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Shape Blocks

With ShapeBlocks simple graphical elements (lines and shapes) can be imported for use in the editor even without the link to a vector file. To do this, they must also be tagged with PFBlock, just like text and image blocks.

Create ShapeBlocks

In InDesign, the elements can be created using the following tools:

  • Line

  • Pen

  • Pencil

  • Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon

Additionally, shapes created in Illustrator can be pasted into the InDesign document (> copy+paste) if they have been converted to paths.


  • Object without content (> Right-click > Content > Unassigned)

  • Open path (> Object > Paths > Open Path)

  • Stroke:
    The following settings can be read from the IDML:

    all other settings must be assigned as follows:
    - Type: Solid
    - Start/End: None

When adjusting the Align Stroke setting, InDesign automatically changes the size of the object. To ensure that it is correctly read in the printformer editor, we recommend the following procedure (using Align Stroke Center as an example): first select Align Stroke Inside, then enter the format of the object (width and height) as required, then adjust the alignment in Align Stroke Center.

In the Editor (unlike in InDesign) the stroke width is always subtracted from the size of the object, so the values in IDML and Editor may not match.

  • Colors: no gradients

  • Rotation angle: the shape should not be rotated in the IDML file, otherwise there may be discrepancies in the positioning in the editor. However, if rotation is necessary, there is a workaround via Illustrator: the rotated shape must be copied once into Illustrator, then the path can be copied again in Illustrator and pasted into InDesign. (This sets the rotation to 0).


  • no effects (e.g. shadow, soft edge, rounded corners etc.) are possible

  • to be able to change the fill color (and stroke) in the printformer editor afterwards, a color must already be assigned to it in InDesign.

  • a stroke cannot be deleted afterwards and also the strength cannot be changed in the editor.

  • Block effects are not possible for shapes

Vector graphics in SVG or PDF format

To use vector graphics in printformer, PDF or SVG files can be placed in the IDML template. (Other file formats e.g. EPS, Illustrator, Corel, etc. are not possible).

If PDF/X standards are to be used for the templates, there are limitations due to compatibility, more info here.

Specific features:

  • SVGs are always in the RGB color space, so when creating print data (conversion to CMYK) there will be slight color deviations.

  • Color-Mapping: for SVG files included in the template or inserted in the editor, the individual color swatches can be selected and recolored.

  • The opacity of SVG files cannot be changed in the editor.

  • The use of PDFs as media type is not allowed by default and must be enabled in advance if desired. (For individual templates: Edit Template > Editor > Media types; in general: Settings > Media > Media restriction).

  • If SVGs are placed as assets in the template, at least PDF 1.4 (X4) compatibility must be used to generate the print data.

  • If PDFs are used as default assets, the PDFs placed in the IDML file must have at least the same standard (and PDF 1.4 or higher compatibility) as the template background PDF.

  • By using PDF files including bleed, the bleed is always cut off in the editor (the import options for PDFs in InDesign are not implemented in printformer). To work around this, the attribute use-box can be added to the image block. (A combination of crop marks, page info and bleed may cause errors in cropping; the info area can generally not be included).

  • When saving SVG files, the following settings should be made: Decimal: 3 (minimum), Deactivate Responsive, CSS Properties: Style Attributes.

Vector graphics in EPS format

EPS files can generally only be placed as assets in templates with a background PDF without or an X3 standard and a compatibility of max. PDF 1.3. 
(Since the EPS file format has largely been displaced by the PDF format, EPS files are converted in printformer to a PDF without standard). 
We generally recommend not to use EPS files, as the format is considered obsolete and is no longer supported by other applications (e.g. Microsoft Office).

Add forms in the editor

Simple forms can also be inserted in the editor via Add Shape. These are scalable and their color values can be freely defined. A stroke cannot be defined.
The selection of shapes can be extended using SVG files, see Shapes.

Sample IDML file


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