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New Blatner Tools Suite of InDesign Plug-ins Released as Public Beta

I’ve been mentioning this secret project on and off over the past year… I guess it’s finally time to take the wraps off my “baby” and see what you all think of it!

Blatner Tools Suite of Plug-ins

Here is the press release:

Prague/Seattle, October 14, 2009 — DTP Tools announces the immediate availability of a free-to-download public beta of the Blatner Tools suite of InDesign plug-ins. This collection of 12 plug-ins offers over 100 new features for InDesign users, including the ability to assign keyboard shortcuts to many previously unavailable tasks, create color and style reports, create fractions automatically, build character and paragraph styles and apply them acros an entire document quickly, and more.

The Blatner Tools suite was designed by longtime industry guru David Blatner, who also co-hosts the InDesignSecrets.com site. Blatner noted, “I love InDesign, but there’s plenty of room for improvement! Blatner Tools adds many of the features my clients and students have been requesting for years. Tools to create and manage styles better, the ability to find and replace colors, to quickly identify hard-to-locate document errors — this stuff was painful before, but Blatner Tools makes it all easy!”

Bob Levine, a trainer in the New York area and an Adobe Forums Community Expert has used the beta and reported, “Blatner Tools is more than just the sum of its parts — it’s the answer to a multitude of feature requests I’ve been reading over the past five years. If you want InDesign to do more, check it out.”

KEY FEATURES
Blatner Tools includes too many features to list here, but here are some of the most important functions:

  • Analyze documents to automatically create and apply character and paragraph styles
  • Find Color lets you find colors, even spot colors inside placed graphics!
  • An Extras menu provides quick access to third-party scripts
  • History Lite offers an easy to use Undo/Redo panel
  • Compare Styles shows you how two or more paragraph styles are different
  • Remove Local Formatting can strip unwanted text formatting out of an entire document
  • AutoPage lets text frames extend and auto-thread to new pages to avoid overset text
  • Text Controls gives you powerful tools for fast and precise text formatting
  • You can apply any keyboard shortcut you want to layers, styles, and even color swatches!

AVAILABILITY
The Public Beta of Blatner Tools version 1, for InDesign CS3 and CS4, and for Mac OS and Windows, is available for immediate download at: www.dtptools.com/blatnertools


And hey, before anyone asks, I need to just clarify the name… We figured this was the best name as “Blatner” designed it and DTP “Tools” developed it. I have to admit that it’s a little embarrassing to see my name in that menu, but I’m sure I’ll get over it.

Also, please note that this is a beta. It works pretty darn well, but I’m sure there are bugs here and there. We really want to hear from you. However, please do not put bug reports in the comments below. That’ll just get annoying to readers. Instead, email bug reports or questions to support@dtptools.com.

However, I would like to hear below what you think of Blatner Tools (after you try it out). Which features do you like best? Which features do you think you’ll use, or not use?

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Comments

30 Comments on “New Blatner Tools Suite of InDesign Plug-ins Released as Public Beta

  1. Just in case anyone’s concerned about the beta status of this, I’ve been running it on production machines for a while now with no apparent problems at all on Windows and Mac CS4.

    I really think a lot of people are going to be very happy with this set of plugins…and no, I’m not being paid to say that.

  2. Very nice
    However in Blatner Tools->Display

    Substituted is spelt wrong for Fonts and Glyphs

    Looks great apart from that

    re

  3. Congratulations
    Looks like a great efficiency booster.

    I would have preferred Quality Assurance panel as part of Live Preflight (which is developer extensible) in CS4 to avoid having to check multiple places for my errors.

    Still need to look at it more in the next few days

  4. Like Bob, I’ve had a chance to play with BT, and it’s very stable and very worth checking out. The keyboard shortcuts feature alone is awesome. BT is not just “ooh ahh” cool, but the kind of stuff you could actually use every day.

    And btw, we need to create an emoticon or acronym that equals “I got no compensation for my opinion.”

    IGN$4MO

    or perhaps:

    $:0)

    (zero dollars mixed w/ smiley face)

  5. @Chris: Thanks. Okay, we’ll fix the typo!

    @Pierre: I believe it will work in the French version, but unfortunately it currently only has English UI. Do you think it is necessary for us to localize the menus and dialog boxes into French and other languages?

    @Steven: You bring up a great point. One reason we wanted to make Quality Assurance a separate panel was so that the whole Suite would work in CS3, too.

    @Mike and Bob: Thanks for your time and effort testing and for saying nice things about it. I love your idea of the emoticon. Given upcoming blogging rules, I probably should have said: “In case it isn’t obvious, this blog post is not a review, and yes, I have a financial interest in this plug-in.” Is that emoticon *¬£* (two eyes and a British pound symbol nose)?

  6. Quality Assurance is an excellent feature I have been waiting for a long time. When Adobe introduced the Preflight panel in CS4 I thought we finally go it, but I was bitterly disappointed by the way it searches for paragraph and character overrides as one (besides the fact that it crashes on almost every other document I turn it on for).

    One thing that would really enhance the Quality Assurance panel is if you could set what types of overrides to search for.

    So for example I often will override a style with space before to type fit a page. I don’t want it to report every time I have a space before override. So it would be nice if there would be check box to have it ignore space before overrides.

  7. Text Controls is amazing! That is just wonderful how you made it so easy to set increment amount of each setting. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have to open every time the Preferences menu.

  8. Just tried this with fractions and note it only scales common fractions, 1/3, 1/4, 1/2 etc. Unusual fractions like 1/5, 1/12 do not scale properly. This might be by common design but would be nice if it did any and all fractions correctly.

  9. @Gary: My guess is that it depends on the font you’re using and the state of your Preferences. The plug-in is doing some clever stuff in the background.

    For example, if it’s an OpenType font, the plug-in tries to identify whether it has real fractions or created fractions. Some fonts appear to have them, but really don’t. For example, let’s say you use the OpenType Hobo Std. (I’m not saying you should…) If you use the Fraction panel to change 1/5 to a fraction, the plug-in asks the font if it has built-in fractions. It does! So it uses it. But it isn’t really there!

    The solution is to turn off the Use OpenType Fraction Style checkbox in the Fractions pane of the Preferences dialog box.

    Try this fun trick: Turn on the Replace Fractions As You Type checkbox in the Fractions panel, then select some text with fractions in it and start choosing different fonts. If the font has fractions, it uses them; if it doesn’t have them, it “fakes” them; if you have an Expert font, it should use that automatically.

  10. Tiny typos on the Features page on the DTP Tools site: “It lets you ind and replace colors”
    “Remeber” (plugin title)
    Keyboard Shortcuts PRO “offers exporting and improting shortcut sets”

    Sounds like there are a bunch of handy features in there, so I’ll give it a shot on my home computer first.

  11. Just started using it – looks really useful!

    I did notice a problem: Tip #63 says:
    ———-
    You can press to move to the previous page of your document, and to move to the next page.

    You can move one spread forward or backward by pressing or .

    Or, to jump to the first or last spread of the document, press or .
    ————

    i.e. all the keyboard shortcuts are missing from the tip dialog box.

    This was in CS3 on Mac 10.5.8 iMac 2.8Gig Intel Core Duo

    Looking forward to playing with it!

  12. Upon further investigation, I see that in ALL of the tips, the keystrokes are not displaying.

    And in many of them, such as #88, I get (), as in the following:

    “You can change the size of a document in the Document Setup dialog box (). However . . . “

  13. @mchak: Great catch… oops! We’ll fix that.

    Again, please feel free to send bug reports to me or to support at dtptools.com (that way, we don’t have to clutter the comments here with little things that can be easily fixed).

  14. David,

    Thanks for the feedback. I did try your suggestions and you are right- as always. Especially on the “fun trick”.

  15. A few questions:

    1) What does “lock first line position” do?

    2) How does justify by leading differ from InDesign’s vertical justification?

    3) Is there any way to adjust how much the up/down arrows next to the glyph scaling/letter spacing/word spacing int the Text Controls panel equals?

  16. @Fred: Thanks for getting into the nitty gritty of the Text Control plug-in! I hope my answers aren’t too detailed.

    1) Lock first lint position attempts to fix two annoyances I’ve had with ID for years: When you have a hanging indent (e.g. 2p left indent and -2p first line indent), then you change the left indent to 3p, the first line gets indented, too. Often, I want the first line to stay where it is! When Lock First Line Position is on, the first line indent gets updated automatically, saving you time.

    The second problem is if you change the left indent to zero (or something smaller than 2p). InDesign won’t let you do it, because it would force the first line out of the frame. I hate that alert! However, if you change the Left Indent in the Text Control panel while the Lock Position checkbox is on, then it is smart enough to reduce the first line indent, too, so you don’t get an alert.

    2) The Justify by Leading button in the Text Control panel works in non-rectangular frames, or frames that have text wrap applied to them! However, the tradeoff is that it’s a “brute force” method, actually changing the leading for those characters in the frame. If your frame size changes, you may have to click again, or change leading manually, etc.

    3) Each click changes the setting by 1%. Shift-click changes by 10%. Note that if you hover your cursor over one of the icons, it displays a tool tip with the current setting in the Justification dialog box.

    Does that help?

  17. Are you kidding, thank YOU and DTP Tools for working so hard to give us all these features at a reasonable price!

    1) Aha! Excellent! I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten that annoying alert when I tried to adjust the left indent!

    2) Ok, that is a nice feature! Although, as you said a little risky if it’s a threaded frame and a character moves to the next frame. It would change the leading of the line in the next frame.

    3) A hidden shift-click! I love it. Are there any other modifier key+clicks hidden away in the plugin?

  18. Im a keyboard shortcut freak. I guess that after being able to apply them to any layer, swatch, and even style will make me want to sell my mouse… Im gonna try them right now!

  19. Pio: Thanks! I hope you like them. Fortunately, I don’t think you need to sell your house to afford these plug-ins. At the introductory price, it only averages about 9 euros for each of the plug-ins (that’s about US$13 per plug-in).

  20. hahahah “house”…
    man… quality assurance, find color, keyboard shortcuts and layer tools rule!… no bugs detected yet… (still testing the rest)… gotta tell the boss to get these for the whole department (15 designers)

    Congratulations for such an excelent work!

    Greetings from Tijuana Mexico ;)

  21. Lo David. I’m getting messages that the plug-in suite is expiring tomorrow. I think you said there was another beta that fixes some of the issues…

    When will it be ready for tire-kicking?

    Thanks!

  22. Peter, my apologies! Beta 2 should be going up tomorrow. I’m actually in Prague right now with the developers, so I’ll be sure they get that out. (If anyone out there is in Prague, come to the little indesign user group mtg. we’re having tomorrow and say hi!)

  23. Okay, the new “beta 2″ with a few fixes and a new 14-day trial period has been updated. Whew! I think we’re getting very close to releasing 1.0…

  24. Unfortunately, a few more bugs popped up this week. Nothing terrible, but stuff that should be fixed before 1.0. There should be a “beta 3″ in the next day or two. We want to make sure people can keep using the free public beta without running into the 14-day expiration.

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