Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not Much Going On

Working on the MuseCon program book, at least when I don't have "Titanic" rehearsals. That's about all that's going on.  

I do really really need to start getting swivels sewn onto the three dozen tails I ordered for Anime Midwest. I think I'll put some other tools/lacing projects away, and bring the tail bin out to the living room instead.  

Last weekend I got all the content into the MuseCon book, and formatted, by lunchtime/early afternoon on Sunday. Which is ahead of what I've done other years. OTOH, rehearsals mean I'm not really that far ahead. Tonight is the deadline for final updates, and tomorrow I start attacking line/column/page breaks, and other more persnickety formatting-ish tasks. 

Initial formatting short version: more than one way to skin a cat is a good thing. 

Initial formatting long version:

Last year we extracted the data from the Programming spreadsheet, Ron did unnamable things to it with one or more perl scripts, which turned it into XML files, which I then did other arcane things with in InDesign to auto-magically get the right paragraph formatting applied to the appropriate chunks of text. This year the same attempted process failed. The problem stuck on getting the data out of Excel and into a usable comma-separated value file. 

Fortunately, I'd just bought an updated e-book of an InDesign typography book I had, which jogged my memory on using different clever tricks to auto-magically format paragraphs (a "paragraph" being any chunk of text with hard returns on either end). It didn't end up working quite like I thought it did, which is probably why I gave up on it last time I tried, a couple years ago, but it worked reasonably well.  Essentially, you set up a series of cascading/looping paragraph styles, and tell InDesign to apply them to your text. 

Comparing cascading paragraph styles to converting everything to XML for auto-formatting, the cascading styles attack had fewer steps where something could break, which is where the overall  XML process failed this year (ie: never got an XML file created).  However, the cascading style attack does not deal with a step in the cascade that may have a variable number of paragraphs, which was, IIRC, trivial to a non-issue in the XML method. So I had to cascade-format smaller chunks of text, instead of everything at once. In the end, I think this cascading styles and XML methods worked out to take roughly the same amount of time, effort, and poking at things, it just worked out differently in terms of who (Ron or I) poked at things, and with what tool. 

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