Info and FAQ

PineCode DataBase Publisher

compared to the

InDesign Data Merge plug-in

As of version 4.0 (CS2) InDesign comes with a data merge plug-in. (This plug-in was also availble for InDesign 3.0 as part of the PageMaker plug-in pack, which had to be bought seperately.) The data merge plug-in works slightly different compared to DBP, but it's a good thing that Adobe now bundles this kind of functionality by default with InDesign.

Although the data merge plug-in is a good start it doesn't have all the features (yet) that DBP or the commercial alternatives have. As long as DBP provides an added value I'll try to keep the project up-to-date, but I hope that DBP will become superfluous with the next version of InDesign. The table below lists features that DBP and the data merge plug-in share and the ones where their functionality differs. Both have their strengths.

Group Feature PineCode
Data Merge
Data sources FileMaker Pro databases* + -
Flat text files (comma and tab delimited)* - +
Support for data from related data source files + -
Support for linked images + +
Support for embedded images + -
InDesign document can be updated to synchronize the document with a data source without running the complete data transfer again - +
Data can be previewed in InDesign before running the data transfer - +
* You can import/export comma and tab delimited flat files in/from FileMaker Pro. Note that FileMaker Pro doesn't support exporting embedded images from container fields.
Image processing Make copies of images and link to copies + -
Modify copied images with Photoshop + -
Fit InDesign frame to image + +
Fit image to InDesign frame + +
Image placement: centered + +
Image placement:
top left, top center, top right
center left, center right
bottom left, bottom center, bottom right
+ -
Templates Data tag placement Only in (ungrouped) text frames and text on a path Anywhere
Data tag pre- and suffix Customizable Fixed: << and >>
Results Save created documents after transfer + -
Export documents after data transfer to PDF, PS, EPS, SVG or XML + -
Dynamic output paths
(Location where result will be saved can be supplied by field from data source)
+ -
Transfer all records to one document + +
Transfer each record to a new document + +
Multiple records per document with a customizable limit for the maximum number of records per document - +
Add pages for data source content based on a master spread and transfer data + +
Only transfer data and use existing pages to place the content.
(Allows for more complex layouts)
+ -
Errors and warnings On an additional layer in the created documents with a summary in a seperate report In a seperate report
Other Open Source
(Can be used to create custom solution)
+ -
Look and feel Seperate application InDesign palette
Platforms supported Mac only Mac and Windows
Universal Binary (UB) available for Mac OS X
(Runs natively on Intel Macs)
- -
Commercial support available None By Adobe as part of InDesign
Price free Part of InDesign
(Both DBP and the InDesign data merge plug-in ain't speed freaks, so look for a commercial third party plug-in if you need more speed.)
- -