John Garrett demonstrates loading the Variable Importer script from within Adobe Illustrator. He also goes over the current preset field, loading the CSV file into the script, seeing the list of variables displayed with their indicator icons, and adding the image and graph directories to their respective variables.
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- [Voiceover] Now that it's time to import, I'm gonna load the Variable Importer script from within Illustrator by choosing File, Scripts, Variable Importer. In chapter one, we went over how to get the script to appear here by putting it into the Presets in Scripts folder of your Illustrator Installation. If you didn't do that, no need to worry. You can choose Other Script from the bottom of the Scripts menu in Illustrator, then you'll be able to browse you hard drive and select a script from wherever it's located. When the script loads, in the window that appears, we'll see five headings.
You won't always need to visit each of these headings, but we'll walk through them, just so we can see how everything works. To start with, the Variable Display screen is the default screen when you start up the Variable Importer. The basic function of actually loading your spreadsheet is done here. And, I'll go over the other options too. First, make sure Use Headers is checked. If this isn't checked, the first row of your spreadsheet file will be seen as Data, instead of a Column Header. If you only had one column of data in your spreadsheet, and you're planning to manually bind the variables, then you don't need this checked.
But if you plan to use any of the automated binding methods the script can do, which we'll see later, then you'll need to make sure your spreadsheet has headers, and that you check the Use Headers box. You could click the Transpose Data button if the data of your spreadsheet had the headers on the left, instead of on the top. The Current Preset field displays the active preset at the moment. If this is your first time using Variable Importer, you'll only have the Default Preset for now. But, we'll see how to make your own later in the Preset screen. This field actually appears on almost all five screens, so you'll have access to it everywhere, except the last Test screen.
In the next row, I'll click the Choose Data File button. Then, I'll select the CSV file we set up last chapter. When it loads, I'll see a list of my variables, and each one should have an appropriate icon that indicates what type of variable it is. For Image and Graph Variables, there's a URL column on the right. If you double-click into this column, it will bring up a window where you can pick the folder that contains the images for that variable. In here, I'll choose my Images folder. You could also change the name and the type of the variable in that window.
This is my Graph Variable. I could change it to another type if I wanted, but I'll leave it at Graph for now. And, I'll choose the Graphs folder. So, this looks good now. I'll leave the rest of these alone. Once you start using the script, setting up Presets and getting familiar with how the process works, you likely won't need to go check the other screens very often. You'll probably just click the Import Variables button down at the bottom. Then, the script would import your variables into Illustrator, and you'd be done with the import process. I can also open this script with no document opened at all.
I'll cancel this, and then close the file. Now that nothing's open, I'll once again choose File, Scripts, Variable Importer from the menu. It loads just like it did before, but this time instead of Import Variables, it reads Create XML File. If I were to set up my options and click this button, the script would save out an XML file that I could send to somebody else or import later using the Variables Panel, just as we did back in chapter one of this course. This may not be something the average Illustrator user would do, but it's nice to know the option is there.
In the next video, we'll pick back up with our file, and go over the Options screen.
Designer John Garrett appreciates the many different types of variables and their practical uses, including generating business cards and direct mailers. In this course, he explains how to use variable data including managing linked images, graphics, tables of data, and graphs. He covers the entire workflow, from setup to exporting dynamic batches.
- Setting up Illustrator files
- Using Appearances
- Setting up data sources
- Importing data
- Managing linked variables
- Binding and using prepend paths and presets
- Using the Variables panel
- Naming data sets
- Generating multiple versions with batch exporting