Tightener – Automating Creative Apps

I’ve been working hard on Tightener these last few months, and finally managed to build enough infrastructure to show a meaningful proof-of-concept demo.

The idea for Tightener occurred to me when setting up a web server that interacts with InDesign Server in the backend.

That integration is cumbersome and not straightforward, and developing and testing code is hard.

Doing this requires:
– setting up some method to synchronize data transfer between the various servers. Things like Samba or WebDAV or shared cloud volume. Synchronization problems abound.
– setting up some method to pass data from the web server to the scripts that need to run on the InDesign Server
– setting up some way to test and debug and deploy scripts on the live server
– maintaining multiple pools of code – web server code on one end, InDesign ExtendScript code on the other.
– setting up some method to monitor and track the jobs that are processed by the InDesign Server. Is the job complete? Has it crashed? Where to send the log files?

With Tightener that will all becomes a whole lot easier.

– Tightener is to offer bi-directional data transfer, synchronization and message passing. The web server can receive events from the InDesign server as the jobs progress
– Unified code base and simplified deployment: if so desired, InDesign scripts can be embedded into the web server code repository. Tightener can auto-deploy the scripts to the InDesign server as needed.
– Simplified testing and debug workflow. Interactively run the script against a local InDesign Desktop and a remote InDesign Server ‘as you go’.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but I’ve managed to get past a few sizeable hurdles.

I’ve got Tightener embedded in an initial InDesign plug-in. This extends InDesign with a new language called TQL (in addition to ExtendScript, VBScript and AppleScript).

TQL can access the InDesign DOM (I still have a lot more to cover here, but I’ve figured out how to do it, and finalizing the DOM access is just a matter of ‘more of the same’).

Tightener also handles IPC (InterProcess Communications) so multiple Tightener nodes on a workstation can interact with one another – e.g. a command line script runner can run TQL scripts in InDesign.

Here’s a YouTube playlist with more info:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuW3sE8aHqZa_9BBRIDKAUnLH65JZ-PRC

Also a link to the Tightener documentation project (rudimentary at the moment:

https://github.com/zwettemaan/TightenerDocs/wiki/What-is-Tightener%3F

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