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.
The feature is available in beta build. Please download the build from InDesign Prerelease (https://www.adobeprerelease.com/) portal and provide your valuable feedback.
Matt Mayerchak commented
NOTES from first trial:
1) Why does the PDF have to be created from InDesign CC2019? I can't understand the technical reason for this and it's a HUGE drawback.
2) I did several markups over 3 pages of a 50+ page PDF. The ones that imported worked well - a few striketrhoughs and a few text replacments.
3) Several of the edits did not work - it said they could not be mapped. Why not? No rhyme or reason to which ones failed. If they are basic text edits done with the commenting tools, they had better ALL work or it's worthless. Editors will not accept 75% of edits being OK and the other 25% being lost. Adobe really needs to figure out why some don't work.
4) Annotations plugin from DTP tools adds a highlight to show where an edit has been made. (Jan put this in at my suggestion). It's extremely helpful because I can accept all edits for a whole page at a time, then go check them. Often the editor includes an extra word space, or removes a word space, or misses one charactrer or punctuation mark when striking out text.
5) I would STRONGLY encourage the Adobe team to use the Annotations plugin and see how it works, and emulate as much as they can about it (except the import annotations dialog, which is substandard and wonky). But, here are some features they should copy:
a) having indicators in the InDesign showing all the annotations locations BEFORE you accept them (because sometimes they come in wrong, which usually means you edited the InDesign file since the PDF was made);
b) highlighting the edits after they have been made until you choose to remove those;
c) the small comment dialog that shows the text of a comment, whether it's a text edit or a design comment - with these, at least we can still copy the text from a comment even when it was done as a sticky note, rather than having to copy it from Acrobat.
d) the ability to choose which page to start on - because you know some people omit pages from PDFs, or send partial pdfs to editors
e) the ability to work on a PDF saved as spreads. I know this is not how it should be done; but many designers give spread pdfs to clients because the clients are not smart enough to view the pdf as spreads in Acrobat, or print them out as spreads, so they are dummy-proofing their output. I tell designers that if they do this, make sure to give them a single-pages pdf for editing, but you cannot control the editors and they will edit the spreads pdf if it exists. With Annotations, this is not technically supposed to work, but it does!
I fully expect that, as they did with Endnotes, Adobe will include a half-baked version of this in the next release and it will make the whole process horrible for all who use it. Right now we have enough trouble getting people to understand the difference between using comments to annotate a PDF and editing the PDF directly. I have seen several projects where an editor spent many hours directly editing a PDF and then sent that to us to import. A complete waste of time but they simply do what seems obvious to them before asking anybody and Adobe makes it "intuitive" so there is no reason to think this is not a good idea. It would be nice if Adobe spent 5 minutes thinking about human nature and how people in the real world use their products before adding or removing tools, but as we have seen in many instances, such as the addition of the [+] overrides toggle that automatically adds blue highlighting and has freaked out many a designer, they spent very little time trying to understand their users. So, I have ZERO confidence that this feature will be worth using until at least 4 updates, if ever.
p.s. still waiting for live endnotes that work; until then I have to keep CC2017 running so I can import Word files that have footnotes and then bring them into CC2018. I know there is a script for that but it's easier to just import them correctly.
I noticed in the beta that it only works on PDFs made from that version of InDesign and then comments added. I tried on an old actual job with the comments on and it wouldn't import. Is that how the final functionality will work? I ask because we do get some customers who update old PDFs (which we still have current InDesign files for) and it would be good to use this new function on those jobs in the future if possible.
Woo! Hoo!!! Downloading now!
Rich Coda commented
For me, for this to work, it would HAVE to be able to work from the back to the front. My clients, OK, OK... ONE particular client ALWAYS makes layout busting changes. I work with a single threaded text box as much as possible... working on a 48 page job right now. She ads just one small word, sometimes even just a character, or breaks a paragraph into two, and it screws EVERYTHING after that. Even after 15 years with this client, I try to explain to her that text is like a river... throw a pebble into it upstream and it will ripple downstream. And, of course, she constantly moves things (graphics) to different pages, which of course, 100% of the time messes everything up. So, I learned a long time ago (even before annotations in Acrobat were functional, even before Acrobat... like in "faxed in changes") to work with her files from the back. Do all the text changes first so we are "on the same page" so to speak, and then deal with the layout busters.
Really looking forward to trying this out in the Beta next week!
Raphaël Freeman commented
1. Please make sure it works when optical margin alignment is on.
2. Please make sure it works with the Adobe World Composer.
3. Please make sure it can handle large documents (most of my work is on documents that are between 200–600 pages of text often with many pictures and Annotations is very slow with large documents)
I currently use Annotations which has saved me literally 1000s of hours of work but it doesn’t work with the World Composer and has errors when corrections are made to hanging punctuation at the end of a line.
I would be willing to beta test this since I spend several hours every day on corrections.
I would like to ask how it looks? When we can expect function - Import comments PDF to Indesign?
Georg Stadler commented
I just read through the proposed specs. Looking great.
I have a question though: Is there a way to approve or decline annotations. What I mean by this is, will I be able to just click a button to accept a proposed change and the change will be reflected in the ID-Document.
Like in InCopy.
Furthermore, what will happen if a change results in massive shift of text (i.e. inserting a paragraph in a book) will the other changes keep up with the new flow of text?
Colin Flashman commented
I've just read the proposed specs as of 17 April 2018 via this site: https://adobe.ly/2H0Iol6
As mentioned by other posters, the ability to post our own markups that will appear in the exported PDF would be great.
Abhinav, I think option 4 would generally work best. Option 2 might work as well; options 1 and 3 are not desirable. It is important to see the mark-up in situ. You might consider modifying option 4 or 2 so the mark-up fades a bit when the user begins to edit so one can see it is there but there will less danger of the point of editing being obscured.
This probably conflicts with the annotation coming into focus when overlapped by the cursor. I find Acrobat's method of bringing annotations into focus not easy to see. Fading might be a good alternative, though perhaps counterintuitive.
The proposed workflow looks great. I agree with Raja, hiding / showing the comments using scripting should be possible. This is very Important. Any suggestions on adding annotations and comments in Indesign ?
Raja, Gejaraj commented
Thanks Abhinav, I prefer option #4, as users will ensure that all the comments are properly imported by cross-verifying the comments and hope we'll have an option thro' Scripting to block the PDF generation process when the user is forgetting to hide the comments and retaining in the layout.
Also please confirm whether users will have an option to show again the comments after hiding the comments?
As you can see in specs, there is an option to show all the comments on the Id layout. For example, text will be highlighted if reviewer had used the highlight tool. Similarly, for a drawing tool, corresponding drawing would be shown on layout.
Consider the scenario: comments are shown on layout and user wants to edit the document. What is the
expectation in this scenario?
1) As soon as user starts to edit the document, all the comments hide automatically from layout (they will still be seen in the panel)
2) As soon as user selects a page item, all the comments attached to that page items hide automatically. All other comments on the layout will remain visible
3) Editing of document gets blocked until the time user hides all the comment on the layout
4) All comments remain visible on layout while user is editing the document. User can hide comments manually if need be.
Which option you prefer and why? We want to ensure that editing is not obstructed in any way.
Thanks Lindsey and Raja for your comments.
Answers to your queries:
1) Regarding unidentified comments: these will be comments which InDesign can't map properly if Id document had been modified before importing the comments. If document was not modified, all comments would map properly
2) All imported comments will persist with the Id document. However, these comments will not be exported if Id document is exported as PDF
3) Maintaining history of review round is not possible.
4) XML functionality is not impacted with this feature. It will continue to work as before
This sounds really good and I'm keen to get using it as soon as it's available. For us, the workflow would work really well as once we've sent a proof to the customer, it's very rare that we'll keep working on the document.
The history feature someone suggested would be a great idea too.
This is moving very much in the right direction. I am eager to test.
 I don't understand the information about unidentified comments on page 9 of your demo.
 Very happy to see filtering by commenting tool used.
 Having to import to an unmodified document fits our workflow nicely but I can see difficulties in shops where the designers continue working on a publication while editorial proofs are with the authors.
Both  and  look as if they will increase the need for careful supervision of editors, designers and authors and create additional administrative overhead.
Raja, Gejaraj commented
Thanks Abhinav, sounds good. And for your question on mapping comments incorrectly for the modified InDesign document, looks okay for me, also expecting same from all. I also have some questions, which are shared below:
(1) Whether we can generate the PDF after importing the PDF comments with the markings to verify our internal QCs that all the comments given by the Authors are incorporated well as like the option available in Blacklining Plug-in?
(2) Whether it's possible to store the history of the comments imported in different rounds as like the option available in Blacklining Plug-in?
(3) I believe it's not possible, still asking this question, whether XML related changes will be taken care after importing the comments especially the formatting related changes?
Please let me know, if you need clarifications on any of the above given details.
Rhiannon Miller commented
Thanks Abhniav. When you say that the comments should be imported to the same InDesign document, will that still work if you import them into a copy of the document?
Also, can you confirm that the InDesign user will have a chance to inspect and approve e.g. additions and deletions before they are applied?
Barb Binder commented
This all sounds like a good start, Abhinav, but what I don't see is a reference to connecting the traditional mark up tools (Add text, Delete text and Replace text tools) with track changes. Again, in FrameMaker, after importing the markup, we can accept or reject the changes. Is this under consideration?
I still want the ability to export notes to PDF but I'm happy to see you moving ahead with import. The proposed workflow sounds good to me but I'd like more information about what you consider to be 'the relevant portion of the layout' referenced by a comment and how that is to be highlighted.