DocsFlow Plugin Connects Online Google Docs to Adobe InDesign Layouts

The updated plugin dynamically links online Google Docs with InDesign layouts in progress to create a multi-user workflow.

If you're an InDesign user working within a corporate environment, you've probably experienced the hassle of having to collect the various text elements for a publication via email or a service like Dropbox. But then the fun really started when you had to manage the comments, changes and suggestions being generated by various contributors, leading to endless cycles of importing, exporting, comparing and re-writing. Not to mention crossing your fingers that no errors or omissions had been created.

DocsFlow provides a novel approach to moving beyond the confusion and bottlenecks of such traditional methods by integrating the free Google Docs application. This is no Microsoft Word but rather is a basic text editor that allows multiple users to collaborate on and edit the same online document. The active link between the successive drafts of the text and the story as it appears in the formatted InDesign layout is said to allow writers, editors and designers to work individually or collaboratively, all at the same time.

Once a source Google Docs document is linked with an InDesign story, layout users will be immediately alerted to any edits that occur in the Google Docs content. And by double-clicking on the source-changed icon in the InDesign Links palette, all changes can be merged into the story automatically, via DocsFlow's three-way merge (of the current story contents, the previous Google Docs document and the current Google Docs document). If there is a chance of collisions in the editing process, users can check the Story Editor to see who changed what, and how those changes fit in (or not) with the local story edits.

Most (but not all, apparently) of the text-level formatting done in Google Docs will import into InDesign intact, and Google Docs' block-level styles are mapped to default InDesign styles. Designers can control the basic character and paragraph-level style mapping using DocsFlow's Import Options when placing.

DocsFlow 7 for Mac and Windows Adobe InDesign CS5/5.5 can be purchased on the Em Software page for $200. A trial version is available for download.