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More commands for the automation of censhare

The automation of processes is an important element for the adaptation of censhare to a customer. Here, censhare provides a powerful set of tools which employs XSLT, among others, as an easy to use tool. The range of functions was optimized in version 4.7 with additional commands. As a result, document delivery to authors, for example, can now be automated.

No two companies are alike. So the introduction of censhare always involves adapting it to the local conditions and processes. In this context, censhare offers three possibilities: changes in the configuration of the admin client, customer-specific programming of the desired functionality with Java, or the use of the XSLT toolkit (XSL transformation). This allows the creation of functions or functional sequences. There is no need for any programming in Java. In Version 4.7, censhare extends the toolkit for access to the censhare API (Application Programming Interface). This high-level API allows the use of censhare functionality directly with XSLT. The XSLT toolkit therefore uses the same structures and functions as censhare does internally. This makes it into a very powerful tool.

This allows the representation of more complex procedures as shown by the example "sending documentation to an author". First the censhare Rendering Client tells an Adobe InDesign server to produce a PDF of the page of an article. censhare also creates a PDF as cover page with data like author, page or magazine edition. Then the two PDFs are combined. Finally the system obtains the email address of the author from censhare's stored contact data. It produces an email with the PDF as attachment, and then sends it. This all happens automatically in a chain of XSLT commands which are executed sequentially, as in a Word macro.

Customer value

  • Very high flexibility to adapt censhare to the requirements of the particular company

  • More possibilities for automating procedures in processes like content generation

  • Automatic starting of procedures after specified events like the completion of a workflow step

  • Execution of complex procedures by the user with the help of server actions

  • Simplified and speedy implementation of solutions to new requirements during normal operation

Use case

The application potentials of XSLT commands are very extensive. Here is a small selection:

  • Production of an ebook in EPUB format from an existing publication

  • Reading of key data from an Excel file. With this a table in a report is updated in Adobe InDesign and then the PDF for the preview is generated.

  • Composition of a message in Twitter with a link to an article which has just been published in the web

  • Reading the URL of a product stored in censhare and generation of a 2D barcode as an image, which is then placed in a catalog page

  • A text advert for print is set to the workflow step "ready for approval": automatic generation of a PDF of the advert and sending the result to the customer for approval

XML is the central format in censhare for modifying data with the help of XSLT commands in XSL stylesheets. In order to work with assets, there are commands like the storing of a new asset (check-in), the opening of an asset for processing (check-out) or the cancelation of processing after a check-out. The stylesheet with the XSL code for the transformations can be stored in a file or attached to an asset. There are also various commands for input and output like the reading or writing of XML from or to a file.

censhare uses the Rendering Client to send commands to an Adobe InDesign server. This may then place an image, generate a PDF or update a text box in a layout after a textual change. These commands are now available via XSLT.

There are two extra commands for the generation of PDFs. Firstly a PDF can be generated from XML with the help of a stylesheet (XML-FO) via a FOP Transformation (Formatting Objects Processor). This is how the cover sheet for the documentation sending example could be generated. The required data like title and author are stored as metadata in the corresponding asset like the author's article. They are determined in the stylesheet and then inserted in the text for the cover sheet. Secondly the command "combine PDF" takes a selection or all the pages from various PDF files and creates a new document from them.

censhare generates barcodes with XSLT using the Open Source software Barcode4J. The command generates 1D or 2D barcodes in various image formats. An example of a 1D barcode is the linear type used on books for the ISBN number. 2D barcodes may be used to encode Internet links.

The XSLT commands for image processing can scale, rotate, crop, flip and convert images. Images can be superimposed or fitted into a predefined frame. The command can transform an image into a version with lower resolution but the same dimensions. In addition the XSLT command extracts a particular frame from a video as an image. If an image includes a clipping path, the command returns the production image without background.

In 4.7, Microsoft Word and Excel can be opened and read on a command. This allows the reading and further processing of data which users have entered earlier in Excel. Based on this data a table can then be automatically generated in an Adobe InDesign Layout.

censhare uses XSLT to implement access to the social networks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. With Twitter, an XLST command reads or writes messages. In YouTube, videos can be uploaded. In Facebook, XSLT can publish such things as status messages, links, videos or photos.

The implementation used by censhare AG can be divided into two areas: Standard XSLT 2.0 and the XSLT commands for access to the censhare API. This may be called externally, such as from a web site, or from within censhare.

XSLT can be executed by the user in the Admin Client. In addition XSL stylesheets may also be started automatically by an event or be made available to the user as server actions.

The XSLT-2.0 implementation was developed by censhare. It is faster and uses less memory than the Saxon XML parser which was previously used.

The XSLT commands are mainly aimed at experienced administrators and censhare partners who adapt censhare solutions for customers.