In the cold winter of 2008, we were approached by a technical lead at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ("RCCL"), regarding the topic of cruise booklet production. Sajan Chacko had seen our Silicon Paginator product (based on Adobe InDesign Server), and he inquired by email:

"Based on an XML stream, can it do the following:
1. Get data from external file-paths specified in XML
2. Reference external sources such as HTML, RTF, or Word?"

This is the sort of inquiry that brightens our days here at Silicon Publishing. We have lived and breathed this sort of technical work for decades, and whatever the year, we're using the very best technology to make it even more efficient. 2008 was no exception. I could tell immediately that Sajan would be happy with InDesign Server as a solution, because we had already mastered the art of just this sort of workflow.

It started with beer.

It was the year 2000, and I’d just taken a job with the Developer Technologies group at Adobe. I’d been working on InDesign scripting as a contractor, but now I was a full time employee. This meant, among other things, that I had to respond to scripting questions from developers.

Most of the questions were quite basic. How do I make a new document? How do I enter text? Then, unexpectedly, a question came in that involved moving text from an HTML page on a web server into an InDesign (1.5 or 2.0?) layout using Visual Basic.

The guy asking the question was working for the Saranac brewery in Utica, New York. The brewery offers custom labels for special events—birthdays, graduations, wakes, and so on. Customers can go to the brewery’s web site and enter the text they want on their label, view a proof PDF of the label, and order beer for their event.

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