How can I "link" to an image or PDF and have it display on a grid in one shot?
I found how to do it.
You need to create individual PDF files, then you place the PDF file in the document just like you would place an image.
You place the PDF's in a grid.
If you want to make a change, you simply edit the original PDF, and all the files will get replace automatically, just like replacing linked images.
In illustrator CC you can place multiple files at once. So importing them in a "gridable" fashion would require a script.
In earlier version you would need script for multimport (like Kelso script http://kelsocartography.com/blog/?p=2047) and second one for spacing them.
When you say your printer used to do that I assume:
- your pdf files had the same size so box for the first one is then used for next one
- he was importing them on a set canvas that forced next row when width is filled or he entered numbers of items in one row.
Many print house imposition programs/plugins/script have that ability.
You may also combine all files into multipage pdf and then use script to place it in illustrator.