This is the sixth in a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS4 this past fall, they not only released single version products, but also six separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web 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.
What do you need to run Adobe InDesign CS4? On PCs you need a 1GHz or faster processor, Windows XP SP2 or Vista; on Mac, PowerPC G5 or multi-core Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.4.11 – 10.5.4 (Leopard); both require 1GB RAM, 1280×800 display with 16-bit video card, 4GB hard drive space for installation, and a DVD-ROM Drive.
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 charted with laying out periodical publications, posters, and print media.
In effect, InDesign is a page-composition program. It lets you take a variety of elements from different sources and combine them to make multi-page documents. Once you have all of the objects together, InDesign will let you put them together on the page. While you can create single-page documents, it is really geared for larger multi-page documents and while many people use InDesign to create for print, it can be just as useful for electronic delivery via PDF and Web page generation.
So what is new with InDesign CS4?
• Live Preflight will now alert you to potential production problems in real time. From directly within your layout, when an error is detected, you will have the ability to quickly navigate to the source of the problem and fix it immediately. The Preflight panel shows you exactly what is going on in your layout and it will suggest what is required to make the correction.
• Customizable Links panel makes it much easier to manage linked content effectively. The redesigned Links panel gives you the ability to sort, find, and manage all of your documents placed files. Your linked attributes and metadata is displayed in a single customizable panel and means that the information about your linked files is right at your fingertips. Each item is represented as a thumbnail image which makes it easy to sight and when you click on the image, additional information will be displayed. The panel is fully customizable as well.
• Conditional text allows you to deliver multiple versions of a document for different users or different audiences. By selecting what text you want to display for a particular version of your document and applying a condition to the selection, you can hide text, or display alternative text as it is need. Perhaps there is text that is not applicable for print as it is for the Web, now it is easy to have one document to handle both.
• Cross-references will help you to improve technical accuracy and streamline production by updating when you change content, or rearrange text within a document. The cross-reference also works for online documents as well. Hyperlinks to another section, or to a section of text in any external document can be set up just as easily.
• Interactive Document Design with SWF file export gives you the ability to transform page layouts into dynamic SWF files directly within InDesign. You can insert hyperlinks, page transitions, and interactive buttons, and when your document is finished, all you have to do is export it as a SWF file and play it in Adobe Flash Player.
• Animated page transitions now let you choose from a set of page transitions that include curl, wipe, dissolve, and fade among many others. You can create interactive buttons through the Buttons panel where you can use an existing button or create a new custom one for giving your online publication life.
• Export to Adobe Flash CS4 Professional will let you combine the page layouts of InDesign with Flash authoring to create rich media, interactive documents. You export an InDesign document with an XFL file that can be opened in Flash. This will let designers and developers easily exchange data and collaborate.
• Smart Guides and Smart Spacing turns aligning and resizing objects into a much more fluid process. No longer do you have to open multiple panels and apply grids and guides to a layout. Smart Guides are automatically drawn when you transform an object and they disappear automatically. They are there when you need them and get out of the way when you don't. The Smart Spacing evenly spaces multiple items on your page by snapping objects into position without having to use the align pad.
• Spread rotation ends the need to rotate your monitor (or head) when working on a document with vertical text element. The Rotate Spread View lets you temporally turn your document in 90-degree increments.
Obviously if you are looking at a page-composition program, then this is a no-brainer. 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.
If on the other hand, the budget is tight and you are trying to make ends meet, I cannot say that this is a must-have upgrade, but there are a number of features that I really like. The Smart functionalities give you more precision when working with objects. The Conditional Text is very cool from the standpoint of being able to keep one set of text, as is the Flash integration, and the Live Preflight will help keep you out of trouble. As a whole, InDesign continues to pace itself from the competition, and so highly recommend that you move to it.