Meadows Publishing Solutions’ DesignMerge is a suite of XTensions that lets you personalize virtually every aspect of a document, including Variable Text, Graphics, Articles, and even entire Layouts. DesignMerge also includes a number of advanced VDP features, such as automatic copyfitting, conditional logic programming, bar coding, and multi-up layout support.
To use it, you assign “variable links” to any range of text or any picture box in a document, making it easy to print personalized documents. Each link is tied to a specific field in an external database. When the document is “merged,” these variable links fill with information from the database. The merged results can either be printed, saved as EPS graphics, or saved as individual QuarkXPress files.
Its CopyFit feature automatically fits text into the space allotted for it, and its Rules feature can perform specific layout actions based on the contents of one or more database fields, such as turning layers on and off, applying different master pages, and including or removing page items.
Their website has several videos that demonstrate the major features of DesignMerge.
DesignMerge also supports the Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML) capability of QuarkXPress 7 & 8, which automatically determines which areas of a document will vary, and caches the non-changing areas as a “form”. Subsequent print jobs contain only variable information and are merged with the “form” at the printer. This prevents the need to re-RIP the full document each time, and ensures fast processing of variable information.
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.