Using StoryTweaker to make text updates to an InDesign document

A test version of Rorohiko StoryTweaker can be downloaded here:

In this tutorial, we’ll be looking at a scenario where StoryTweaker is used to make text corrections to a few articles in a newspaper. In case you’re more interested in using StoryTweaker for translations, you want to check out this post instead:

In this story you’ll encounter the following actors and entities:

- NewsBlatt – a small regional newspaper, published weekly.
- Newt, who is a graphics designer working for NewsBlatt, and who used InDesign CS3 on Macintosh to prepare the edition for next week.
- Bobby, who will proofread the weekly wine taster’s column.
- Robbie, who writes articles with juicy, gossippy stuff.

Ingredients for this recipe:

Adobe® InDesign® CS4 (Mac or Windows)
Rorohiko StoryTweaker
A partially finished copy of next week’s edition of NewsBlatt
People proofreading and/or providing editorial content

StoryTweaker will need to ‘match up’ the updated texts with the layout, and to make sure that is possible, it needs to make sure there is a ‘base’ version of the paper whose layout won’t be modified while Robbie and Bobby are working on their bits. To achieve that, StoryTweaker will ‘freeze’ the paper.

Newt saves his latest version of the paper to disk, and then closes the document.

Original Document

As it is the first time Newt uses StoryTweaker, he checks the preferences after launching the program. StoryTweaker version 1.0 defaults to using InDesign CS3, but Newt is using InDesign CS4, so he needs to change the preferences first.


On the preferences screen, under the first tab, Newt changes the popup to CS4.


Next, Newt tells StoryTweaker to make a tweak set from the saved and closed document – he selects File – Create Tweak Set from Document… in the File menu.

Create Tweak Set

He then points StoryTweaker to the newspaper document:

Create Tweak Set

StoryTweaker then asks him where it should save the Tweak Set – Newt decides to put the Tweak Set on the desktop.

Create Tweak Set

StoryTweaker and InDesign now start munching on the file – they become unresponsive for a while.

Create Tweak Set

But with some patience and good coffee, Newt ends up with a tweak set on his desktop:

Create Tweak Set

A tweak set is a folder that groups together a number of related files. StoryTweaker will manage the contents of the tweak set folder for you – you won’t normally open it, or manipulate the folder contents directly. Instead you’ll use StoryTweaker to access the tweak set folder contents.

Tweak Set

One of the functions of the tweak set is to store away a copy of the InDesign document – a snapshot, safe from any further accidental changes.

A second function of the tweak set is to keep track of the document’s text and the updates to be made – while creating the tweak set, StoryTweaker will extract the original text out of the InDesign document and stash it away inside the tweak set.

The main StoryTweaker window now shows us the contents of the tweak set that Newt just created – as he has not yet created any assignments yet, the window is still pretty empty.

Newt now creates two assignments – one for Robbie, one for Bobby. To create an assignment, select ‘Add New Assignment’ from the Assignments menu or the green ‘plus’ button at the bottom of the StoryTweaker window.

Add Assignment

He types in a name and some comment for each of the two assignments. The Language column is left blank – we’re using StoryTweaker for text updates, not for translations, so the Language is irrelevant.

Rename Assignments

After some window- and column-resizing this is what Newt ends up with:

Export Assignments

At this point in time, the assignments are still tucked away inside the tweak set – the next step is to export the assignments and send them to Robbie and Bobby.

Newt selects both assignments, and clicks the green 4 arrowed button to export the assignments.

StoryTweaker will ask Newt where it should save the two assignments. He tells it to save them to the Desktop and as a result, he ends up with two extra folders there – one for each assignment. The StoryTweaker window also changes – the names of Robbie and Bobby now appear in bold italic, which means that these assignments are currently ‘out’ of the tweak set, and the tweak set awaits the return of the assignments.


Newt now compresses the two assignments and e-mails one to Robbie and the other to Bobby.

Compress Bobby Assignment

Newt can now delete all assignment folders and .zip-ped copies from his computer – the assignments are now ‘owned’ by Robbie and Bobby, until they e-mail them back to Newt.

Let’s now go and have a look at Bobby’s computer. Bobby is on a Macintosh, and he receives Newt’s e-mail with a .zip-ped attachment. Bobby puts the .zip file on his computer and then decompresses it with the Mac OS X built-in Archive Utility.

Uncompress Bobby Assignment

After decompressing, Bobby can throw the .zip file away, and he can now navigate into the Assignment folder. In the assignment folder, he finds a few more .zip files – these contain the software Bobby needs to use to make the text changes.

Bobby Assignment

Because Bobby is on a Mac, he double-clicks to decompress it. Once the .zip file has decompressed, he can navigate into the decompressed folder and double-click the AssignmentTweaker software where he finds it – there is no need to move the application icon around.

Uncompress AssignmentTweaker on Mac OS X

After Bobby double-clicks the AssignmentTweaker application icon, he’s presented with this window:

Preview Window on Mac OS X

The currently selected text frame has a blue border, and as Bobby hovers over various areas of the window, light blue borders show where the other frames are located. Bobby knows he needs to proofread the wine story, so he double-clicks it. That brings up the Tweaking Window for this chunk of text:

The left text area Original Text is ‘read only’ and shows what the text in the document looks like.  The right text area Tweaked Text is where he can change any typos.

Tweaking Window

Bobby corrects ‘tawels’ and ‘ciment’, and once he’s done he clicks the Apply button:

Finally, he cleans up ‘cretes’, then marks the story as complete by clicking the corresponding checkbox.

Mark as Complete

He didn’t click apply first so AssignmentTweaker asks him what to do…

Apply Changes

As you can see, the original text is still visible in the left text area; the corrected text can be seen in the Tweaked Text area. Bobby’s job is finished, so he closes the Tweaking Window. The preview window now shows a green border around the wine story, in addition to the blue ‘selected’ border, to indicate that this bit of text has been proofread and is ready for the next step.

Preview Window

Note that the preview window will not show the updated text – AssignmentTweaker is not capable of duplicating the text reflow features of InDesign, and hence is unable to recalculate how the updated text would look. The only way for Bobby to see the updated text is to double-click the green-bordered text area and read the updated text in the Tweaking Window.

Bobby is now finished with his assigned task, so he quits out of AssignmentTweaker,  right-clicks the assignment folder, re-compresses the assignment folder and e-mails it back to Newt.

Compress Bobby Assignment

Let’s now have a quick peek over Robby’s shoulder. Robby is on a Windows PC, but he handles his assignment in pretty much the same fashion as Bobby did on his Mac – first extract the proper AssignmentTweaker:

Uncompress AssignmentTweaker on Windows

Then he uses the extracted AssignmentTweaker to work on the gossip story.

Preview Window on Windows

As StoryTweaker is not very strong as a text editor, Robbie first writes his gossip story in another text editor. He then uses the Tweaking Window to copy-paste his gossip story into the assignment.

Let’s now go back to Newt, a little later. He’s just received both assignments back via e-mail. He’s decompressed them and put them on his desktop.

He uses the import button to import both returned assignments back into the tweak set.

Import Assignments

After both assignments have been imported, the names of Robbie and Bobby revert back from bold italic to regular:

Imported Assignments

Finally, Newt can merge the changes made by Robbie and Bobby with the original layout to create a new, updated document – he selects both assignments in the StoryTweaker window, and then clicks the button to generate a merged InDesign document:

Generate Document

He gives the new document a different name (he decides to add ‘NEW’ to the name), and saves it next to the original document (so it can easily find its linked images when it will be opened in InDesign).

Generate Document

Generate Document

Finally, he opens the updated InDesign file:

Generated DocumentBoth Robbie and Bobby’s changes have been applied into the new document!

Let’s conclude with a rough diagram of the steps in this story:

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