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There is another way to skin this cat, of being able to work in an InDesign/ InCopy workflow without access to a shared local network server. Another way other than using the remote workflow with the packages. The InDesign and the ICAP packages and all that kind of rigmarole, and also it's actually a really cool way to use InDesign and InCopy even if everybody is at the same company, because it allows everybody to work off of a local folder but still keep up-to-date and still do parallel workflow. So what is this miracle cure? It is a cool little program called Dropbox and I am sure there are many utilities just like Dropbox.
Essentially, it is a free utility that works on Macs, Windows, and Linux machines and lets you sync whatever you put inside the Dropbox folder on your hard drive to the Dropbox server in the cloud. You can also share whatever is inside that folder with other users who are not in your network, whether they are working with you in your local server or not. It really makes no difference. Some folders can be shared with some people. Some folders can be shared with other people. This is not the time for me to teach you how to install Dropbox or how to set it up, it's fairly self-explanatory, but basically, everybody who wants to be part of this workflow needs to install Dropbox.
So, I have already done so on my computer on this Macintosh and the Dropbox folder is right here and it comes with the couple existing folders like Photos and Public and I've created another folder called InCopy Projects and inside this InCopy Projects folder, I'm going to use this as like my production folder on the server. I'll put in a separate project folder for each one of my InDesign projects. I've also shared this folder. You can right-click on this folder and share it with whoever you'd like.
You just send them an e-mail and they'll accept it or they can log onto their Dropbox account and accept the share and then every subfolder you put in here automatically gets synced to their computer as well. So I have shared this with our friend Joe who is working in Windows. So here is Joe's Documents folder and inside there you see his My Dropbox folder, and if I double-click it you can see he's got the same default folders and he might have other folders he's sharing with other people, but here is the InCopy Projects folder that I shared with him.
So here is the idea. Everybody gets Dropbox installed and you create one kind of super folder in there that you share with everybody that will be working on this InDesign InCopy project. Now, here I am in InDesign and I've got a regular InDesign layout. I haven't exported anything to the workflow yet. The idea is that I am going to save this to that Dropbox folder, to my production folder there in Dropbox. So I'm going to do a Save As. Get the Dropbox, InCopy Projects. I'll make a New Folder, call it spring catalog, and save it right in there.
All right, as soon as I save it in there, there is a little icon up here for Dropbox that let's me know, you can see the little animation, that is currently uploading. That file that I just put in there, it's uploading it to the Dropbox server, and Joe's machine if we switch back there you could see that it's currently downloading to his Dropbox folder because we shared the contents of this folder with each other. Now, all I do is I treat that Dropbox folder as though it were the server. So I am going to export stories to the workflow from here. I'll just Shift+Click a few things here.
I could use a layout-based workflow or an assignment-based workflow. It really makes no difference. I'm just going to drag and drop in here just to be quick about it. So I am in the Dropbox folder, spring catalog, I need to make a stories folder. Since I am using a layout-workflow and I'll just call it first, yeah, use that as the prefix for these stories. I get the usual alert to save the document and the stories are here. Now what's happening again is because these stories, these files, were added to the Dropbox folder, Dropbox synced them and it did it very quickly to the cloud, all right.
So now let's say that Joe is working from home or from his cubicle 30 feet away. He looks inside his Dropbox folder and there is the spring catalog and there is the file that I uploaded and even my temporary file, because I opened up InDesign on my computer, you see the invisible lock file. Normally invisible was synced. And then there are all the stories. So Joe as usual, because we're using layout-based workflow he has to go to File > Open to open up that InDesign file, he navigates to the spring catalog file and opens up the layout file.
So do you see what's happening is that Joe can work locally off his computer. That Dropbox folder is in his Documents folder, which is on his local hard drive. He is not using a server. So, you don't have to worry about how fast or how slow the network is; you're not even using the network. All you are using is your connection to the Internet because your Dropbox is uploading and downloading in the background on the fly. I am going to check out all the stories and make a change to one.
Shrubs, Lovely Shrubs, and save my change, and let's see what's happening with the designer who still has it open on her computer. Bam-bam! Is that cool or what? It is syncing a locked file. It is syncing the fact that somebody has checked this out. I've actually used Dropbox for projects where editors and designers were spread all across the country, and really it all depends on the speed of your Internet connection and how fast Dropbox syncs the check-in and check out, but even with slow connections it's seldom more than a few seconds.
Usually it's faster than what's happening on your local network. So, here I can see that, oh, it's out of date. So I'm going to right-click and choose InCopy > Update Content and there is the content that you updated. So in other words, we're all using Dropbox as though it were a local file server and I actually have a few clients, book publishers and magazine publishers, who are using Dropbox routinely for projects in-house and also for sharing them with designers and editors who are offsite. It's very cool and I recommend that you give it a try.
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