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Issues with IDMLs being opened in Indesign CS6, causing crashes

Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hi folks,

 

I have an issue with a workflow problem - We are doing financial form design but our client is having to use form automation software (I think its called Expressions or something) - They only have CS6 for conversion into the software for whatever reason.

 

It's a very broad set of possible causes but can you let me know what could cause one Indesign IDML to crash CS6 vs another? We have found a solution whereby we create a new document and copy and paste all the design elements into a new file and resave the IDML. But now to do this across many documents and many pages is a major addition of time. So my query is, what kind of things would cause older CS6 apps to crash on opening an IDML? Are there log files created? We would like to try isolate the issue but have no idea what could be causing it.

 

The form design file contains a combination of text boxes and tables with no linked files and nothing esle that is that special. It does however contain some anchored elements. Hoping someone has been through this before and says something like "IDML doesnt handle anchors very well..." - Its weird though how you can copy to a new file and then it clears the issue. Almost like the problem is in the file header, or a redundant para / object style which isnt copied over  when pasting content into a new doc?

 

Thanks in advance!

Cliff

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Randy Hagan | Adobe Community Professional

Hmmm. That's odd. Perhaps the issue is with the "packaging" part of the solution.

 

I'd suggest trying this:

 

  1. Create the .indd file. Package it, then close it.
  2. Open the .indd file in the package.
  3. Manually create the .idml file for the client from the .indd file inside the package.
  4. Forward that package, with the "handmade" .idml and see if that fixes the issue.

 

I'm always amazed at how even the simplest of automated solutions (like auto-creating PDF and IDML files through packaging a job) can sometimes inject a wildcard that causes unusual issues. The good news — if you can call it that — is that at least it's happening consistently so there's likely a consistent problem which, if identified, can be corrected. The hard part, of course, is identifying said problem. Which is why I start by changing workflow variables and see if I can find a useful workaround past an issue before I spin my wheels trying to chase down an abstract cause.

 

I concur with Bob, though, that your client's insistence on working with InDesign CS6 is a blind alley. Firing a client is a pretty rude cure to your problem, but it might be worth your time to investigate the process on your client's end to explore solutions there, rather than shoot blindly at client issues from your end. If the test I offered here doesn't work, it provides you the perfect entrée to explore the issue in more detail from the client's side of the problem. I'd try to make that billable while I did it too; this is your client's problem that's being pushed off on you, and you should be rewarded for working to fix it for them.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Randy

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Issues with IDMLs being opened in Indesign CS6, causing crashes

Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hi folks,

 

I have an issue with a workflow problem - We are doing financial form design but our client is having to use form automation software (I think its called Expressions or something) - They only have CS6 for conversion into the software for whatever reason.

 

It's a very broad set of possible causes but can you let me know what could cause one Indesign IDML to crash CS6 vs another? We have found a solution whereby we create a new document and copy and paste all the design elements into a new file and resave the IDML. But now to do this across many documents and many pages is a major addition of time. So my query is, what kind of things would cause older CS6 apps to crash on opening an IDML? Are there log files created? We would like to try isolate the issue but have no idea what could be causing it.

 

The form design file contains a combination of text boxes and tables with no linked files and nothing esle that is that special. It does however contain some anchored elements. Hoping someone has been through this before and says something like "IDML doesnt handle anchors very well..." - Its weird though how you can copy to a new file and then it clears the issue. Almost like the problem is in the file header, or a redundant para / object style which isnt copied over  when pasting content into a new doc?

 

Thanks in advance!

Cliff

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Randy Hagan | Adobe Community Professional

Hmmm. That's odd. Perhaps the issue is with the "packaging" part of the solution.

 

I'd suggest trying this:

 

  1. Create the .indd file. Package it, then close it.
  2. Open the .indd file in the package.
  3. Manually create the .idml file for the client from the .indd file inside the package.
  4. Forward that package, with the "handmade" .idml and see if that fixes the issue.

 

I'm always amazed at how even the simplest of automated solutions (like auto-creating PDF and IDML files through packaging a job) can sometimes inject a wildcard that causes unusual issues. The good news — if you can call it that — is that at least it's happening consistently so there's likely a consistent problem which, if identified, can be corrected. The hard part, of course, is identifying said problem. Which is why I start by changing workflow variables and see if I can find a useful workaround past an issue before I spin my wheels trying to chase down an abstract cause.

 

I concur with Bob, though, that your client's insistence on working with InDesign CS6 is a blind alley. Firing a client is a pretty rude cure to your problem, but it might be worth your time to investigate the process on your client's end to explore solutions there, rather than shoot blindly at client issues from your end. If the test I offered here doesn't work, it provides you the perfect entrée to explore the issue in more detail from the client's side of the problem. I'd try to make that billable while I did it too; this is your client's problem that's being pushed off on you, and you should be rewarded for working to fix it for them.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Randy

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2020

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How are the "source" .idml files being created? You say you're creating new InDesign files, then copying/saving to a new document from existing ones. Is the client generating the source files? How are they doing that? If you can share that with us, it'll make it easier for us to help you sleuth possible causes for your issues.

 

Also, you may have already tried what I'm about to suggest. But I've had really good luck side-stepping InDesign file anomalies with this workflow:

 

  1. Open the source .idml file.
  2. Save the file as an InDesign document file (.indd). This makes the file copacetic with my system, and reconstitutes/reconciles elements with my InDesign setup.
  3. Use the File>Save As command to create a new .idml file and name it [filename]-revised.idml. This seems to work better than saving over the file with the same name, and makes it easier for me to maintain version control when working in a file-heavy environment.

 

The downside is there are now three versions of the file on the system instead of two. But this not only immediately gives me a .indd file I can use for further work — it's always safer to work with copies of client files than it is to work with the originals — but it precludes the labor and potential for error involved in meticulously copying/pasting elements from one file to another.

 

Hopefully this workaround will be a useful quick fix for your issues.

 

Randy

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Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hi Randy,

Thanks for your inputs. So as far as workflow this is how it goes. We have a designer on Mac with subscription based Indesign (So whatever is latest). We save out (package) the files to hand over to the client and their doc automation suppliers. When we hand them the package with idml file, they attempt to open on CS6 and it crashes. They say to us "Hey buddy, that file you handed over crashed our system" - Then we take the indd source from package, copy and paste content to a new canvas / document and save out as IDML and then resend to them and then now it opens their side. 

 

I was trying to isolate the issue so we could fix the IDML output without having to copy and paste content into a new document but we are having trouble isolating what contents / attributes the IDML file has that would cause it to crash. Also a bit challenging as we are working in the dark a bit as we have no CS6 test platform of our own.

 

Thanks!

Cliff

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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If the person you're sending this to has a subscription, why are they using CS6?

Are you paying this person? If so, it's probably time to lay down the law. Upgrade or you find someone else.

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Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hi Bob, no we have subscription and latest software. They have CS6. I dont think they are shirking the subscription - Just that their documentation automation software is linked to the CS6 inputs. 


Cliff

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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The whole thing sounds like a disaster in the making but it's your money and your job.

I would NEVER depend on an IDML workflow and if I were you, I'd be searching for alternatives because this will just get worse over time.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hmmm. That's odd. Perhaps the issue is with the "packaging" part of the solution.

 

I'd suggest trying this:

 

  1. Create the .indd file. Package it, then close it.
  2. Open the .indd file in the package.
  3. Manually create the .idml file for the client from the .indd file inside the package.
  4. Forward that package, with the "handmade" .idml and see if that fixes the issue.

 

I'm always amazed at how even the simplest of automated solutions (like auto-creating PDF and IDML files through packaging a job) can sometimes inject a wildcard that causes unusual issues. The good news — if you can call it that — is that at least it's happening consistently so there's likely a consistent problem which, if identified, can be corrected. The hard part, of course, is identifying said problem. Which is why I start by changing workflow variables and see if I can find a useful workaround past an issue before I spin my wheels trying to chase down an abstract cause.

 

I concur with Bob, though, that your client's insistence on working with InDesign CS6 is a blind alley. Firing a client is a pretty rude cure to your problem, but it might be worth your time to investigate the process on your client's end to explore solutions there, rather than shoot blindly at client issues from your end. If the test I offered here doesn't work, it provides you the perfect entrée to explore the issue in more detail from the client's side of the problem. I'd try to make that billable while I did it too; this is your client's problem that's being pushed off on you, and you should be rewarded for working to fix it for them.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Randy

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Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Thanks Randy,

Yes you and Bob are right. We are already putting huge pressure on client to upgrade systems so that is in the process of happening. You know how it is - Always want to show effort that you are at least trying. I like the idea of manually creating the IDMLs from the Indd files. There may be something in that process that differs from the automatic packaging process. And yes, all hours bugfixing the issue are billable 🙂

 

Cliff

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Sounds like we're all on the same page and I'm happy to hear this is billable on your end. Makes it much easier to justify.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2020

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When you say I know how it is, all I can reply with is: Alas, I do.

 

I'm hopeful the manual creation of your .idml files will work well for you. That's essentially what you're doing with your copy/paste routine, as there aren't any different elements in the file that does work than there are in the file that doesn't. If as your suspicions lead, the stumbling block is in header/metadata/file overhead somewhere, this will be as good a way to test that as any. And probably one of the few ways to fix it, since that information is mostly inaccessible to the typical end user.

 

There's some consistent problem there, somewhere, but I don't know how you could specifically find it — much less extract it and/or correct it. Hopefully this workaround gets you past the issue. Please let us know how this works out for you.

 

Good luck,

 

Randy

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Very Cool. I see you marked my response as the correct answer, so I'm hopeful it works well for you.

 

Now you're down to engineering the billing for providing the client solution. I hope you make it pay off handosmely for you.

 

If you find yourself stuck in the future, please don't hesitate to come back here and sound the alarm. There are lots of really sharp folks around here who are happy to lend a hand. We've all been there ...

 

Glad this worked out for you.

 

Randy

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Participant ,
Jul 16, 2020

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Hi Randy,

Thanks so much for all the advice. Yes, glad to see the Indesign forum is very active!

Cliff

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