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Old 02-16-2010, 08:16 AM   #1
ibis
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Default Desktop publishing solution for SQL data

I'm looking for a solution that will allow me to easily pull data out of SQL Server and put it into my page layout software. InDesign has a data merge feature I believe. Is it any good? Are there better products or plug ins out there?

More detail: We're looking to take SQL data that covers our hundreds or courses (title, description, room number, time) and create a course catalog. Piece of cake if we just wanted a basic tabular print out. But we'll want to randomly intersperse the data text and photos. So I'd like to dump all the SQL data into the desktop publishing tool and still be able to move stuff around. I understand once the data is dumped and I start moving it any changes to the SQL data will not be able to easily be flowed through to the layout.
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:34 AM   #2
ktinkel
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This is for a print catalog (not an web one)? How large a catalog (number of pages)?

Have you discussed this with your printer? They may offer this sort of production as a service, or at least recommend a system or program that would work for you.

If you were talking about a web catalog, a content management system (CMS) like Joomla might be ideal. But web and print are distinct critters.

You might also look at FileMaker database software, which allows for formatting (though not kerning or other fancy typographic controls).

I am feeling fairly ignorant, but thought I would throw out a few ideas. Please provide a few more details.

And welcome to the forum!

   
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:37 AM   #3
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Kathleen,

Thanks. We already have this displaying on the web. Now we need it in print (different layout from the web). Catalog will probably be 80+ pages.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:58 AM   #4
don Arnoldy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibis View Post
We're looking to take SQL data that covers our hundreds or courses (title, description, room number, time) and create a course catalog.
There are several approaches you could use. They all boil down to:
1. A database is a structured text file
2. Because there is structure, there are patterns
3. Because there are patterns, you can run search-and-replace routines that embed style tags into the text (and reorder the elements if you need to).
5. Then format the text by creating style definitions for the tags.

How you perform step 3 depends on the tools and talent you have available. In the past, I would have used a program called Torquemada (but it is no longer available); you could use something like BBEdit, that has GREP capability; for a database that has hundreds of entries (rather than thousands) you might even be able to use Excel and Word in combination; InDesign's search-and-replace is also pretty good, you might be able to use it (I think it would be the slowest).

--don

   
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:16 AM   #5
Howard Allen
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InDesign's "data merge" feature (I'm referring to CS3) is nothing more than a standard "mail merge" that you find in any word processor. It would be OK for creating form letters or envelopes, but it sounds like you want more of a "live link" feature so that any changes to the unformatted database are automatically updated in the formatted layout. I don't think InDesign can do that. You can live-link unembedded images so that changes to the images are flagged, but not text.

ID does have tools that would make your job easier: you can thread text frames together so that the imported ("placed") text will flow throughout your entire document. You could keep section headers, images, etc. as independent objects (like boilerplate) that remain fixed, then just reflow all the text at once after changes have been made. Other tools such as paragraph styles and nested styles could be used to mostly obviate the need to manually reformat all the flowed text every time you re-insert text from the database.

An InDesign workflow would include creating the layout with all static/boilerplate objects and threaded text frames in place, using "draft" database data. Then, replace the "draft" data/text with the final data/text, prior to publishing. Hopefully your imported data will be amenable to paragraph and/or nested styles (you may need to apply some massaging to the raw data, as Don Arnoldy suggested), so that a minimal amount of reformatting will be needed after the final import.

   
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:06 PM   #6
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If you're going to be doing this on a regular basis, you could consider InData, which automates the importing of data into InDesign.

   
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:41 AM   #7
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Default Possible SQL solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibis View Post
I'm looking for a solution that will allow me to easily pull data out of SQL Server and put it into my page layout software. InDesign has a data merge feature I believe. Is it any good? Are there better products or plug ins out there?

More detail: We're looking to take SQL data that covers our hundreds or courses (title, description, room number, time) and create a course catalog. Piece of cake if we just wanted a basic tabular print out. But we'll want to randomly intersperse the data text and photos. So I'd like to dump all the SQL data into the desktop publishing tool and still be able to move stuff around. I understand once the data is dumped and I start moving it any changes to the SQL data will not be able to easily be flowed through to the layout.
Our Gutenberg Publishing System works with SQL and InDesign for managing and flowing formatted content while providing the flexibility in the page layout. Let us know if you would be interested in discussing further.
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:10 PM   #8
Mac Townsend
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Ventura Publisher. has handled SQl for over a decade, XML since v10 released.

I publish several good sized directories every year using it.
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:16 PM   #9
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I think you are really looking at the kind of thing that ASP and JSP were designed to do - create dynamic web pages based on database data.

I'm not sure if either one is free, but that is the direction I would go.

BTW I program in WebFocus which does a similar thing, but is fairly expensive for the licensees, and not as well known.

   
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