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Tips for Designing Web-to-Print Templates

PrintUI is all about marrying the power of InDesign with a friendly way for end users to make their own customizations using a Flash-based web application. Templates are simply InDesign documents in which you specify which layers and frames are customizable by your end users.

After you have downloaded and installed the PrintUI extension for InDesign CS5 or later, here are the steps for creating a template from any InDesign document:

 

  1. Review the known issues listed below to make sure that they aren’t present in your document.
  2. While editing your document in InDesign, run the PrintUI management panel and click on Prepare Template. This will make a number of changes to your document to ensure compatibility with the PrintUI cloud service. The most visible change will be the creation of a background layer in your document.
  3. Move the layers and objects that you want to be fixed and not editable by the end user into the background layer.
  4. Lock any objects or layers that you do not want the user to be able to move or
  5. Preflight the document using the management panel. Correct any issues.
  6. Use the management panel to upload the template to the PrintUI server so you can then make them available in IntelligenceBank.
  7. Upload any fonts that are used by the template. You may want to also upload other styles within the font family (i.e. italic or bold) to allow the user to select them while customizing. Be sure that you have a license to use the fonts on a server and the license permits embedding them within PDFs.

 

Test your template by using your web browser to go to https://printui.com/private-demo.php and use your PrintUI login details. You can also publish the template directly on IntelligenceBank and try it there. Be sure to download a PDF to make sure there are no embedding issues for the fonts.

Advanced Concepts 

PrintUI supports templates containing multiple sizes. Each page of the document represents a different size of the same template. One common example is to support both portrait and landscape orientations of the same template. For example, page 1 might be 8½ by 11, and page 2 would be 11 by 8½. From a design perspective, you would obviously lay out the landscape version quite differently from the portrait version, but you’d use the same fonts and design elements. 

In addition to multiple sizes, PrintUI also supports the notion of “size presets.” This allows you to create, for example, an 8½ by 11 template page, but also support any other size that has the same proportions such as 11 by 17, 17 by 22, 22 by 34, etc.

PrintUI also supports a document scale factor. InDesign can have problems when font sizes get very large (generally over 720 points). You might need to use fonts which are that size for large signs, for example. As a workaround, you can design and print your document at 1/10 scale, for example, but PrintUI will display the font sizes as if they are ten times larger.

Another case where you should use a scaling factor is if the maximum size for an image could have a height or width of 10,000 pixels or more. For example, let us say that you are using an image for the background of the page and the page size is 144 inches. A 72 dpi image would have a height or width of 10,368 pixels, so a scaling factor would be required.

Note that some third-party plugins for InDesign (such as imposition plugins) can cause problems during the PrintUI preflight. To clean out a template, follow these steps:

1. Open the document in any InDesign (CS4 or later).

2. Export the document to IDML.

3. Open the IDML document in InDesign in which you’ve installed the PrintUI extension.

4. Save the file.

Template Management

PrintUI allows for management of templates directly within InDesign. This makes for a very smooth workflow for template creation and management. The panel allows for uploading of templates up to the number allowed for your account’s license.

Preflight

As part of the upload process, the PrintUI panel preflights and packages the template for use on the server. Preflight and Package can each be done separately, but it's not necessary as the upload will preflight and package automatically. Documents which don't pass preflight cannot be uploaded, so any errors encountered during preflight must be fixed. If preflight fails, the Management panel will bring up a dialog to assist in fixing errors.

Upload

Once a template is error free, it can be uploaded. Before you can upload a template you must log into your PrintUI account. To log in, use the panel flyout menu and select Enter Login Credentials. Once the credentials are entered once, an encrypted token will be saved on your computer to allow automatic login when the panel is opened at a later time. (Your password is not saved at all to ensure the highest level of security.) If you don't want automatic login, you must log out before closing the panel.

To upload a template, open it in InDesign and click Upload. As part of the upload process, the panel will check that all fonts exist on the server. If a font is missing, you will be prompted to automatically upload the missing fonts. If the font upload is successful, the new fonts will appear in your font list. If the font upload fails, you will need to upload them separately using the management panel before you will be able to use your template.

Other Options

If you click on the Templates tab, you will see a list of all the templates currently available for use in your account. You will see three buttons for management of the templates:

1. Download Template Click download if you need to change something or to make a new derivative template from an existing template and it's not currently on your local machine.

2. Test Template After you upload a template, we highly recommend that you test it to make sure everything works as expected. We do our best to ensure that the system is bug-free, but there are so many variables with complex documents that we can't be sure that you will not encounter unexpected issues. If you think you have found a bug, please make sure to let us know so we can address it! The test button opens the "private-demo" web page in your browser. You will need to log in, and select the template you need to test. (We do not currently automatically preload the selected template in the browser.)

3. Remove Template Use this option with care! If you remove a template from the server that has customizations made by end users, all of their customized files will be lost! There will be no way of retrieving them, so make sure you fully understand the implications of removing a template before you do so.

Complexity Score

When you upload your template, a “complexity score” gets calculated that lets us determine how long it should take to generate a PDF or IDML file on the PrintUI servers. By default, we assume that the complexity of your template at the time you upload it is comparable to the complexity that it will be once your users are finished making changes in the web editor. However, that may not always be the case. Depending on the nature of your templates, your users might make extensive edits which you may not always be able to predict. For example, perhaps they add huge images or complex vector art. In that case, the complexity at upload time won’t match the complexity of the customized template, so you will get timeouts when the PDF or IDML file gets generated. If that happens to you, there are a couple of things that you can try:

• In the Template Options dialog, change the selection in the “Content Type” dropdown from “Stable” to “Unpredictable” content. This causes the complexity score to be calculated differently (which, by the way, takes longer to compute) and usually results in a higher score.

• Ask your web developer to set the “process” parameter for the requestpdf API to "complex" when they generate a PDF. Note that doing so will put your job into the queue with the lowest priority which means that if the server is very busy processing jobs for other clients, that your job could be delayed. We feel that this is a fair compromise, though, since we don't want to slow down everyone else's jobs for your overly complex jobs.

Images

When you are designing your templates, you can substantially improve the performance of your templates by avoiding certain issues with images.

In general, there is no benefit to using huge images—images that are much larger than the area where they are placed. For templates designed to be output on a printing press, images should be 200 to 300 dpi at the size that matches their placement on the page. For example, let’s say that you have a template designed at 8.5 by 11 inches and you have an image that is used to fill the entire page background. At 300 dpi, the image should be no larger than 2550 (8.5 x 300) by 3300 (11 x 300) pixels. If the image is to be placed on only a quarter of the page, 4.25 by 5.5 inches, the size should be no larger than 1275 by 1650 pixels at 300 dpi.

You should avoid uncompressed images, such as uncompressed TIFF, BMP, or many PSD files, because they can take a large amount of disk space and they also take longer to be uploaded or downloaded over the Internet. JPEG images are preferred because they tend to have the highest compression. And once an image is printed on paper, it is extremely difficult for someone to discern any artifacts caused by compression as long as the JPEG has been sized properly at 200 to 300 dpi and saved at a high quality level for the compression.

Although InDesign does support vector images, such as EPS, AI, and PDF images, these types of images can sometimes execute very slowly depending on their complexity. The problem is that you can’t really tell by looking at it how long it will take. Something that may look fairly simple on your screen might actually be very complex in nature. And an overly complex image can cause your jobs to time out when it comes time to download the final high-resolution JPEG or PDF. To avoid this issue, we recommend that you convert your vector images into either JPEG or PNG images. JPEG images are preferable because they compress better than PNG. But if your image has any transparency, you must use PNG. You should size the JPEG or PNG using guidance provided in the paragraph above.

Fonts

In addition to a standard set of fonts available for use by any template, PrintUI supports uploading custom fonts to the system. Each client's fonts are specific to their account and will not conflict with other clients' fonts. Fonts can be managed directly within the InDesign panel. To manage your fonts, click on the Fonts tab. The panel allows for three font related actions:

1. Upload Font Allows you to select a font file to be uploaded to the PrintUI cloud for use with the system. As soon as it's uploaded, it can be used in templates.

2. Remove Font Allows for the removal of a previously uploaded font. Be very careful with the use of this action. If the font has been used by a template, the template will no longer render correctly once the font has been removed.

3. Download Font Allows for downloading of a font previously uploaded to the system for use on your local machine.

Please read the following guidelines for uploading and using custom fonts:

1. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct license to be using your fonts on the system. Generally, font developers require a license which allows embedding the fonts as well as a special server license.

2. Only Windows Truetype and OpenType fonts are supported. Postscript fonts, pre Mac OSX Truetype fonts, Mac "dfont" Truetype fonts, Multiple Master fonts and the like are all not supported. If you use one of these fonts in your document it should fail preflight.

3. The fonts must be embeddable within PDF files. If they aren’t, you will get an error message. (Fonts are marked inside the font file to indicate whether they are embeddable or not.)

 

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