The Flight InDesign Plugin that we developed a year ago is getting renewed attention recently, including an update for 2017 and new, easier, installers. I spoke at the Canto DAM Summit last week, and in preparation I explored a new cool feature that we're slating for the next release, made possible thanks to the gradual evolution of Adobe CC Extension technology. Related to that is a better way of expressing the value of our core Silicon Connector technology, which can be seen by looking in a bit more detail at the other, bad alternatives to it. Below is my presentation from the Canto DAM Summit Americas 2017.

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Adobe InDesign is the tool of choice for page layout, yet it is a relatively old piece of software, originating in the late 1990s. While InDesign has a concept of "links", its initial approach to graphic references was fundamentally that of desktop software prior to the age of the world wide web. Concepts of linked text in InDesign have evolved slowly over the past 15 years.

A link in InDesign is not, by default, a URL, as one might expect of today's programs. Instead, InDesign links are pointers to assets that are local (on the physical drive of the computer running InDesign) or available across the local network (via a network share). A simple plug-in (our Silicon Connector) can bring InDesign into the modern age, where true URLs enable cloud-based workflows, but we'll get to that later.

Silicon Connector for Box 2.0 is finally available! When Silicon Connector for Box first came out in 2013, it was designed to let InDesign users access assets in the Box cloud directly. Since then, the Connector product has become so popular that we've added Connectors for 10 other DAMs/storage platforms. We have gotten continually better at extending Adobe Creative Cloud technologies, and we have now applied that experience to bring integration between Adobe CC and Box to an entirely new level.

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It started with a naive InDesign user

Silicon Connector first saw the light of day in 2010, when we at Silicon Publishing were building a large-scale online editing solution for a major client. Our solution was based on Adobe InDesign and Adobe InDesign Server, which were brand-new to this tech-savvy and ambitious organization we were working with. Although the client instantly understood the superiority of InDesign for page rendition and output quality, they looked at InDesign with very fresh eyes and came up with a big feature request.

“These links are barbaric!” said their brilliant technology lead. “They go to the file system, not to URLs as a real link should in this day and age.”

I was thankful to attend Drupa 2016 and spent most of my time in Halls 7 and 7a looking at the range of online editors from around the world. The following five online editing solutions stood out for me from among the 15 or so that I explored.

As leading resellers of the product, we are asked time and time again to help people to try Adobe InDesign Server, and how to install the trial or licensed versions of the product. We have distilled simple instructions here for trying the latest version, and installing the licensed version once you're certain you wish to buy it. We love this product and want others to enjoy it.

Silicon Connector is enjoying huge popularity, and as we build out more and more implementations (12 Connectors and counting!) the product is becoming more clearly defined, while the product roadmap is also taking shape. While the main feature of "connecting InDesign to URL-based assets" is itself quite enough of a product to save large authoring groups immense amounts of time, the "nice-to-have" features have taken on a life of their own, and become common to most new implementations. Here I will clarify the ways the product definition is being extended, now and into the future.

I hope to explain:

  1. What we originally meant by the term "Silicon Connector" and how this was consistently rather poorly explained by us, and in turn how it was often misinterpreted by the world.
  2. What we mean now by "Silicon Connector". How to understand what this product is, and what it does.
  3. Where the product and its many variants (AEM Connector, the InDesign Plugin for Flight, the Widen InDesign Plugin, WebDAM CC Connector, etc.) are headed.

In places, this post quotes heavily from the original blog post about Silicon Connector that came out when we first announced this product in 2010. At that point of time we had a narrow perspective on the product. Six years later, it has grown quite organically and evolves in response to feedback from thousands of users worldwide, as it connects InDesign to a diverse and growing array of over 10 Digital Asset Management systems.

For 16 years we at Silicon Publishing have carried on a tradition we first encountered from our former life at Bertelsmann Industry Services (a now defunct company with its own 20-year history): database publishing. We automate the flow of data through templates, producing the entire spectrum of documents that can be generated from data:

  • Catalogs
  • Directories
  • Financial statements
  • Insurance documents
  • Report cards
  • One-to-one marketing pieces
  • Practically anything you can think of...

 

The diversity of "data-generated documents" has surprised me ever since I started working in this business. 20 years ago, we were still producing internal phone directories for companies such as Chevron and Mobile, large organizations that spewed forth paper to communicate information before the web took over.

With the CC2015 launch, Adobe finally announced the inevitable, which many of us expected from the moment they acquired Fotolia, and some of us imagined much earlier: Adobe Stock. This has been a very long time in coming, and it completes an initiative from many years ago, one that we have witnessed from the beginning and participated in. There is nothing new about the concept of Adobe Stock, but the technology underpinnings and business model have both gone through some changes.

2005: Adobe Stock Photos is Launched

If you have been around a long time, you may remember the Creative Suite 2 launch, of April 2005. The announcement is not so different:

Adobe Stock Photos is a new service introduced with Adobe Creative Suite 2 software. Offering one- stop shopping from within your favorite Adobe applications, Adobe Stock Photos is an efficient and convenient way for creative professionals to search, try, manage, and buy high-quality, royalty-free stock images. Adobe Stock Photos provides access to over 230,000 photos and illustrations from some of the world’s leading stock image libraries including Photodisc® by Getty Images, Comstock Images® by Jupitermedia®, Digital Vision®, imageshopTM royalty free by zefaimagesTM, and amana®.

Silicon Publishing was out in force at PePcon 2015 in Philadelphia, and as usual it was a true joy to meet pretty much all of the brilliant and talented InDesign developers from around the world: Gabe Harbs (In-Tools) came from Israel, Kris Coppieters (Rorohiko) represented New Zealand, Ferdinand Schwoerer (Movemen) from Germany; our own Olav Kvern joined us from Seattle, and three Adobe InDesign engineers travelled all the way from Noida, India. It seemed that all of the serious InDesign-related companies were represented: MEI, Typefi, Teacup Software, you name it. The cool thing about the InDesign ecosystem is that knowledge is shared freely among InDesign developers, without competitiveness.

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