Most software, and especially Adobe Creative Suite, affords a number of ways to complete day-to-day creative duties. Some of those tasks happen during the production and development stage, when the visuals have to be transformed into an InDesign or Illustrator layout, or a layered Photoshop or Fireworks document. Others happen throughout the design process, and help with little details like file management. Adobe CS5 was used for all processes and their screen captures below.
Actions: Most designers have familiarized themselves with Adobe's Actions, and professional photographers continue to take full advantage of automating tasks such as cropping, sizing, color correction, and file formatting, just to name a few possibilities. Actions can be organized into individual folders, as Adobe does with their Default Actions.
Clicking a new folder creates the set, and clicking the page icon creates the new action, that records the tasks as you move through the software. In one scenario, a designer may receive a batch of 300 CMYK TIFFs, all of which need to become RGB PNGs for a website. Set up the Action once, then use Photoshop's File > Automate > Batch menu to select a folder and process them all at once. It's always helpful to make a copy of any images you'll batch process; just in case things go wrong.
Batch Rename: As image files come into the production process, they may have different naming conventions, depending on their sources. Adobe Bridge offers a quick and easy way to rename all of your files at once so you can catalog them using your own system. Processing this task in Bridge's Essentials field helps you see the images and sort through them before completing the task. You can process individual images or an entire collection of them.
Once you've selected the images, select Batch Rename from the topmost Tools menu or by left- or right-clicking to bring up Bridge's submenu on your mouse. The Batch Rename dialog lets you customize the file name with custom text, metadata text, or date/time information. This scenario has all of the images renamed with the "Ambients_" prefix to better describe their appearance. They can be sequenced with whatever number you put into the text field, but here we start with the number "1." If you need the original file name saved, be sure to check "Preserve current filename…" in the Options.
Find and Replace: Moving text documents from InDesign, Microsoft Word, or Pages into Dreamweaver for HTML processing poses a number of challenges. Certain glyphs, such as quotation marks, apostrophes, and em- and en-dashes need to be converted to HTML. Dreamweaver's Find and Replace comes in handy for doing so in one document or many.
In this case, searching for the em-dash and then replacing it with its HTML character will ensure that the em-dash gets properly displayed in the web browser. The same can be done with open and closed quotation marks, just be sure to uncheck "Ignore whitespace" because the search needs to see the space before an open quote and a space after a closed quote to properly replace them. And if you need to do so with multiple documents, open them all in Dreamweaver and select "Find In: Open Documents."
GREP: One of the most unused tools in the Creative Suite arsenal is GREP. The Unix text editor known as "ed" had a global search command used for identifying expressions and printing them, hence the acronym's origin (global / regular expression / print). Scenarios where GREP comes in handy include converting book text to HTML or vice versa. In this case, an HTML document gets converted into running text for InDesign. After pasting the HTML into an InDesign document, all of the markup will need to be converted into Character Styles, but before doing so, convert the "<" into "[" and ">" into "]" so GREP can work with the HTML tags. If multiple instances of bold, red text need to be converted from HTML into a character style do a GREP find for "[em style="color:#000; font-weight:bold; font-style:normal;"].+?[/em]" which says search for all text between the "em" markup. At the bottom, Change the Format to the Character Style you want, in this case a bold red Helvetica.
You can batch convert any HTML or CSS style this way, and when you've completed transforming them into InDesign Character Styles, use InDesign's Find and Replace to find all of the paragraph, strong, emphasis, or other tags and leave the replace field empty to quickly delete the HTML. Do the same with the closing tags. One of the biggest challenges with GREP is learning the commands, some of which exist at adobe.com in their expression help and also their GREP help.
The methods above represent only a sliver of what can be done with Adobe software, and it's important to note that other tools exist to help with repetitive tasks and batch processing. So the next time you have to undertake a series production tasks, take a minute to research if any or all of it can be automated. Because one of the best parts of using digital technology is letting it do the computing for you.