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Working with Excel files in Smart Connection for InDesign

Working with Excel files in Smart Connection for InDesign

Excel files that are stored in Enterprise can be placed on a layout while maintaining a link to that file. When changes are made in the spreadsheet, the placed file can be updated accordingly.

Info: The information presented here applies to the following versions of Smart Connection:

  • Smart Connection 9
  • Smart Connection for Adobe CC
  • Smart Connection for Adobe CC 2014

This article describes all aspects of working with Excel files that are stored in Enterprise:

See the process demonstrated in this short video:

Uploading an Excel file

Uploading an Excel file to Enterprise can only be done by using Content Station, not by using InDesign. Make sure therefore to upload the Excel file first so that it is available in Smart Connection for placing on the layout.

Creating a link to the Excel File

To make sure that a link exists between InDesign and the Excel file, select the following preference:

Preferences > File Handling > Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files

The Create Links preference

Placing an Excel file

Excel files can be placed one-by-one or in groups and can be placed as a new frame or in existing frames.

Showing the import options for Word files, Excel files and Excel files in Smart Connection

Troubleshooting: when placing the file, no link to the Excel file is created

Make sure that the option Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files is selected in the preferences.

Conditions after placing

Placed Excel files that are stored in Enterprise have a chain icon in the top left corner of the frame to distinguish them from placed Excel files that are saved locally.

The chain icon for a placed spreadsheet

Editing the Excel file

Editing the content of a placed Excel file that is linked to Enterprise can be done in the following ways:

  • By editing the content in Excel (recommended)
  • By editing the content in InDesign

Editing the content in Excel (recommended)

The recommended method of updating the content is to do this in Excel itself.

Step 1. Select a placed Excel file on the layout or in the Links panel.

Step 2. Do one of the following:

  • In the Links panel, click the Edit Original button
  • Choose Edit > Edit Original

Step 3. Make any changes to the content of the file, save it and close the file.

Step 4. Return to InDesign.

The Check-in dialog box appears. (Note that you might have to wait a few seconds.)

The Check-in dialog box of an Excel file

Step 5. Fill out the fields as required and click OK.

Editing the content in InDesign

Although possible, modifying the content this way is not recommended and should only be seen as a quick fix in the final phase of the production process.

Please note the following:

  • Any made changes cannot be saved back to the original Excel file. They are saved within the layout though.
  • Any manually made changes will be lost the next time the layout is opened (but only when the content of the Excel file has been modified), or when the Update Link option in the Links panel is used for the file.

Updating the placed Excel file

When the original Excel file has been modified, the placed version is either updated automatically or can be updated manually.

Automatic updating

Updating the placed content of a modified Excel file takes place when the layout is checked-out (but only when the content of the Excel file has been modified).

Manual updating

Note: When updating the content manually, any local changes that have been made to the placed Excel file will be lost.

As soon as the content of the original file is modified (for example by another user) and saved, the following is shown:

  • Links panel: a modified icon (The Modified icon) is displayed for the file.
  • Elements panel: an update icon (The Update icon) is displayed in the State column for the file.

To update the file, do one of the following:

  • In the Links panel, double-click the Modified icon (The Modified icon).
  • In the Elements panel, click the Update icon (The Update icon).
  • In the Elements panel, right-click the file and choose Update Content
  • Choose Smart Connection > Update Content

About Updating and Applied Styles

When an Excel file is placed and local styling is applied (such as applying strokes, fills, paragraph styles and so on), this styling might be lost as soon as the placed file is updated.

Whether or not styling is lost depends on how the file was placed (as controlled through the Import options):

  • Formatted table: all styling will be lost, including table styles.
  • Unformatted table: all styling will be lost, except any applied table styles and cell styles.

Tip: Use WoodWing's Smart Styles to quickly and easily apply styling to objects including tables.

Breaking the link with the Excel file

To break the link between an Excel file and its placed version on the layout, do one of the following:

  • Turn the frame in which the Excel file is placed into an Enterprise article
  • In the Links panel, right-click the file and choose Unlink

Converting the placed Excel file into an Enterprise article

Any placed Excel file can be turned into an Enterprise article by turning the frame into an article. (See Creating InCopy articles in InDesign using Smart Connection.)

Note: When this is done, the table will be turned into a regular article and the link to the original spreadsheet is removed.

Troubleshooting

After placing the Excel file, no linked file is created even though the correct preference is set

When the “Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet File” preference is set, a link to the Excel file in Enterprise is not created in the following scenarios:

  • Placing the Excel file on a checked-out article component (either the frame or text selected in that frame) by doing one of the following:
  • Dragging the Excel file from the panel or Content Station.
  • Right-clicking the Excel file and choosing 'Place' from the context menu.
  • Dragging the Excel file from the panel or Content Station with text selected in a checked-out article.
  • Placing the cursor somewhere in the text frame, right-clicking the Excel file and choosing Place from the context menu.

In any of these scenarios, the content of the Excel file is made part of the article and no link to the Excel file in Enterprise is created.

When turning a locally saved Excel file into an article, the link to the Excel file is lost

Converting a placed Excel file (stored locally) from the layout to a file stored in Enterprise is not supported. The file can be saved as an Enterprise article, but when doing so the link to the Excel file will be lost.

Reference Materials

Smart Connection documentation

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