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Software Review – Adobe Master Collection – Adobe InDesign CS3 From Adobe Systems

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This is the tenth part of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS3 in 2007, they not only released single version products, but also six separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Standard, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

Adobe InDesign is the successor/alternative to Adobe PageMaker; the first desktop publishing program introduced in 1985. InDesign was introduced in 1999 and beginning with with InDesign CS, became bundled with Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe InDesign is targeted at designers, publishers and those who are charged with laying out periodical publications, posters, and print media.

What do you need to run Adobe InDesign CS3? On Windows you need an Intel® Pentium® 4 1.4 GHz of DV, 3.8GHz for HDV, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon® dual 2.6GHz for HD, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor, Windows XP SP2 or Vista, on Mac, PowerPC® G4 or G5 or multicore Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.4.8, 256MB RAM (512 Recommended), 1,024×768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card, 1.8 GB hard drive space (additional space needed during install).

 So what is new with Adobe InDesign CS3?

• Creative Object Effects, Including Feathered Gradients – will allow you to explore design possibilities right in your layout. You can apply a variety of Adobe Photoshop CS3 effects to objects on the page, and experiment with blending modes, opacity, as well as other options. Feathered gradients will allow you to fade an object into the background by applying a mask that has a gradient. Other effects include Directional Feathering, Bevel and Emboss, Satin, Inner Shadow, and Inner and Outer Glow

• Finer Transparency Controls – lets you take your design into new directions by giving you the ability to apply transparency settings independently to an object's fill stroke, and content. You can apply blends, opacity, and other creative effects to achieve much more complex visual looks.

• Productivity Enhancements – provides you with greater efficiency through new and enhanced productivity tools that make it faster and easier to layout, export, and print graphically rich documents. You now have Multi-File Place that allows you to import multiple files in a single step. Expanded Quick Apply to format with styles and apply features easily. Faster frame fitting allows images to be resized automatically to fit the frame, Nested Style Looping that allows you to apply a sequence of characters styles within a paragraph with just one click. Visual Pages Panel lets you quickly get to the page that you need much more quickly.

• Table and Cell Styles – gives you the ability to format tables much more quickly and consistently with styles for both tables and cells. Instead of manually formatting individual cells and tables, you can create a style, store it in the Table Styles panel and instantly apply it to any table.

• Improved Long Document Support – has added new features that help automate production of long documents by reducing the number of repetitive manual tasks, by use of text variables, advanced bullets and numbering, and synchronizing master pages across a document or book.

• Advanced Find/Change – allows you to apply changes to text and objects throughout one or more documents, save and share frequently used searches, customize the scope of a search, easily find smart and straight quotes, and use grep (regular expressions) to run advanced pattern searches.

• Export to XHTML – gives you the ability to use true multi-format publishing, including the ability to reuse page layouts on the web. You can now export InDesign content as XHTML which can be edited using Adobe Dreamweaver CS3. By using InDesign style names when you export, you can automatically format the exported XHTML content using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

• Customizable User Interface – lets you adapt the user interface to suite your needs by customizing it via flexible, compact panels, customizable menus, customizable workspaces, and a context sensitive control panel that shows you the most useful settings based on the selected objects.

• Automatically Generated Layouts from XML – will let you integrate your InDesign document into XML workflows that will automate the creation and formatting of documents.

• Placed InDesign Documents – gives you the ability to reuse InDesign layouts in new projects for improved design consistency and streamlined workflow.

As with most of the Adobe products, Adobe InDesign CS3 has received an interface makeover to make interactions between the products easier to use. As with the other products, it has also been made to work with the Mac Intel platform as well.

Being that Photoshop is a core technology for Adobe, it has found its way into many of the Creative suite of applications and InDesign is no exception. I really like the integration of the Photoshop effects that are available for use in your documents. The other area that has improved is the new interface and the amount of screen for your layouts. This was very well thought out and really adds to the appeal of Adobe InDesign CS3.

The ability to import documents into a layout is also really nice. With this ability you can create composite documents. So if you have a magazine in which you drop in article "A" and the author of that article updates it, it is updated in the magazine. You can even update it from within the magazine.

Is Adobe InDesign CS3 a to-die-for upgrade? Probably not, but I do think that it is significant enough of an upgrade that if you work in InDesign regularly, it is a must have. Adobe InDesign CS3 still remains the best of breed for page layout software on the market today and well worth the upgrade.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.