Smart Connection for InDesign contains many features and options. However, not all of them are used on a daily basis.
Use this article to learn more about the main features and about how to get started when you are new to Smart Connection for InDesign.
When using Smart Connection, you are working on files that are stored in a central system (known as Enterprise Server). This system also controls to which files you have access and what actions you can perform on them. The first step therefore is to log in to the system using the credentials that you have received from your system administrator.
The process for logging in depends on how Enterprise Server is configured: with or without Single Sign-On (SSO) implemented.
Note: Single sign-on is a process that automatically logs you in to an application or system by using credentials that you entered when logging in once to an authentication provider that manages your user credentials.
Once logged in to that authentication provider, each subsequent log-in to an application that is connected to that provider (such as Smart Connection) is automatically handled by that system. This drastically reduces the number of times you manually have to log in on a daily basis.
The dialog box that is used for logging in to Enterprise appears automatically when starting up InDesign. It can also be accessed by choosing Smart Connection > Log In...
You will be guided through the process by various messages that appear on screen. Follow the steps until the process is completed.
Notes: When logging in to Enterprise with SSO support:
How the process works
In order to fully understand how Smart Connection works it is important to be aware of some of the processes that are used.
Creating a page in a magazine or newspaper involves the cooperation of many different people such as copy writers, layout designers, editors, and so on.
It is important that when one person works on a file that another person is not able to also open that file and make changes. To prevent this from happening, all files are stored in a database and only one person at a time is allowed to open a file for editing: a process referred to as 'checking-out a file'.
As long as a user has a file open for editing, others cannot make changes to the content of that file. Only when the user saves the file back to Enterprise (a process referred to as 'checking-in a file') can another user open that file for editing.
A story will typically consist of different parts such as a header, an introduction and the story itself. In Enterprise, these parts are called 'components' (or sometimes 'elements'). An article that contains these components is called a 'multi-component article'.
Each article component is represented by a separate frame on the layout. To better indicate which frame is going to be used for which purpose, a label can be assigned: the frame that will contain the headline can be labeled 'header', the frame that will contain the story can be labeled 'body text' and so on.
This way, the copy writer knows exactly what type of content to write in that frame and the layout designer knows what style to apply to that component.
Smart Connection shows you these labels for each frame when viewing the layout in 'Normal' screen mode (View > Screen Mode > Normal) and with Element Labels visible (View > Extras > Show Element Labels).
Figure: An article with multiple components. Each component has a specific Element Label assigned.
In Enterprise, each story is represented by a Dossier. Seen from a Smart Connection point of view, a Dossier acts as a folder in which all required content is stored: the article containing the story, images, videos, reference material and so on.
Dossiers are also used for publishing a story to a Web site, Facebook, and so on (this functionality is available in Content Station). To successfully publish a story, the right files need to be available in the Dossier. When saving a file to Enterprise therefore you might need to save that file to a particular Dossier.
For more information, see Working with Dossiers in Smart Connection.
Smart Connection is driven by a system in which rules are set up that control which features and options of Smart Connection and InDesign you can and cannot use.
The purpose of this is to make sure that only those users who are allowed to make changes to files during the various phases of the production process can make these changes, while all other users are prevented from doing so.
These rules are stored in so-called 'Access Profiles' which in turn are linked to your user account.
It may therefore be that you will not be able to use certain features such as applying character styles or paragraph styles, selecting fonts or font styles, editing Sticky Notes or any of many other features when working on files that are stored in Enterprise.
Depending on how the system is set up, you might even find that you can edit a file as long as it is part of the production process, but that as soon it is ready for publication that you are not allowed to edit it anymore.
Note: These restrictions do not apply when working on layouts that are stored outside of Enterprise.
For a full overview of all features (by area) which can be controlled by an Access Profile, see Access Rights for Smart Connection for InDesign.
Smart Connection and Enterprise are highly configurable systems. It is therefore more than likely that the version of Smart Connection that you are using has been modified by your system administrator to suit your company’s workflow as best as possible.
These modifications can affect the terminology used, the way dialog boxes look and perhaps even the text in messages that might appear. Additional customizations might also have been implemented, adding extra functionality that is either not covered in the Online Help articles, or they change the behavior of the described features.
When in doubt, contact your system administrator.
The main Smart Connection tools
When using Smart Connection, you will be mostly performing the following tasks:
- Locating files in the database that you need to work on
- Editing files that are placed on a layout
- Placing new files on a layout
To assist you with these tasks, various panels are available:
- The Smart Connection panel
- The Dossier panel
- The Elements panel
- The Element Labels panel
The Smart Connection panel is your main link to the files that are stored in the Enterprise database. You use the panel to search for the files you want to work on such as layouts you want to open, images you want to place, and so on.
Accessing the panel
The Smart Connection panel displays automatically after signing in to Enterprise, but can also be accessed by choosing Window > Smart Connection > Smart Connection.
For more information, see Using the Smart Connection panel in InDesign or InCopy.
Apart from using the Smart Connection panel to locate Dossiers, you can also use one of the following dedicated Dossier panels:
- The Dossier panel (static version). This panel shows the content of a particular Dossier.
To access this panel, double-click a Dossier in a panel.
The Show Dossiers panel. This panel shows all Dossiers that a layout is part of.
To access this panel, right-click a layout and choose Show Dossiers.
The Show Dossiers and Layouts panel. This panel shows all Dossiers that a file is part of and all layouts that it is placed on.
To access this panel, right-click a file that can be placed on a layout (such as an article, image or an Excel file) and choose Show Dossiers and Layouts.
For more information, see Working with Dossiers in Smart Connection.
The Elements panel gives you an overview of the articles that are placed on the layout.
Figure: The Elements panel, showing one article containing multiple components.
From the Elements panel you can:
- Check-out or check-in placed articles (either a selected article or all articles)
- Add frames that are not yet part of an article to an article or remove a component from an article
Accessing the panel
The Elements panel can be accessed by choosing Window > Smart Connection > Elements.
For more information, see Using the Elements panel of Smart Connection for InDesign.
Element Labels indicate the type of content that a frame contains: the header, an introduction, the actual story, a graphic and so on. Element Labels form an important part of the Smart Connection workflow, especially when it comes to working with multi-component articles (such as placing them or styling them).
The Element Label panel allows you to assign a label to a selected frame.
Accessing the panel
The Element Labels panel can be accessed by choosing Window > Element Labels
For more information, see Working with Element Labels in Smart Connection.
Before you start using Smart Connection you might want to set some preferences, for instance setting the size of fonts in the Smart Connection panel for optimum readability.
Options that you would typically change would be the font size of the text shown in the Smart Connection panel.
Figure: The Smart Connection preferences.
Accessing the preferences
- MacOS: Choose InDesign > Preferences > Smart Connection...
- Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences > Smart Connection...
For more information about setting the Smart Connection preferences, see Smart Connection preferences.
Searching for files
The default method of locating files is by using the Smart Connection panel in Browse mode. As the name implies, this method allows you to browse for files by choosing specific locations such as a combination of a Brand, Issue, Category, or Status.
Step 1. From the Search menu of the Smart Connection panel, choose Browse.
Lists appear containing the Brands, Issues, Categories and Workflow Statuses that you have access to.
Step 2. (Optional) Make a choice from one or more lists.
Step 3. Click Refresh.
Note: When making a choice from the Workflow Status list, the panel is automatically refreshed.
Any found files are shown in the panel.
Note: When no files are displayed, either none met the criteria or you have not been given sufficient access rights to view the files.
For more information, see Searching and locating files using Smart Connection.
In a typical workflow, the content of your layout will fully consist of files that are stored in the Enterprise database. The majority are the stories created specifically for the publication that the layout is part of, consisting of articles and images.
Which types of files can be placed?
You can place the following types of files:
- InCopy articles
- Graphics (images, PDFs, Illustrator files, and so on)
- Layout Modules (a file type used in Enterprise for InDesign files that are aimed at placing in another InDesign layout)
- Excel files
How to place files
The principle of placing files is simple and involves using one of the following methods:
- Drag a file from the Smart Connection panel, Elements panel or the Dossier panel onto the layout or a frame.
- Double-click a file in the Smart Connection panel, Elements panel or the Dossier panel to load it into the so-called 'place cursor' of InDesign (also known as the 'place gun') and draw a frame on the layout to place the file in.
- Select a frame on the layout, right-click a file in the Smart Connection panel, Elements panel or Dossier panel and choose Place.
For more information, including advanced methods of placing files, see Placing files on a layout using Smart Connection for InDesign.
In a typical workflow, all frames on the layout that hold text are articles: separate files in InCopy format that can also be edited outside of InDesign, namely in InCopy and Content Station.
Of course, you can also create frames in InDesign from scratch and add text to them. To turn such frames into articles, do the following:
Step 1. Select one or more text frames on the layout that should make up the article.
Step 2. Choose Smart Connection > Create Article....
The Create Article dialog box appears.
Step 3. Enter all details and click OK.
For more information about the different ways of creating articles see Creating InCopy articles in InDesign using Smart Connection.
When it comes to saving layouts it is important to be aware of two distinct differences in the way you can save them:
- Saving a layout by pressing Cmd+S (MacOS) or Ctrl+S (Windows), or by choosing File > Save only saves the layout on your local system; it does not save the changes to the Enterprise database.
- Saving the changes to the Enterprise database can be done in various ways but the most common one is to check-in the layout. This will close the layout and save all your made changes to the database.
Checking-in a layout and closing it
Step 1. Open the layout that you want to edit and make your changes.
Step 2. Choose Smart Connection > Check In... .
The Check In dialog box appears.
Step 3. (Optional) In the Name box, modify the layout name or leave the original name.
The settings for Brand, Issue, and Category cannot be changed.
Step 4. (Optional) Change any of the remaining properties.
Step 5. Click OK.
For more information about all ways of saving layouts, see Closing or saving a layout using Smart Connection.
Working with file names
When creating or editing an article, image, Dossier, or any other type of file or object, be aware of the following restrictions:
- The name cannot be longer than 63 characters
- Some characters are not allowed
For more information, see Restrictions for naming files in Smart Connection.
Logging out or quitting
When logging out of Smart Connection or quitting InDesign, any panel settings are saved so that you can make use of these settings the next time you log in, even when doing so from another system.
- To log out:
- Choose Smart Connection > Log out.
- To quit InDesign:
- Choose File > Exit or use the keyboard shortcut
Note: When logged in to Enterprise Server with SSO support, logging out of Enterprise in InDesign will not log you out of the authentication provider.
- 19 June 2020: Added section 'Working with file names'.