Converting idml coordinates to pixels

As of CS4, indesign has the ability to export to idml. idml is indesign’s xml format and is very useful if you want to use it in other applications. The only complicated part is the way it calculates the coordinates. If you are interested, you can look at the official idml doc + the cookbook from adobe website. I have created a quick php snippet to extract the relevant information from the idml and do the coordinate translation.

Once you get the idml file, unzip it. Set up the $path var, then run this script to get the coordinates.

        // Settings
        $path = 'YOUR_PATH/';
        $decimal = '3';

        $designmap = $path . 'designmap.xml';
        $fp = fopen($designmap,'r');
        $contents = fread($fp, filesize($designmap));
        preg_match('/Spreads\/Spread_(.*?).xml/', $contents, $spread);
        $spread = simplexml_load_file($path . $spread[0]);
        // use the base template to get coordinates
        $tf = $spread->xpath('//TextFrame');
        $baseX = 0;
        $baseY = 0;
        for ($i=0; $i < count($tf); $i++) {
                $trans = $tf[$i]['ItemTransform'];
                // get the x-y translation
                $offset = explode(' ', $trans);
                $offsetX = $offset[4];
                $offsetY = $offset[5];
                $story = $path . 'Stories/Story_'.$tf[$i]['ParentStory'].'.xml';
                $widthArray = (array) $tf[$i]->TextFramePreference['TextColumnFixedWidth'];
                $width = number_format($widthArray[0], $decimal);
                // now get the point on the top left hand corner
                $anchor = $tf[$i]->Properties->PathGeometry->GeometryPathType->P
                $anchorArray = (array) $anchor['Anchor'];
                list($topX, $topY) = explode(' ', $anchorArray[0]);
                // if base layer, reset all coordinates to 0,0
                if ($i == 0) {
                        $baseX = $topX + $offsetX;
                        $baseY = $topY + $offsetY;
                        $trueX = 0;
                        $trueY = 0;
                else {
                        $trueX = number_format($topX + $offsetX - $baseX, $decim
                        $trueY = number_format($topY + $offsetY - $baseY, $decim
                echo "x y and width is $trueX, $trueY, $width \n";

Author: bpeh

Bernard Peh is a great passioner of web technologies and one of the co-founder of Website Design and Reviews. He works with experienced web designers and developers everyday, developing and designing commercial websites. He specialises mainly in SEO and PHP programming.

4 thoughts on “Converting idml coordinates to pixels”

  1. Hi! Thanks for the solution. But another issue I’ve stumbled upon with this stuff is how to apply such a conversion logic to the rotated layers (textframes). I mean those ones that have a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation in the transformation matrix. Do you have any idea regarding this?

Comments are closed.