DesignMerge Configurator Specs [File Input]

This article provides a full description of the requirements for providing individual files as input to a Switch Flow. Examples of individual file input would be data files (CSV format, tab-separated text, etc.), JSON job ticket files, or XML files.


Any Flow that utilizes a DesignMerge Configurator must provide an InDesign Document and a Data File as the primary input. The preferred method for delivering these files is to provide them together in a single folder (known as the Job Folder).

However, in some cases it may be desirable to process a single file, which will generally be be an individual Data File (such as a CSV or a tab-delimited file), a JSON Job Ticket file, or an XML file.

When a single file is submitted to the DesignMerge Configurator as input, the Configurator will behave differently depending upon the type of file that was submitted. Following are the guidelines utilized by the Configurator when processing the most common types of individual input files.

Single Data File as Input

For certain workflows, it may be desirable to process the identical InDesign document against different data files. In such case, the input to the Flow is expected to be a single data file. The data file must have either a .csv or a .txt filename extension in order to be considered valid.

In this workflow, the user must also identify the InDesign document to merge with the input data file. In a Flow that accepts a single data file as input, the only way to specify the InDesign document to merge is to manually set the InDesign Document property, which is a Common Property for all DesignMerge Configurator Actions. This property is expected to hold the full path to an InDesign document to process (note: only .indd document files are supported as input - you cannot use .indt template files as input).

In this workflow, the input data file will be processed against the specified InDesign document. Commonly, the very first DesignMerge flow element will trigger the Create VDP Package Action, which uses the input data file and the specified InDesign document to pull together all of the assets required for the job into a Job Folder. The resulting Job Folder can then be routed to subsequent Flow elements for processing.

The best practice for this workflow is to select as the InDesign Document property the full path to an InDesign document that is stored within a folder that also contains all of the other assets required for the Job. Such assets include any static or variable graphics, imposition templates, fonts, etc.

Also note that for best performance, the InDesign document and all assets should be located on a local hard drive volume to avoid server latency issues. However, please note that the Create VDP Package Action does create a local copy of all assets, thereby minimizing the impact of storing such files on the a file server. For more information about maximizing DesignMerge performance in general, please visit

Single JSON Job Ticket File as Input

The DesignMerge Configurator supports a special type of text file that is structured in JavasScript Object Notation (JSON) format. This file format is referred to as a JSON Job Ticket, and it allows the end user to define the value for every single property for every DesignMerge Action within a Switch flow. The JSON Job Ticket format is supported directly by DesignMerge and does not require any additional software licensing (unlike XML, which does require additional software modules). The JSON Job Ticket format is ideal for fully automated systems capable of creating the job ticket files in a programmatic fashion. Please click here for more details about the JSON Job Ticket file format.

Single XML File as Input

Switch provides a method for processing XML data as input to a Flow. In order to use XML, you must have also licensed the Switch Metadata Module, which is an optional add-on component for Switch. It is important to note that the Metadata Module is required only for processing XML or other types of metadata supported by Switch, and is not required in order to use the DesignMerge Configurator.

When providing a single XML file as input, the required InDesign Document and Data File properties can be specified within the XML data. Of course, it is also possible to define only one of the required elements in the XML file, provided that the other items have been specified as a part of the properties for the DesignMerge action being processed (example: specify the Data File in XML, but provide the InDesign Document as a pre-specified Common Property element). Most of the DesignMerge Configurator properties can be specified as XML elements.

Other Files as Input

There may be other file types that can be submitted to Switch as input. However, if the DesignMerge Configurator does not recognize such files, they will simply be ignored by the Configurator. If you have a special type of input file to support, it may be possible to use the Run Custom Script Action to trigger a custom JavaScript program that can be designed to read the custom input file(s) and create an output file or set of files that will be compatible with the subsequent DesignMerge flow elements. The Run Custom Script Action can be very useful for pre-processing or even completely reorganizing data files at the start of a Switch flow. Please contact Meadows for more information about using the Run Custom Script Action with your Switch flows.