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The XML file is finished. Now it's time to import it into InDesign. Although it's not the hardest task you'll be faced with, it is certainly one of the most important. The way you import XML affects how the data interacts with the layout and how it generates the dynamic content. The Import command can be found in three different places. First, it's under the File menu. You can also find the command in the Structure pane, in the Structure pane menu. Finally, you can right-click on the root element and choose Import XML from there as well.
The XML Import Options dialog is probably the most important dialog you'll interface with working with XML. If you want to import the entire XML file, uncheck all the boxes. When you click OK, the XML will be imported into the Structure pane. All the data within the XML file will be here. Other options are also available. If you want to create a link with the XML file on your hard drive, choose this option.
To modify the XML on import, you can choose an XSLT. An XSLT can be embedded in the XML itself or you can browse for one on your hard-drive. When we create an XML layout in advance, we can clone the repeating text elements. If you want to filter the data in the XML by the layout, choose Only import elements that match the existing structure. Then only the elements that are in your layout placed on the page will be imported. If you are importing data into tables, choose Import text elements into tables if the tags match.
We'll cover this in more detail later. We've been talking about whitespace in your XML file and whitespace in your document layout. If you want to make sure that your XML lands in your text placeholders properly, choose Do not import the contents of whitespace-only elements. This will eliminate or strip out all the whitespace within your XML file. Sometimes, even when this option is checked, those invisible elements can mess up your XML import. If you notice that the XML is imported improperly, check your file for these hidden elements.
I like to use WordPad or TextEdit to see if they are existing in the file. At times, there are placeholders in your layout that do not have a corresponding XML data element on import. By choosing Delete elements, frames, and content that do not match your imported XML, any of the placeholders in the layout that don't have a corresponding data element in the imported XML will be deleted from your layout. So you don't have an empty frame, or a frame that has incorrect data in it. Finally, choose Import CALS tables as InDesign tables if your XML data contains CALS table data.
We are going to discuss CALS tables and InDesign tables later. So these are the various options you can choose while you are creating an XML workflow. It's important to understand each of these as they affect your layout and how they affect the dynamic content that flows into your document. Once you've imported the XML, it's time to move it into your layout and we are going to cover that next.
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