Adobe InDesign CS3

Adobe InDesign CS3

You can apply any of several new Photoshop effects independently to objects, fills, strokes, text, and pictures.


While we would've liked to see a cross-reference feature in InDesign CS3, long document production has been improved with the addition of text variables and additional options for bulleted and numbered lists. Text variables let you place and automatically update repeating text elements such as headers, footers, boilerplate text, and date stamps. Bulleted and numbered lists can extend across multiple stories and documents, and numbered lists can have multiple levels, as in an outline.


At first glance, InDesign CS3 doesn't look much different than its predecessor - not counting the new program icon and a revamped Welcome screen. However, the behavior of the palettes - or, rather, panels - has changed slightly, and the app includes new options for customizing the interface. We're not convinced that the new panels are an improvement over those in previous versions, but at least they're the same as the panels in Photoshop CS3 (where they're still called palettes) and Illustrator CS3. Oddly, you can open only one panel at a time from a stack of docked panels, and instead of collapsing down into thin, vertically labeled tabs, docked panels collapse into square icons that take up more space than the tabs did. The new Menu Customization dialog box (Edit > Menus) lets you show or hide individual menu commands and assign colors to commands, and you can customize the Control panel by showing or hiding various controls.


In addition to the aforementioned new features in InDesign CS3, many previously available features have been tweaked for the better. Examples include the ability to loop sequences of nested styles, the option to prevent master objects from being selected or modified on document pages, thumbnail previews in the Pages panel, the option to organize paragraph and character styles into groups, and the option to specify the resolution of exported JPEGs.


The bottom line. Although InDesign CS3 lacks the glamour of previous updates, it makes up for it with the addition of a broad range of useful features that will make users more productive - if not ecstatic. We can understand why Adobe is reluctant to cannibalize its other applications when adding features to InDesign, but given that the competition (read: QuarkXPress) has closed the feature gap, Adobe might want to reconsider for the next update and let the InDesign developers cherry-pick some of its siblings' juicier features.


PRICE: $699 a la carte, $199 upgrade, available in three CS3 bundles ($1,199 to $2,499)
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or faster or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4.8 or later, 256MB RAM, 1.6GB disk space
Additional Photoshop effects, table, and cell styles. Ability to import InDesign files. Variable text. Customizable interface. Universal binary.
Lacks dazzling new design and typographic features. Some features (text variables, GREP searches, nested style looping) are hard to use.





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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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