Live-link and auto-magic-merge Google Drive documents
- What if you could have a time machine to speed up InDesign editorial production, based on the world's best real-time collaborative editor, Google Docs?
- What if you could place Google Docs documents with live links in InDesign, and proceed with production, while your authors and editors continued working on the placed documents?
- What if, when they had updates, you could magically merge their work into yours with a single click (as a link update), without losing any work on either side, and with automatic notification of any conflicts?
- What if you could push your content changes back to the original Google Docs documents at any time, staying synchronized with your authors and editors?
- What if you could export original InDesign content to allow editors to work on it online in Google Docs, and then re-import their changes with a click using the same magic merge?
You can, with DocsFlow, your Google Docs-based time machine.
Google Docs editorial + InDesign layout
DocsFlow, a plug-in for InDesign, combines the collaborative editing power of Google Docs with the layout power of InDesign, adding its own dynamic linking and sophisticated merge technologies to supercharge your editorial and production workflows.
With DocsFlow, you place online Google Docs documents and (Pro version) spreadsheets as InDesign story contents, just like normal text or spreadsheet files.
More importantly, DocsFlow maintains a dynamic link so it can intelligently merge Google Docs changes into the InDesign story contents on each link update, rather than just replacing the story. The Pro version provides a two-way link so you can push your InDesign story changes back to Google Docs.
So you can format, layout, and edit in InDesign, while your authors and editors continue creating and editing story content together in real time using Google Docs documents, all without ever losing work.
World's simplest online editorial system
Using DocsFlow means you need no special resources to build, maintain or learn the editorial side, which is just Google Docs. It means zero cost per editorial seat, which again is just Google Docs. It means no limits to how many people are collaborating online, or to how many documents you use in your workflow.
It also means no learning curve on the design side, since DocsFlow builds on the native InDesign story linking and story updating machinery you're already using for graphics.
And getting started couldn't be easier: just download and install the plugin, and start placing documents with Place from Google Docs.
If DocsFlow's first breakthrough is to make it possible to link to Google Docs directly from InDesign, DocsFlow's second breakthrough is deep merge technology that enables you to edit both the InDesign story and the Google Docs document independently, without losing work on either side.
When the Google Docs document is edited, DocsFlow will notice fairly quickly, and ask InDesign to change the link's status to "modified," which shows up in the Links panel (a yellow alert icon, as shown here). When you're ready, you can update the story from Google Docs using the normal link-update invocations, such as a double-click on the icon.
As the link update starts, DocsFlow kicks in. Instead of letting InDesign replace the linked story wholesale, it applies a complex algorithm behind the scenes to merge the changes made to the external document since the last update into the current InDesign story contents (and to detect any conflicts). We call this the "magic merge-update," since it seems like magic the first times you see it working. It's this magic that saves you from endless error-prone manual merging.
After each update, if you open the story editor with change marks showing, you can see who changed what, and how those changes fit in (or not) with the local story edits. DocsFlow also leaves InDesign notes at each point of conflict to let you know you may need to resolve something.
- Fixes a problem introduced in the 3.2 release that could interfere with placing and updating documents containing formatting suggestions.
- Fixes a problem introduced in the 3.2 release that was disabling the Export to Google Docs dialogï¿½??s Export button when a sub-folder was selected.