About MultiAd Creator Professional
For those of you who aren’t familiar with MultiAd Creator, you’re missing out on a good thing. MultiAd Creator may be a potentially very useful addition to your workflow.
MultiAd Creator, which has been around since 1989, is a cross-platform desktop publishing application, similar in many respects to QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign. However, Creator has some unique standard features, which are not currently available in these other applications without the use of third-party plug-ins. For a comprehensive feature comparison between Creator and other similar software, click here.
As mentioned on the Creator web site, it was designed with the business professional in mind. Therefore, it combines aspects of a page-layout application with those of drawing and image manipulation programs, allowing you to have more control over your documents from within a single application. In addition, in order to offer a greater number of options for workflow integration, Creator is available as a desktop version, as well as a server version for those interested in a fully automated workflow.
Some companies using the desktop version of Creator in their workflows include The Washington Post, The LA Times, and The Chicago Tribune. Companies using the server based version include Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Toyota, and Bank of America.
Since MacScripter.net is an AppleScript-centric web site, the rest of this article will focus on the unique AppleScript-related features of Creator. For additional general information about Creator, please visit the MultiAd web site.
Creator’s AppleScript Implementation
For those looking to begin scripting Creator for the first time, you will find it to be an AppleScript developer’s dream come true. Creator’s AppleScript implementation is by far one of the best around.
The first thing you will notice is the large size of Creator’s AppleScript dictionary, which appears to be fairly complete. The dictionary seems to have a command for almost any task you could possibly wish to perform, and contains a large suite of objects and properties available for access with your scripts. Certain commands even offer functionality that would require multiple commands in other applications, such as the “fit to text” command, which will shrink a text containing shape to tightly fit the text it contains.
Creator’s dictionary is very well commented and intuitive, and is organized quite nicely. Even a novice AppleScripter should have no problem getting around the dictionary of this application.
However, the dictionary doesn’t stop there. It also contains several surprises that are fairly unique, to say the least:
Page Element Information - Many page-layout applications allow you to assign names to page elements, which may later be referenced by an AppleScript. This allows you to easily refer to objects by name in your scripts, rather than by index number or location reference.
Creator also goes a few steps further. In addition to allowing you to assign names to elements directly within the Creator interface, or via AppleScript, you can also assign descriptions to elements. This allows you to add even more custom information to classify page elements, and can also be done through the interface, or with AppleScript.
Client Data Suite - When viewing the dictionary, you will notice that the Creator dictionary contains a “Client Data” suite of commands. These commands allow you to attach data to almost any object in a document, or to a document itself. This data is persistent, and will remain with the document after it has been saved and closed.
While this data is AppleScript accessible, it cannot be accessed through the interface, so there is no way for the user to see it. In addition, the data is assigned using a client reference and an ID, which means that no other scripts or processes can access the data without this information, making it a fairly secure method of storing confidential data.
This functionality offers tremendous possibilities for job tracking. By integrating client data assignment via AppleScript in your workflow, you can keep track of who has opened, closed, or saved your document, and even more. You can also assign instructions for other automated processes, copyright information, or job ticket numbers to your documents for routing purposes. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
Modifiable Menus - Creator will actually allow you make changes to the menus in the application interface using AppleScript. For example, you can create scripts which can change the names of menus and menu items, as well as assign or reassign key commands to specific menu items. Additional AppleScriptable menu options are also available, and will be covered under “Attaching Scripts in Creator”, below.
Custom Interface Suite - For those who are tired of the basic “display dialog” commands, Creator provides a quick and easy way to dynamically build custom interfaces while your script is running. Using just a few commands, your script can prompt a user to enter data, display a message, and more, right in Creator’s interface. These custom dialogs can include buttons, checkboxes, popup menus, progress bars, and more!
ACES (Ad Control Event Suite) - The Creator dictionary also contains a suite called “ACES”, which stands for the “Ad Control Event Suite”. This set of commands can be used by companies who have integrated an ACES server into their workflow.
Using an ACES server, an administrator can restrict access to, and have more control over corporate documents. A system of this nature can help a company to keep track of documents as they are printed, saved, etc. by users.
The ACES suite in the Creator dictionary provides AppleScripts with a way to access certain information within ACES documents, as well as provide some automated control of ACES documents.
In addition to Creator’s powerful dictionary, it’s also recordable. Recording in Creator is a snap, and for the novice AppleScript developer, this feature will really become handy. In addition to helping you write your code faster, Creator’s recordability will serve as a nice training aid. Before long, you’ll catch on to the syntax, and will be developing complex automated solutions in no time.
Attaching Scripts in Creator
Creator doesn’t stop at a basic AppleScript implementation. It’s also probably the most AppleScript attachable application on the market. Creator’s support through attachability goes well beyond that of other AppleScript-attachable applications, including:
Attachable Script Handlers - Creator’s AppleScript dictionary contains an “Attachable Script Handlers” suite. Through the use of this suite, you can actually attach AppleScripts to certain actions in Creator, including opening, closing, saving, and printing a document. For example, you could create a script which automatically exports an EPS file to a specified folder on a server every time a document is saved. A script can also prevent a given action from occurring unless certain criteria are met.
Built-In Script Menu - Creator features a built in AppleScript menu, which comes standard with dozens of scripts which will aid you in your daily routines. Of course, you can also add your own scripts to the menu, if desired.
Contextual Menu Scripts - Many applications offer contextual menus, which may be accessed by holding down the “Ctrl” key while clicking the mouse. However, Creator goes a step further again by allowing you to access AppleScripts through contextual menus. Like the script menu, some example scripts are included with Creator. However, you can always add your own scripts for even greater functionality.
Menu Additions - Using AppleScript, you can actually create new menus and menu items. You can also set up Creator to trigger a script when a custom created menu item is selected. This flexibility allows your scripts to be more completely integrated into Creator’s interface. Users won’t even realize that they’re triggering scripts.
Startup Scripts - Creator also allows you to install startup scripts, which will trigger when creator is launched. Startup scripts can allow you to make configurations, set preferences, build menus, and more, all while Creator is being launched.
As you can see, the AppleScript support in Creator is nothing less than amazing. MultiAd’s commitment to implementing a strong AppleScript implementation in the Creator line of products is a welcome addition in the market of partially scriptable applications. For software companies who are considering implementing or improving AppleScript support in their products, Creator can serve as a guidebook. It contains all of the AppleScript features desired by developers, and then some!
For additional information about MultiAd Creator, please visit the MultiAd web site. Also available on their web site, are dozens of downloadable sample AppleScripts.