InDesign: The Quark-killer is more like the Quark-obliterator
InDesign definitely feels as though it will take over the reigns of publishing from Quark. At first glance, you may think you are in Illustrator 8.0. Tools and palettes are so strikingly similar that it's hard to believe you are in an entirely new application. This is where Adobe is very smart, amongst other things.
Adobe was smart enough to pull from and improve upon technologies from other Adobe products (even the positive aspects of PageMaker). The application feels like an Illustrator with nuances of PageMaker built for Quark users. So this is not a complete departure for Quark users. You may feel lost at first but as you wander around everything will begin to feel somewhat familiar. But there definitely is a new engine under the hood, even though it may appear to have the same body styling you are used to seeing. InDesign is the first Adobe product to implement the new imaging/printing core system, codenamed "Bravo". This includes AGM (Adobe Graphics Manager), which acts in ways similar to Display PostScript. Instead of seeing a QuickDraw rendering of your fontface, you will be looking at actual pixels drawn directly from the font metrics of your chosen font. Providing you incredible confidence in hand-kerning letters at 4000%, which by the way is the maximum zoom level. Also, totally circumventing many of the font and graphic preview problems that are apparent today when moving between platforms.
Yes but what about the high level features you ask? Well, let's just say every task you bang your head in frustration within QuarkXPress has been made incredibly simple within InDesign. Moving, duplicating and creating master and document pages works just as you would expect from Adobe. Simple as an icon click or an icon drag-click.
Halfway through creating a document page, you decided that you really would like it to be a master page. Select the command in the turndown and your wishes are filled. The feature set goes on extensively for more than I could ever discuss. But from what I have gathered from QuarkXPress users, they found that it appears to have answered all their prayers. Every task that is difficult or impossible to do within Quark is a breeze within InDesign.
InDesign can import and export almost every file type known to mankind. Simple Illustrator elements can be pasted directly into the application and then manipulated as if you created them in InDesign as well as layered, native Photoshop files. However, Illustrator type and gradients do not come over as native artwork when copy-pasted, hopefully this is an issue of Illustrator playing catch up to InDesign's graphics engine.
Importing QuarkXPress and PageMaker documents has been addressed as an expectation issue. InDesign is powerful, but let's face it, how much did you really think this thing could do? Do not expect flawless translations from these types of documents, but seeing that Adobe is attempting this feat is valuable enough. Most documents I tested required tweaking on almost every page. The key word is tweaking. The benefit found here is that Quark templates can easily be moved over into InDesign with minor work performed on them.
The highlight of the application is how much importance Adobe has put on the art of type. Features such as automatic hanging punctuation, ligatures, smart quotes, and the multi-line composer are sure signs Adobe wishes to bring the art of type back into the mix.
Some of the issues that mar this close-to-perfection product are small but true: many users have notice it may look like Illustrator but does not exactly act like Illustrator. No-brainers like a key-command combination to scale text boxes and drag-dropping of swatch colors are mysterious overlooked. Since the application was built with a new architecture that lends itself to easy updating, let's hope Adobe realizes these small omissions soon and provides an update.
All in all, I commend Adobe for realizing the problems print publishers face on a day-to-day basis. I am very excited to see this application released. I wish it all the luck. Adobe seems to be going at this in a very aggressive manner. The only thing I think Adobe needs to worry about is getting the die-hard printers, imagers, and designers to relinquish their preconceived notions of Quark is the industry standard. It is the standard, only because there isn't much else out there - until now.
More information on InDesign, including white papers can be found here from Adobe's site.
InSummary: Adobe produces a top-notch high-end publishing application. A perfect compliment to Illustrator and Photoshop. If anyone finds tremendous fault in this product, I urge them to go back and use Quark the way they could use InDesign and see what works best. Elements like bezier curves and pagination are what they should be in InDesign while Quark's makes these features practically unusable. This product is definitely worth it. Adobe is offering a special introductory price to Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, and PageMaker owners making the deal even sweeter.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Long live InDesign - Quark is dead!
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