What is a TransTable? Do I need a TransTable? How do I use a TransTable?

An Import TransTable, (a/k/a Import Translation Table), is a feature of the DesignMerge Pro and DesignMerge Catalog software packages that allows you to swap individual characters during a merge. This feature is most useful when importing a data file created on a different platform (for example, your data file was created on a Windows system, and you are merging that data file on a Macintosh system, or vice-versa). 

Do I Need a TransTable?

If your data contains only standard ASCII characters, then you do not need to use a TransTable at all. For a list of all standard ASCII characters, please see the tables at the end of this page. The characters indicated in Green are standard ASCII, and do not require any translation between Macintosh and Windows.

When you are merging data into a document and some characters are not displaying as you would expect (for example, a '®' character appears as an 'Æ' character), then an Import TransTable may resolve this.

When to Use a TransTable

Typically, a TransTable is required only when a database file was generated on a different operating system, and only if certain “high-order” characters are used in the data file. As an example, if a client creates a database file on a Windows system, and you are running DesignMerge on a Macintosh system, there are certain characters that may need to be translated. Translation is required only if the data file came from a different operating system, and only if the file contains what are commonly referred to as “high-order ASCII” characters.

So what is a “high-order ASCII” character? Well, technically these are characters that have an ASCII decimal value of 128 or higher, but most people would recognized these as “those strange-looking characters that you sometimes see, like an accented letter (Å), or an odd-looking symbol (§)”.

The thing is, there are a number of these characters that may be quite commonly used. A few examples would be the trademark symbol (™), the registered trademark symbol (®), and the Euro symbol (€). For a full list of all characters available on both Macintosh and Windows systems, please see the tables listed at the end of this page.

As an example, when a user types a trademark symbol on a Windows system, and then saves that to a file, that trademark symbol is going to appear as a totally different character when opened on a Macintosh. This is because the character mapping for the trademark symbol is different between the Windows and Macintosh systems. So if you want to enter a trademark symbol into a data file on a Windows system, and have that symbol merge as the same trademark symbol when you use DesignMerge on a Macintosh, then you need to translate the character into the appropriate code. That’s what the TransTable feature does.

What is a TransTable file?

A TransTable file is a simple text file that has a list of ASCII codes, separated by a tab character. On the left hand side is the incoming ASCII code, and on the right side is the translated code that you want to merge. DesignMerge will read these codes during the merge, and translate the data before it is imported into the document.

Transtable Downloads

We already created two TransTables for you to use. If you are on a Macintosh, and you are importing data created on a Windows system, use the TransTable Windows to Macintosh.txt. And if you are on a Windows system, and you are importing data created in a Macintosh environment, use the TransTable Macintosh to Windows.txt.

Please click here to download the current TransTable files. ]


Installing a TransTable file

To install a TransTable, you need to get into the Settings folder for the software product you are using. The easiest way to get to this folder is to select the Open Settings Folder option under the Help menu, which is available under the DesignMerge menu in InDesign. You can also get to the Settings folder manually if you want to. Please click here to open a knowledgeable article that tells you how to do it.

Once you are in the Meadows/Settings folder, open the folder for DesignMerge. Inside of that folder you will see another folder called TransTable. To install the TransTable files, just drag them into this folder as shown in the screen shot below. Then, re-launch Adobe InDesign.

Using a TransTable

To use a TransTable, you need to make a change to your Data Source Definition. Follow the steps outlined below to select a TransTable to use.

  1. Select Data Source Definitions . . . from under the Setup menu in your software.
  2. Click the Edit . . . button on the Data Source Definitions window.
  3. Select the TransTable you want to use, as shown below:

  4. Click OK to save your changes

Macintosh and Windows Character Mappings

If you would like to know which characters need to be translated across Macintosh and Windows systems, we have included two handy references below.