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Automated Product Catalogs and Spec Sheets

Silicon Paginator brings catalog automation to a new level.

One of the most challenging forms of document automation is found in product and component catalogs – ubiquitous in the world of manufacturing. Manufacturing catalogs trend towards being data-intensive, while retail catalogs are often more design-intensive. We have set up catalog automation for some of the largest retailers and manufacturers in the world, surmounting the following challenges:

  • Data schemas in catalogs for this vertical tend to be complex: it’s not unhead of for every part in a catalog to have a completely different set of attributes.
  • Catalogs are often index-intensive and may have a great deal of cross-referencing among different sections of content.
  • Product catalogs benefit from rules-driven variations or control via a web interface. We have a robust interface for managing the sections of a product catalog online.

Because product catalogs are commonly printed and distributed physically, it is crucial to be able to fit content on the page effectively and correctly with automation – this is especially true given the shorter print runs and higher costs involved.

Manual intervention in catalog automation is sometimes practical only in short or infrequent runs. As quantities increase, InDesign Server shines as a rendition engine, especially for “lights out” (unattended automated) catalog production. However, post-processing is easy, because with InDesign Server, we can always return the art file(s) generated from automation to the client, and we often provide scripts to regenerate indices, cross references and TOCs after edits are complete.

Once the solution is delivered, we help ensure long-term process sustainability by providing the client with sample templates and instructions so they will be able to manage sections of a document, insert static matter, sequence indices and TOCs, and achieve their desired results when rendering/sequencing document sections of data-generated pages. This kind of catalog management can be done via either an XML file, or a web-based front end.

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