We think of this release as DTP version 1.0, rather than InDesign 2.0,” said Adobe’s senior evangelism manager David Evans at the InDesign launch held in London last month. And the company has much to be shouting about, according to DTP pundits, as its flagship DTP package makes good on its initial hype. Billing the release of InDesign 2.0 as offering “layout without limits”, Adobe has included a wide range of tools aimed at DTP professionals. New features include transparency tools, advanced table-creation features, long-document support, faster performance, and new printing controls. The program will also be the first – along with Adobe Illustrator 10 – to support Mac OS X. InDesign on XPress ride The company used the launch to restate its seriousness in knocking DTP kingpin QuarkXPress off the throne. As well as saying it has delivered eight out of ten top-requested features from InDesign users, it cheekily revealed it delivers nine out of ten of the most requested QuarkXPress features. Adobe also played down Quark’s moves to make XPress output to HTML. “HTML output has been part of Adobe PageMaker, and now InDesign, for the past seven years,” said Evans. Adobe stressed InDesign’s ability to output not just to print and the Web, but also to ebooks and wireless. Headlining the release is the addition of transparency tools, which Adobe says let you apply drop shadows, feathering, and other editable transparency settings to text, graphics, and images. The move means users will be able to place native Adobe Illustrator, PDF, and Photoshop files with transparency. In a demonstration, Evans created an image of a face on a transparent layer in Photoshop, then placed it into InDesign. The result was a perfect cutout, with feathered hair and soft edge blending. Let there be light The company says that blending modes will operate in the same way as in Photoshop. Users will be able to use modes such as darken, lighten, soft light, saturation, and luminosity when using transparency. The addition means that effects, such as feathered drop shadows, can be created within InDesign. Adobe promises that transparency will be printed reliably – despite the fact that RIPs in repro houses can’t yet handle the output. In a bid to overcome the problem, Adobe says it has updated its RIP technology used in filmsetters, and has included a flattener feature. This tool lets users output files that have had transparency effects added, as well as make trade-offs between output quality and output speed. Users will be able to create, for example, a medium resolution file for desktop proofs, and a high-resolution one for final printing. Following the printing problems with previous versions, Adobe says ramping the printing controls was high on its to-do list. A new print interface debuts, says the company, which has been created based on feedback from DTP users worldwide. Gone is the multiple dialog approach – instead, all print options are included in a single dialog box. Adobe says the interface gives clear feedback on settings and how they interact with each other. Also gone is the need to use the AdobePS driver to print from InDesign – a move that Adobe admits prevented some repro houses from adopting the product. New printing features include the ability to print master pages, guides, grids, and thumbnails, plus the ability to specify bleeds independently on all four sides of a page, says Adobe. PostScript files can additionally be saved from the print dialog box. Speedy layout Adobe reckons it has boosted performance by as much as 17 times. At the launch, Adobe cited performance gains over InDesign 1.5 as being a major factor in convincing people to upgrade. “Performance has been an issue, according to our users,” said Priscilla Knoble, Adobe’s group product manager, cross-media. “We’ve set new standards in performance, with speed gains across the board.” Adobe says that placing text is now 1,738 per cent faster, while saving a document is now 1,638 per cent faster. Image placement is nine times faster, says Adobe, and creating a new document is seven times quicker – taking just four seconds compared to InDesign 1.5’s previous 36 seconds. Textual healing Adobe made great play of InDesign’s type features when it debuted, and the company says it has worked hard to refine InDesign’s type engine. It now includes expanded support for OpenType fonts – which let designers set true basic fractions, discretionary ligatures, contextual alternatives, and swash glyphs. Roman and Japanese versions can now share files, as Adobe has synchronized their engines. InDesign 2.0 sees the addition of table tools that the company says will go a long way towards opening up new design possibilities. “Basically, good tables are the Holy Grail of desktop designers,” said Evans. Tables provide a way to import tab-delimited data and turn it into tabular form. Tables can be adjusted and sized on the fly, plus colourized, merged, and used over multiple pages. InDesign 2.0 does mix in a dose of online-focused tools, including XML and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) support. Users will be able to use both the Tag palette and Structure View to create XML that can quickly repurpose work, build XML templates for automatically placing work, and map XML tags to paragraph styles. New export features to SVG and tagged Adobe PDF for creating ebooks are also included. Tighter integration InDesign 2.0 includes updated support for PDF 1.4, with the ability to export directly from within the package. Also integrated are a range of core Adobe technologies, such as its Adobe Color Engine (ACE) originally seen in Photoshop. InDesign – along with graphic arts tool Illustrator – is the first of Adobe’s range to support Mac OS X, although users will require Apple’s new update, Mac OS X 10.1. The package includes support for Microsoft Windows XP. UK pricing and shipping details are still not set, but Adobe says the new version should hit the shelves in winter.