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DesignMerge for InDesign

PLUG-IN FOR VARIABLE DATA PRINTING

DesignMergeDesignMerge is a plug-in that allows custom printing based on an exported database file. Why should you spend that kind of money on a database plug-in when InDesign comes with Data Merge? Well, there are several critical differences between the plug-ins:

First, DesignMerge merges the data during printing. Say your database contains 1,000 records, unlike Data Merge, the InDesign document doesn’t end up with a 1,000-page document; it prints a single-page document 1,000 times. More importantly, if you’re printing to a PPML supporting device, the common elements can be processed once, and only the changed data is processed per page. DesignMerge also supports multi-up layouts for gang printing, allowing users to create multiple layouts on a single page and sequence the data to each template.

Second—and perhaps the most important feature—DesignMerge supports conditional rules. Say the database contains information about a person’s gender (or other condition), the text, graphic, or entire layout can change based on the supplied data. Also included is a PostNet font for generating USPS codes and an add-in that can create retail-oriented barcodes.

Third, DesignMerge includes the CopyFit plug-in that allows text to be resized according to set rules when the database text won’t fit in the allowed space. After you connect to the database file, just insert the fields and apply any conditional rules to them. Then using the onscreen preview, you can inspect the setup of the merged data before printing.

One minor issue: The database text must be an exported (typically tab-delimited) file, as DesignMerge for InDesign doesn’t yet support direct database connectivity.

The product is not inexpensive and, although its ease of use belies its power, DesignMerge can be worth every penny.—David Creamer

PRICE: Quoted (Approx. $1,000–3,000)
FROM: Meadows Publishing Solutions
WEB: www.meadowsps.com
RATING: 4.5

LAYERS VERDICT
HOT Variable data printing by conditional rules
NOT No ODBC connectivity in InDesign version yet

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