New Plug-in Saves Versions of Workflow Stories
One of the most frequent questions I hear from new InDesign/InCopy workflow users (or publishers considering moving to it) is, “How can we save a version of a story we’ve checked out?”
Mainly it’s editors who ask the question, but designers too would appreciate the ability to occasionally save a version of the contents of a text frame being shared with InCopy. Well, I now have a solution, but need your help. More on that further down.
As InCopy users know, versioning is not built in to the workflow. When you check out a story in a layout or assignment, even the Save As command is dimmed. You can only do a Save As with standalone InCopy files. So editorial users make do with Track Changes, or with some manual workarounds. (Note that K4 and SmartConnection systems have a versioning feature, I believe, but I’m talking about the “normal” InCopy workflow here.) And in InDesign, even if you do a Save As to the layout, the text frames are still linked to the first version’s InCopy stories.
So last year I joined forces with a couple InDesign/InCopy developer geeks (and I mean that as a compliment), Peter Truskier and Jim Birkenseer, to address the issue. Last month we released the first beta version of InVersion. It’s a low-footprint plug-in for InDesign and InCopy that lets you save and restore versions of each story in your publication, whenever you want.
For example, here’s a screen shot of part of the contextual menu you see when you right-click on a story you’ve checked out:
Unlike VersionCue, InVersion doesn’t require a database or anything special like that, it just uses your existing project folder to store and track versions of InCopy stories. Also, InVersion only saves a version when you specifically choose the Save A Version command, instead of every time you save a story or check it in, which we think makes the most sense.
It works the same in InDesign as it does in InCopy. In fact, InDesign users could use InVersion even if their company isn’t using InCopy. They’d just need to use InDesign commands to export the story to InCopy format first (kind of like exporting the story to RTF format), and from then on they could use InVersion to save and manage iterations of main stories or sidebars, without having to do Save As’s to the full layout.
We Need More Testers
For the past month we’ve had a small group of InDesign/InCopy users download the beta and the PDF how-to, use it, and give us feedback to a private forum we’ve set up. The very first bit of feedback we received was so great to hear:
“I’ve done some testing in an InVersion installed InCopy and a standard InDesign without the plug-in, and it works fine. […] I deleted the Versions folder to see what would happen and if the workflow still works using the latest incx file – it works fine. I can see the most use on the InCopy side where editors needs versioning (without the hassle of Version Cue). It’s simple, elegant, it works. Me Like! :-)”
But before we release it into the “wild” commercially, we need many more InCopy and InDesign users to try it out and tell us what works and what’s missing. There’s not much to test, it’s actually quite straight-forward and simple, and it would help us immensely (plus, active testers get a free copy of the final release!).
Right now the InVersion beta is only available for CS3 (Mac and Windows), but CS4 will follow shortly.
So if you’d like to join the fun and you’re using either CS3 or CS4 of InCopy or InDesign, please e-mail me at amarie [at] incopysecrets.com with INVERSION in the Subject line and I’ll get you signed up. Thanks!