Creating a print template from a PDF

Promotional jobs often start with a PDF document created in third party design tool like Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. Common use cases are: postcards, vouchers, letters and versioned brochures. This tutorial shows you how these design files are used to create a personalized job in OL Connect.


Creating the template

  1. Open the Welcome Screen and click New in the sidebar.
  2. Choose Print > PDF based, the New PDF-based print template wizard appears.
  3. Click the Browse icon and select the PDF design file on your local harddrive. In this example we use a simple postcard file containing two pages for the front and back.
  4. Click Finish

On selecting the PDF it’s page size and bleed area are retrieved and used to prepopulate the New Template dialog. Once the template is created the PDF is set as background for the initial section and a page is inserted for each page in the PDF. By default the PDF is added to the Image folder located in the Resources panel (and therefore travels with the template).

Load some data

Before adding placeholders for data fields we need to load some data. In this tutorial we’ll .csv file via the Add Data option in the File menu. Other methods are: create a data mapping configuration or load JSON sample data via the JSON Sample Data option in the Data Model panel.

  1. Choose: File > Add Data > From File Data Source…
  2. Select a .csv file on your local machine and click Open. The Open data file wizard appears. Select the correct Encoding, Field Separator and tick the First row contains field names option.

This creates a Data Model for column names in the data. Use the record browse options in the Data Model panel to scan through the records. In our example we’ll navigate to the page showing reverse side of the postcard.

Adding placeholders

There are multiple ways to add data placeholders aka expressions. They can be added to existing text using drag and drop or by double clicking the field name in the Data Model. The latter inserts it at the cursor position.

In our example we are going to add placeholders to positioned boxes which makes it easy to place the variable data on the design. Use to steps below to automatically create a box on adding a data field.

  1. Select the firstName field and drag this with the Ctrl key pressed to the document. Notice how the cursor shows a little plus symbol.
  2. Move the cursor to the approximate location in the design and release the mouse key. This creates a positioned box and inserts the expression for the data field.
  3. Move the box to the correct position and change its size to accomodate for the variable data.

Expressions are variables wrapped with double curly braces, for example: {{firstName}}). They are automatically replaced with the value of the matching data field (no scripting required). These expressions are simple text strings, which makes them easy to insert, rearrange and style.

In the example below the text “Hello ” was added before the expression and a comma after.

Using this technique with multiple fields selected will create a box with an expression for each field.