Adobe InDesign CS3

Adobe InDesign CS3

You can now import multiple images at once. What a time-saver.

 

While there's much to like about InDesign CS3, the latest incarnation of Adobe's page - layout application, overall its new features are much less awe-inspiring than in previous updates. That's not to say the new feature list is short or unimpressive. A bevy of productivity enhancements make InDesign CS3 a significantly better program than its predecessor. But as for must-have new features, there aren't many.

 

Let's start with the sexy stuff. Designers will like the addition of several Photoshop effects: Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, Satin, Directional Feather, and Gradient Feather (which lets you fade an object from opaque to transparent). All of these effects are available in the new Effects panel that replaces the Transparency palette (palettes are now called panels). Also new is the ability to apply effects independently to an object or its fill, stroke, or content (text or picture). For example, you can apply a bevel effect to text and a drop shadow to its frame.

 

Importing text and picture files is easier and more efficient thanks to the ability to select multiple files in the Place dialog box. When you place multiple files, you can place them in whatever order you want, and instead of displaying a generic graphic or text icon, as in previous versions of InDesign, the pointer displays a thumbnail of the graphic you're placing or the first few words of a text file. You can also specify the default fitting behavior of graphic frames (for example, Fit Content to Frame), as well as a default crop amount and reference point. Double-clicking the handle of a graphics frame fits the frame snugly to the graphic within.

 

The ability to place InDesign files into InDesign layouts is a major addition that is helpful for placing ads, cover artwork, and the like. The feature obviates the need to save InDesign pages as EPS or PDF to use them in other layouts. You place InDesign files in the same way as other graphic files, and once placed, an InDesign file is listed with other graphics in the Links panel.

 

Although previous versions of InDesign offered powerful table-formatting capabilities, table styles and cell styles were conspicuously absent. Now that hole is filled. Because table and cell styles are implemented exactly like paragraph and character styles, users of previous versions of InDesign will have no problem getting up to speed with them. For convenience, the Control panel now provides more table-formatting controls.

 

The Find/Change feature has been beefed up with the ability to find and change object attributes such as fill color, stroke width and style, and transparency effects. The Query menu in the Find/Change dialog box includes several useful default find/change operations (such as double hypens to an em-dash, or straight quotes to typographers' quotes), and you can use GREP (General Regular Expression Parser) searches to run pattern-based find/change routines and consolidate multiple searches into a single operation. Also new is the ability to save any find/change criteria as a query for future use. On the downside, a new set of unintuitive icons and the additional options in the Find/Change dialog make a quick search-and-replace of text cumbersome.

 

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No program is ever complete, it seems. I can think of more improvements Adobe could make to InDesign, such as supporting the use of special symbols in its Autocorrect feature, offering an option to convert double hyphens to em dashes as you type, specifying intercolumn rules in multicolumn text frames, letting users thread text across frames without having to switch away from the Type tool (either manually or via a modifier key), and adding the ability to see tracked changes (both those from Word and from InCopy). Oh, and it would be nice if Adobe would get rid of the extraneous shape tools and consolidate some of the panels. They could also consolidate or move features from panels such as Attributes and Story that contain very few features and just clutter the interface.

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