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NOTE TO TOOL OWNERS: In this blog I will occasionally make statements about products that you will take exception to. My intent is to always be factual and accurate. If I have made a statement that you consider to be incorrect or innaccurate, please bring it to my attention and, once I have verified my error, I will post the appropriate correction.

And before you get too exercised, please read the post, date 9 Feb 2006, titled "All Tools Suck".

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Typefi Publishing System: May not suck

One of the encouraging things I saw at XML 2006 is the Typefi Publishing System (TPS).

TPS is a plug-in to Adobe InDesign that attempts to automate the process of bringing XML content into InDesign in the most automated way possible. It does this by providing extensions that allow designers to indicate, within InDesign, what components of their page templates are dynamic and will be filled with imported data. You can also define sophisticated rules for dynamic placement and copy fitting that the TPS engine then uses, along with heuristics for layout aesthetics, to create the best page layout it can. TPS then provides an XML format that you can convert your documents to (using XSLT or whatever). The TPS-specific XML data is then imported. However, TPS claims to be able to preserve the mapping back to the original markup so that you can make content changes in InDesign and push them back into the original input (we'll see--that's the aspect of this system about which I'm most dubious given some inherent problems in doing that kind of round tripping).

At least that is the promise.

I only saw a demo and talked to the Typefi guys at length so I can't say whether what they showed really works but if it does it's pretty amazing stuff. There are more features of TPS, including something to do with Word, but I didn't pay attention to those as I'm completely focused on XML-based publishing workflows.

I've spent the better part of the last two years trying to implement the automation of publishing of highly-styled documents using high-end typographic systems (in my case, 3B2) so I am painfully familiar with the inherent challenges in automating things like the placement of figures and sidebars relative to their anchors and automatic copyfitting. It's a hard problem and if Typefi has done at least as much as I have (which it looks like they have) then they have done something of real value.

What they demonstrated, which included the system used by Lonely Planet Books, was pretty impressive and I had no reason to believe that it was not genuine.

You can be sure that I will be looking into Typefi more deeply for application in Innodata Isogen's composition practice, as well as an option for our professional services clients who want in-house automation of publishing workflows where XSL-FO is not up to the task.

Dr. Macro says check it out.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Macro

Have you heard anything new on Typefi since you wrote this article on 12/06?

Michael Kline

10:02 PM  

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