PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

The King is Dead!
November 2000

Every now and again I get deeply excited at discovering something that works amidst the detritus of well marketed junk that doesn't. Latterly I have dwelt on the pathetic performance of Sony with regard to the stylish but invisibly supported Vaio notebooks (and thanks for yet more messages of support from fellow sufferers), but this month I thought I would make a real effort and bring you all glad tidings of great joy.

Since it first wheezed out around a year ago, Adobe InDesign has always been something I have regarded with fondness, since I cut my DTP teeth on a floppy-based Mac with Aldus PageMaker 1.2 about 300 years ago. PageMaker was the software that made the Mac as far as I can tell, although Apple in their usual arrogance probably still believed that it was the cool 3 inch mono screen, and the reliability of a Ford Edsel that gave the product its charm.

Imagine my joy when PageMaker for the PC came out, but this was short lived as the product was a flaky as hell, and allowed the upstart Quark Express - which also attended to typographers whims more thoroughly. Imagine my amazement when Quark 3.3r for the PC turned out to be about the most uncrashable graphics software ever - although it seemed to be a simple automatic machine port from Mac to Windows.

Since that time, Adobe has snaffled just about everything in the graphics scene with the exception of the page layout prize, which has remained in the hands of Quark with Xpress. Aldus PageMaker become Adobe PageMaker a while ago, and singularly failed to win the hearts and minds of the design world since it didn't really adopt the user interface style that Adobe had established with Illustrator and Photoshop.

But InDesign promised to do what Adobe should have done long ago, and unified the interfaces of the paint and draw programs with the page layout solution. So I've been fiddling with InDesign on and off for a while and getting some generally nice vibes, but decided to go for a serious thrash recently, and the result is that I have even managed to persuade former Quark addicts that InDesign is worth the transition.

I do hope that this isn't just wishful thinking on my part, along with much of the rest of the industry I do so want to watch Quark get the kicking it so richly deserves after years of arrogance and irritability while it ruled the unchallenged DTP roost.

The most exciting recent change in the type/print scene is that the repro trade now uses PDFs and doesn't need postscript files. The test publication is a PDF of some 5Mbyte; the postscript concoction is about 220Mbytes. And nearly always bound to flop over with some error or other.

Life is not totally wonderful just yet - font embedding can still bite you in the arse when you discover that the installation permission is missing for PDF exports. But at least I can do business with my printer these days without being forced to be a Quark expert. And so can you.