GroupPicture Module

This manual describes how to use the GroupPicture™ software for Adobe® InDesign®. GroupPicture gives you the power to save complete “groups” of document elements (text frames, picture frames, lines, etc.) in special files which behave just like pictures. They can be archived, databased, and imported just like any other supported graphic format. The difference is that when you import a GroupPicture file, you get the original, native elements perfectly positioned on your page and ready to be edited and styled. Additionally, GroupPicture has been tightly integrated with DesignMerge® Pro (variable data software) and DesignMerge® Catalog™ (data publishing software) from Meadows Publishing Solutions.

Topics Covered in this Manual:

  • Overview and Installation
  • Using GroupPicture
  • Setting GroupPicture Preferences
  • Using GroupPicture with DesignMerge Pro, DesignMerge Catalog, and Image Database applications

OVERVIEW

About GroupPicture

The GroupPicture software for InDesign is perhaps best described as an import filter for InDesign documents. It allows you to save and import a group of native InDesign objects into a document. Additionally, GroupPicture allows you to use a picture frame to indicate the location for the InDesign group that you are importing, and you can even import a group using the InDesign Place command, similar to placing a TIFF, EPS, or other image file type supported by InDesign. The difference is that you get a copy of the original group of InDesign objects pasted onto the page at the location of the picture frame, and the objects in the group are fully editable.

Virtually any program designed to track, manage, and catalog images can be used to do the same with GroupPicture files. These include programs like Adobe® Bridge®, Canto® Cumulus®, Extensis® Fetch™/Portfolio™, and other digital asset management software products. Some of these applications also provide the ability to drag GroupPicture files directly from image management software documents to InDesign pages.

GroupPicture files integrate nicely with a variety of publishing workflows. Any database program that supports pictures will support GroupPicture files. It works great within scripting applications, making it easy to manage automatic page assembly. Additionally, because the GroupPicture software is tightly integrated with the Meadows Publishing Solutions DesignMerge Pro and DesignMerge Catalog software, it is useful for creating fully variable layouts. The remainder of this manual describes GroupPicture features in detail and how to use GroupPicture in conjunction with DesignMerge Pro and DesignMerge Catalog, and also with image database applications.

Advantages

  • InDesign documents are treated like picture files making management of documents much easier.
  • Individual “product blocks” or “ad squares” can be archived in a “native” InDesign format.
  • Easy database management. Virtually any database program which supports pictures can be used to track GroupPicture files.
  • When objects are imported, you can apply automatic positioning. No need to drag objects into place.
  • Picture frames that import a GroupPicture can be automatically deleted after import, sized to match the GroupPicture, or retained at original size.
  • Works great with scripting programs. Makes it easy to manage automatic page assembly.

USING GROUPPICTURE

Create a GroupPicture

To create a GroupPicture, start by selecting the objects you wish to save as a member of the group. To do this, click on the Selection tool in the Tool panel and then shift-click each of the desired objects. Group the selected objects by choosing Group from the InDesign Object menu. In the example shown below, the user has selected a product block consisting of lines, text and picture frames, and is about to group them:

After grouping the objects that you wish to save as a GroupPicture, select the group. Then, if you have installed GroupPicture with DesignMerge, open the DesignMerge menu and select Options > GroupPicture > Save. If you are have installed GroupPicture without DesignMerge, open the InDesign File menu and select MPS > GroupPicture > Save.

Enter a file name for the GroupPicture and navigate to the folder in which you wish to store it. In the example above, the user has entered a part number associated with the product block (S-427) as the name for this GroupPicture. This type of naming convention makes it easy to identify this GroupPicture later when ready to import it into an InDesign document. You may wish to choose a similar naming convention for your GroupPicture files; however, any valid file naming scheme is supported.

For the file name extension, you may use the default extension “.indd” (GroupPicture files are saved in an InDesign document format). For those using GroupPicture on Macintosh systems, you may choose instead to use the “.gp” file name extension, which will help you differentiate regular InDesign document files from GroupPicture files. Windows operating systems will automatically append a “.indd” file name extension to a GroupPicture file. When using the default “indd” file name extension, you may wish to include information in the file name that indicates this is a GroupPicture file, for example, by changing “filename.indd” to “filename_GP.indd”.

After clicking the Save button, the GroupPicture file will be created. You can now import it onto a page, or you can catalog it in your favorite image database program.

Import a GroupPicture

When importing a GroupPicture, GroupPicture can position the imported GroupPicture in the normal paste location of the current page. Additionally, GroupPicture can use a picture frame as the positional target for the imported GroupPicture.

For example, let’s import a GroupPicture to a specific location on a page by creating a picture frame or by selecting an existing one where we would like to place the GroupPicture. Select the picture frame. Then, if you are using GroupPicture with DesignMerge, open the DesignMerge menu and select Options > GroupPicture > Import. If you are have installed GroupPicture without DesignMerge, open the InDesign File menu and select MPS > GroupPicture > Import.

You will be prompted to open a file. Navigate to and select the GroupPicture file that you created earlier. Click Open when you are ready to continue.

After clicking Open, the GroupPicture will be imported. If you did not first select a picture frame, the GroupPicture will be placed on the current document page at the normal paste location for InDesign. If you did first select a picture frame, the imported GroupPicture will be imported by default on top of the selected picture frame. In this example where a picture frame was selected for the GroupPicture, the imported GroupPicture will look similar to the sample shown in the picture below:

Once imported, the objects in the GroupPicture can be edited normally. In this example, the imported group is actually smaller than the encompassing picture frame. For information about automatically adjusting how a GroupPicture is aligned with a selected picture frame (as well as whether you would additionally like the selected picture frame to be automatically resized or grouped with the imported GroupPicture), see the “GroupPicture Preferences” section later in this manual. There is also an option to delete the targeted picture frame once the import is complete.

You may also use GroupPicture > Import to import the objects that are on the first page of any regular InDesign document. If you choose a regular InDesign document file, all of the objects that are on its first page will be imported as though these objects compose a single GroupPicture.

Edit a GroupPicture

If you wish to modify a GroupPicture file that you’ve imported, you can do so right in the document as the imported GroupPicture is fully editable. Any changes that you make to an imported GroupPicture will not affect the original GroupPicture file nor any documents where this GroupPicture was already imported.

Correspondingly, any changes to the original GroupPicture file will not affect any documents where this GroupPicture was previously imported. Additionally, since an imported GroupPicture is not linked to the original file, there will not be any notification in the document where you have imported a GroupPicture if the original GroupPicture file is modified after it was imported into this document.

Or, if you prefer, you can open and edit the actual GroupPicture file at any time just as you would any standard InDesign document, then save your changes and re-import the GroupPicture into your document or any other document.

The Links window in InDesign does not track imported GroupPicture files, because importing a GroupPicture is equivalent to having created a new copy of its content in the “receiving” document.

Place a GroupPicture

The InDesign Place command can also be used to import GroupPictures. However, note there is an option in GroupPicture Preferences that determines whether the Place command may be used to import GroupPictures. The Place InDesign Files as GroupPictures option determines whether the Place command places any InDesign document, including a GroupPicture file, as a graphic (which is the usual behavior of the InDesign Place command) or as a GroupPicture.

When this option is Off (unchecked; its default setting), InDesign Place will operate as it normally does, placing any InDesign file, including a GroupPicture file, as a graphic.

When this option is On (checked), InDesign Place will place any InDesign document, including a GroupPicture file, as a GroupPicture. This option is also explained later in the “GroupPicture Preferences” section of this manual.

To use the InDesign Place command to import a GroupPicture, first open the GroupPicture Preferences dialog. To open this dialog, if you have installed GroupPicture with DesignMerge, open the DesignMerge menu and select Options > GroupPicture > Preferences. If you have installed GroupPicture without DesignMerge, open the InDesign File menu and select MPS > GroupPicture > Preferences. Then, turn on (check) the Place InDesign Files as GroupPictures option.

Next, create a picture frame or select an existing one, then select Place from the InDesign File menu. Navigate to and select the GroupPicture or InDesign document that you want to import and click Open. (If you choose a regular InDesign document, all of the objects from its first page will be imported as though these objects compose a single GroupPicture.) The GroupPicture will be placed on top of the targeted picture frame.

GROUPPICTURE PREFERENCES

There are a number of preference settings available for GroupPicture. To view or change them, if you have installed GroupPicture with DesignMerge, open the DesignMerge menu and select Options > GroupPicture > Preferences. If you are have installed GroupPicture without DesignMerge, open the InDesign File menu and select MPS > GroupPicture > Preferences. The GroupPicture Preferences dialog looks like this:

From top to bottom, each of the GroupPicture Preferences is described below:

Picture Frames

This preference tells GroupPicture what to do with the receiving picture frames after GroupPictures are imported. Each option for this preference is described below:

Don’t Change
Leave the picture frame alone.

Size to Match Group
The picture frame will be resized to match the dimensions of the incoming GroupPicture.

Delete After Import
The picture frame will be deleted after the GroupPicture has been imported.

Add Picture Frame to Group
When this check box is checked, the picture frame will be grouped with the imported group.

Other Preferences

Import GroupPicture: Bring to Front or Send to Back
This preference determines whether GroupPictures are imported to the front (the default setting) or to the back of the stack of pre-existing objects on the page.

Track GroupPictures
When this option is On (checked; the default setting), incoming groups will be “attached to” the picture frames into which they were imported. If a different group is later imported into that same frame, the group that is currently attached to the frame is deleted before the new group is imported. This feature is handy for such things as product switch-outs in catalogs.

Place InDesign Files as GroupPictures
When this option is Off (unchecked; the default setting), the InDesign Place command will import InDesign document files as pictures (which is the usual behavior of the InDesign Place command). When this option is On (checked), the InDesign Place command will import InDesign document files as GroupPictures.

Copy File Info when Saving GroupPictures
If this option is On (checked; the default setting) when a group is saved as a GroupPicture, some of the file information from the source document will also be assigned to the new GroupPicture file. Examples of document file information that will be assigned include Document Title, Author, Description, and Keywords. If this option is Off (unchecked), this information from the source document will not be assigned to the new GroupPicture file.

Match Picture Frame Rotation
When this option is Off (unchecked; the default setting) and a picture frame has been selected to receive the GroupPicture, the imported GroupPicture will not be rotated even if the target picture frame has been rotated. When this option is On (checked) and a picture frame has been selected to receive the GroupPicture, the imported GroupPicture will be rotated to match the rotation of the target picture frame.

Import Locked Items
This option determines whether items that are locked in the GroupPicture file are imported along with its items that are not locked.

Import Hidden Items
This option determines whether items that are hidden in the GroupPicture file are imported along with its items that are not hidden.

Import Master Page Items
This option determines whether items that are on the Master Page that is applied to the document page in the GroupPicture file are imported.

USING GROUPPICTURE WITH DESIGNMERGE PRO

DesignMerge Pro is a suite of software for variable data printing and document creation applications. Everything from simple mail-merge projects to complex data publishing and document assembly workflows is fully supported by the DesignMerge Pro software. Just take an existing InDesign document and “Make it Variable”.

DesignMerge Pro also provides specialized modules that extend its variable data publishing features. For example, the CopyFit Module adds the ability to automate the fitting of copy in variable text frames. The Rules Module adds conditional logic functionality. Used by major publishing professionals worldwide, DesignMerge Pro is the proven tool-of-choice for a wide variety of variable data applications such as direct mail pieces, brochures, business cards, name badges, labels, coupon supplements, invitations, event programs, tickets, financial prospectuses and fund statements.

GroupPicture has been tightly integrated with DesignMerge Pro for the express purpose of adding the ability to incorporate variable groups in your variable data jobs. Your variable groups may be virtually any size, including complete pages, and may also contain DesignMerge Pro Variables. For example, below is a variable data job for a postcard that will display a different group of objects, depending upon the interest of the recipient.

An example of a variable data job that has a GroupPicture Link for a Coupon

An example of two variable copies created by the above variable data job

Because a GroupPicture can contain DesignMerge Pro Variables, content in the GroupPicture can be updated on-the-fly by an DesignMerge Pro session. Simply place DesignMerge Pro Variables within a GroupPicture before you save it. Then, when the GroupPicture is imported onto a new document page during a merge, it can be “personalized” with information from the data file.

Use GroupPicture While Merging

When using DesignMerge Pro to merge GroupPictures that do not have any Variable Links embedded, there are no special concerns outside of what has already been covered in this document. Just enter the name of a GroupPicture file in a data field (or set up a Link Rule to set data to the name of a GroupPicture file), specify the Type “GroupPicture” for the Variable Link to this Field, and assign that Link to a picture frame in your document. The GroupPicture will be merged onto the page at the picture frame’s location when you start a merge session.

However, if you do intend to embed Variable Links inside a GroupPicture file, there are two things you should know:

1) Always be sure that the Variable Links that are embedded inside your GroupPictures also exist in the DDF that you will be using during the DesignMerge Pro session. Otherwise, you will get a “Bad Tag” error.

2) Before starting a merge session, always examine three GroupPicture-related options on the GroupPicture Preferences dialog to make sure they’re set correctly for your purposes. These options govern what happens to any Variable Links contained within GroupPictures as they are imported during a merge. These three DesignMerge Pro options for GroupPicture, shown in the picture below, are described below:

Populate GroupPicture Elements
When this option is On (checked; the default setting), DesignMerge Pro will populate all Variables contained within the imported GroupPicture with data from the data file that is being merged into the document. If this option is Off (unchecked), the GroupPicture will still be placed onto the page, but any Variables contained within it will not be merged with any data.

Adjust Group Picture Sequence
When this option is On (checked; the default setting), DesignMerge Pro changes the Sequence Numbers assigned to the Variables in the imported GroupPicture to match the Sequence Number of the “receiving” Picture Link. If this option is Off (unchecked), the Variables in the imported GroupPicture will use the original Sequence Numbers that are assigned to them in the original GroupPicture file.

Enable Master Page Mode
When this option is On (checked; the default setting), DesignMerge Pro will search for a Master Page in the current document whose name matches the name of the GroupPicture that the GroupPicture Link importing. If DesignMerge Pro finds a match, the group that is on the this Master Page will be imported. If DesignMerge Pro does not find a match, then DesignMerge Pro will search within your current DesignMerge Pro Global Search Paths to find the GroupPicture file. If this option is Off (unchecked), DesignMerge Pro will not search the current document’s Master Pages to locate GroupPictures; DesignMerge Pro will only search within your current Global Search Paths.

If you are interested in automating DesignMerge Pro software’s variable data printing and document creation, including importing GroupPictures, ask Meadows Publishing Solutions about the Scripting Module and about Meadows Script Development Services.

USING GROUPPICTURE WITH DESIGNMERGE CATALOG

DesignMerge Catalog is another suite of software that connects documents to external data files. You can use DesignMerge Catalog to update your documents with the latest information from a data file at any time and also to repurpose documents for different markets or readers. Through a simple, easy-to-use interface, DesignMerge Catalog provides sophisticated linking of content in documents to an external data file, letting you update any price, text, or picture in a document that can be referenced by a “key value” such as item number or SKU. Used by major publishing professionals worldwide, DesignMerge Catalog is the proven tool-of-choice to automate updating information in documents such as catalogs, price lists, retail flyers and financial documents. Visit www.meadowsps.com for more information about DesignMerge Catalog.

The GroupPicture module has been tightly integrated with DesignMerge Catalog for the express purpose of building pre-defined “Product Block Templates” that can contain DesignMerge Catalog Variable Links. Your variable groups may be virtually any size, including complete pages. This permits the user to assemble complete catalog pages using GroupPictures as building blocks.

For example, below are some samples of GroupPictures for a sales flyer:

Simply use GroupPicture to save the various GroupPictures (templates) that you may use in a publication. When ready to build your publication, you can import any GroupPictures that you wish to use. Then, optionally, you may use the DesignMerge Catalog Change Keys feature or Search & Replace Placeholders utility to assign the appropriate Search Key to the DesignMerge Catalog Variables in any imported GroupPicture, When you are ready, DesignMerge Catalog can now update all of the variable content in the imported GroupPictures.

Additionally, you may place GroupPicture Variable Links in a document and then let DesignMerge Catalog automatically import the appropriate GroupPicture for any particular Search Key (product). When DesignMerge Catalog updates a GroupPicture Variable Link (imports a GroupPicture), DesignMerge Catalog can also automatically update the DesignMerge Catalog Variables inside the imported GroupPicture.

If you are interested in automating this entire process, ask Meadows Publishing Solutions about the Scripting Module and about Meadows Script Development Services.

Updating DesignMerge Catalog GroupPicture Links

When using DesignMerge Catalog to import GroupPictures that do not have any Variable Links embedded, there are no special concerns outside of what has already been covered in this document. Just enter the name of a GroupPicture file in a data field (just as you would a TIFF or EPS file name), specify that field name as a Variable Picture Link, and assign that Link to a picture frame in your document. The GroupPicture will be imported onto the page at the picture frame location when you update the Link in the document.

However, if you do intend to embed Variable Links inside a GroupPicture, there are two things you should know:

1) Always be sure that the Variable Links, Search Criteria, and Price Styles that are used inside your GroupPictures also exist in the Data Source Definition (“DDF”) that you will be using during the DesignMerge Catalog session. Otherwise, you will get a Bad Tag error.

2) Before starting an DesignMerge Catalog session, always examine the DesignMerge Catalog Process Pictures First preference to make sure it has been set correctly for your purposes. This option governs what happens to any Variable Links contained within GroupPictures as they are imported during an DesignMerge Catalog session. To access this preference, open the Preferences dialog for DesignMerge Catalog by selecting Preferences from the DesignMerge menu.

Set the “Process Pictures First” preference

The Process Pictures First option for this preference, shown circled in the picture below, is described below:

Process Pictures First
When checked, this option instructs DesignMerge Catalog to update Picture Links before updating Text Links. This allows DesignMerge Catalog to update the Links that are contained within the imported GroupPicture. If this option is unchecked, the GroupPicture will still be placed onto the page, but any Variable Links contained within it will not be updated.

USING GROUPPICTURE WITH ADOBE® BRIDGE®
(and Other Asset Management Applications)

Once you have created GroupPicture files, you may wish to catalog them in an asset management application such as Adobe Bridge.

Why Use GroupPicture with Adobe Bridge?

Below are just a few of the advantages to using GroupPicture with Adobe Bridge:

  • Add metadata and keywords to GroupPictures.
  • See full color thumbnail and preview information for each GroupPicture.
  • Organize GroupPictures for easy retrieval.
  • Run automated tasks on a selection of GroupPictures.
  • Reuse GroupPictures via drag and drop operation.

GroupPicture and Other Asset Management Applications

GroupPicture can be used with practically any asset management application. For example, this product has been used with the following systems:

  • Canto Cumulus
  • Filemaker Pro
  • Extensis Portfolio

MORE INFORMATION

For more information about DesignMerge and its modules, please see the information provided in DesignMerge Documentation, as described below:

Tutorials present various features of DesignMerge in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format to help you quickly learn more about using DesignMerge.

Manuals for the modules in the DesignMerge software package present more detailed information about the features that a particular module provides.

Remember: Help is available! If you have any difficulty at all, we are here to help. Please feel free to open a support ticket by going to the Meadows Online Support Center:

Meadows Technical Support