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The Assignments panel is the hub of the InDesign and InCopy workflow, even if you're not really using Assignments per se. So let's open up the Assignments panel to see what's happening here. We have a layout open with some stories, as you can see, that have their little workflow adornments meaning that they have already been exported to the InCopy format. The Assignments panel isn't part of any of the default workspaces. So if you haven't created a custom workspace with the Assignments panel in it, which I recommend that you do, then to open it individually go to the Window menu, go down to Editorial, and choose Assignments here.
If you're coming from an earlier version of InDesign, you might be offput because usually it's the very first item alphabetically speaking, but now it's in its own little home here in the Editorial section. So choose Assignments which has been grouped with Notes and Track Changes. I'm going to close those and just to get Assignments by itself. So what does the Assignments panel tell you? First of all, it lists all of the editable contents within the active layouts. All contents editable by InCopy users that is and it also shows the name of the actual InCopy file sans the .icml extension.
It shows the status, if it's available, if it's checked out, or if you are currently editing a story, and it shows the type of content, text or image. Now we don't have any image files that have been exported. So I'm going to go ahead and do one right now. I want to grab this nice big flower here and drag and drop it right onto Unassigned InCopy Content. That's one of the many ways that you can export something in InCopy. Again, I want to make sure that it's exported into the correct folder, which is the stories folder, even though this is not really a story.
It's I guess you could call that folder InCopy content if you wanted to, but I'm just going to call this Flower and save the document and then we'll locate the flower at the very bottom here. You can see it just looks like an empty graphics frame is the little symbol for it. At the very top of the Assignments panel is the name of the layout and if we were then also working with actual assignment files, we would see nested underneath here the names of the different assignment files, along with the individual workflow stories, the linked content that are associated with each assignment files and I cover that in depth in the chapter I'm working with an assignment-based workflow. But I've just found that it's probably the source of the biggest confusion is that users will call these items assignments, because they're in the Assignments panel and they actually aren't.
They are the linked InCopy stories or linked InCopy content. They are currently unassigned. We're just using the Assignments panel to organize them. At the bottom of the Assignments panel, we have a series of buttons and also your username in case you forget who you were. You chose your username and a color under the File menu early on in the process and that's where this reminds you about who you're logged in as, I guess you can call it, and then these buttons let you update out-of-date contents, check stories in and out, create new assignments and this little guy is interesting.
This lets you unlink the content. So let's say for example that the shrub story was perfect and you didn't want anybody to edit this in InCopy. You don't actually delete the frame. All you do is unlink it, so that it becomes a read-only to an InCopy user and you do that by selecting it and then clicking the Unlink icon. So now it's just a normal story. You don't need to check it out. If you want to edit it, you could go ahead and edit it however you'd like. Shrubs, Lovely Shrubs and I didn't need to do anything special, but if instead I tried to say edit this story and I start typing, I would get this alert reminding me that I need to check out the story.
So I'm not going to actually check it out. Another thing I want to show you about the Assignments panel is that it is tied into your layout. Notice that because I'm clicking inside the story, that story becomes highlighted here. If I click inside this story, then that story becomes highlighted. If I want to see where is the Order Form story, I can double-click on there and my cursor ends up inside the Order Form story and the screen scrolls and centers the story in the screen. So you can actually use the Assignments panel to navigate through the document if you wanted.
This is especially useful if you are like many designers and you prefer to work with frame edges hidden. So I'm going to down to the View > Extras flyout menu and choosing Hide Frame Edges. Remember when you hide frame edges, then you can't see the workflow adornments on the frames and you can't really tell if a story is part of the workflow or not. So you're constantly going in here and saying oh! I want to change this to pretty and then type like oh! This is part of the workflow. Well, if you have the Assignments panel open, you can always tell if the story is part of the workflow or not because you can click in it and you'll see it.
If somebody's working on it, it'll say who's working on it. All you need to do is hover over the icon at the very end and then it'll give you the status. Now if you click inside a story that is not part of the workflow, remember this Shrubs, Lovely Shrubs, then nothing becomes highlighted in the Assignments panel. All right, so that's clue that this story is not part of the workflow. Here is another cool feature of the Assignments panel. You really have very little control over the names of these files, such as like if I click in here on this one's called catalog-Camilla Japonica.
The reason it's called that is because when I exported the story, I had Shift+clicked a whole bunch of stories and prepended the name catalog in the Export to InCopy Format dialog box and so it used that as a prefix for all these and then it just grabbed the first few words, but if for some reason like let's say this story that I called welcome when I exported it, if I wanted to call it the story of Hansel and Petal, I can do that. All I need to do is check out the story, so I can just start, with that story selected, I'm going to click the little Check Out selection icon at the bottom and now I can click again on it and the field becomes editable.
So I could call this story of Hansel and Petal. Then I'll check it back in by click on that button again, which is a toggle. Yes save it and now it appears in alphabetical order at the bottom, story of Hansel and Petal. I have encountered some people who, you know the designers, will go ahead and rename all of these stories to make it easier for their editors to quickly locate a story. I kind of feel like that's overkill. You really don't need to do that. Just like in InDesign, you really don't need a name for every story to figure out where it is that you need to edit.
You just scroll through the Layout view right and say oh! Here is the story about the perennials. This is what I need to edit. You don't need a list that says where is the perennial story. So this is what you work on with your editors that you say when you need to work on a story, go to Layout view in InCopy and find the story, click in it and start editing. If for some reason you need to know where it is in the Assignments panel, click on it in any of the views in InCopy and that story will become highlighted in the Assignments panel. So as a designer, you can see that the Assignments panel is going to become your best friend when you're working in an InDesign InCopy workflow.
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