Price When Reviewed: £450 plus VAT
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Adobe was probably a victim of overhyping InDesign 1.0. And the much-awaited ‘QuarkXPress killer’ did sport some impressive features, including multi-line H&J’s, pictures that were cropped to image frames when printed, and an interface that wooed Photoshop users. It also featured a plug-in architecture, letting Adobe and third-party users quickly rev the product.
So it was no great shock when InDesign 1.5 surfaced a scant eight months after InDesign’s initial release. Yet those eight months have proved telling, with DTP users increasingly vocal about InDesign’s lack of features that are standard in rival QuarkXPress. Version 1.5 is partly designed to address these complaints, adding trapping, text on a path and drag-&-drop colour support.
All the new features – and Adobe says there are over 70 – are designed to boost creativity, workflow, quality and integration with other Adobe products. And InDesign 1.5 succeeds for the most part.
You can now customize the layout on the fly, and the palettes intelligently snap into new positions as you work, so layouts aren’t lost beneath a swath of palettes. I also rated the new eyedropper tool. It lets you not only drag-&-drop colours between objects but also a wide range of attributes, such as type style, font, justification and so on – something I found useful on a daily basis.
The other, much-requested feature added is the text on a path tool. This lets you sketch out a bézier path using a pencil tool or bézier pen, then place text directly onto it. Formatting options feature, such as adding special effects like Gravity, which keeps the centre of each character on the path while shifting each vertical axis to align with the path’s centre point. Although useful, this is something XPress has featured for years.
Perhaps the biggest gripe was the lack of built-in trapping. This has now been rectified and the trapping options are extensive. Although you need a PostScript Level 2 printer to get it to work, accessing the controls are simple, letting you assign trapping styles to the document or individual pages.
New editorial features score highly. The ability to force copy to the next column, frame or page proved a timesaver, and I liked the new binding spine control, which keeps track of binding spine locations on multi-fold jobs (like Digit). I also liked the way InDesign can now fill frames with placeholder text, making it great for roughing out layouts.
There’s still much to lament, though. The fact you need a PostScript printer for output, or have to invest in PressReady to use a small selection of supported inkjets, is still a major gripe. Many design studios use inkjets for quick and dirty proofing, and smaller designers working at home are rightly miffed at being left out in the output cold.
That said, if you’ve got InDesign 1.0, then the upgrade is cheap if you adopted early – although I’d argue that many of these features should have been part of a free fix. InDesign is impressive, and its workflow and production tools will shine if you’re properly kitted out, but for most it’s not quite ready for primetime yet.