It’s an extensive course on creating interactive forms in Acrobat, with information on designing form artwork in Word, Illustrator, and InDesign, all the way to performing calculations in forms (so your users don’t have to). And it’s even funny in spots.
Recently, I was out with a group of InDesign geek friends (yes, we travel in packs) having drinks after a day-long seminar. Mind you, this is a group of some of the brightest — and funniest — guys I know. We’d had a few rounds of debilitating laughter already, so we were primed to laugh easily. As we were sharing keyboard shortcuts (or something like that), a woman from a nearby table came over and struck up a conversation with one of the guys. Soon, she began handing out her business cards. In the dim light, we each looked down at the card she’d handed us, and apparently all had the same thought simultaneously, finally voiced by one of the guys: “Uh, I can’t pronounce your last name.” Loosened up by earlier laughing fits, we all started chuckling. Finally, someone said it aloud: “Well, I think she’s Polish. Or maybe Czech.” That was the last straw, and we dissolved in the final laughing fit of the evening (well, maybe you had to be there…) Let me explain. Here’s a recreation of the card, with the name and company changed to protect the kerning-impaired. Squint to replicate looking at it under subdued lighting.
The professional abbreviation, CITP.CPA, is so tightly set, and so close to the name, that a casual reader reads it all as one unit, seeing “CITPCPA” as the last name. Of course, a careful re-reading decodes it correctly. But after a couple of Bailey’s, it’s fairly hilarious.
Here, I’ve reworked the name and title to prevent such hilarity. The dual professional designations are separated by a slash, and generous kerning before and after the slash makes it unambiguous. See? Good kerning isn’t just a nicety—it’s a must.
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to the business card of a real person, living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental. Professional driver on closed course. Your kerning values may vary. No offense is intended to Polish or Czech individuals, or any other vowel-limited group.
UPDATE: Mike Bartus discovered an error in the files — I am so embarrassed! The 0% cyan and 5% cyan pages were incorrect. Thanks for the heads-up, Mike! I’ve fixed the error and posted new files. A reminder: they’re just C+M+Y (no black) because all of the CMYK permutations would result in way too many pages. But I hope you still find the files useful.
Remember when printing companies used to give out free tint sample books, showing combinations of cyan, magenta, and yellow so you could get an idea of what your CMYK combos might look? I haven’t seen one in a while, so I have created files so you can print your own. Of course, unless your printing device is carefully profiled, your output won’t necessarily match a commercial printer’s results. But if you print in-house, you may find them helpful. They show only combinations of C+M+Y —adding all the black combinations would result in over 400 pages, so I’m afraid you’ll have to imagine what adding, say, 15%K might produce.
I’ve provided two versions (same links; new files):
Hope you find them useful!
The forms auto-recognition feature in Acrobat X Pro is powerful and fast — it creates form fields based on elements in the PDF (such as lines, boxes, circles, etc.), and names them according to nearby text. While you often have to tweak the results — for example, creating fields it missed, renaming fields with paragraph-long names — it can be a timesaver. So why wouldn’t you always use it?
Recently, I worked on a large project with lots of numbered fields, and that experience sort of sharpened my thinking about auto vs. manual. Because I needed short, concise field names on pages with tons of neighboring text, I decided that renaming would take as long as creating from scratch, with less chance of error. On pages like the one shown above, I could’ve created all 40 fields almost instantaneously by letting Acrobat auto-recognize them, but I elected to create them by using the Place Multiple Fields feature.
That probably sounds like the long way around, but there was a method to my madness. I’ve created two videos to explain.
In the video for Part I, I show how I created the fields using the Place Multiple Fields feature.
In the video for Part II, I show how Acrobat’s auto-recognition feature would’ve handled it. Yes, it’s much faster, and no, I didn’t do it the “long way around” for billing purposes 😉
At the end of Part II, I explain how important the field naming conventions are, and why my method allows me to take advantage of that, whereas Acrobat’s approach messes that up.
Oh, and just so you know, creating this 40+-page interactive form is really fun — I love the mechanics of creating and refining forms (how twisted is that?)
This was brought to my attention by a friend at EBSCO Media.
The scenario: You’ve created a dieline in Adobe Illustrator, which uses the manually created global spot color “Dieline.” It’s set to, say, a fluorescent green for easy identification.
Place the AI file in InDesign; the dieline spot color is added to the Swatches panel. So far, so good.
Select the dieline art and choose Edit Original.
In Illustrator, change the spec for the dieline spot color to, say, red, and save the file.
Return to InDesign. Although the Links panel shows that the link is updated, the swatch appearance and the artwork appearance have not changed.
The only way to fix this is to delete the artwork, then delete the swatch and and re-import the artwork.
NOTE: Sometimes it DOES work as it should (i.e., updating the link DOES change the appearance of the artwork and swatch.) But most of the time, it doesn’t.
And…If you use a genuine PANTONE spot color from one of the sanctioned color books, it behaves as it should: change to another PANTONE color in Illustrator, and InDesign will update the swatch and the placed artwork.
Since you’d probably be using the homegrown-spot approach only when you’re creating components such as dielines and varnish plates, the actual color really isn’t important: It’s only important that a plate is generated. But it’s still odd that either InDesign ignores the change, or Illustrator doesn’t successfully communicate it. Guess it’s Just One of Those Things.
I love the concept of Kindle — and it’s not limited to the Kindle device. I can read a bit on my Kindle, then pick up my iPad and, with the Kindle app, continue a book. I can even crank up the Kindle app on my Android phone and continue to read. Let’s hear it for the Kloud!
A couple of months ago, Amazon notified me that my account had been compromised, and thus had to be shut down: I would have to create a new account and start over. The result was that all the Kindle purchases under the old account would be wiped out. While there are a number of books I wouldn’t want to buy or read again (that’s another post), some of them are important keepers. I had to deregister my Kindle, iPad, and smartphone, losing all the archived titles in the process.
How would I remember all the books that were held in archive in the Kindle Kloud? Well, Amazon was kind enough to send me a list of every book I’d purchased in the last two years. I blanched when I looked at the list — holy cow, I’ve been spending a lot on books! Of course, that’s the beauty (and danger) of the Kindle: It’s so painless to buy a book with a simple click.
I’d just resigned myself to the expensive prospect of repurchasing the books I wanted to preserve, or having to request that Amazon reinstate my purchases to the new account, when I received another email from Amazon customer service, informing me that they’d given me a gift card in the amount of all my Kindle purchases since the beginning! And it was not limited to the books I’d purchased: it’s just a blanket credit to my Amazon account.
Now that’s customer service with a smile! And a hug. I was stunned.
I would’ve just repurchased my favorite books anyway; it never occurred to me to ask for reimbursement. Now, with thoughtful customer service, Amazon turned bad news into a gift, and created a lifelong customer in the process.
If you’re a longtime user of Adobe products, you’re probably accustomed to using Command-Spacebar (PC: Control-Spacebar) to zoom in. It works in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and other apps.
But it seems (initially) to be broken in Acrobat X. Since you’re already traumatized by the radically-changed interface in Acrobat X, you may just assume that the old zoom shortcut is broken. You press Command+Spacebar, and nothing happens. You just figure, well, it was fun while it lasted.
All is not lost, however; you just have to use a bit of finesse. It’s a one-two punch: press and hold the Spacebar first, then — a half-second later — press and hold the Command or Control key. Voilá (which is French for “Zoom tool”), you can now click and zoom. It’s still the same combination of keys; you just have to press them in order (then hold) rather than simultaneously.
And no, I don’t know why. It’s one of those Great Mysteries.
You may not have considered this, but software has to be regionalized to accommodate multiple languages. As you might expect, translating technical terms and interface components can be a challenge. But it’s important to make it easy for end-users to interact with the software.
In that spirit, I propose this change to the Buttons panel in InDesign, to be deployed in the Southeast U.S., where I live:
If you haven’t already, download the 10.1 update for Acrobat X on the Mac. Now you can use the TouchUp Object tool to edit images and vector content. Have no idea why this was broken when Acrobat X shipped (see my earlier post here). But it’s all better now. You may commence to fixing all those problem PDFs your clients are sending you. 😉
Apple’s iPad paved the way, and competing tablets are inevitable. An intriguing post on the Adobe site hints at future tools for creating engaging content for multiple platforms. Watch Colin Fleming’s video here.
Can the Star Trek TriCorder™ be far behind?