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Sharedcontent.rpln Plugin: InDesign Docs Aren’t Backwards Compatible

Did you recently get an error when opening an Indesign document about “sharedcontent.rpln” or the “sharedcontent InDesign plugin“?

Well, you’re not alone. The short answer is that the document you’re trying to open isn’t compatible with your version of InDesign. For the longer version, keep reading…

A while ago, I upgraded to Adobe InDesign CS 5.5. At the time, I had only installed the new version on my desktop at home. My laptop, which I used or image processing and design work when out and about, still had the older InDesign CS5 installed on it.

I didn’t think it was a big deal. I assumed that documents would be compatible between the two versions. After all, if it wasn’t a big enough change to justify calling it “CS6″ instead of “CS5,” what could really have changed?

Well, I found out to my chagrin that files from one version to the next areĀ not backwards compatible. I uploaded a new project (a comp card) to a new printer, because I wanted to test out their print quality and paper quality. I had a few minor issues with the digital proof they sent me, and I wanted to make some adjustments to the original InDesign document to fix them.

I was stuck at jury duty for the day (oh boy), so I was working on my laptop. As soon as I opened the file, I was greeted by a series of error messages. First, it said that a plug-in called “sharedcontent.rpln” was missing. Then, I got a “cannot open file” error. Finally, there was a list of eight out of date plug-ins (text.rpln, generic page item.rpln, graphics.rpln, xml.rpln, hyperlinks.rpln, formfield.rpln, document framework.rpln, and dynamicdocuments.rpln). And then nothing else happened. The file wouldn’t open at all.

When I got home, I checked the file in InDesign CS5.5 and it opened fine. When I did some more research, I found out that these two versions (and pretty much any two versions of InDesign) simply aren’t compatible. Seems to me like a crappy way to design things, but it also seems to be the Adobe way.

Adobe InDesign does offer an option to export a file to “IDML” – InDesign Markup Language. This is a fairly inter-compatible filetype, and saving a document as an IDML file instead of a INDD file should guarantee greater compatibility between versions of InDesign.

Brian Rock

Brian is a photographer and a teacher. He runs a photography and design studio with his daughter, Olinda. At his high school, he teaches social studies and advises the yearbook club.

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