Go in deep for a long overdue examination of InCopy, the features new to version CS2, how InCopy cut one major publisher’s 60-day book production schedule down to 9 days, and how it will save you time, man-power, and money over Microsoft Word in a collaborative creative and editorial workflow.
As exciting and important as InCopy is to the modern collaborative workflow, there’s still room for improvement.
Layout assignments: In newspaper, magazine, book, and just about any type of copy-intensive, multi-page publishing, it’s more common than not for the entire publication to be worked on simultaneously by several designers. While InDesign’s Book palette and INBK book file handles logically chunked long documents like books or catalogs, they don’t help the collaborative workflow for periodicals, which rely on multiple INDD layouts–each containing the issue’s full page count. In such processes, each designer or team is responsible for laying out a section, which is only married to the other sections and drop-in ads during imposition.
The InDesign-InCopy parallel workflow needs to be updated to allow for multiple InDesign users to be working on assigned sections of the same layout. It needs layout assignments wherein the creative director assigns one or more pages or spreads to each production designer. Then all the creatives on the team open the same INDD file with not only the ability to manipulate the content of the existing frames, as is available with InCopy LiveEdit assignments, but also the ability to manipulate–and create or delete–the frames themselves. Assigning creatives (the creative director, in this case) should have spread-, page-, and layer-level control over the access granted to assigned designers. For example, the creative director may specify that the assigned creative has access to all of InDesign’s tools and features for work on a pre-created “Foreground” layer, and may create new layers, but that the assigned creative cannot modify, reorder, or hide the “Background” layer, override master page items, or access the spread’s master pages.
Giving InDesign creatives control over what and how much power is doled out to editors creates a one-document -to- many-editors relationship, but it’s still limited by the one-document -to- one-designer relationship. It’s a huge step forward in the collaboration between editorial and production. Now, Adobe needs to unlock collaboration inside the production department.
At the bottom of the InCopy document window is a pop-up pages list for navigation. It does the job, but is one of the least intuitive features of the user interface. A Pages palette, while adding another palette, would make Layout view navigation easier.
Most of InCopy’s other limitations aren’t because Adobe didn’t have foresight. Adobe recognizes that its business model and development processes are not adaptable to every conceivable publishing workflow. More importantly, Adobe values the relationships it has with developers and system integrators who can adapt to the needs of various markets. Thus InCopy CS2, out of the (jewel) box, answers a wide range of needs in the small- to mid-size publishing workflow, leaving larger, more complex, or highly customized needs to the dexterity of Adobe’s partners.
Out of the box, InCopy CS2 is limited to a 2-12-person workgroup. Teams of up to 30 will need to explore third-party database-less solutions like TruEdit from Managing Editor, Inc., a folder-based workflow control system, and Woodwing Software’s Smart Connection. Larger workgroups or those that require database connectivity and content- or asset-management, are in the realm of full-blown InCopy- and InDesign-based platform solutions from system integrators.
There is also no managerial oversight built into InCopy CS2. Designers working in InDesign can override InCopy users-to force check-in of an assignment that may have been left open by a writer at the end of the day, for example. However, the assignment list and who may or may not have checked them out is only available from within the InDesign document, to the designer currently working in the INDD document. Production managers and editors-in-chief cannot independently access the assignments list and check up on their staff.
User identities in both InDesign and InCopy are simple, insecure, and not tied to system usernames or other authentication schemes. At any point (except with an assignment actively checked out) users may change their names in the application.
Adobe’s feeling is is that, if your workflow is large enough and complicated enough to require managerial oversight or user authentication, chances are you have other special needs that are better addressed by a customized solution than by a boxed product.
Another limitation of the standalone InCopy is its lack of support for remote workers. As designed, LiveEdit only works via direct LAN connection–assignment files should be saved to, and opened from, a central server or even the InDesign creative’s local harddrive. Writers can, of course, copy assignment and InCopy stories to their laptops to work off the network, but they must copy the files back to the original location manually upon reconnecting. Going off-line also disables the check-in/check-out control of LiveEdit, leaving assignment files accessible to other personnel, and thus introducing the risk of users overwriting the work of other users. And, of course, all the other benefits of the LiveEdit connection are rendered moot the moment a user disconnects from the network.
Even off-line, the document snapshot is still visible in Layout view, but cannot be resynchronized with the InDesign layout.
Although Adobe says users disliked automated content updates to keep the InCopy Layout view fresh as well as automatically refresh assignment content within InDesign, and recommends creating a custom script to enable such updates, few users of boxed product are savvy enough to write InDesign and InCopy scripts. A better solution would be to build-in the functionality as a preference or Assignments palette menu option, and turn it off by default.
In Part Six of “InCopy CS2: In Production,” we’ll look at InCopy-based solutions that address most of the limitations of the standalone product and amazing feats of production and efficiency.
A Different Workflow
Now that you know what InCopy CS2 is, and how it integrates with InDesign, imagine the typical magazine workflow with InCopy in place of Word.
During a new design or makeover, the art department lays out the magazine template in InDesign. Advertisement slots are created and space relegated to features, departments, columns, and other content sections. Style sheets are built, but text frames need not be filled Greeking and word counts need not be calculated. The art department divides the full issue mockup into separate templates corresponding to the creative and/or editorial team working on each section of the content, then generates assignments for the editorial staff.
Editorial goes to work on its assignments, knowing at all times exactly how many words they need to fill, precisely how their articles will warp and look. The writer or columnist writes his story in InCopy, then checks it in for his editor’s review. She checks out the story, activates the change tracking feature, and edits the story. When she’s finished, she checks it in and e-mails the writer to review the changes. The edit cycle continues, and at some point the writer or editor fills in the headline, kicker, callouts, captions, photo credits–even the photos themselves. Production is never bothered with copy or image placement changes to regular feature pages.
Freed to focus on their own areas of the magazine, editorial and production come together only to discuss non-standard sections of the book, such as feature articles, the cover, and special sections. Hardcopy or PDF proofs are never generated for editorial review because the editorial department can see and enter notes on the entire layout from within InCopy. Everyone stays focused on her own work, the entire team works efficiently, creates better work, and the issue is put to bed early.
Join us Friday, 21 October 2005 for “A Newsletter Designer Looks at InCopy CS2,” part two of our six-part special series, “InCopy CS2: In Production,” when Samuel John Klein will provide a personal account of integrating InCopy CS2 into the real-world production of the Columbia Overlook, the newsletter of the Sierra Club, Oregon Chapter, Columbia Group.
InCopy CS2: In Production 6-Part Special Report: