Review: Free Style Flocker Plug-In Brings True Stylesheets to InDesign

PAGE 2: Review: Free Style Flocker Plug-In Brings True Stylesheets to InDesign

2006
May
11

The Good Having experience with layer groups using DTP Tools improved Layers palette for InDesign and InCopy or Photoshop’s and Illustrator’s native layer sets will make Style Flocker almost instantly usable. Even without the prior familiarity to the concept, it’s an easy learn. After a fast and easy installation, Style Flocker pops up automatically with […]

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The Good

Having experience with layer groups using DTP Tools improved Layers palette for InDesign and InCopy or Photoshop’s and Illustrator’s native layer sets will make Style Flocker almost instantly usable. Even without the prior familiarity to the concept, it’s an easy learn.

After a fast and easy installation, Style Flocker pops up automatically with InDesign. Initially, with no documents opened, Style Flocker will show only InDesign’s six default styles–“Basic Paragraph,” “No Paragraph Style,” “Basic Graphics Frame,” “Basic Text Frame,” and two “None” styles, one each from the Character and Object styles palettes. These automatically appear in an “InDesign Defined Styles” flock (aka group). Opening a pre-created document that has its own style definitions will add those into the palette under “User Defined Styles.”

At the bottom of the palette, beside the cleverly placed RogueSheep logo, is the standard icon New button. Clicking the New button will create a new flock. Name it inline, then proceed to drag styles from either the “InDesign Defined Styles” or “User Defined Styles” groups (twirl down the expansion arrow if necessary). To created nested flocks, simply drag one flock and drop it atop another.

Just like in Photoshop or Illustrator, these groups can be renamed inline by double-clicking on the name, or by choosing the Rename Flock command from the palette’s flyout menu. Flocks can be deleted by dragging them to the equally familiar trash can at the bottom of the palette or with the Remove Flock command, also on the palette flyout menu.

Make a mistake? No problem: Like everything else in InDesign, actions on the StyleFlock palette are undoable with CMD+Z (CTRL+Z on Windows).

Style Flocker delete
Figure 3: With a style selected, the grey remove button appears.

When clicking on a style, a grey circle with an X inside appears to the right, as you can see in Figure three. Clicking the X will remove the style from the Style Flocker palette, but not from the document. This is very handy for reducing the clutter of InDesign’s default and undeleteable styles such as “Basic Paragraph” or “None”. Accidentally unflocked styles remain on their respective native palettes, and can be re-flocked with the palette menu’s Add submenus (see Figure 4). Three in all, these submenus provide live listings of the contents of the Paragraph, Character, and Object Styles palettes; one click adds the style into Style Flocker without the need to go through a messy import dialog. If even that isn’t convenient enough for you, you can drag styles directly from the native InDesign palettes into Style Flocker–even multiple styles all at once!

Style Flocker's Palette Menu
Figure 4: Style Flocker’s palette flyout menu and Add Paragraph Style submenu.

To apply styles, simply select text or objects as usual, and click on a style entry in Style Flocker.

All the styles, of any type, applied to the currently selected item are listed in the palette’s status area at the top. You can see at a glance which paragraph, character, and object styles are applied to the selected text and/or object without having to look through–and possibly scroll within–multiple palettes or tab between the Paragraph and Character Styles palettes.

(On a side note: It has always bugged me to no end that InDesign’s default workspace has those two palettes grouped and tabbed so they can’t be seen and used simultaneously. The very first thing I do when setting up a new InDesign workspace is to stack Paragraph Styles above Character Styles. While there are always exceptions, I ask you: Who doesn’t most often use paragraph styles while employing character styles?)

Styles can even appear in multiple flocks simultaneously. Say, for example, the “Subhead” paragraph style is identical across a project’s multiple sections. Drag the “Subhead” style from the Paragraph Styles palette and drop it into all of the section flocks. The style itself won’t be duplicated–changing the actual style on the Paragraph Styles palette still changes all instances throughout the document–it’s just the references to it that are replicated.

And, this brings us to Style Flocker’s limitations.

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