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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – InDesign CS5 from Adobe Systems

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This is the sixth of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS5 this year, they not only released single version products, but also five separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, 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.

First introduced in 1999, Adobe InDesign CS5 is the publishing platform of the creative suite that is targeted at designers, publishers and those whose job it is to design professional layouts including periodical publications, posters, print media, and more.

 InDesign CS5

In effect, InDesign is a page-composition program that lets you take a variety of elements from different sources and combine them to make multipage documents. Once you have all of the objects together, InDesign will let you put them together on the page to create your composition. While you can also create single page documents, InDesign is really meant to create larger multipage compositions. Many people use InDesign to create for standard print, it can be just as useful for electronic delivery via PDF, Web page generation, and mobile devices.

So What is New with InDesign CS5?
• Interactive documents – and presentations will help you to engage and inform readers and clients with documents and presentations that integrate interactivity, animation, sound, and video. By creating interactivity directly in InDesign you will also reduce the cost and time to develop rich media using other application. New intuitive panels like the Animation, Object States, and Timing panels help you add rich media to your page layouts much easier than ever before.

• Object selection and editing – gives you the ability to perform repetitive layout tasks much more efficiently in InDesign CS5. Numerous improvements can help make tasks such as aligning and distributing objects or customizing frame corners faster and easier. These include a Gap tool to adjust the white space between objects, a Live Corner Effects to change the shape of a frame, and the ability to make multiple transformations with the Content Grabber.

• Adobe CS Review – integration now gives you a more accelerated workflow and will allow you to streamline your review process through an online service that integrates with InDesign CS5. With the use of CS Review, you can create and share documents for online review from within InDesign. Colleagues and clients can view your document online and add comments with easy-to-use annotation tools directly in their browsers. All comments are automatically displayed in InDesign CS5, within the context of your page layout.

 InDesign CS5

• Multiple page sizes – will allow you to simplify your file management tasks by creating pages of different sizes all within in a single document. Whether you’re designing marketing collateral, brand identity deliverables, or a magazine layout with complex folds, or keeping all of a project’s assets in the same file this will shorten design and production time.

• Track text changes – can let you get to your final copy faster now that you can track text changes directly in your InDesign document. You can write, edit, and mark up text in InDesign with no need to import separate text files. Through the enabling of Track Changes, InDesign will keep track of additions, revisions, and deletions in your documents. The page layout remains uncluttered and to see the changes you simply open the Story Editor. There, you can accept or reject changes using options similar to those in popular word-processing applications. InDesign automatically assigns a different color for changes made by each user, so you can easily see who’s made the edits.

• Paragraphs that split columns – give you the ability to quickly format headlines, subheads, or any text to span multiple columns in a single text frame. Now you can apply settings to a paragraph, specifying whether the text should span some or all columns, or split columns, so that InDesign automatically reflows what was one column into two or more columns.

• New Layers Panel – has been completely rebuilt so that if you are familiar with the Layers panel in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, you’ll feel right at home in InDesign. You can now view not only layers but the individual objects they contain. Select, hide, name, lock, and change the stacking order of objects such as text frames, images, and shapes directly within the Layers panel.

 InDesign CS5

• Print to digital – gives you the ability to quickly and efficiently extend your page content to the Web, onto mobile devices, or for playback in Adobe Flash Player. You can just hand off InDesign CS5 pages to Flash Professional CS5 with greater fidelity. The new text engine in Flash Professional retains typography you created in InDesign, including threaded text frames, so you can easily make last-minute text edits in Flash Professional. Multi-state objects and placed video and audio files included in the InDesign CS5 layout are carried over into Flash Professional.

• Live captions – lets you generate static or live captions for an image automatically from its metadata. This means that adding a caption such as the photographer’s name or copyright information directly from metadata stored with the image saves time and helps minimize the chance of error. Live captions change as the metadata changes. Static captions use metadata when you generate them, but aren’t updated later. You can convert a live caption to a static caption at any time.

 InDesign CS5

• Enhancements – within InDesign CS5 includes several productivity advances designed to help you deliver print and digital documents faster. Improved integration with Adobe Bridge software and the new Adobe Mini Bridge panel in InDesign, document-installed fonts, and the ability to export PDF documents in the background all can help you meet deadlines with ease.

Obviously if you are looking at a page-composition program, then this is a no brainer. There is really no competition. If you are looking to upgrade, or are one who likes to keep up to date with their software, there is nothing for me to say hold off. There are a lot of good new features that will help make your life easier.

As always, InDesign is a bit on the expensive end, but with the new tools for adding rich media, as well as its better integration, I think this release becomes more justifiable. As a whole, InDesign continues to get better with every release and so I can highly recommend InDesign CS5.

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About T. Michael Testi

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