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DTPtools Releases Astonishing Plug-in Beta

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I know that virtually everything in InDesign is a plug-in, and therefore virtually everything inside InDesign could theoretically be changed. But DTPtools’ release of a public beta of their Page Control plug-in pushes that limit to a degree that literally made me gasp. The plug-in lets you create custom page sizes inside an InDesign document — yes, more than one page size inside a document! Page 1 could be Letter and page 2 could be A3, page 3 could be the size of an envelope. Wow.
This wouldn’t seem like a big deal except that it’s something that I’ve heard users want in a page-layout program since the early 1990s. QuarkXPress 6 and 7 offer a solution based on merging multiple documents (“layouts”) inside a single XPress document. But this plug-in goes farther and lets you create a three-page spread in which the third page is slightly narrower than the others (so that it will fold into the other two properly when printed).

Now, I need to say that I have only barely used this plug-in, and it’s only a public beta right now… so I am not ready to really review how well it works. But the fact that it works at all is shocking enough to be news to all InDesign users. Take a look and let us know what you think.
[By the way, Page Control was produced with the help of one of our contributors, Pariah S. Burke. Way to go, Pariah!]

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at 63p.com.
  • Brendan says:

    Excellent! I can understand your enthusiasm for this plug-in – let’s hope it works as well as we hope it will!

  • “Astonishing”! Why think you, David. I’ve wanted to enable multiple page sizes in InDesign for years, but the problems faced by a particular client’s workflow last year was the final straw. The client produced 200-400 page books, with an average of 1 in every 10 pages being oversized foldouts. To produce a single book in InDesign they were using upwards of 50 one- to twelve-page .indd files managed by the book palette. It was ridiculous, and that client was by no means the only publisher I’ve seen suffering under such unproductive workflows. I knew I had to have Page Control made. DTP Tools did a fantastic job–as they do with all their plug-ins–and brought new ideas to the project that made it all the better. Page Control is going to help a lot of creatives, and that was always my goal.

  • Download it and try, Brendan. David linked my name to the page containing the links to the 14-day trial downloads.

  • Shawn Young says:

    Great News! I wonder how I’ll like it when it comes time to print. Sometimes I wish InDesign has a master pasteboard like Freehand, where you could zoom all the way out and see all your pages at once. Maybe the pages palette will reflect the different page sizes somehow? I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

  • Shawn Young says:

    Ok, I know you can zoom all the way out to see all pages… Ha. My last comment was poorly composed! I really like the plugin, very easy to use and the command are right in the pages palette fly-out, very cool. I’m wondering why resized pages don’t stay left aligned with other pages however (non-facing pages). I’m sure there’s a reason but I can’t figure it out. This is a great tool – Thanks Pariah!

  • The spreads are center aligned (InDesign does it, but you can’t tell when all the pages have the same size).
    We can add the left alignment in the next version as an option. I’m glad you like this tool, Shawn. Ifthere’s something you’d like to improve, we’d love to hear it (Pages palette -> DTP Tools Page Control -> feedback and support -> ) Thanks!

  • Linus Wang says:

    Actually?I am more interested in the other beta product of DTPTool, MIF Filter, which could transfer the FrameMaker mif files into InDesign. This is really cool for dealing with huge amounts of technical documents conversion requseted by the Clients.

  • Scott says:

    As a designer, this sounds great. As a print service provider, it sounds like a potential nightmare. I can foresee a total workflow meltdown when trying to impose multiple page sizes. Can you please provide an overview of how multiple page sizes are handled in either a PS or PDF production workflow?

  • There is no doubt that this could cause significant imposition problems if everyone isn’t on the same page (no pun intended). However, PDF has supported multiple page sizes for many years. When I exported a PDF from a document with 5 different page sizes, I got exactly what I expected: It was the same as if I had exported one page from five different documents then appended them together with Acrobat Pro.

  • Steve Werner says:

    David is correct that exporting PDF is the way to go because then the page size is retained. However, I found three issues so far (one of which I think the plug-in should deal with):
    (1) DON’T CHOOSE FILE > DOCUMENT SETUP. It will override your page sizes. After creating five pages sizes like David did, I chose the Document Setup dialog box to add bleeds. All the pages reverted to the size shown there?8.5 x 11. I think at the least there should be a warning about that!
    (2) There is no way I can tell (other than looking at the rulers) what the page size is AFTER you’ve created it. There’s no way for a service provider to know what page sizes are in the document. I think that should also be fixed.
    (3) When you choose File > Print, you get a warning (“This document contains multiple page sizes. Printing might require special handling.”) That is certainly true because you can only choose ONE page size when printing. So printing directly would require me to choose to print each page with individual settings.

  • Steve Werner says:

    Another thought: Maybe the plug-in should place an indicator on the pages that differ from the document setup (much like the checkboard pattern for transparency). Pausing over such a page on the Pages palette should show a tooltip which shows the page dimensions.

    But as to setting bleeds, I guess that it has to be set manually at this point. That might be another level of enhancement.

  • Steve,

    GREAT feedback and suggestions there. Thank you! This is EXACTLY why we put it into a public beta phase before release–to see what we missed and what we need to improve on to make Page Control the best possible answer to the age old problem of multiple page sizes.

    Jan and I will look at the excellent points you raised.

  • Thanks for the valuable feedback, Steve.
    1) We’ve kept this as a safety switch to change all page sizes to the same size (missing features you mention in point 2 being one reason). I’ve already got a lot of comments about this, so instead of describing this in the User Guide, we’ll create another dialog where you’d choose whether to change only the page parameters, or also the size.
    2) The current page size can now only be checked in the resize dialog. I can see a space for improvements. I can’t promise them for the final release, but we’ll have some page size reporting in Page Control.
    3) maybe we’ll find a way around this one day.

    Linus, I have some good news for you, MIF Filter Beta 2 will be available within days now. Sneak peek – Custom font replacement, improved conversion, cross references, variables, sideheads…

  • Steve,
    thanks for the tip with the indicator. Unfortunately, this is somethink we can’t do (we’d have to move the plug-in to it’s own palette, like with our other plug-in – Layer Groups).
    We’re open to tips and ideas to solve this most conveniently for the users.

  • Scott says:

    >>However, PDF has supported multiple page sizes for many years.

    I’ve received PDFs from customers containing multiple page sizes. They conveniently forget to tell me (of they just didn’t know), and I only discover it when I try to impose the job with Quite Imposing. Needless to say, it produces some wacky signatures!

    I like the idea of visual indicators in the Pages palette. That would at least give an initial warning that the job required special handling. That wouldn’t help, however, if you received only the PDF output file. Would there be any way to have the plugin add a Comment box to the exported PDF file to alert the prepress techs?

  • Joop says:

    When I download the plug in, I get a broken invalid file. Does anyone know where to download a working demo?

  • Thanks for the tip Scott.
    I’ve added it to the list of improvements. If it’s technically possible, we’ll do it.

    Joop, please try downloading again. The file on our server seems is checked to be ok. If you won’t succeed, please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the file via e-mail .

  • New to Indesign says:

    For me, an old freehand user, It’s a dream-comes true! Thanks for a life-changing plug in!

  • Thanks to all your great feedback and support, we’ve managed to finish the plug-in. It has just started shipping. 14-days try-out is available at http://www.dtptools.com/pagecontrol

    Thanks David for posting this story and thanks to everyone for contributing ideas and feature tips.

    Most of them are incorporated in the release version, some will appear in the next update:
    inx support
    optional page size info bellow every page

  • DL-T says:

    FrameMaker could do this long ago. As usual.

  • Andy says:

    Does this tool work with any InDesign imposition software – such as the bundled CS2 InBooklet SE – so far my attempts have proven fruitless. It’s a lovely idea but I need to be able to easily output to an imposed .pdf. Any ideas?

  • Andy, in general you should expect to do imposition post-PDF. Use a tool like Quark’s Print Collection to handle the imposition. Or better yet, tell your printer to do it! (Unless you are a printer. ;) )

  • Andy says:

    Aye – I usually would but I’m having to put a few things together in house on this job. I’ll look into Print Collection – thanks!

  • Bill Ware says:

    It is my understanding that Quark’s Print Collection will only install if QuarkXPress is present.

  • Bill, I just checked with Quark and they insist that you don’t need QX to install Print Collection (if you’re only using the Acrobat plug-ins).

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