Announcing Merge Text Extension for Adobe Illustrator

Following the release of my Combine Textfields extension for Flash, I’ve put together a similar extension for Adobe Illustrator. This extension installs a script that will merge text (including text on a path) into one text object, while retaining the style attributes of the individual pieces, including character styles as well as paragraph styles (if the separator includes a return character).

Anyone who’s tried to edit text from a PDF opened in Illustrator knows how frustrating it can be to make simple text edits when the text is broken up. This extension reduces that headache.

Special thanks to David Van Brink for posting the Omino Dialog Maker. His time-saving code was used to produce the dialog box in this extension.

Download Options

Installation Instructions

JSX or JS file:

  1. Place the MergeText_AI.jsx (or MergeText_AI_CS.js) into the Scripts directory within your Illustrator application directory:

Windows > C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator {version}\Presets\en_US\Scripts
Mac OS X > Applications/Adobe Illustrator {version}/Presets/Scripts

Note: In CS4, the directory path will include a region directory (e.g. Adobe Illustrator CS4/Presets/en_US/Scripts).

MXP file or ZXP file (CS4 or newer):

  1. Double-click on the mxp file to install using Adobe Extension Manager.

Note: Adobe has abandoned Adobe Extension Manager as of CC 2015, even though it’s still installed. You can use the JSX file in that case (installation instructions above).

Usage

In Adobe Illustrator, select the text the you want to merge together and go to File > Scripts > MergeText_AI. If you’re using Illustrator CS3 or CS4, you will be prompted with a dialog box where you can choose your sorting orientation and a custom separator. If you’re using a version earlier than CS3, you will not be prompted with a dialog; the script will run using the default settings sorting topmost, then leftmost, with a separator of “[><]”. You can then run a Find and Replace and replace the separator with the characters of your choice.

Flash Extension: Roughen Edges

Sometimes I’m going for a slick, smooth look in Flash. Sometimes I want my drawings to look a little rougher. This extension adds a command that will roughen the edges of lines, fills, and drawing objects. It can be re-applied for more dramatic effects. It’s an imperfect implementation, so make sure to keep an eye on what you’re doing. There can be some unexpected results, especially when applying it to one element repeatedly.

Download
(painstakingly compatible back to Flash MX 2004)
Roughen Edges.mxp

Flash Extension: Export as Motion Preset Preview

This is the first extension that I’ve written exclusively for the new Flash CS4 features. Flash CS4 not only allows you to create extremely complex animations with a high level of control, but it also allows you to save those animations for reuse in the new Motion Preset panel.

I got the idea for this extension from Lee Brimelow’s excellent tutorial on the Motion Preset panel. Since I imagine that I’ll be creating a lot of my own motion presets, and I’d like them to have live previews just like the default presets, I decided to automate the process.

Here’s how it works:
Once you’ve created a custom motion preset, you can use this command to immediately create a live preview from your current document. This assumes that the motion preset is the only thing in your document. If that’s not the case, you may want to open a new document, paste the animation, and run the command from there.

Feedback welcome.

UPDATE:

  • Version 1.1.0 now supports multiple languages. Thanks to jeanphilippe for the catch!
  • Know issue: Preview is not retained if the preset is moved to a different folder within the Motion Preset panel. This is because Flash does not keep track of the preview files, it just knows to look for them.

Download
(compatibility: Flash CS4 and later, including CC and CC 2014)
Export as Motion Preset Preview.zip

Flash Extension: Combine Textfields

This extension combines multiple textfields into one editable textfield. I put this together as an entry for the Hackathon at Flash Camp.

UPDATE 10/12/08: This project took home the ‘Most Useful‘ award at Flash Camp.

Creative Suite 4 will be introducing a new Flash format, XFL. This format can be created by other applications, including InDesign and After Effects, and then edited by Flash Professional. So print designers and video artists now have a new window into Flash. One consequence of retaining the formatting of an InDesign document into Flash, is that text blocks get broken into individual lines. This will be familiar to anyone who has opened a PDF in Illustrator. This extension will recombine those textfields into one block while retaining the individual formatting properties.

Video demo of InDesign to Flash with XFL: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Download
(compatible with Flash MX 2004, Flash 8, Flash CS3, and Flash CS4)
Combine Textfields.mxp

If you’re interested, you can also download and look at the source.

Source
CombineTextfields_src.zip

UPDATE 11/20/08: Unfortunately ligatures are brought in as shapes rather than editable text, so they are essentially ignored by this extension. I have it on good authority that this will be resolved in Flash Authoring (Flash Player 10 already supports ligatures), but I have no idea when.

UPDATE 11/20/08 (#2): Version 1.1.0 posted. I found a Flash bug with Windows that was preventing the textfields from being sorted properly, so I adjusted some code to account for that bug. Version 1.1.0 addresses this issue. Apparently Flash CS4 in Windows doesn’t recognize the label attribute of radio tag in an xmlui file unless it’s value begins with an uppercase character. This may occur in other versions of Flash, but I only tested CS4. If the explanation of this bug doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, the extension will still work for you. It’s a pretty esoteric use case, so most JSFL* developers won’t even encounter this bug. I also found a bug that occurs when the XFL has set the faux bold property of a textfield. If this is the first textfield that you’re sorting from, it will make all of your text faux bold, and Flash doesn’t currently allow JSFL to control this property. Flash has moved to using the bold face of a family, rather than the faux bold control. This is also likely to occur with faux italics. It only occurs when the entire textfield is set to faux bold or italic, and should not occur when individual phrases within a textfield are set this way. This is partially a bug with Flash’s new font controls and partially with InDesign’s XFL export. Both features are brand new (and fantastic), so these kinks will likely be worked out in the future. I’ve contacted both teams and the InDesign group will likely fix how the tag is generated in the XFL.

*JSFL is the language used to write Flash extensions.

Flash Extension: Unify Stroke and Fill

Here’s a new Flash extension I put together based a question from Chris Georgenes’ helpful new Ask Chris section of his popular Keyframer blog.

This extension adds two items to the Commands menu in Flash:

  • COLOR – match Fill to Stroke
  • COLOR – match Stroke to Fill

I recommend adding keyboard shortcuts to really make these commands useful.

Download

(compatible back to Flash MX 2004)
COLOR – Unify Stroke and Fill.mxp