About a year or so ago I was experiencing a strange occurrence in regards to InDesign’s built-in Preflight/Package feature – normally I’d select the item from the menu and the dialog box would appear with all the pertaining options: But sometimes I’d be all set to get a file out the door, select ‘Preflight’ and nothing would happen. Well, ‘nothing’ unless you’re not counting the endless spinning of OSX’s ‘beachball’. No preflight box, no error message, nada – the whole program would simply lock up and I would have to Force-Quit & start over. This is not nearly as aggravating as it was under any OS prior to 10 or in most early versions of Quark. Adobe’s wonderful little autosave/crash recovery function has saved my bacon more than a few times these past few years. Anyway, when you’re dealing with a 20, 40 or 64-page document, pinpointing the cause of such a problem can resemble the old cliché about the needle and the haystack. When I first encountered the bug, I reverted back to my early production days and I began to eliminate pages from the document in hopes of narrowing things down. First I’d delete the first half of the document’s pages and try preflighting again. If I got the error once more, I’d know where my problem lied. If I *didn’t* get the error, I went back and deleted the 2nd half of the document’s pages and try again. And so on and so on until I was down to the one or two pages that were giving me the headache. I also employed this method when I’d receive the dreaded ‘postscript error’ on our office printer.
At the risk of sounding like one’s dad or grandfather, designers and production artists starting out today don’t know how rough us early Mac Quark users had it. I shake my fist at you damned CS3-right-out-of-college PUNKS!
So here I am in the process of deleting pages from my file and I happen to notice more than a few blank text boxes hanging out in the pasteboard area. Huh? Oh that’s right – I put these here for text overflow and forgot to delete them. *delete* *delete* *delete*…there, all done. Annoying, but those couldn’t have been the cause of the problem, could they? …could they?! The answer is *yes*, loyal readers – empty text boxes CAN cause a problem when left in the margins (or in some cases the actual document) and you need to preflight the file. I’m pretty sure this error only relates to text boxes that previously had copy in them – that is, if you used the box tool and created an empty frame on the pasteboard or on the live page, it wouldn’t repeat the problem. I haven’t had time to test my theory, but feel free to conduct your own experiments. Sure enough, about 99% of the time, the root of any preflight errors I’d encounter had everything to do with these rogue text boxes. Preflight would lock up the program, I’d restart & re-open the file, and sure enough there’d be one or two of these gremlins hanging out on the pasteboard. At the very least, they’re easy to spot – the real challenge is when those boxes are deep within your layout, buried under layers of text & graphics & placeholders. Ugh. Countless Google searches, forum posts and conversations with my colleagues failed to turn up a solution – it was only by trial & error (and a bit of luck) that I finally figured things out. Yay me, back to work now. *delete* *delete* *delete*