Using the PDF Import Script

Although Mag+ is a custom-design solution, there are times the source material for your digital issue comes in the form of a PDF and you just need to quickly turn it into a MIB—for example, loading back issues into a new app, or sales materials that are already PDFs. The PDF Conversion Script is a quick and flexible way to convert any PDF into a Mag+ digital issue, without losing the ability to easily add enhancements.

The script basically opens a PDF document, separates out each page and places it on the Mag+ InDesign template you choose (i.e. iPad, or Android 1280x800). You decide how the page should fit to the template, and whether it has zooming or panning. You can also choose to have the script export that ID document to an Issue folder, so all you have to do is open the Production Tool, organize the issue and hit Create MIB. You can create a whole issue in 10 minutes!

Installing the script

The script is automatically installed as part of the Plugin installation. It can be used with any prior versions of the Plugin and is compatible with CS4-CC.

Using the script

1. In InDesign, go to Mag+ -> PDF Import... in the menu bar.

2. Configure the import options in the window that appears.

PDF Import Options

  • PDF Document
    Click Browse and navigate to the source PDF file that you want to convert.
  • Template Document
    Click Browse and navigate to the InDesign template file that you want to use in your conversion. This is basically the device you're creating the issue for (i.e., iPad or Android 1280x800). By default, templates are installed in Applications > Mag+ > Templates.
  • Export folder for InDesign Files
    Click Browse and navigate to the folder that you would like to export the finished InDesign files to.
  • Issue folder
    This is optional and used only if you choose the Export Verticals options below. If so, click Browse and navigate to the folder that you would like to export the verticals to.

Conversion Options

  • Export verticals
    This is the equivalent to clicking Export in the plug-in; the script will export each created InDesign document to an Issue Folder. If this box is unchecked when you run the script, it will just created InDesign documents.
  • Import PDF as single vertical
    Instead of splitting the PDF into one InDesign document for each page, this will stack all the PDF pages vertically in one InDesign document.
  • Use linked images
    This places and exports a PDF file into the InDesign document, instead of converting it to a JPG. (iOS only)
  • Place on B-layer (Instead of A - Main Tower)
    Choose which of the Mag+ layers the page is created on. The B layer is the paginated layer; A layer is free scrolling. Putting the content on the A layer will allow the user to scroll up if you choose Fit to Width and that makes the page longer than what's visible. You might also choose A or B layer if you plan to go back into the InDesign document and add other content later (like, say, a text view or an image on the B layer). 
  • Horizontal orientation
    Creates a landscape orientation document instead of portrait.
  • Transparent PDF background
    Respects transparent areas in the PDF and will show through to whatever background color you choose [below].
  • Fit content to frame
    This will stretch the placed page image to the bounds of the visible area even if it distorts the aspect ratio of the image. 

Fitting mode
These choices refer to how the script will resize each PDF page for the template you've chosen. In every case, it will show the background color you choose if there is empty area on the top and bottom or left and right. 

  • HEIGHT
    Resizes the page so that it fits top to bottom and center it left to right. If the page does not fill the template left to right, you will see the background of the template. If the page is bigger than the template horizontally, it will crop—choose Panning (below) to allow the user to pan the page to see all the content.
  • WIDTH
    Resizes the page to fit left to right. If that leaves the page bigger than the template top to bottom, you can choose to put the page on the A layer or turn on panning to allow the user to scroll to see more. 
  • x% of WIDTH
    Resizes the page to a percentage of the width. This allows you to keep the page from stretching to either edge, creating an even border around the page for instance. Note that if you want the image to be smaller than the box, choose a percentage above 100. If you choose a percentage below 100, the image will be cropped that percentage and enlarged to fill the box. 

Pan/Zoom Mode

  • None
    No panning or zooming effect—the page will be static.
  • Pan
    If this is on, the user will be able to scroll the page to see any content that is beyond the visible area of the screen. 
  • Zoom 
    Activate pinch-and-zoom on the page. This will create a larger image from your PDF, so that users can zoom into the specified percentage. Note that the higher zoom you choose, the larger image will have to be created, which will take more memory to load and slow performance. For full-page PDFs, we recommend staying below 200 percent. Also note the resolution of your source PDF; if it does not have the pixels to create a larger image, the zoomed image will look fuzzy. For example, if you are creating for the retina iPad (1536x2048) and you want to zoom 200 percent, the image the script creates for that page will be 3072x4096—if your source PDF has fewer pixels than that, the full zoom will be blurry. 

Background Color

  • None
    No background.
  • Black
    Sets the background—the areas not filled by the PDF—to black.
  • White
    Sets the background to white.

PDF Cropping Options
These are advanced options for how the source PDF file is cropped when it is placed on the page. Some elements in the menu may be grayed out depending on what's in your source PDF.

  • Art
    Crops to the Art Box in the PDF file. A PDF may or may not contain an Art Box. 
  • PDF
    Crops to the PDF Box in the PDF file. This is the normal view when opening a PDF in a PDF reader. A PDF may or may not contain an PDF Box.
  • Trim
    Crops to the Trim Box in the PDF file. A PDF may or may not contain an Trim Box.
  • Bleed
    Crops to the Bleed Box in the PDF file. Normally around 3-5 mm and often used in print designs.
  • Media
    Crops to the Media Box in the PDF file. All PDFs should contain a Media Box [see note below].
  • Content visible layer (Not available in CS4)
    Crops to the content on the visible layer in the PDF file.
  • Content all layers (Not available in CS4)
    Crops to the content on all layers in the PDF file.
Note: The MediaBox is used to specify the width and height of the page. For the average user, this probably equals the actual page size. For prepress use, this is not the case as we prefer our pages to be defined slightly oversized so that we can see the bleed (Images or other elements touching an outer edge of a printed page need to extend beyond the edge of the paper to compensate for inaccuracies in trimming the page), the crop marks and useful information such as the file name or the date and time when the file was created. This means that PDF files used in graphic arts usually have a MediaBox which is larger then the trimmed page size. The MediaBox is the largest page box in a PDF. The other page boxes can equal the size of the MediaBox but they cannot be larger.

3. Click the "Run" button.

The Script will run, opening and saving InDesign documents. You can do other things on your computer while the script runs, but you cannot use InDesign for anything else.

Note: If you have chosen to have the script export the created InDesign docs, you can now open your Production Tool and point to the Issue Folder you designated in the script. 

If you want to produce multiple device MIBs (i.e., iPad, iPad Retina), you can simply run the script again pointing to a different template. Just be sure to structure your issue folder appropriately by creating a parent issue folder, and then device-specific issue folders inside it named to match the template (i.e., Apple iPad, Apple iPhone 4). See article "Using Multi-Device Export" for more details.

Note: If you receive an error message when running the PDF Conversion script, it usually has to do with how the PDF was created. The PDF needs to have certain metadata in it for the script to work. If you're making the PDF from InDesign, checking the box "Include Thumbnails" should ensure that the proper data gets written. If the PDF is coming from somewhere else, opening it in Preview on the Mac and choosing "Save As ..." a PDF will make the file correctly.
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