Detailed description of new features, enhancements and fixes for both DesignMerge Pro and DesignMerge Catalog
Support for Adobe InDesign 2020
This is the second release to now fully support the 2020 release of Adobe InDesign.
Support for Macintosh Catalina
This is the second release to include support for the Macintosh Catalina operating system.
NEW! – Advanced Missing Asset Control for Variable Links
The Variable Links dialog has been modified to include a new section related to Missing Assets. A missing asset condition is when the software is unable to locate an external file (typically, a variable picture file) during a merge session. This new setting allows the user to specify how to handle the missing asset condition on an individual Variable Link basis. Available options are as follows:
• Error: This option reports the missing asset as an error, and places an error graphic in the frame that indicates the name of the missing file.
• Ignore: This option ignores the missing asset and leaves the current asset in the frame (or leaves the frame empty if no placeholder graphic was already placed in the frame).
• Delete: This option deletes the entire frame.
• Substitute: This option allows the user to specify the name of an asset to substitute. Enter the asset name only (do not enter the full path). The software will search for the substitute graphic in the same fashion as any other variable graphic (searches in the document folder, data folder, global search paths, etc.)
NEW! – Trim Spaces from Data Preference
If your data fields contain extra leading or trailing spaces, you now have an option available to strip those out during a merge. There is a new Preference item titled Trim Spaces from Data that will instruct the software to trim all data values before they are merged
NEW! – Even More Enhanced Smart Tags Feature
The Smart Tags feature, which is available in the Preferences, has been enhanced even further. When this feature is enabled, the software verifies each placeholder in the document to ensure that no returns or tabs are included at the end of each placeholder. This feature prevents lines from being “blown out” during the merge or update session (because the paragraph return or tab character gets replaced by the incoming data). When enabled, this feature also scans and verifies all placeholders prior to the start of each merge session. New for this release, the Smart Tags feature will now automatically handle empty line deletion when the line is the last one in a text frame. This feature can be very useful for bottom-aligned text frames that currently leave an extra gap when the very last line is removed (e.g. due to an Empty Link condition).
NEW! – Even Faster Preflight Reports
The Preflight Report feature has been tweaked to provided even better performance than in previous versions.
Layer Action Warning
Fixed an issue in the Rules Module where a warning message was displayed when trying to use one of the new Layer Actions.
Price Style Module Fixes
Fixed a crashing issue in DesignMerge Catalog related to specific Price Style modes. Fixed an issue where repeatedly updating a placeholder with a certain price style (that resized the currency symbol) would cause the entire price to get smaller or larger on each update.
Modified the software so that if CopyFit is turned off, and if the document contains text frames that have already been tagged with CopyFit settings, the user is warned of this fact at the start of the merge.
Repaired some issues with PPML output for files that contained Unicode data. Also fixed a couple of issues in the user interface for non-English languages.
Longest/Shortest Line Fixes
Fixed an issue that caused master pages to not be merged when doing a Longest/Shortest line test. Also modified Longest/Shortest line test to no longer merge links that reference an external variable asset (e.g. a variable picture). Instead, these tests now merge only variable text links.
Empty Link Fixes
Fixed an issue that could cause an error or a crash when an empty Variable Link was deleted, and that link was applied to the very first line in a text frame.
Variable Link Fixes
Fixed an issue related to the use of typographer’s quotes in Variable Links that where named with an underscore as the first character.
Support for Adobe InDesign 2020
This release now fully supports the 2020 release of Adobe InDesign.
Support for Macintosh Catalina
This release includes a number of modifications to ensure compatibility with the Macintosh Catalina operating system, including an updated set of Macintosh software installers.
NEW! – Improved performance for PDF/VT and PPML output
Several new optimizations have been added to the software to further improve output speed. These enhancements have resulted in speed improvements of up to 15% for PDF/VT, and up to 40% for PPML output.
NEW! – PDF Page Picking
A new Frame Rule Action has been added called Set PDF Page Number to Import. This Action allows the user to conditionally specify which page of a variable PDF to import during the merge session. The PDF Page number to import can be specified explicitly in the Rule Action, or it can be imported from a data field using the Embedded Link feature. In addition, variable image frames can also be tagged directly (using the new Utilities > Set PDF Page Number to Import menu selection). When a frame is tagged in this fashion, the variable image placeholder will always import the PDF page number assigned to the variable picture frame (unless that value is overridden using a Rule Action).
NEW! – Conditional Layer Support
Several new Page Rule Actions have been implemented to control the visibility of InDesign layers during the merge session:
• Hide All Layers
• Show All Layers
• Hide Layer
• Show Layer
These new Actions have been implemented as Page Rule Actions. The layer names can be specified explicitly in the Rule Action, or the name of the layer can be read from a specified data field using the Embedded Link feature. The new layer actions work well with typical VDP output such as PDF/VT and PPML. Because this new Action has been implemented for Page Rules, please keep in mind that the Actions performed will affect Layers across the entire layout (because InDesign Layers affect all pages in a layout and cannot be limited to a single page or range of pages). This is important to remember when creating documents that will be merged using a Build Document merge session (a Build Document merge builds a multi-page InDesign document with variable data on each page).
NEW! – Corrupt Image Detection
A corrupt image condition occurs when a variable image file is being merged, but the file is corrupt or has been saved in a format not supported by Adobe InDesign. In previous versions, this would simply cause the process to stop processing because Adobe InDesign could not import the requested file. In the new version, the software automatically checks for corrupt assets, and treats them in the same fashion as missing assets (the software now inserts an error string into the picture frame that indicates the image is corrupt, and shows the name of the image as well). Corrupt images are also listed in the print driver log at the end of a merge session. By default, a page set that contains a corrupt image will not be printed (which is the same behavior as with missing pictures).
NEW! – Verify Data File Dialog
By default, the software prompts the user to select a data file at the start of each merge. Many users appreciated this feature because it ensured that the correct data file would be selected each time, but it was rather a pain to have to navigate to and select the data file each time. Also, although this Prompt for Data File Each Time option can be turned off in the Preferences, many users simply did not realize this. Well, now things are much better! In order to make the selection and verification of the data file more streamlined, we added the Verify Data File dialog that is displayed at start of merge when the Prompt for Data File Each Time preference is enabled, and a data file has already been selected. Using this feature you can immediately identify the name of the data file you are about to process, and select it with a single button click. This should allow users to quickly confirm that they wish to use the current data file, while still providing the option to select a different data file if desired.
AWESOME! – Super Fast Preflight Reports
The Preflight Report feature, which simulates a merge session to detect all variable graphics and other assets required for the job, has been restructured to provide much faster performance. In previous versions, the preflight report could be pretty slow for large VDP jobs, or jobs that utilized many variable graphics. This new version is fast, as in a LOT faster, and should make your preflighting and VDP Packaging sessions go much faster as well.
NICE! – Improved Variable Master Page Support
Variable master pages can now be based on other master pages that also contain variable data. In previous versions variable elements on related master pages were not processed. Changes were also implemented to ensure proper Z-ordering of master page items that contain overlapping variable elements. In addition, the master page [None] can now be selected for the Apply Master Page actions. This can be used to clear an existing master page before applying a different master page.
NEW! – FREE CopyFit Module (for Catalog users)
The amazing Meadows CopyFit module is now a standard component for all Catalog module customers. This module allows the user to specify a set of attribute rules to detect and remedy overset text conditions in the document following an update. Please note that CopyFit continues to be a standard component for all Pro/VDP users as well.
Enhanced Smart Tags Feature (very important for Catalog users)
The Smart Tags feature, which is available in the Preferences (for both VDP and Catalog modes) has been enhanced. When this feature is enabled, the software verifies each placeholder in the document to ensure that no carriage returns, tabs, or other white space characters are included at the end of each placeholder. This feature prevents lines from being “blown out” during the merge or update session (because the paragraph return or tab character gets replaced by the incoming data). When enabled, this feature also scans and verifies all placeholders prior to the start of each merge session. Of course if your desire is to blow out these characters intentionally, then obviously you won’t want to use this feature!
Grouped Style Sheet Support
Added support for character or paragraph style sheets that are organized into style groups. In previous versions grouped styles were not applied properly when triggered by a Rule Action.
New Rules Warning Message
Added a warning message that is presented at the start of a merge session when rules processing is turned off and rules are used in the document.
New PDF Driver Warning Message
Added a warning message that is presented at the start of a PDF merge session when the selected Format is Standard PDF and the Page Sets per Job value is not set to 1. This warning is to remind the user that the Standard PDF format should only be selected for producing individual PDF files. For typical VDP output, the PDF/VT format must be selected to achieve the best possible performance.
Index Builder Fixes
Fixed a problem where adding new index entries could cause the Index Builder panel to crash. Also fixed a crash related to import of existing index files that contained duplicate entries.
Rules Panel Fixes
Fixed a problem where not all rules were displayed in the panel when the number of defined rules exceeded 255. Also fixed a list display problem for rules that resulted in only a partial rule name being visible at the end of the list when a very large number of rules were defined.
Unicode Support in Output Filenames
Added support for Unicode characters in output filenames, such as personalized, individual PDF files.
Changed Default Variable Picture Preview Resolution
All picture previews now respect the current Display Performance settings specified for the document or the picture frame. With this change, the preference item related to low-resolution picture previews has also been removed.
Changed Picture Position for Text Links Assigned to Picture Frames
As you may know, it is possible to assign a Text Link to a picture frame in a document. When this occurs, the imported text is treated as if it is a picture filename, and the located picture asset is imported. In situations like this, the picture positioning settings associated with Variable Link are now used to position the picture (you can view these settings by clicking on the Picture tab for the Variable Link in the settings dialog, which by the way also converts the link into a Picture link). In previous versions, picture frames that were tagged using a text Variable Link in this fashion were always imported at 100% scale.
New Behavior for Show Me Button in Variable Link Report Dialog
Changed the behavior of the Variable Link Report dialog’s Show Me button as it relates to Text Links. When a Text Link is selected and the Show Me button is clicked, the text frame that contains the link is positioned in the top/left corner of the window, and also the text that the link has been assigned to is selected in the document for you (if the text tool is active at the time the Variable Link Report is initiated). This should make it a bit easier to locate placeholders in the document, especially when they are positioned behind or grouped with other frames.
Fixed Rules Module Page Number Bug
Fixed a bug when processing page rules where the wrong page number value could be passed to the Rules Module.
Modified EAN13 Bar Codes (Windows only)
Modified the _BARCODE_EAN13_ bar code link to use a larger starting digit character (Windows only). This was required to get around an encoding issue with the EAN 13-related fonts for Windows.
Fixed Hyperlinks Checkbox Bug
Fixed a bug that prevented access to the Include > Hyperlinks checkbox when exporting variable documents in PDF format.
Article Link Fix
Fixed a bug where Article links applied to text ranges (not to entire frames) would replace the link with the name of the file instead of the content of the Article file itself.
Fixed an issue where selecting data files on network volumes would sometimes fail
A few users reported a failure when attempting to select a data file for processing if the data file was stored on a network volume. This rare condition has (finally) been replicated and repaired in this version of the software.
InDesign Tags or MPS Tags can now be embedded in both ASCII and UTF-8 data files
If you are using embedded Adobe InDesign tags or MPS Tags to control styling, you may now include those tags in either ASCII or Unicode (UTF-8) data files. The actual tags themselves must contain only ASCII characters, however, if you wish to import Unicode characters inside of a tag you can use the <0xNNNN> format of the InDesign tag. For example, to represent a ‘©’ character inside of tag data you would enter <0x00A9> instead. Please consult the Adobe InDesign tags documentation for more details about using this tag format.
Empty Link settings in the DDF Setup window now respect default values
Previous versions of the software always defaulted to flag Empty Links as errors. To avoid having to change this each time, the user can set up a default setting. To set up the default selection for Empty Link conditions, go into the Variable Links dialog, change your settings there (for any link – it doesn’t matter), and then click the Make Default button. This will set the specified Empty Link settings for all new Variable Links that are created, and will also set the defaults for the Setup DDF window to use when you run the setup in the future.
Fixed the disappearing placeholder marker thingy
Several users reported that their DesignMerge Pro placeholders were not visible in the document. Placeholders appear with a green underscore (or a blue underscore for DesignMerge Catalog users) that will be visible as long as you are not in InDesign Preview Screen Mode. This version of the software fixes an uncommon issue that sometimes kept these markers hidden despite the current screen mode settings.
NEW! – Much faster performance for network files
OK, this is HUGE! This new release includes enhanced VDP performance for processing data files that reside on network volumes. In addition, a number of enhancements have been implemented to improve overall speed in general. The changes will be most notable when the data files being processed reside on file server volumes, and the VDP job being processed is relatively simple (such as addressing and simple personalization jobs). However, since addressing and simple personalization are very common applications, this new performance feature is certain to dramatically reduce the amount of time required for producing many of your VDP jobs.
NEW! – Embedded Links Now Supported in both Rule Criteria and Actions
In previous versions of the software, it was not possible in the Rule Criteria to compare the values of two different Variable Links (you could only compare the value of one Variable Link to a specific value entered by the user). In this new version, you can now compare the value of two different Variable Links by using the Embedded Link functionality. For example, the Rule Criteria If Field1 is equal to Field2 will compare the data read from a Variable Link named Field1, to the data read from a Variable Link named Field2 for the same data record. In addition, the Embedded Link functionality now supports references to the Current, Previous and Next record being processed. This can be very useful for detecting tray pull changes when printing sorted mailings. Beyond that, you can now use Embedded Links inside of Rule Actions. There are many other uses for Embedded Links, so please be sure to read the following support article for complete details: Working with Embedded Links
NEW (again)! – One-Click Link Assign
Back (and improved) by popular demand, the One-Click Link Assign preference has been added back into the main DesignMerge Pro Preferences (in the Variable Links section). With this preference item enabled, placeholders are assigned in the document as soon as you make a selection in the DesignMerge Pro floating panel. This feature has also been enhanced to support assignment of links by clicking on an item in the Links and Rules Lists that are visible when the floating panel has been expanded (by clicking on the little book icon that has the small arrow above it). We apologize for pulling this feature in the last release, but hey, we made it even better this time!
NEW! – Automatic detection of file format (ASCII or Unicode) during setup process
DesignMerge software provides support for the import of data files that have been encoded in either standard ASCII, or in Unicode (UTF-8) format. In prior versions of the software, the format of the data file would be detected by the software during setup. In this new version, we added a new default data format mode called Auto-Detect. In this mode, the software will automatically detect the format of the data file and adjust the settings accordingly. This can be very useful when files are received from outside sources, and you are not sure if the format will match your setup. With this new feature, the format will be adjusted automatically so you don’t have to worry about it!
NEW! – Additional Preferences for GroupPicture
If you are using the GroupPicture module to import Adobe InDesign document content, you now have more control over which items get imported. The new version of GroupPicture provides a preference item that will allow you to import Master Page content, Locked Items, and also Hidden Items. The locked items can be items that are locked directly, or that appear on a locked layer. The hidden items are those that appear on a hidden layer. These new options can be enabled in the GroupPicture preferences window.
NEW! – Apply and Resize Master Page Action
A new Rule Action called Apply and Resize Master Page is now supported. This option works exactly the same as the current Apply Master Page action, but it will also resize the document page to match the size of the master page being applied. This Action can be very useful for projects that utilize the DesignMerge Pro Build Document feature, but please note that we DO NOT RECOMMEND using this feature for print output, especially for PPML output. The reason for this is that the PPML page sizing is set at the start of the session, and the software will not be able to accommodate page sizes that suddenly change dimensions while in the middle of a VDP merge. So we urge you to use this new feature with caution.
NEW! – Localized Language Support for German, French, and Spanish
If you are running the English language version of Adobe InDesign, you might not care about this new feature, but if you are running the German, French, or Spanish version, then the DesignMerge Pro menu items will now be in the same language as your version of Adobe InDesign. To perform the translation of menu items, dialogs, and alerts, we hired local language experts who were also experienced DesignMerge Pro end users. So we expect that you will be quite pleased with the translations, however, if you notice any errors, or if you feel an item should be worded in a different fashion, we absolutely welcome and appreciate your feedback! Please feel free to contact John Kriho directly with any language change requests.
Support for InDesign Creative Cloud 2019
This release now fully supports the CC 2019 release of Adobe InDesign.
Support for Macintosh Mojave
This release has been tested and verified with the latest Macintosh OS.
NEW! – Enhanced User Interface
This release now includes a revised and enhanced user interface, which is sure to help streamline your VDP setup. Almost all of the features can now be accessed from under the DesignMerge Panel menu. This means that the entire software program can now be controlled from within the DesignMerge panel.
NEW! – Overset Text Report
A new reporting feature has been added that will scan a document and report any overset text frames located within the document. A sample of the overset text is displayed in the report, and the user can select and identify the frame by clicking the Show Me button. Overset text detection an also be automatically enabled in Data Preview mode by enabling the DesignMerge preference item called Show Overset Text Info. When this option is enabled, the software will scan for and detect overset text frames during a Data Preview session, and report the number of overset frames located at the bottom of the Data Preview panel.
Database Definition is now Data Source Definition (but it’s still just DDF for short!)
The Database Definition terminology has been changed. The new reference is called a Data Source Definition, but we are maintaining the acronym DDF to reference this feature. Also note that the Quick Setup button is now just called Setup, and selecting this option will automatically warn you if your document has already been set up for VDP.
Better Performance for Box/Frame Tags
The software has been modified to provide much faster merging for documents that utilize Frame/Box tags.
Setup DDF (formerly Quick Setup) Button Renamed (again)
The Setup DDF button has been renamed to simply Setup. This feature can be also be accessed by choosing Data Source Setup from under the DesignMerge panel menu. (And we promise no more changes to the Quick Setup/Setup DDF/Setup in the future!)