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Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – InDesign CS6 From Adobe Systems

This is the fifth of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe CS6 Master Collection. Adobe releases CS6 with four separate suites of products. They are Design Standard, Design & Web Premium, Production Premium, Master Collection. Add to that, they also have the Creative Cloud – a subscription based suite that gives you access to all of the individual products for a $49.99 per month subscription fee. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series is to define what each product does and provide information on what the new version brings to the table.

First introduced in 1999, Adobe InDesign forms the base of the publishing platform called the Creative Suite. It is targeted at designers, publishers, and those who job it is to design professional layouts including periodical publications, posters, print media, and more. It is now taking on more responsibility in the world of electronic publishing and supports the ability for content consumption on various electronic devices.



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 CS6?

• Alternate Layout – now provides you with the ability to reuse content in multiple layouts. Say you need to adapt a print ad for different sizes or orientations. For digital publishing, you can design both the horizontal and vertical layouts for a .folio file in a single InDesign file. Or create similar but customized layouts for different devices, such as the Apple iPad and the Motorola Xoom, within one InDesign document. The alternate layout makes it easy to adapt your primary layout and let InDesign adjust the rest.

• Liquid Layout – gives you the ability to repurpose a layout for pages with different dimensions. You can apply liquid page rules to individual pages and then when you create an alternate layout, InDesign applies those rules to arrange the content in relationship to the new page size. Some of the page rules include Re-center, for devices of different sizes; Guide-Based, for simple pages that include mostly text with few images; and Object-based, for adjusting how each object will be adjusted.



• Linked content – this lets you make sure that any repeated content, whether text, images, or interactivity, remains consistent in the same document or even across multiple documents. You can link anything a frame contains, including transition times and other interactive settings. Once you’ve linked content, editing the original (parent) content causes InDesign to alert you that the link has been modified for every linked instance of the content, whether they’re in the same InDesign document or in other documents.

• Content Collector tools include the Content Collector tool, the Content Conveyor tool, and the Content Placer tool. You use the Content Collector tool to select the frame you want to grab. You then place it into the Content Conveyor tool so that it can appear in any InDesign document; this is especially useful for company logos and such that appear throughout a document. You can then go to the location in any document where you want to use the item again. Use the Content Placer tool to place the item on the page.

• PDF Forms within InDesign have gotten easier to use. Now you can not only design an attractive form in InDesign, you can create the form fields exactly as you want them before you export the file to PDF. You can create text, radio buttons, check marks, combo boxes, and signature fields, as well as buttons for printing, submitting the form by email, and clearing the form. You can even include tooltips and determine the tab order for form fields.



• Middle Eastern language support – is now available within InDesign. The new version provides full support for Arabic, Hebrew, and other Middle Eastern languages, making content localization smoother for designers, publishers, and anyone who creates global content. The Middle Eastern version of InDesign CS6 provides enhanced functionality, including support for tables in the Story Editor, improved Kashida justification, enhanced diacritic positioning, and other text-handling improvements.

• Productivity Gains – are now improved with many enhancements that help you work more efficiently, no matter what type of layouts you create. These include: align selected items in the layout to a key object you define; use complex calculations to calculate values directly within panels and dialog boxes; zoom in directly to a linked object when you view it in context from the Links panel; accurately preview your layout in grayscale to proof it for a black-and-white device or black-and-white printing; and more.

• Enhancements for digital publishing – such as easier production of digital content; whether you’re creating .folio files to publish as tablet apps with the help of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite or exporting EPUB documents for eBook readers, you can paste or place interactive HTML content, including Google Maps or animation created in Adobe Edge Preview, and all of the numerous small enhancements make the EPUB publishing process smoother and easier.



• Text-handling improvements – include the ability to quickly access the fonts you’ve used recently from the top of the font list, keep paragraphs together even when one paragraph splits or spans columns, so that you can determine how InDesign breaks text, and use the dictionary that best fits your project. Hunspell open source dictionaries are the default in InDesign CS6, and you can choose any of more than 100 dictionaries to install as well.

• Greater flexibility with PDF files – since InDesign CS6 builds on the robust PDF features of earlier versions. It’s now much easier to set tab order, export grayscale PDF files, and export interactive PDF files as pages.

InDesign CS6, while I wouldn’t call it a huge upgrade, has a lot of cool new features especially for those who have to work with multiple platforms and in the digital realm. Especially valuable will be the Alternate Layouts, Liquid Layouts, Linked Content, and Content Collector tools.



The remainder of the new and updated features – PDF enhancements and PDF Forms especially – bring more than enough for many to want to upgrade, especially if you are running a version before CS5, or working to design and publish digital media. As a whole, InDesign continues to get better with every release and so I can highly recommend InDesign CS6.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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