My friend Randy received a customer’s InDesign CS4 file which simply refused to package all of its links. There’s an easily-overlooked option in the Links panel menu that will copy all links manually (Utilities > Copy Links To…), but even that refused to gather more than a few links.
I exported the file to InDesign Interchange (.inx), opened the .inx file in InDesign CS4, confident that would do the trick, but to no avail. So I opened the .inx file in InDesign CS3; no luck. I searched for known issues, but “failure to package links” didn’t appear anywhere. There was nothing exotic about the links — just TIFFs, EPSs, and JPEGs.
I decided to slap it one more time: I exported an .inx file out of CS3, and opened that file back up in CS3 — and that file worked. Finally, I could package all the links!
But why? Clearly, this file was in need of an exorcism, but it had to be reincarnated twice to scrub off the evil. Curious, I went back to the original CS4 file Randy had sent, and poked around.
InDesign offers a method for finding out the detailed information about your installation of InDesign: It’s called the InDesign Component Information screen (isn’t that impressive?). Not only that, but it gives the complete history of an InDesign file. To access this handy screen, hold down the Command (Apple/Pretzel) key while choosing InDesign > About InDesign on the Mac. On the PC, hold down Control while choosing Help > About InDesign.
(Note: the document history is wiped out if the file has been created via a Markzware Q2ID conversion or a QuarkXPress or PageMaker file, or if it’s been exported to .inx).
When I consulted the Component Information screen for the evil file, I discovered that it was deeply scarred. It had crashed repeatedly (12 times in a few hours on one day alone). It was worked on in Mac InDesign CS2, then opened in Windows CS3. Finally, it spent some time in Mac InDesign CS4, under Leopard (10.5.4). It’s a newsletter, and the customer apparently just reworks the same file for each issue, deleting and adding content. At least the Interchange trip back through CS3 managed to clear out the debris, but this thing was a nightmare!
What’s the moral of this story? There are several:
- Use templates! When you open a template, you’re really opening a copy of the template file, giving yourself a clean start rather than just piling on paint and wallpaper. Overworked files can become fragile and neurotic.
- Be wary of jumping platforms, unless you’re using solely OpenType fonts, and staying within the same version of InDesign.
- Find out all you can about the ancestry of a misbehaving file. If it’s been through the wringer like this file had been, give up on trying to keep it happy. Instead, use InDesign Interchange to “purify” it before you continue.