I've started a project organizing a few programmers I know to help me create a web based templating tool that will let me import a spreadsheet of data and then assign layouts and images to them, but I probably won't be done with it for another couple months (will be happy to share here when it is). In the meantime, I'm not really wanting to put everything into MSE to do a prototype print run, since its a decent amount of effort and the import tools are horrible. I was wondering what other tools people use to quickly layout cards for printing a prototype? I'd use indesign but I used up my free trial a bit ago and don't particularly want to spend the 1.2k on the full suite
It is a general purpose vector / DTP / photo-manipulation tool that I have used for something like 25 years! And in my opinion it knock the spots off Illustrator / Photoshop / In Design - though not as powerful it is simply a joy to use.
But since it is not a specialist tool, everything has to be done by hand, meaning alterations are more cumbersome than they should be.
As for card specific tools: I have looked at NanDeck on several occasions and it always defeats me. I know other who get on with it very well, but I find the scripting language positively cryptic!
Finally I have cast my eye over PythonProtoCards - not a complete tool, but a Python library. Although in the early stages of development (by Mouser @ DonationCoder.com) it seems to have the potential to assist in card layout while leveraging the power, flexibility and readability of the Python programming language.
draws heart.jpg on the first ten cards, in the upper-left corner (0,0) with a size of 2 cm x 2 cm
writes hello on the first ten cards, in the bottom half of the card (starting from 50% height, 100% width and 50% height), with Arial 48 font, black.
I made an extension for Inkscape to layout cards/counters, and obviously that is what I use for my own prototypes:
You draw the layout/graphics (the "templates") in Inkscape, then use a spreadsheet (CSV) to describe what cards to build (and what text/images to replace and many other things; it can get a bit cryptic).