I finally did it. I was putting it off forever, and got so frustrated dealing with all these files from various clients that are different versions that I took the five minutes necessary to download, install and configure Soxy!
Herein lies the problem: when you install the newest version of any Creative Suite program, it assumes you want to automatically open ALL files of that type in the newest version. So if a client sends you a CS4 InDesign file that you need to work on and send back, but you’re using CS5.5, it will open in CS5.5, even if CS4 is loaded on your machine. This is a real problem for freelancers and anyone working in a collaborative environment.
In steps Soxy…simple in name and purpose: It allows you to “map” which application you want to have open the various file versions. It looks at the file when you double-click on it to open and says “Hey Mate, this was last saved in CS4 so let’s open it in CS4…sweet as!” Editor’s Note: The developer of the software is from New Zealand…that’s why it talks that way. So now when a customers sends me a file, I don’t have to think about it…I just double-click and it will launch the correct version of InDesign/Photoshop/Illustrator/etc. on my machine.
Before Soxy, I would be working on a file for a while then realize that I was in 5.5 and they need the file in CS3. Fun. Export From 5.5 as IDML, open in CS4, export as INX and open in CS3. Nice. And then I have to remember all the things CS3 doesn’t do so I know what isn’t working, like spanning heads, conditional text and more.
With Soxy I can trust that I’m working on the file in it’s “native” version.
What if you don’t have CS3 (or applicable version)? You can set up Soxy to ask when opening, so, at the very least, you are aware there might be a problem. On this machine I don’t have CS2 loaded. Soxy will alert me and I can choose to continue, or not. If I choose to go ahead and open in CS3, I know the worst is that I have to export INX for the customer. Not the best scenario, but still better than automatically opening in the wrong version unaware.
Even though my personal experience with Soxy is with Creative Suite, it also works with Quark and other applications…not exclusive to Adobe products.
Take EPS files, for example. Even though they are a bit outdated for most workflows, they still exist. An EPS file can contain both raster and vector data so it’s important to know whether to open in Illustrator or Photoshop. Opening an EPS file in Photoshop that contains vector data will rasterize everything and make things harder than if you open it in Illustrator and can still edit the vector objects. So in steps Soxy. You can configure it to know if it’s an Illustrator EPS, Photoshop EPS, QuarkXPress EPS or other, and tell it how to open.
So let’s say you have a logo from a customer that’s an Illustrator EPS, or you get clipart from a service the same way…when you double-click without Soxy it will automatically open in Photoshop, rasterizing everything like a photo. Same with a non-illustrator EPS. Same with a Photoshop EPS that has vector information, it will open and rasterize.
Soxy to the rescue… Tell it to open Illustrator EPS files in Illustrator (I would recommend you say the same for Photoshop EPS and…well…any EPS file) and it will do that, keeping the raster and vector data as the original, ready to edit.
I’ve received hundreds of emails over the years from people who want to fix a low-res logo or artwork the customer sent. I ask them to send me what the customer sent and I find out that they were opening a vector EPS in Photoshop, using the default 72 ppi, and ruining the art. If they had Soxy, they could open in the correct program and get better quality results.
Soxy was developed by Kris Coppieters, a brilliant InDesign scripter and plug-in developer. He has many plug-ins I use and recommend, but we’ll save that for another column. Or you can check them out on his site rorohiko.com.
Kris, and his sons, write the code for the amazing Atomic News Tools plug-in that allows newspaper and magazine paginators to upload stories, photos and ads to a website directly from InDesign. Cool!
You can get Soxy as a trial to test it out before you buy. It’s a cheap $19 if you want a single copy for you and there are discounts for ten and 100 user licenses for an agency/publishing environment.
Another Editor’s Note: After posting this article, I was opening an InDesign files named “Page17indd”…Soxy was smart enough to say “Eh Mate…this file doesn’t have an extension, but Soxy thinks it’s an InDesign File…waddaya think about that?” (I took some liberties with the Error Message). Good stuff!!