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Another New Feature is Coming to InDesign CC: Import PDF Comments

Oops, they did it again! Adobe has published another blog post showing a soon-to-be-released InDesign feature. This time it’s the ability to import PDF comments into InDesign layouts.

According to the post, “With this release, you can import marked-up PDFs and easily track the feedback and comments noted in the PDF files. You can accept comments and apply changes with a single click.  Selecting a comment will conveniently highlight where in the document the comment is targeted.”

Here’s a brief video showing the new feature.

Editor in Chief of CreativePro and InDesign Magazine. Instructor at LinkedIn Learning with courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Affinity Publisher.
  • I often gripe that Apple seems go out of its way remove hardware features I like and add those I hate. With Adobe, the opposite seems true. While the pace of change isn’t what I would like for ID-CC, the features they’re adding on the ones I want most—particularly endnotes and incorporating PDF notes.

    What would I like next? I shared that with Seattle’s ID team years ago: A way to use an iPad as an editing and layout tool. And by that I don’t mean just moving panels to an iPad screen. I mean having common but tedious, multi-step procedures become merely a quick scroll and tapping on an iPad.

    Imagine long scrolling lists (i.e. paragraph styles or index entries) that are on an iPad screen with quick flipping through them and tapping. That would save hours of time.

    Imagine search and replaces with multiple choices for the replace.

    Imagine a way to scroll through the document with an iPad and assign paragraph styles to multiple paragraphs with a single tap.

    It’s use a tablet for what it does best.

  • Nithy says:

    super option. we have struggled last 5 years 1000 more comments pdf. this option really helpful.

  • Ruben Solér says:

    Improve accuracy and save tons of time? Yes please! Great update.

  • Ceph says:

    Wow, this is great. Does anyone know if this new feature would work for editors using InCopy? It would be great if they could see the InDesign layout and review the text comments from the PDF in that program too.

  • Kimberly Hoffman says:

    When is the update supposed to happen?

  • John Reynolds says:

    OMG. If this is 100% accurate, it’s going to change my life and many others.

    (Just don’t tell my clients.)

    • John Reynolds says:

      When I say “accurate” I don’t mean David’s post. I mean the accuracy of the function itself. Would be wonderful to not have to go through 1500 price change markups and just trust that they’re correct.

  • David Creamer says:

    I figured it was a matter of time… Acrobat could import comments with Word for Windows documents and it could be done with Adobe FrameMaker files for a long time.

    The DTP Tools Annotations plug-in has provided this feature to ID for years. It’s unfortunate that the company will take a hit in sales (unless Adobe purchased the plug-in from them??). Luckily, they still make a bunch of really useful plug-ins.

  • Sarah Dukes says:

    So, you import the PDF back into the InDesign file to view/accept changes? How does that work… in layers?

  • David Blatner David Blatner says:

    @Sarah: You choose “Import PDF” and it loads in the comments into the panel. Then you can review visually or click Accept to make the change (for insertion or deletions). You can accept all, but personally I wouldn’t because people are sloppy when making changes in Acrobat… you don’t want to insert or delete characters you didn’t mean to.

    @David: No, this is different than DTP Tools’ plug-in, and just as many people continued to use their X-Refs Pro plug-in after InDesign started doing cross-references, I think people will keep using Annotations. It’s probably still better.

    @Michael P: Speaking of DTP Tools, have you seen their IDML iOS app? https://www.dtptools.com/product.asp?id=idml

  • Laura Haywood says:

    An update I can use! Yay!

  • Frans van der Geest says:

    Yes, X refs Pro and Annotations are still FAR better!

  • Theunis De Jong says:

    Better late than never! As David wrote quite a while ago, “I wish I could import annotations from PDF or FDF files so I could see them in InDesign!”

    Have used DTPTools Annotations for years and it’s pretty good — but at times it makes a document buggy, or it doesn’t import ALL annotations. Also, it does not import custom formatting (although the short movie doesn’t show if Adobe’s version can).

  • Steve Werner says:

    It’s important to realize that this is version 1 of this feature. So don’t build too high expectations for it to be bug-free and to solve every problem you’ve ever encountered!

  • Tim says:

    This is a great addition to the program.

  • karen says:

    It’s a great addition to the program IF it works. Sure would be helpful if the feature incorporates the font attributes in the comment, corrections such as underscore, bold, italic. as well as accepting combination of them at one time (a word is bold, underscored).

  • Joan Keyes says:

    GREAT update! Now to teach my authors how to actually use the edit options!

  • Sundar C says:

    Excellent Update!

    This update is applicable for XML workflow also, or only Non-XML workflow only. Please confirm!!!

    This property can access through InDesign scripting, its possible.

  • @Sundar: The new version was released today. You can check it out, but I suspect it is for a non-XML workflow.

    • Matt Mayerchak says:

      As of this release, the Annotations plugin from DTP Tools is far superior – it shows you where the comments are on the page when you click on one, allows you to accept a whole page at once, and then leave highlights to show you where they were so you can check all the extra or missing word spaces etc. and then remove them once you’re OK with what has changed.

      The CC2019 version of this feature is not ready for prime-time, and is likely to lead people to avoid using it altogether if it cannot map some of the comments to the text. Fixing 90% of the editorial corrections is worse than not being there, because it can give you a false sense of security that you caught all the edits when you didn’t. Nobody wants a reputation for doing the job right 90% of the time.

  • Drew says:

    Import comments issue.
    Whilst I think the import comments from a pdf is great and will save time, especially on long docs, and should increase accuracy. But. Indesign will only import commented pdfs if the original pdf is made using the latest version of Indesign. I have tried this. I opened a layout into IDCC19 and then tried to import the last pdf commented round of changes – very minor – and it gives a dialogue warning saying the pdf was created in an older version on indesign choose another pdf. Not good. Sure going forward this will be great, but it would have been nice to have had the new update – as it is one of the key features Adobe highlight – accept marked up pdfs from at least version CC18. A bit disappointed in Sydney.

    • Theunis De Jong says:

      I agree, I cannot find any reasonable technical reason why this is made to be a hard limit.

      Comments don’t “live” in the formatted text in a PDF; they appear as separate objects. All matching to the original text needs to be done using their coordinates on the page. As mentioned before in this thread, DTPTools Annotations does not have (much of) a problem with this.

      • Matt Mayerchak says:

        I agree. It seems very strange that the PDF needs to have been made from CC2019 InDesign. What difference should that make to the XY coordinates of the text? There are so many different kinds of PDFs you can make from any version of InDesign – different color spaces, resolutions, tagged/not tagged, with layers or not, including compatibility with older versions of Acrobat. The whole purpose of PDF is that you don’t need the InDesign software to print or read the file. If you make a X1A PDF from CC2019 or CC2017, it should be the same, so why can’t InDesign read comments made on an older PDF, as long as they are made using a recent version of Acrobat?

  • Ruo Pu Koh says:

    great for the ideal world, but i rarely get a properly marked up PDF.

  • Matt Mayerchak says:

    I do get properly-marked up PDFs – but only when I am able to send the editor a test PDF before we do the real work. I always ask if I can communicate with the editor about this immediately upon starting a book. If they are open to working this way and willing to do a 2-page test file, it can really work great (using the Annotations PDF plugin – so far Adobe’s implementation is not ready for prime time).

    If you are in a workflow with regular editors, such as an in-house team, and they can be trained to use this workflow, it can be a real timesaver.

    Unfortunately, if they just try it themselves without discussing it first, they never do it right. This is one area where the “intuitive” way to do it is never correct.

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