Review: Adobe InDesign CS2
Only 18 months after rolling out InDesign CS, Adobe has released InDesign CS2, the fourth major revision of this page-layout tool. The "CS2" in InDesign's name refers to Adobe's Creative Suite 2, which also includes updated versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, GoLive, Version Cue, and a new component called the Bridge. The standalone program is $699; upgrades from version 2.0 and CS are $169; and upgrades from PageMaker are $349.
InDesign CS2 is definitely a major upgrade, with additions and enhancements that emphasize efficiency. Some new features will elicit oohs and ahs from designers, and some are powerful productivity enhancers that can make a real difference in your workday.
This App Has Style!
For me, InDesign CS2's big jaw-dropper is Object Styles. They let you quickly format any object attribute, including fill, stroke, text wrap, shadow, and transparency. Object styles make short work of adding consistently formatted drop shadows to objects throughout a document; using consistent rule weights around photos; or setting defaults for text box attributes, such as default paragraph style, number of columns, text inset, and baseline grid.
Adobe made a potentially complex feature simple by implementing Object Styles just like Paragraph Styles.
If you know how to create, use, and edit Paragraph Styles, you'll easily learn how to use Object Styles.
The new Quick Apply feature allows you to speedily apply styles to characters, paragraphs, or objects. Because it's mostly keyboard-driven, it's especially useful when you need to zoom through a complex document with dozens of styles. To use Quick Apply, select text or an object and hit Command-Return (Mac) or Control-Enter (Windows). This causes the Quick Apply palette to temporarily appear in the upper-right corner of the screen.
The Quick Apply palette.
Next, type a few characters that are unique to the style name, and InDesign finds that style name in the list of styles. When you hit the Return or Enter key, the style is applied to the object or text.
The powerful Apply Next Style option for Paragraph Styles lets you apply multiple paragraph styles to multiple paragraphs with one click of the mouse.
The Apply Next Style option is a huge timesaver for repetitive paragraph formatting.
Hide and Seek Layers
Previous versions of InDesign could import layered Photoshop PSD and PDF files. Now you can turn individual layer visibility on and off within InDesign. This means that a single Photoshop file can appear on one page with three of its layers visible, and on another page with different layers visible. To get this same advantage with vector art, you can save Illustrator files as PDF files with the top-level layers intact. When you hide or show a layer in InDesign, you don't affect the original graphic.
The Object Layer Options dialog box.
QuarkXPress 6.5 has a similar feature, but there are significant differences. While InDesign can handle Layer Comps, Layer Effects, and Photo Filter Adjustment layers in PSD files, XPress can't. InDesign can manipulate layers in PDF files, but XPress cannot. However, InDesign's layer icons don't differentiate between a regular layer, a text layer, and an adjustment layer -- XPress's layer icons do. Only QuarkXPress lets you adjust the layer opacity and blend mode, hide and show individual channels, and even remap a spot channel color to a different color.
Neither Quark nor Adobe has taken this feature to its full potential. InDesign's layer features works as advertised, but I wish you could do more layer and channel manipulation, and I'd like to see layer icons displayed more like Photoshop's.
Drag and drop text editing (a feature in QuarkXPress and Microsoft Word that people either love or hate) is now an option in InDesign CS2. But this mundane feature has been taken to new heights. You can drag text within a story, between frames, between views, between the story editor and the layout view, or between documents. When you drag text out of a text frame onto an empty area of the page, InDesign automatically creates a new frame for the text.As you drag and drop text, the program intelligently adds or removes spaces before and after words.
If you or your jobs are multilingual, you'll be happy to know that spelling dictionaries in 28 languages, including Russian and Turkish, are included with InDesign CS2. The spell checker can reference multiple dictionaries simultaneously, even when dictionaries are shared on a file server. You can easily export, share, edit, and import dictionary word lists.
If you prefer to have misspellings highlighted as you type, you can activate the Dynamic Spell Checker, which highlights misspelled words with a colored underline, much like Microsoft Word.
An optional autocorrect feature, similar to Word, automatically corrects common misspellings, such as "teh", "themselfs" and "secratary," as you type them.
Typophiles, Take Note
One thing that Adobe got right in earlier versions of InDesign is the first-rate type composition engine and oodles of typographic features: paragraph-based text composition, optical margin alignment, kerning/tracking precision to 1/1000 of an em, full OpenType support, and the glyphs palette. To these, InDesign CS2 adds the following:
- A hyphenation control that lets you prevent hyphenation of the last word of a paragraph.
- The ability to designate a Last Line Right Indent, useful for prices next to product descriptions in catalogs, or multi-line table of contents entries.
Using the Last Line Right Indent option to format Table of Contents text.
- Automatic bullets and numbering, with full control over the typographic attributes of the bullet or number. The numbering feature is useful only for lists of sequentially-numbered paragraphs. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to auto-number non-sequential paragraphs.
- Automatic footnote placement and formatting. The footnote text is tied to the location of the footnote reference number in the text, so when the reference number moves to a new page, the associated footnote moves also. Footnotes can be exported/imported to/from Word.
The Footnote Options dialog box.
- Two new paragraph alignment options, Align towards spine and Align away from spine. If a paragraph is formatted with Align towards spine on a left-hand page, the paragraph will be right-aligned on that page. If the paragraph moves to a right-hand page, the paragraph will be automatically left-aligned.
Help for the Harried
One of the most innovative ideas in InDesign CS2 also has the best name: Snippets. Snippets are small files that are created when you select any combination of objects on an InDesign page and drag them to the desktop, or choose File > Export. The resulting file is a tiny piece of XML code that tells InDesign how to recreate the objects. You can drag the snippet file icon onto any page of any InDesign file, and the contents reappear, exactly like the original. It's similar to using the Library palette, but Snippets are stored and managed by the computer's file system, not InDesign.
Snippets open up some intriguing workflow possibilities. For example, you could store commonly used or repeated page elements on a central server, ready to assemble Tinker-Toy style into finished pages. Because of their small size, you can email snippets to others to work on sections of documents off-site. When the snippets return, you can drag them back into the main document.
A Snippet icon. Note the .inds filename extension.
One way to display snippet thumbnails is with the new Bridge. Bridge, a separate application bundled with InDesign CS2, could fill an article on its own. Somewhat like Photoshop CS's File Browser, Bridge lets you visually browse file thumbnails, but it also acts as a hub for all of your Creative Suite work, is the portal to a new stock photography service, provides tools for ranking and sorting images, and allows you to display and edit metadata. The Bridge also dovetails with Version Cue 2, the file version manager included with the Creative Suite 2.
Those who produce long documents that are updated frequently will welcome Anchored Objects (previously known as Inline Objects). An anchored object can be a text frame, graphics frame, or any combination of grouped objects. The object is anchored to a specific text location, but you may place the object anywhere on the page. When the text moves to a new page, the object moves with the text. Placement on the new page is governed by the rules in the Anchored Objects dialog box. You can apply a text wrap ("runaround" for Quark users) to anchored objects.
The interface for placement of anchored objects is somewhat cryptic but extremely powerful.
Importing highly-formatted Microsoft Word files into complex page layouts has always been a challenge. InDesign CS2 sports an Improved Word/RTF Import Options dialog box that gives you full control over which paragraph and character styles to import, how to deal with style overrides, which styles to map to which InDesign styles, and how to handle complex objects, such as footnotes and anchored frames. It greatly simplifies the workflow between writers, editors, and production designers.
You can now automatically import multi-page PDF files into a multi-page InDesign file. Place the PDF pages with sequential clicks of the mouse or, through an included script, each PDF page can automatically be placed on the next page of the InDesign file.
If you're a fan of baseline grids, you'll cheer this: In addition to the usual document-wide baseline grid, you can also designate a separate baseline grid for each frame. Among other advantages, this allows a baseline grid to be applied even when a frame is rotated.
There are no new transparency features in InDesign, with the exception that Adobe added new controls for Spread (to make shadows larger) and Noise (to add subtle "grain" or texture to shadows) to the Drop Shadow feature, and you can add Noise to the feathered edge of objects.
So Much More
There are dozens more small-but-significant new features that I haven't covered. In some ways, these small changes affect my day-to-day experience more than the major features reviewed above. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Grouped objects display with a dotted line around the group, so it's easy to tell they're grouped.
- Large images from high-resolution digital cameras are automatically scaled to a reasonable dimension on import. You can view the resulting effective resolution in the Info palette.
- A new Paste Without Formatting command enables text to take on the attributes of the destination where it's pasted.
- You can display a sample of each typeface in InDesign's type menus.
- You can save and load swatches to exchange with other InDesign files or other Creative Suite applications.
Just because there's a lot to like in InDesign CS2 doesn't mean it can't be better. People creating long, technical documents won't find cross-referencing capability, figure numbering, running headers and footers based on page content, side-by-side paragraphs, or master page synchronization between documents. The program would also benefit from a History palette, a find/change for colors, and recordable actions a la Photoshop and Illustrator. I'd like to see a cell styles feature along the lines of Object Styles but for table cells; the ability to auto-number non-sequential paragraphs; and the ability to import and view comments from Acrobat PDF files on an InDesign page.
The Bottom Line: Should You Buy It?
While I would rate InDesign CS as "very good," InDesign CS2 deserves an "excellent." If you use QuarkXPress but have been considering a switch to InDesign, CS2 is a good opportunity. The only features of importance offered by Quark 6.5 that aren't in InDesign are Synchronized Text and Picture Effects. You'll find many features in InDesign that can enhance the creative process and make production much easier.
If you're using PageMaker, now is definitely the time to move to InDesign. The incorporation of most of the features of the previous PageMaker Plug-in Pack into InDesign CS2 make the switch easier than ever.
Users of InDesign 2.0 and InDesign CS will find that CS2 boosts your productivity so much that the program pays for itself.
Keith Gilbert is an Adobe Certified Instructor. Information about his company is at www.gilbertconsulting.com
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