Whatever happened to the Proof Block plugin?

Some of you may recall a plugin called Proof Block. It ranked even below the Alien Palette in popularity, although I’ve used it myself at my day job for over 20 years. For the most part, it was little more than a small form to be initialed by people proofing various drafts of artwork prior to publishing. I was inspired to write it by the recurring problem we had of a copy-and-paste version that would sometimes peek back at us from a QuarkXPress graphic frame. My solution was to create a “proof block” layer, place the form on it, then the plugin set it to printable when opened in Illustrator, but non-printing and not visible when closing the document. Crisis solved!

Perhaps you’d still like something like that. It’s really not that difficult to write a script to draw the lines, boxes, and text, but I’m a staunch advocate of using a script, not a plugin, for that now. My proof block script today does everything that the plugin did, and much more. First, we have a document naming convention so the script can discern the magazine name, date, story code, and even look up the editors on its staff. It handles dates, keeps track of proof iterations, and even stores a record of the revision history in the document. When I save the document to the art server, the script saves a copy to the correct folder on the editorial server. If it’s a first draft, it fetches the illustrator’s name from Outlook, looks up the designer’s email and alerts her that art is available to place in InDesign. When the art is approved, it’s marked as such and the related editors, art director, and  designer are notified.

In addition, scripts check for missing fonts, placed art that should be embedded, look for RGB colors in a CMYK document, and more. It’s also much easier to revise than a plugin. Since everybody’s needs and workflow are quite different, it wouldn’t be useful to anybody to share my script, but I will share my enthusiasm for scripting it as one component of a larger process. I promise that once your custom script is used, you won’t look back.