Adobe InDesign 2.0 page production software shipped recently, and only the
familiar inertia of incumbent software can now be saving Quarkís
sorry Xpress from extinction. I got enthused about the original
InDesign product when Adobe started to break away from the very
useful and worthy but ultimately limited PageMaker for something
that clearly was determined to have Quarkís lunch at last.
Iím only referring to the Windows implementations here (sorry Mac fans),
and version 1 was initially buggy; which was mostly fixed in
version 1.5. But the recent version 2 gold release is the
business. Dogs everywhere have been emasculated to provide it with
features like comprehensive table handling, graphics tweakers for
feathering, drop shadows and transparency that mean you donít
have to dip in and out of Photoshop quite as much. And noticeably
better handling speed with large documents.
Itís funny how seemingly obscure issues can cloud impressions, but the
inability of 1.5 to remember the various tool palette positions on
my Matrox dual display system drove me quietly nuts. But now I can
lay out the tools alongside the document in separate windows and
the result is delightful. (Mac users remain silent, but please you
enjoy your fleeting moment of smugness if you like. They are rare
This cut incorporates ever more of the familiar Adobe points of reference
and ensures that the family likeness is ever more reminiscent of
one of those Appalachian mountain communities where they donít
get out too much. This is indeed the banjo-playing Cousin
Billy-Bob of the Adobe design family.
Thereís also a world of XML support in this version
(remember, Framemaker is now an Adobe product) thatís going to
force me to catch up on my XML reading at last. And my only real
criticism is that once again, to try and export to html is still
to travel in hope. Itís like asking Cousin Billy Bob to give a
rendition of Beethovenís 5th on his banjo, and equally
discordant. Still, it gives the Adobe developers something to
occupy them between now and the next release.
There are very few unnerving moments that I have been able to trigger (and
I have hammered it). The
nightmare of Windows font management can occasionally be relied on
to undo most Adobe programs, since Adobe has been largely
instrumental in the evolution of standards for fonts and
PostScript, their applications tend to be very prim and proper
where fonts are concerned, and I have accumulated a few pretty
rough examples from various internet downloads over the years. So
I would rate font handling, naming and organising as an area where
a bit more utility integration would not go amiss.
The pdf output has been flawless so far, and I have given it some very
tough exams that previously found 1.5 wanting. The inexorable
march of Acrobat pdf format in the print and repro trade is now
just about complete, and hoorah for that. The alternative process
of the past 15 years of DTP has been better than the age of hot
metal and engraving, but working with a fancy page layout program
by shifting the original files, images and fonts around in a
zipped up bundle contained too many surprises along the way from
screen to paper.
Now my local printer likes to describe his £10m 4 colour monster web
offset line as one of the biggest network printers around Ė
since heís arranged that a pdf exported from InDesign can be
beamed directly into an FTP folder on his Internet site, and the
next thing you know is that there is a lorry outside with 100k
copies of your 200 page colour magazine.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I think weíve
reached desk-top publishing Nirvana. Too bad print is now dead,
and itís all about online delivery, together with micro
broadcasting. Nevertheless, youíll find Billy-Bobís
unnervingly familiar kinfolk ready for those challenges, too.