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I'm looking for a good solution to create a product catalog to feature many products with photos. The end result should be a professional print-ready document, but would also like to have the flexibility to publish it online.

I know a popular solution is Adobe InDesign, and it is capable of doing a data merge with Excel.

I've also seen recommended third-party catalog plugins such as:

  • Em Software InData/InCatalog
  • 65bit EasyCatalog (a la cart modules)
  • Teacup Software DataLinker

There are also some other solutions such as:

Looking for an easy-to-use and manage solution that will produce stunning results.

Thanks for your suggestions!

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  • That's a really interesting and valuable question! I haven't seen a question like it before so don't know if anyone has expertise on it, certainly I don't-but if you do form your own decision it would be awesome if you could let us know your conclusions!
    – Copilot
    Feb 4, 2023 at 16:10
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    I’m voting to close this question because "shopping recommendations" are off-topic across most of stack exchange, as they are often either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets. Software recommendation requests should be posted on Software Recommendations
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 4, 2023 at 17:45
  • I contest that this is not off-topic. This is not a "shopping recommendation," it is a request made by a graphic designer for suggested solutions to creating and maintaining a catalog. There are graphic designers who do this actively on a daily basis, and hopefully some of them weigh-in and reveal what works well for them. Any question in tech can be considered personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets, so I don't understand where Tetsujin is coming from with the "vote to close this question."
    – Rob Blaze
    Feb 4, 2023 at 19:20
  • Sorry, but this has been one of the basic tenets of SE since the very beginning. From 2010… Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 4, 2023 at 19:31

1 Answer 1

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Not sure if this answers your question, but then again your question is opinion based and open for interpretation: we cannot possibly know all the specifics of your data structure and design format. Technically this is probably doable with Data Merge, but do note that does come with some limitations.

I've done quite a few product catalogues and it was all manual work. Sometimes, it was in 10+ languages. Yes, it was very tedious, but I charged for huge number of hours, so that was beautiful. Yes, you can probably automate some of the work with Data Merge or some third party plugin. However I expect every plugin out there to have specific limitations, regardless of their marketing.

Also, plugins will only be able to generate repetitive product positioning. You won't be able to break out the page flow with call outs, highlights and template exceptions, chapter breaks, if your plugin dumps everything into a grid top to bottom.

However, if a perfect grid of products is sufficient in terms of design, then Data Merge would be my first choice. No plugins.

From my personal experience, every time I added plugins to InDesign in the past, the entire app became wonky. Just experimenting with 2 or 3 plugins to see "if it works", can totally damage your InDesign install. Yes, you can remove the plugins, but that won't be fun.

Even if somehow you make it work, be prepared for a suprise every time you get an InDesign update from Adobe. Some people end up re-installing their entire system, because Adobe apps stop working for "random" reasons.

In my workflow that is an absolute major no-no, because I switch between many clients and everything is urgent and I cannot afford to work with a buggy InDesign.

If something takes 100 hours, its probably more lucrative to get an assistant and charge for the entire 100 hours.

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