. So these are all good to go. Now, you can combine an assignment- based workflow with a layout-based workflow. If this layout were sitting on the server, any InCopy user could open up the layout and any story that has the Workflow icon could be checked out, even though they're no longer a free agent, they're no longer in Unassigned InCopy Content, just because they belong to an assignment doesn't mean anybody else can open up the InDesign layout and check it out.
In that way people with slow computers, you can create an assignment for them that's just a single spread and everybody else could for example use the layout-based workflow. You can also mix and match, like if I took a frame like say from here and I dragged it out to Unassigned InCopy Content because I wasn't sure who is going to be working on this, whenever you do that, you do need to say where you're going to store this story. I'll just call it new. You also have to say where to save it. If you are exporting stories manually, in addition to creating assignments, you should still save all of the exported content to the same folder.
So where does InDesign put all these files, do you remember? It's inside that assignment subfolder in the content folder, all right, and so we have the story down here as well. So this is not associated with any one of these assignments. In other words the only way somebody would be able to check it out would be if they open up the layout. If you want to associate it with an assignment, all you need to do is drag and drop it anywhere inside that assignment list. Whenever you do that, you have actually changed that ICMA file, that assignment file, so you need to update the assignment. Let's check out what's happening in our server.
So here are the three assignments that we've created and then all the content for all the assignments are altogether in this one content subfolder. So, what you tell your editors with an assignment-based workflow is to go into the assignments subfolder and open up these ICMA files. They do not open up the InDesign file. Because they are ICMA files, these are native InCopy assignment files and InCopy users can double-click these in the Finder or Windows Explorer and it'll go ahead and open up in InCopy. They don't have to use the rule of always using InCopy's File, Open menu.
Let's open these up in InCopy. I'm in InCopy and I'm going to go to File > Open, down to the project folder, and inside the assignments folder, I'm just going to Shift+click all these to open them all at once, so you can see what they look like. Starting with openingspread, this was the assignment that we created first and if you remember we use the default choice called Assigned Spreads Only in that New Assignment dialog box. What this means is the assignments only consists of the spreads necessary to hold the stories we associated with it.
Since we only exported associated stories on the first spread, all we get is one spread. We don't see the cover. We don't see the remaining part of the catalog. So this assignment file is a lot faster to open up over a slow network than the entire catalog would be. Other than that everything is just about the same as in a layout-based workflow. The Assignment panel still shows a list of all of the editable content in this file that we have opened. It's limited only to the stories in this assignment. So, if Joe needed to work on a story on the last page like the order form, he wouldn't be able to.
He'd have to open up the layout or open up an assignment that included that. The second assignment we chose the option Placeholder Frames, and what this is, is it like the first assignment type, it only includes the spread necessary that contains the linked stories or linked content that we associated with this. If we had chosen stories from two spreads it would be two spreads long, but any content that is not part of this assignment is grayed out or empty. So, we know that these text frames actually had text, but they appear empty here and we know that all these were images but they appear empty here, and this kind of assignment is ideal for those kind of editors that get too discombobulated by too much happening on one page. It allows them to focus on just the content that they are responsible for editing.
So this is a Placeholder Only type of assignment, and then this last assignment was called All Spreads and just as the name implies it includes all the spreads of the InDesign document in the assignment. However, even though these stories have been exported to the InCopy format and are linked in the layout, they don't appear linked here because they're not part of this assignment. So, in this kind of All Spreads assignment, just like the other assignments, the only stories that the editor can edit are the ones that the designer has associated with this assignment, but with an All Spreads assignment the editor has access, read-only access to the entire layout.
This is ideal if somebody needs to work on say just the last page, but they need to refer to some things that might be on earlier pages of the document. Regardless of which kind of assignment you've created, as soon as the editor checks out a story, I'm going to check out a story out of each one of these. I'm just tapping a key and pressing Enter when it prompts me and by the way do you notice that even though I'm Joe in editorial, I'm able to open up each one of these assignment, so that field where you say who it's assigned to is really only for identification. It doesn't restrict anybody else from opening up this assignment.
So, I've checked out those three stories. If we look at the layout again, back in InDesign, you can see that these stories are locked out to the InDesign user as they would be locked out to anybody who had the layout open. So there even though you can make multiple assignments from a single layout, you still are only making one linked InCopy story for every text frame that you want people to be able to edit. So, creating assignments in InDesign is actually pretty easy and it's really cool that you can associate the stories with the assignment and have InDesign take care of all of the file naming and management in the background.
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