InDesignSecrets Podcast 243

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(24 MB, 46 minutes)

In this episode:

  • News and Updates:
  • We examine the stunning achievement that is InDesign 2017.1
  • Interview with Theresa Jackson, Adobe guru, trainer, and designer
  • Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week: Recently Published

News and special offers from our sponsors:

> Acuity Training, based in the UK, offers training in Adobe InDesign and the full range of Adobe products with Adobe qualified trainers, as well Microsoft and other software suites and programs. They’ve been awarded a Gold-Star Rating from for four years running. Up until May 31, 2017, InDesignSecrets podcast listeners can get 20% off Adobe training bookings by using the discount code indesignsecrets20. 

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7 Comments on “InDesignSecrets Podcast 243

  1. Certainly glad to hear folks calling out Adobe on the disgrace that is the charting function in Illustrator. I use it almost every day and produce hundreds of charts each year, and have been asking for 20 years for the function to be fixed or, better, since its underlying design is flawed, replaced. One would think that the embarrassment of including such terrible coding in a product would be sufficient incentive. It appears that the product managers understand neither the market nor the requirements for this sort of utility.

    • I can’t imagine the pain of working with Illustrator charts every day, but I have to believe if there are any workarounds, or things to avoid, you would know them well. I guess the question is, would Illustrator be better off without the functionality and all, or is flawed code better than no code?

      • ‘… would Illustrator be better off without the functionality and all, or is flawed code better than no code?’
        Good question and similar to one I ask myself often: Would *I* be better off without the funtionality? Since I still use it, despite everything, my answer so far has been ‘no’. So, I guess my answer is that, for the nonce, ‘flawed code is better than no code’ though, if I were the product manager for Illustrator, I would rip it out this afternoon. Best, of course, would for it to be replaced with a modern design written in modern code. There is an enormous market here and I can’t figure out why Adobe doesn’t see it and why they don’t understand the basic requirements for such a function.

        My chief reasons for using the graphing function in Illustrator are the Adobe type engine, precise measurement, professional control of colour, and the ability to place the graphs in ID as linked images that update automatically — all features proper to Illustrator itself and not to the graphing function. I have tried most of the other graphing software available and they all fail to meet three, and usually four, of these requirements.

        Aside from the limited set of types of graphs that can be produced and the rudimentary formatting, the chief flaw in Illustrator’s graphing function is that any change to the data forces a redraw of the graph, which erases stylistic overrides to the original (like commas separating thousands on the axes), moves the axes out of line with the graphs, and, from time to time, flings bits of the graph out onto the pasteboard. It’s like baby’s first attempt at feeding himself, over and over again. If one has data that is absolutely secure and final or that is only approximate, the graphing function is useful to establish the basic proportional display in a graph; one can then ungroup the graph and tart it up. But, if the data for the publication is going through proofing and revision, one ends up adjusting the graphs after each cycle.

        So, avoid finalising the look of the graphs until proofing is over. Not always possible, of course: we have all had those authors who criticise the typeface or the colours rather than making sure the data is correct. And, before copying over the data, prepare it In Excel to allow for the quirks of Illustrator’s data imput panel as much as possible.

        Essential work-around 1: since the graphing function does not recognise dates as such unless they are enclosed in quotation marks (yes, I know, it’s hard to believe), make up a text file where you can collect series of dates enclosed in quotation marks. I use BBEdit since rectangular selection allows one to add quotation marks to columns of dates in one operation. It is also useful for deleting commas separating thousands, which the graphing function will also not accept.

        Essential work-around 2: if you have a graph with two Y axes, don’t use the graphing function to set it up. Instead, set up a graph with one Y axis, copy and paste it in place on a new layer and adjust to show the data of the other Y axis.

  2. I should add that another consequence of the graphing function’s highchair behaviour is that using a template to make up a batch of charts where only the data differs is not very efficient: each iteration has tidied up after the new data has been inserted.

    • Hey Lindsey,
      I’ve been asking Adobe to fix the graphing function in Illustrator for years. I agree with everything you say. It’s better than nothing, but would love major improvements.

  3. Ann Marie,
    I’m all in your camp with much preferring the light gray UI and having good contrast. So in that vein I would much prefer the InDesignSecrets search box to have more contrast! When you type in a search term you can barely read it. How about making the type 100% white against the gray background? BTW, LOVE InDesignSecrets! Thanks!

    • Rebecca: Thank you for the kind words and the constructive criticism about the site… wow, you’re right that it is a bit hard to read. Funny what you get used to and then just don’t “see” anymore. We’re slowly building a list of things to change in an upcoming redesign and we’ll add this.

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