Sorry, I’ve been gone for a while, and with good reason. I was offered the opportunity to work on a contract basis, for several weeks, for the company I used to work for full time. I’m one of the 1 in 10 Americans that are currently unemployed. I have the skills, but I cost too much.

Back to the subject…I created a 388 page master type catalog last year, using Adobe InDesign CS2, and I linked pricing data with the DataLinker plug-in. DataLinker is a very cool plugin for use with InDesign, it allows you to automate the update process for information in your document, by connecting directly to a data source, saving hours and hours of production time. Here’s to you Teacup Software!
Check them and DataLinker out at http://www.teacupsoftware.com/products/datalinker.html

When building the 2009 catalog, I used the DataLinker plug-in for Adobe InDesign CS2 to link every item number and price in the catalog, approximately 10,000 items, to a CSV file, a big CSV file, listing each and every item the company carried, by item number, along with the product’s description, and current sale price. I linked the item numbers and prices to the CSV file using the DataLinker plug-in, and doing it by myself, it took several weeks. It’s not a difficult process, just time consuming, but the reward is great. Read on.

Fast forward to this past December. The person that replaced me, was not familiar with DataLinker, and asked the owner to bring me in to handle the DataLinker process. I accepted the challenge.

In order to fully appreciate this story, you need a little background information. Last year we were running Adobe InDesign CS2, on an Intel iMac, with the appropriate DataLinker plug-in installed. Since the production of the catalog last year, we had updated our software to Adobe InDesign CS3. When I came in I made sure we purchased the update for our DataLinker plug-in, and we installed it with ease. We opened the 2009 file, and saw what we thought were the links from last year. DataLinker puts these nice brackets around the linked data in your document. The brackets were there, I assumed (I know I have to watch out for that assume word) that the data was linked, and we just needed to replace the data source (the .csv file) with one reflecting this year’s pricing, and synchronize the data. I was elated. So elated that I made the mistake of telling the “new me” to link the newly added product’s item numbers and prices to the 2009 CSV file without properly naming the data source. DO NOT make this mistake. It burns. I’ll explain in a bit.

The main love of DataLinker’s life, in your document, is the name you gave your DATA SOURCE or sources. This is big. Remember this name, it’s important. I did not. I didn’t realize its importance. I just went ahead and made up a new name for the data source in our 2010 file and just assumed, there’s that word again, that the links would be just fine. I decided to synchronize the document and found that the links were broken. I freaked out. All I could think about was how my eyes were crossing as I linked all of the items last year, and I could not possibly entertain the thought of a repeat performance.

It’s a good thing the nice people at Teacup Software really do respond to e-mail pleas for support. They are amazing. I was a bit, a bit? ok, very freakin’ concerned at first because they do not publish a telephone number for support. All that the freaky, little monster inside my head wanted was to talk to someone who could help me fix this problem really fast! Instead I wrote a heart felt, informative email to the nice people at Teacup explaining my circumstances, and begging for their help.

Within hours I received a response. The Teacup Software Support Team came to the rescue. They were actually sorry I ran into this issue. What a great team! They went on to explain that the data source was no longer part of the document. I had two choices to fix the problem: 1. Recreate the data source, naming it EXACTLY as it was named in CS2. 2. Pull in the CS2 data source file from your old preferences folder, to your CS3 preferences folder. You can do this by quitting InDesign, then go to your user folder > Library > Preferences > Adobe InDesign. Look in the folder named “Version 5.0” for a folder named DataLinker. This contains your CS3 data sources; rename it to something different to make sure you backup any data sources you’ve created in CS3. Then look in the folder named “Version 4.0” for the folder named DataLinker, and copy that folder to the “Version 5.0” folder. Then restart InDesign. You should be good to go.

I should have been good to go at that point too, except for one small, no big, problem. I had trashed every single file that Adobe CS2 had installed on the computer used to produce the catalog file in the first place when we updated to Adobe CS3. Bye, bye CS2 data source information! So much for option 2’s saving grace.

Enter option 1, and another fine rescue effort by the Teacup Software Support Team. Of course I wrote back to the nice Teacup Support people, explaining that I threw all of the old preference files that could help away. In desperation, I asked if there was folder installed anywhere on the computer that I could check to verify the name I gave the DATA SOURCE in CS2.

The wonderful angels that work at Teacup Software responded with the elusive answer to solve my dilemma. They told me all I had to do to see what my data source was named, was to look in the XML pane in InDesign CS3. You can get to this pane by selecting View > Structure > Show Structure. The XML panel shows up on the left. All you have to do at this point is select some text that you linked with DataLinker, and then open up the XML tree and scroll down until you see an item that’s underlined, that will be the text that you selected. You’ll see that most of the DataLinker items are tagged as “teacup-tag”. Open up that underlined item and you will see the attributes that define the record, the column, and the pot of gold I was searching for — the name of the DATA SOURCE I used last year. Ahhh, sweet relief.

All I had to do was make sure the new data source I made had the same name as the original data source from last year. It worked like a charm. Once I properly named the data source, and synchronized the document, the previously linked items updated themselves from the new 2010 CSV file just like magic, and as fast as lightening. Voila, success! All that remained was to relink all of the items I told the “new me” to link when we were using the wrong DATA SOURCE name.

Now do you see why remembering the name of your DATA SOURCE is so important? It’s almost as important as remembering your anniversary! Sort of.

I wrote this entry in my blog as a tribute to the Teacup Software Support Team, and to offer my sincere thanks for their outstanding customer support! For those of you that may have run into my situation, and are desperately looking for the answer right now, here it is, in black and white.

If you are considering the use of the DataLinker plug-in to connect data to your InDesign documents, I can assure you that doing so, although tedious to set up, is well worth the effort. You will recover the time you spent in set up, the very first time you update the linked data in your document. DataLinker is a simple, efficient, solution to managing data in your InDesign documents. Visit them today and check out their products, they deserve this plug.
http://www.teacupsoftware.com/index.html

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