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Assignment files are interesting little rascals, and I think they deserve a little bit more information in the way of tips and workarounds for you designers who will be creating and managing them, and that's what this video is all about. First of all, I have layout opened that has a bunch of assignments created and stories associated with each assignment as you can see here in my Assignments panel. How can I tell which stories belong to which assignments in the layout? Well, you can go to the View menu in InDesign, down to Extras and choose to Show Assigned Frames. It is the same command that InCopy users have.
Except that now you see them in all the different colors that you have created for each assignment. And this can come in quite handy, especially if you have a spread that has a mix of stories that are part of one assignment versus another. Another tip is that if you want to concatenate assignments or combine them, you don't really have to go through any kind of major manipulations. You can just drag and drop stories from one assignment to the other. Now you can do it right here in the Assignments panel. Like for example, I could drag this story right down to the middle spread, and notice how it immediately turns that color overlay in the layout.
If I had a whole bunch of stories, and notice you can't really tell which stories are which by their file names here, I could just drag and drop them from the layout itself. It's another example of why you might want to turn on that Assignment overlay, so I am going to Shift+Click these two stories that belong to Kirk spread and then I am just going to drag and drop them about them on Fran spread. It doesn't re-export them or anything. It just associates them with Fran spread, which is nice. So now that the Kirk spread is completely empty, I can go ahead and delete it. In this case the trash can icon really means delete. It doesn't mean unlink.
Of course then I would need to update Fran's assignment, so I select it and right-click and choose Update Selected Assignments. But you know that bit about deleting reminds me that there is an important concept to understand and even though I have been working with this workflow for years. I still don't quite understand it. When people say, what is an assignment? And I say, well, it's a stand-alone file that something that the InCopy users open. But is it still linked to the layout? And I am like, no. It isn't linked to the layout. These assignments are not linked to the layout. If you look in the Links panel, you don't see any files here that end with the icml extension for the assignment file.
They are not linked to the layout at all, but they are associated with this layout, right? I mean, I can right-click on this assignment and say let me see where it is in the Finder, right-click on it, and it says, there it is, it's right there. That's your assignment, middle spread that icma, so it is in your actual file. I guess you can think of them as more like attributes of the layout or children of the layout, something like that, but they are not really linked to the layout. Check this weird thing out. If I go to the InDesign file and I choose Save As, which is something you normally never want to do in an InCopy workflow, because normally people don't quite understand what exactly is happening.
I'll just call this Version 2, and see this weirdness happening in the Assignments panel? Now what's happened is that it's still remembering the linked InCopy files, these are just like Photoshop files. So if we look in the Links panel, it's still remembering that these files are linked to the layout, and in fact, these stories are now linked to both the original catalog and Version 2 of the catalog, the same exact content. Checking out the story in either one of these layouts would update the content for both layouts. That's one of the big dangers of doing the Save As.
But what the heck happens to the assignments? They're gone. Because they are not linked; they were children of the first layout. We now have a different layout and it's like where are my children, where are my children? You can't like select it and choose Relink Assignments. I've looked here many times. It's never appeared. There is no Relink Assignment command, because they're not linked to the layout. So what you do, because this is going to happen to you, is that you are going to end up with missing assignments, either you accidentally rename the file, you moved it, you renamed an assignment. So what are you supposed to do? Well, here's the workaround. You right- click and you choose Change Assignment Location or you can double-click right on the Assignment, and click the change button right here.
Now the Change Assignment button is a little misleading. You're not telling it to change the location. You're saying, create a new assignment at this place that I tell you. So it's actually going to create a new assignment. If you are trying to do something like relinking, like what we're trying to do, then give it the exact same name at the exact same location, middle spread and click Save. It will say, "Hey, are you sure, because there is already one here," and say, "Yes, please replace it." When you click OK, then it exports a new assignment file in place of the old one, and you have do the same thing to this one as well.
Another weirdness occurs if you ever try to rename an assignment file. So this assignment is called the actual icma file. Let's take a look, just to make sure. It's middlespread icma, right? So let's say we come here, we want to rename it. We will call it Shrubs, it is the Shrubs assignment, maybe it is no longer in the middle of the document, makes no more sense to call it middle spread, and we click OK and it says "yeah, okay fine, I'll be shrubs," and then it's a change so it says Update Selected Assignment, and then let's take a look at this in the Finder.
It's still called middlespread, we'll see. That's just for looks only, isn't it strange? Renaming the assignments here is just for your convenience. It really doesn't rename anything on the hard drive or on the server. So if you really do need to rename an assignments, because Fran says, "I don't understand why I need to open up middlespread, aren't I supposed to be working in Shrub's section?" Here's what I would suggest. First, create a new assignment with that name, and you can do so just by clicking the New Assignment icon, because you can create a new assignment without adding stories to it, if you'd like. We'll just call this Shrubs 2, because we already have one called Shrubs, and of course you want to make sure that it is going to Save in the same place as all of your other assignments.
So we have got Shrubs Fran and Shrubs2, and then you just Shift+Click all the stories from the old assignment and drop them on the new assignment. We are going to update this assignment and we'll check to make sure that it is actually called Shrubs2, Reveal in Finder, there it is, yeah, so Fran's happy. We come back to InCopy, select this guy and delete it. So deleting assignments is actually deleting them from the Finder, you're deleting that acma file, but that acma file is not really that important, because it's so easy to create a new one. You are not ever deleting stories.
Like even if I selected Shrubs2 and I say delete this assignment. Are you sure? Yes, please, go ahead. I didn't delete any of the stories. they just became free agents down here. So they are still here, you are still linked to those external icml files, and I would just create a new assignment and re associate them with that new assignment. So just be careful about working with assignments. Don't make too many assumptions about them. Watch this video a couple times, if you're going to be using an assignment based workflow, because I'm telling you, this represents about five years of hard-earned experience.
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