Make InDesign be able to import/Export comments from/to PDF
I want to be able to get the comments from PDF into InDesign so that I can easily incorporate/respond on the comments from people.
We have moved this feature in backlog for shipping in future release
Product Manager – InDesign
Matt Mayerchak commented
I use Annotations plugin from DTP Tools for this ALL THE TIME with many editors and it works well! If Adobe could build something like this into InDesign, so much the better.
I have never understood why people say you should work back to front using Annotations. Once you import the annotations into the document, they move with the text so it's not a problem at all to work from the front. You just don't want to edit the InDesign file before importing the comments. And, turning off preflight improves the success rate for importing comments.
Abhinav, Thanks for this. I'm not up for a full beta programme at the moment but, when you start work on this feature, let us know and I'll test as needed.
The InDesign-InCopy workflow is fine for a publishing house with a staff of editors, designers, typesetters, and tech support. My work is with economists and policy analysts, in and out of house, who write in MSWord using only the minimal set of features necessary for them to complete a paper. I can usually induce them to mark-up proofs in Acrobat. They will not learn to use InCopy and they and their organisations will not invest in setting up such a system. Add to this that these authors are spread around the world and many do not have the resources to adopt InCopy. In addition, many travel internationally a great deal, making their revisions on aeroplanes or in hotels and aeroports.
Now, if InCopy were free and easy to use while disconnected …
Bart Vandeputte commented
I wholeheartedly agree with Kelly Vaughn.
Hello Abhinav, I don't use inCopy because from a publishing standpoint, I have a 1-person workflow. I create technical documentation for manufacturing companies. Once the draft is done, I send it as a PDF to my clients. They work for a different company, in a different office, and even in a different industry. I use publishing software on a day-to-day basis, but they do not. I sit squarely in the publishing industry (and my work crosses over into other industries), but my clients sit squarely in engineering and construction, working with AutoCad and 3D modeling software every day. I cannot ask them to purchase and attempt to use InCopy in order to do something they can already do using the free Adobe Reader.
As far as the InDesign/InCopy workflow, that's great for people who work with editors in the publishing industry. But PDF commenting (Specifically text correction markups), are used by people across all industries. By limiting this feature to only InCopy, that essentially excludes anyone outside of the traditional publishing workflow from using it. This was addressed in item #2 in the original feature request.
Thank you everyone for your comments.
Clearly most of you have the below requirement:
Designer shares the PDF and wants the client/editor to add suggestions as comments in PDF. These comments should come back in InDesign. Designer can decide whether to incorporate those comments or not.
This requirement is exactly similar to another UserVoice ask https://indesign.uservoice.com/forums/601021-adobe-indesign-feature-requests/suggestions/31080811-make-indesign-be-able-to-import-export-comments-fr
I will merge these 2 asks.
InCopy is specifically meant for editors/authors. Using InCopy, editors can make changes to the text in the ICML/ICMA file. Designer gets to know within InDesign that the editor has made changes to the text (text in InDesign file goes out of date). Designer can then choose to accept or reject the change.
In short, InCopy addresses the requirements stated in this feature request.
InCopy provides other benefits as well: editor can see copy fitting information in InCopy, can use the styles shared by the designer in the InCopy file etc.
In this context, can you share the reasons on using PDF based workflow rather than working with your editors through InCopy? What are the problems you see with InDesign/InCopy workflow?
I hadn't thought of having the mark-up come back in as conditional text as it does in FM but that might be a really good way to piggy-back the function on existing tech. I would still like Sticky Notes to come in to ID as Notes.
Barb Binder commented
Hi Javed & Abhinav—this functionality exists between FrameMaker and Acrobat and I would also love to see it in InDesign. Briefly, the workflow is as follows:
1.) The FrameMaker file is exported to PDF and sent out for review. The file can't be edited while it is out for review or the mark-up won't line up correctly when it is imported back in.
2.) The editor adds the markup in Acrobat or Reader, but is limited to the Add Text, Delete Text, Replace Text, Underline and Highlight tools plus Sticky Notes. They have to learn how to enter the mark-up correctly, including punctuation and spaces. They return the PDF to the FrameMaker user.
3.) The FrameMaker user imports the comments, which come in as conditional text. They then use the Track Changes toolbar to move through the document, accepting and rejecting changes.
Here a closer look at the Fm/Acro/Fm workflow that I wrote up for one of my students:
Yes to everything that Lindsey Thomas Martin said! Especially #3!
I am trying to describe a workflow that satisfies Bart's requirements and also those of us who have expressed a preference for 'Workflow 2'.
 Acrobat's 'touchup edits' are to be ignored and discouraged.
 Acrobat's marked-up edits (deletions, replacements, insertions, etc.) should be brought back into ID in place, so they can be accepted or rejected, probably as a special class of tracked changes. This is more or less how track changes works in MSWord. In ID, they should be visible and operable in layout view, not Story Editor.
 Acrobat's Sticky Notes would appear in ID as Notes. Going the other direction, I would like to be able to insert queries as Notes, which would convert to Sticky Notes in Acrobat when the ID doc. is exported to PDF. The interface of Notes needs some work as well; control over the font used would help.
What have I missed?
Bart Vandeputte commented
I definitely meant something like you described as "workflow 1": get the updates from client INTO the indesign file without copy-pasting.
I'm not really getting what you mean with "designer accepts the comment" in workflow 2. Isn't this basically the same as "workflow 1" then?
PS: I would like to see the changes (deletions/additions) visualised in "workflow 1" during the acceptance step. Otherwise how would you know "what" to accept?
Two additional comments
 This request -- at least, how I conceive it -- is much like that called 'Make InDesign be able to import/Export comments from/to PDF'. (Is there a number assigned to the requests?)
 See 'Export comments to Word (Windows)' on helpx.adobe.com; it appears that something like Bart's request is available with MSWord.
I would also like workflow #2. But regarding accepting or rejecting the comment... that doesn't always fit my workflow. I send a draft (filled with technical questions) to the reviewers. If I choose to accept or reject their comments, what happens? If the InDesign text flow isn't actually changed (and I'm hoping it wouldn't be changed, since they are not editors), what happens? Do I get a green check mark? Hopefully the comments won't disappear, but will remain in the document as comments, maybe simply with a different status.
I would like the comments to remain inline (like Notes), so they when the text reflows, the comment will stay with they text to which they pertain.
I would really like to be able to use tools like Acrobat's drawing tools to make comments in my InDesign file. If I have a question about a whole block of text, here is what I currently have to do.
1. Make a note in InDesign, describing the part of the text in question.
2. Then I export my PDF with the PDFStickies plugin (which converts InDesign Notes to PDF annotations).
3. Then using the Acrobat drawing tools, I draw a big box around the text that I have a question about.
4. Then I choose Open pop-up note and cut and paste the text from my original PDF sticky note in to the pop-up note in the rectangle I just made.
It's a real pain, but since InDesign and Acrobat commenting/noted features aren't synced, this is the only way I can accurately draw attention to certain portion of text in my document. It would be great if I could convert InDesign objects to PDF annotations; similar to the way we can convert InDesign objects to buttons, which then export to Acrobat as functional buttons.
I'd also like a way to make text annotations in InDesign (like highlight, strikethrough, etc): http://documentgeek.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-wish-list-for-notes-in-adobe-indesign.html
I would want Workflow 2. I send an edited and typeset PDF proof with queries to the author(s) and acquiring editor or head of research department for correxions. I most definitely do not want them changing the content or text in the PDF and ask for a PDF marked up with correxions, answers to queries, and comments.
What I would like is the ability to import the mark-up, correxions and comments on the PDF proof sent back by authors into the working document in ID. This is more or less what the plug-in from DTP Tools tries to do. It is not, if I understand Bart's comments, exactly what he is asking for.
It would be useful if the mark-up from the PDF was imported to its own layer in ID.
Ján Dugovič commented
Upvote for Workflow 2. Getting notes from PDF back into InDesign should be easy enough in most cases.
In case of workflow 1, I think that's what InCopy is for, otherwise it would already by a part of Acrobat.
@Jongware: I tried the DTP tool but found that the 'suggestion' to work from back to front of the document not practicable for me; editorial decisions made earlier in a publication constrain those made later.
I publish a lot of pdf material to our company server, which people can mark up their comments / changes etc via PDF Review. When working with lengthy brochures, it would be handy if the comment location in the PDF was synchronised with the InDesign document. For example if the comment was on page 3 in the PDF review then it would automatically go to page 3 in the InDesign document. Skip to the next comment on page 10 and it would jump to page 10 in the InDesign document...and so on. You could even have a zoom function which takes you to the exact spot in the InDesign document.
Axel Schellkopf commented
InDesign marks text changes in the text view, but not in the Layout View. You need an extra Plugin to have this Function.
Please add this (see Ctrl Changes Pro) to ID as a standard function.
Plus the ability to show the changes in exported PDF files. (Again CTRL Changes PRO). This would ease the collaboration with other ID users and customers via the PDF.
This as a native ID function, would ease upgrading to new versions of InDesign a lot.
This is already possible with a 3rd party plug-in: DTP Tools Annotations (http://www.dtptools.com/product.asp?id=anid)
Note that a lot of the above suggestions are already available through a 3rd party plugin: DTP Tools Annotations (http://www.dtptools.com/product.asp?id=anid). This works with Acrobat *comments* but not with touchup edits (which is NOT a recommended workflow by any standard; even Acrobat Pro can barely detect what changed at what position).