Adobe InDesign 1.5
A superior upgrade that makes InDesign a serious contender


by Dave Nagel
Senior Producer

InDesign Summary

Publisher: Adobe Systems Inc.
Price/Availability: $699/Now
URL: http://www.adobe.com

Overall Impression: Solid, full-featured page layout and publishing system. As mature as anything on the market. An incredibly valuable upgrade.

Key Benefits: Lots of improvements over InDesign 1.0—too many to name here. Version 1.5 fixes limitations on clipping, allowing for multiple alpha channels to be imported from TIFFs and native Photoshop files. It now has built-in trapping, decent drawing tools, an eyedropper, solid text wrap options and more. Text on paths was a nice addition. The extensibility at the core of its design holds a lot of promise for refinement.

Disappointments: Not many. I would have liked to have seen some improvement in the Web export functionality. I'd also like to see more control over InDesign layers. Support for opacity control and feathering of alpha channels in future releases would also be appreciated.

Recommendation: Strong Buy.

Caveats: Make sure your service bureau can support InDesign.

You got lucky. You whined and cried when Adobe announced it would charge actual money for the InDesign 1.5 upgrade, and Adobe caved in. What you got for your tantrum was a free upgrade worthy of a full number change—one that goes way beyond filling in features missing from 1.0 and brings InDesign into the arena of full-featured professional publishing tools. Spoiled brats. If I were Adobe, I'd have put you all over my knee.

But that's not the point. You want to know the answer to that age-old question: Is it ready for the rigors of professional publishing? Short answer: yep. Long answer: InDesign 1.5 offers all the functionality and tools required to power a publishing house and easily more than answers the needs of design shops. It's equal to anything else on the market right now and offers a few perks that edge out QuarkXPress in features and usability. Better than Quark? In some ways, yes. In others it's a matter of taste.

New and expanded tools
On the front end, the first thing you'll notice when you open up InDesign 1.5 is the expanded tool palette and some slight changes in tool options (though the palette itself retains a look familiar to anyone who uses Adobe products).

The pencil and eyedropper tools are both new, and the text tool gains a text on path option. Version 1.5 also adds shearing and free transformation tools.

The new drawing tools allow users either to create path-based illustrations or to create paths into which graphics can be placed or onto which text can be flowed. This is a feature I like a lot. It's not for everyday use, but it's still nice to know it's there for those times when it's appropriate.

Within the text on path feature itself are several nested options. By typing on a path and then Control-clicking (or right clicking for us MacAlly mouse users), you can select from five path types, which allow you to display text along the path from different angles. These include Rainbow, Skew, 3D Ribbon, Stair Step and Gravity. (See examples.) Within these options are seven alignment options, a "flip" option and virtually unlimited spacing options.

Text can be added to any path, including simple shapes created by box tools and complex paths generated from type, for example (in addition to the pencil and pen paths).

The pencil tool offers a great degree of flexibility for creating paths, which can then be smoothed with the Smooth Path tool or erased with the Eraser tool. Paths can be erased at any place on the line, with new endpoints generated automatically. The pencil tool can also draw closed paths with the Option key held down.

For path editing, version 1.5 now offers the ability to select more than one point on a path and manipulate them at the same time. Subpaths on compound paths can also be selected.

Transformation options have also been improved in 1.5 and now include rotation, shearing, scaling and moving under the Free Transform tool. (Values can also be entered numerically.) Path points and line segments can also be transformed with the free transform tool.

Rounding out the new tools is the Eyedropper tool, which, as in Photoshop, allows the user to select a color from the document and apply it to other elements. Colors in version 1.5 can now be applied simply by dragging and dropping swatches over page elements.

Working in InDesign
There's a lot to like about the new InDesign. New tools only begin to tell the story. There are more fundamental changes in the upgrade that bring it from the realm of potential to actuality.
Adobe has brought InDesign's clipping path functionality up to speed with support for multiple embedded alpha channels—no alpha support was included in 1.0—which can be brought into InDesign in TIFF or native Photoshop formats. InDesign 1.5 also recognizes paths stored in an image and can use these as clipping paths.

Master pages also gain additional functionality in 1.5 with the ability to dissociate master items from a master page. Detaching the item permanently detaches it, rather than simply overriding the master. All master pages can be renamed as well through the options menu in the Master palette.

Color management also receives some significant improvements in 1.5. Gradients can now be applied to text without converting characters into outlines. Colors are automatically named according to their values when they're created. And new colors can be created while defining new paragraph and character styles. Tints can be applied to paragraph rules as well. All of these are new in 1.5.

(See the next page for more about text wrapping, editorial features, exporting, trapping and more!)

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