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Adobe InDesign CS + PageMaker Plug-in Pack

Page layout suite with add-on productivity package By Dave Nagel
I've reviewed every version of Adobe InDesign to date, and with each new release, I've found fewer and fewer reasons to look back to the other publishing packages I've abandoned over the years. The program is simply an indispensable page layout application and a fantastic design tool. But InDesign, particularly InDesign CS, has recently expanded into another new role--that of a sort of rescue vessel for the stranded passengers aboard the ill-fated HMS PageMaker. So this time around, we're going to take a look not only at the new version of InDesign, but also the new PageMaker Plug-In Pack, an add-on package designed specifically for PageMaker users migrating toward InDesign.

Now, unlike some of the other applications in Adobe's Creative Suite--notably Photoshop CS and Illustrator CS--InDesign CS isn't, in and of itself, a huge upgrade. Page layout, after all, isn't a rapidly evolving software category, and Adobe had already crammed a huge number of "ooh and ahh" features into version 2. InDesign CS, then, is a workflow release, which means that it has some new, more efficient ways to get things done, along with a few minor improvements in the area of production and creative tools. It's also obvious that the new version sports improvements that were suggested by InDesign converts, as the application proliferates from advertising and newspaper production into mainstream/trade magazine publishing environments where QuarkXPress is strong and where art directors want to integrate page layout more directly into the editorial workflow. To this end, InDesign CS incorporates several new ease of use features, enhanced customizability, a story editor and improvements on features carried over from version 2.

Of course, with the InDesign CS PageMaker Edition, Adobe is also addressing the needs of migrating PageMaker users. The InDesign CS PageMaker Edition includes a suite of functionality enhancements that brings InDesign up to speed with PageMaker in terms of features that InDesign had never offered in the core application, but features nonetheless that PageMaker users have grown attached to. This added functionality is also available to all InDesign users in the form of the PageMaker Plug-In Pack, an add-on package that currently sells for $49 for those who don't have a PageMaker license. Adobe also says it plans to include the PageMaker Plug-In Pack with the Creative Suite at some point in the near future. So it's certainly worth including in this review. But first we'll take a look at new features added to the core application--workflow, creative tools and production.

InDesign CS: Workflow enhancements
As I mentioned, I've already reviewed every version of InDesign that's been released to date, and I don't intend to repeat myself here. So let me summarize my position before we get into the new features in InDesign CS. InDesign was and is a significant advance in page layout. It's not just an application for assembling elements that you've put together elsewhere; it's a true design tool with capabilities that outdistance everything that came before it. This is the reason it took off initially in creative shops. And, though a relative newcomer on the scene, it's also matured rapidly to become what was, in version 2, a full-fledged publishing tool for newspaper and magazine production and what is, in its latest version, an even more powerful and intuitive application for any kind of print publishing workflow. If you'd like to read more about InDesign's core functionality, you can find my previous review of InDesign 2 here. If you're already familiar with InDesign and want to find out what's new, read on.

Most of the new features in InDesign CS are workflow-related. Of these, probably the most major is the Story Editor. This is a feature that does just what you'd expect it to do: By right-clicking on a text frame, you can call up an article in the Story Editor, which functions as a standard word processor.

Previews of your changes are provided live in the layout display, which remains open while you work in the Story Editor, so you can track the effect your changes are having on the overall article design. And you can adjust the way the Story Editor displays your text without affecting the appearance of the article in the layout. Options include spacing, background and text color, typeface, font size and cursor type.

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