Earlier this afternoon, I had lunch with a co-worker, and we discussed the pros and cons of using Google Docs in newsrooms. The idea of leveraging Google's free web-based rich text editor for collaborative editing & then flowing those bits of copy into InDesign for newspaper or magazine layout is a sound one, but one of the issues is that there's no direct integration with Adobe InDesign that other solutions (such as Adobe InCopy or Woodwing's products) have.

Almost as if they overheard us, Em Software (developer of the legendary QuarkXPress database publishing tools EmData and Xtags) has released the DocsFlow plug-in for InDesign that integrates Google Docs with Adobe's publishing software. Although it bills itself as not being a direct competitor to InCopy (no edit-to-fit functionality, for example), it's an interesting product on its own merits.

InCopy is great for formatting, line breaks, handing copy overflow, etc., and I like it a lot. Google Docs, in turn, excels at collaboration. It allows editing of the copy in real time and an individual document can be accessed by multiple people simultaneously. For example, if I'm working on a page and the reporter wants to correct something in the story, they can just edit the Google Docs story connected to the InDesign file, and it's instantly updated.

The plug-in itself works beautifully and is very stable. I tested it with Victor by placing a document from Google Docs on a blank InDesign page, then I gave Victor edit permissions.


Then, the links panel alerted me of a change:


DocsFlow looks like it will be a great tool for freelancers or smaller publications that can't afford traditional pagination systems (which can cost many thousands of dollars and require complex system integration services). The plugin requires InDesign CS 5 or higher, and it's free to try with a single Google Docs story. A full license is $200 per InDesign seat, and it supports an unlimited number of Google Docs collaborators.

This article was originally published on Tuaw.
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