Live-link and auto-magic-merge Word and Excel documents
- What if you could have a time machine to speed up your Microsoft Word-based editorial production in InDesign?
- What if you could place Word and Excel 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 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 linked Word document 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 in Word, and then re-import their changes with a click, using the same magic merge?
You can, with Words Flow, your Word-based time machine.
Word editorial + InDesign layout
WordsFlow, a plug-in for InDesign, combines the editing power of Word and Excel with the layout power of InDesign, adding its own dynamic linking and sophisticated merge technologies to supercharge your editorial and production workflows.
With WordsFlow, you place Word documents and (Pro version) Excel spreadsheets as InDesign story contents normally, using the familiar place dialog.
But, behind the scenes, WordsFlow maintains a dynamic link so it can intelligently merge external document 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 Word format.
So you can format, layout, and edit in InDesign, while your authors and editors continue creating and editing story content in Word and Excel, all without ever losing work.
What's your biggest headache?
If you use InDesign for production, you already know the pain point: an author sends you a story via email or file-sharing, and you've placed it in your InDesign publication, fixing typos, changing formatting, adding and deleting text, etc. Then, the author or your editor sends you another version of the file, and expects you to figure out what changed, and weave those changes into what you hoped was the final story.
In the past, you might bite your tongue and simply re-place the story, losing all your hard work, then go through and manually make all the same changes you made before, hoping you're not forgetting something (and likely losing that bet). Or, if you're more sophisticated, you might use a file-difference utility, going through each change, manually editing the InDesign story to match, and scratching your head a lot. In either case, you end up wasting a lot of time in a highly error-prone process.
Magic merge-update removes the pain
WordsFlow ends the headaches. When you place the original Word or Excel file (or any text file), WordsFlow asks InDesign to keep a special kind of dynamic link to the file.
When you or anyone else makes to changes that file (locally or in a shared-file situation), InDesign will notice that the link's source has changed, and change the link's status to "modified" in the Links panel (a yellow alert icon, as shown here). You can update the story when you're ready, using the normal link-update invocations, such as a double-click on the modified icon.
As the link update starts, WordsFlow 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.
With WordsFlow building on the standard file linking mechanisms you already know for graphics, there are no learning pains.
And there is no pain of extra setup to using its power just install the plug-in, select Place with WordsFlow - and proceed using the normal place dialog. Your collaborators don't need any special software, and can continue to work exactly as they always have. But now their last-minute or even ongoing changes won't slow you down.
Changes WordsFlow version 2.17?
- Formats exported Word files with the InDesign document's page size, orientation, and margins.
- Adds a Link to Original Document... entry to the Edit > WordsFlow menu. Link to Original Document... was added in the 2.13 release, but was only accessible in the text and layout contextual menus. It establishes a link between a story and an arbitrary external file, and can be handy for linking-up existing (pre-WordsFlow) stories and for repairing existing WordsFlow links.
- Fixes a problem where exporting a story with an anchored text-on-a-path could produce an empty Word document.
- Fixes a problem where updating a story containing anchored frames could, on rare occasions, cause InDesign to freeze.
- Fixes a problem where updating a story with an Index reference containing a 'see also' cross-reference could result in a 'list index out of range' error.