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ArcMap Annotation into InDesign

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#1
François Goulet

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Hi!

I'm looking for a way to export my annotations from ArcMap to InDesign.

We are producing a world thematic atlas and I need to rapidly translate a map from french to english and eventually german, spanish, italian, ... and it's quite laborious using ArcMap.

For now, I have a MySQL database with my labels in many language and I have to manually update the textstring in each annotation layer attribute table with the column from my database containing the language I need, export it to Illustrator and then place it in InDesign. The problem is that we cannot edit it in InDesign. Editing in Illustrator or InDesign is mandatory because ArcMap doesn't support some of the things I have to do.

We would like to have each label in a individual text box in InDesign and use xml tags to load from a database the language we need... We're working with this method on our other project and it works great, but they are created in InDesign in the first place so no conversion needed...

The SVG export format from Illustrator (it's already in xml) could be interesting, but without success so far...

Any ideas?

Thanks!

Francois Goulet

#2
Unit Seven

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I don't think you are going to get these into Indesign very successfully I'm afraid. I think an Illustrator solution would be a better option as Arcmap can do quite a good export into AI keeping most words togeather if you select the right setting in your annotation feature class. One problem you might run into is where labels are split over two words as these usually break into seperate text objects—you could look at replacing spaces with an underscore in Arc and then do a find and replace back to spaces once into Illy. Or use a non breaking space in Arc.

I'm pretty sure I've seen some scripts which do find and replace from a list in Illustartor which you could use to do the translations—if not I wouldn't expect it to be too difficult for a competent Adobe scripter. I imagine you will run into issues with different word lengths fitting on paths or into spaces on the map so expect a lot of carto placement after the translation.

You could then place the Illustrator file into Indesign (possibly a different layer for each language)

As usual text is always the issue with going across formats but IMO Arc have done a great job of how they get text to Illustrator but there are still flaws. What are the things you have to do that Arc doesn't support? There may be ways around some of these that people here may be able to help with here and IMO I would set up my translations as much as possible in Arc you would get a better result with less work at the Illy/Indesign end esp if you are working with Maplex for the placement.

Cheers,

Sam.
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#3
François Goulet

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The things ArcMap doesn't support are, for instance, "multiply", forcing straight leader lines (like when you hold the Shfit key while drawing a path in Illustrator), ... I have also to check every curved labels because sometimes, the letters touch themselves in AI when they aren't in ArcMap. I can make 98 or 99% of my label placement in ArcMap so it's not really a problem. I'd still do it in ArcMap for my "master" map. But translating a map in ArcMap is quite long, even though my database is well structured. I have to update the textstring field of each annotation layers, check if my horizontal/vertical alignment is correct for each label (if I haven't forgot to change it if I have move a label), look for superposition, text on 2 lines in the original version, … On the maps I'm currently working, I have between 15 and 20 different text layers (countries, cities, lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains, …). Once my English text is exported and placed into Illustrator, I cross-check it with my reference layer (French) but there's still risk of errors. I'm not complaining… I'm the one who developed this method ;) It may not be perfect, but I started here freshly out of school and I'm the first and only cartographer so I had to develop every methodology in mapmaking for the whole company.

So right now, we have a different layer for each language in InDesign, but the graphic designers cannot edit the map without me. They have the liberty to move a label (placing the name of an island on the other side of the feature if the want to add a graph, a picture, …) but then, when I'm exporting a map in a new language, those changes aren't in my master map. I have to modify my master every time a label has to be moved and I have a problem with that. My job is to create great looking, equilibrates map, but I have big holes in oceans because the editor asked us to add a picture on a page. That's why I'd like to continue to create my map like I have always do, and is someone want to move something, it will be in the output and it will not affected my map. With a xml link to my database, they will be able to load a new languages directly into their InDesign layout without the obligation for me to be involved in every step (I have enough mapmaking to do and don’t need to stop what I'm doing to add an "á" in Panamá because it wasn’t like that in my database ;) , but what you suggest is pretty much how I'm working right now, so it's comforting ;)

I really appreciate you taking time to answer me. Right now, we're looking for a conversion between Illustrator and InDesign so it could be the solution…

Thanks again!

Francois

p.s. My reply is quite long, but it's only to be sure I'm making myself understandable (English isn't my first language, you have surely noticed ;) and BTW, I discoved your Brainland map yesterday and it's now my desktop background… so great! :P




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