case studies

Extreme Ad Makeover with InData

Consultant extraordinaire Gil Poulsen has written another incredible tutorial/case study detailing how he’s building real estate ads for newspapers in his area using Em’s InData product.

It’s in three parts:

Extreme Ad Makeover with InDesign/InData (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)

Read all three parts for an in-depth tutorial, with helpful pointers at the end.

WordsFlow at Eastern European Mission

Scott Hayes at the Eastern European Mission ( writes eloquently about how WordsFlow has transformed their incredibly challenging multi-lingual workflow. Key insight:

For us WordsFlow was a revolution in technology unlike anything we have implemented in the last 10 years.

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DocsFlow at the Star News Group

Super-consultant Gil Poulsen has written a fantastic overview of how the New Jersey-based Star News Group has adopted DocsFlow for their editorial workflow.

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DocsFlow at Agidea

Matt Dunton, digital UX (user experience) designer at Agidea, has written a very helpful overview of their use of DocsFlow and how it solves “the problem of inflexible workflow between copy and designers.”

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InData builds 2100-page directory for RIBA

Phil Handley, Design and Production Manager, and Michèle Woodger, Content Editor, share with us how they built a complex directory for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

RPS2014_Flexy_CoverThe RIBA Product Selector directory is a hard-copy publication featuring construction product information and advertising material, distributed to 20,000 architects each year. The publication contains 8 different indexes with cross references, 800 pages of advertising material and a further 500 pages of educational/continuing professional development information. Until 2013 it was published as a 2500 page, two-volume hardback set, with four corresponding websites making use of the same data.

The directory has been in print since 1982, and due to this formidable 32 year history, the business workflows were complex (advertisements and indexes are handled by two distinct teams), the pre-existing, un-user-friendly DTP software was no longer suitable, and the directory contents were in need of a design refresh.

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DocsFlow helps out at Syracuse University

Seth Gitner, Assistant Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, writes:

In early 2012, a dozen students in the Multimedia Projects course at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University set out to create an interactive storytelling mobile tablet application on Central New York’s notorious winters.

Famous for frigid temperatures and record-crushing snowfalls, Central New York averages 116.9 inches of snow annually. During the previous winter, more than 179 inches of snow accumulated, making “winter” a natural choice for an interactive storytelling project.

The story ends with a call-out to DocsFlow:

The stories for this application were inserted using a content management system that combined Google Documents and InDesign using the InDesign plugin DocsFlow, from Em Software.

Go read the whole thing—it’s a great story.

Xtags helps CatBase automate imoderni catalogs

Pat Bensky of CatBase fame, describes how Xtags works with CatBase to produce imoderni‘s catalogs. (Also see the CatBase case study for Kellogs for another application of Xtags Pro.)

imoderni catalog p43The entire document was built automatically, with minimal intervention from the user, telling InDesign to create the table of contents, for example.

(Click on the graphic to see the full pdf.)

  • The data is maintained in CatBase. This includes all the details, picture names and sizes, etc.
  • The customer selects which products to publish (e.g., all products for one manufacturer, as in the attached example; all products of a certain type, such as sofas; all products that a certain dealer sells; all products in a certain collection; etc.).

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DocsFlow accelerates annual report production at literacy project

In general, we’re happy to donate software to qualified educational institutions (for teaching applications) and to non-profit organizations, and we did so for Wisconsin Literacy a few months ago. Sheila McGrath kindly reports back with a very positive review of using DocsFlow with InDesign for their annual report production.

WiscLitCoverThank you so much for giving us DocsFlow. Wisconsin Literacy produced their annual report using DocsFlow, with me as an off-site volunteer graphic designer.

(Click on the annual report cover for the full pdf version.)

DocsFlow for CS4 worked very well for flowing text into InDesign. I was not able to get custom style-mapping to work automatically (likely an older Mac Javascript version on my machine rather than a DocsFlow problem) but I had no problem importing text into InDesign smoothly. I just re-imported text after changes and my styles were retained, so all was well. The Links panel indications of file changes worked fine also.

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InData builds annual commercial real estate directory

Mike Docker, InData developer extraordinaire, shares with us how he used InData with InDesign to build an annual commercial real estate directory.

Estates Gazette (EG) is the weekly magazine for the UK commercial property trade, and each year it produces a directory of warehousing and distribution parks across the country with space available for rent or purchase.


The data is held in an Excel spreadsheet, which is updated from information provided by property agents. This comes into the EG offices at different times and is handled by different staff members. Also, each distribution park can be represented by multiple agents, so it is not uncommon for one park to be entered into the spreadsheet several times.

As publication date approaches the agents are reminded to check and amend the data they have provided, and the updated spreadsheet becomes the source for the printed directory.

The magazine’s production team had been using cut-and-paste techniques to get the text on to the page but they approached the task with dread as each year rolled around. I persuaded them to give InData a try.

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Xtags streamlines production process for hundreds of newspapers and magazines with Pre1

Mark Jockin, CEO of Pre1 Software in Portland, Oregon explains how Em Software’s Xtags product became a backbone of the Pre1 newspaper software sold to hundreds of publications across the Americas.

pre1-casestudy-figure4In 1999, Pre1 first sold its newspaper software to an alternative newsweekly in Portland, Oregon. Today, more than 400 titles are printed using Pre1’s SmartPublisher, with more coming online each month. By now, literally millions of ads have been converted into print. Xtags made it all possible.

Pre1’s mission is to streamline workflow for publications by integrating into one product multiple business processes vital to newspaper and magazine publishers. For the most part, every publication works the same. The sales reps sell ads, the accountants collect money, and the production department builds the ads. When deciding how to unite these various disciplines in a single software product for newspapers and magazines, Pre1’s challenge was which technologies to count on to get the job done.

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InCatalog a critical part of skiing/snowboarding guide workflow

Chris Gill, Editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard, Britain’s leading winter sports resort guide, writes about how InCatalog acts as a critical part of their automated editorial processes.

WTSS_Sample_TignesWhere to Ski and Snowboard is the British skier’s “bible”—a comprehensive and detailed annual guidebook running to 700 pages, covering of all the major ski resorts in Europe and North America. It was first published in 1994, became an annual publication a few years later and is now in its 15th edition.

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InData builds antiquarian books catalog

Pia Oliver at Randall House Rare Books in Santa Barbara tells how they use InData to save “enormous time.”

Randall House featuredWe create our rare book catalogues utilizing InData to get the data from our database into our layout program. We use FileMaker Pro v.10 and InDesign CS4 (previously we used QuarkXpress). Since our data is very strictly formatted and our catalogues consist of unique items, averaging 500-800 at a time, it would be dreadful having to do all this formatting by hand. The plug-in saves us enormous time.

(Click on the graphic above for the full pdf version.)

I have attached a pdf of the finished product of one of our catalogues created this way. All of the information for the books are taken from approximately 25 different fields for each record/book. I first began using InData for a catalogue that consisted of more than 1,000 books.

InData helps a building materials company

Dave Karras, Marketing Manager at Wimsatt Building Materials, has a great success story about using InData to build a whole range of marketing materials.

Wimsatt featuredAs a wholesale distributor of building products, Wimsatt Building Materials delivers roofing, siding, insulation, windows, doors, and composite lumber to builders and contractors across the state of Michigan. With 20,000+ SKUs in over 1500 categories, our Marketing Department had a formidable challenge in communicating building product information to several audiences across multiple media. Our annual printed contractor catalog, our regularly-updated internal price pages, and our online catalog were all isolated production processes that required a great deal of manual effort on the part of the design team and proofreading on the part of our Inventory Department.

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DocsFlow is a huge time saver at a non-profit

David Rager, a designer/art director in Paris who works with a non-profit organization called The Ecology Center in California, has been using DocsFlow recently and is quite enthusiastic about the product.

Evolve508I’ve been plugging away with DocsFlow over the last few months and found it that it’s been a huge time saver. What I love most is that it takes away the trouble I often run into with the conventional edit, proofread, approval, repeat system. My clients are also very happy that they get to interact with a live document and see how their text edits change the way the design looks and feels.

Our first “DocsFlow project” came back from press recently, 5 contributors were involved, each updating their own docs and everyone is very pleased with the results.

(Click on the graphic to review the issue.)

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