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Adobe Talks InDesign CS3

Some new features revealed; Intel Mac release still slated for spring 2007 By Dave Nagel
Adobe Systems has pulled the wraps off some of the new features slated to appear in InDesign CS3, the next release of the company's page layout tool. Officially the next version isn't scheduled to ship, along with the rest of the Creative Suite, until spring 2007--about a year away. But the Adobe gave DMN a preview of some of the new features that will make their way into InDesign CS3 and discussed the direction the company plans to take with its creative tools.

In a briefing with Adobe yesterday, I had a chance to discuss the new features that will make their way into the next major release of InDesign, as demonstrated by Chad Siegel, senior product manager of InDesign and InCopy for Adobe. He also provided some insights into the direction Adobe's taking in terms of integrating its product lines with those acquired from Macromedia. And, of course, we also discussed the port of InDesign to a Universal Binary for native operation on Intel-based Macs.

A fistful of features
We begin with the feature preview. According to Siegel, InDesign will incorporate a wealth of new creative and workflow-oriented features. Adobe isn't yet showing them all off, but the company did offer a glimpse into a few of them.

First up, the next release of InDesign will feature enhancements to the Transparency palette. In the past, adjusting the transparency of an object in InDesign affected all of the elements within that object. Now, however, each element can have its transparency adjusted independently, including fill, stroke and text. It also has the ability to adjust blending modes (overlay, multiply, screen, etc.) independently.

Here's a look at the new (or, rather, yet to be new) Transparency palette with the options displayed. (Note that the Windows screen shots were the only ones immediately available. The new features are, according to Adobe, working on the Mac right now, and we'll include Mac screenshots here when they're made available.)

Somewhat related to this is the second of three new features we got to see in InDesign: the ability to apply live effects to objects. As with the new transparency options, the live effects can be applied to fills, strokes and text independently. According to Adobe's Siegel, these effects come by way of a new level of technology sharing between Adobe's applications.

"We are now able to share some Photoshop technology as a core component across our applications," he said, "[which] means we can begin exposing more and more aspects of it in interesting ways."

Live effects are accessed through the Transparency palette, which calls up a dialog similar to the Layer Styles dialog in Photoshop. Individual effects include drop shadow, inner shadow, bevel and emboss, outer glow, inner glow, satin, feather, directional feather and gradient feather. Each effect includes a set of options for customizing the look, as well as global light and various other parameters.

When asked whether InDesign would include the ability to use Photoshop filters or incorporate some of Fireworks' live effects capabilities, Siegel said, "One of the things we've been doing is just going out and talking to customers and understanding what's important to them. So, if they request it and say that's very important to them, then we'll begin adding more and more effects as we go."

The third new feature Adobe showed was InDesign's new ability to assign fitting options to a picture box prior to importing the image. In this way, boxes can be assigned fitting (fit content to frame, fit proportional, scale proportional) and other options (such as crop), and these parameters can be included in object styles to simplify the process of creating multiple picture boxes whose content needs to be scaled.

And the final new feature Adobe showed off was a new method for placing images and text into documents. This is probably the most significant of the features Adobe demonstrated during its briefing with DMN. It allows users to place multiple items at once--including text and graphics--and then drop them into their respective text and picture boxes without having to go back and import elements one by one. When multiple objects are placed, a preview for the current object is displayed next to the cursor. You can then cycle through the objects using arrow keys to select the object you want to place. Clicking it onto a picture or text box then places it, and the next object in the queue is then displayed and ready for placement. You can also delete individual objects from the queue. And you can undo a placement, and the image will reappear in the queue.

This is a feature that obviously needs to be demonstrated, and we'll supply you with QuickTime samples of the process as soon as we possibly can.

A few features more
Again, this is just a small sample of the new features that will be offered in the next major release of InDesign, according to Siegel.

"It's rotten with enhancements," he said "It's going to be really cool. This is a very, very minor sneak peak of what we're planning. These are just a few things because we wanted to communicate that, even [with the] new vision that Adobe has now that we're combined with Macromedia, we still haven't lost sight of what it means to build a page in InDesign and what it means to explore new creative options inside the context of the page."

The bridges of Macromedia county
So just what is this "new vision?" Adobe still isn't providing any specifics on its product plans for the newly acquired Macromedia products or about how, specifically, they will be integrated into the Creative Suite and other Adobe collections. Rather, Adobe is still looking into the issues of integration, both internally and externally.

"We have been talking to customers about what they expect in terms of integration between the products and trying to understand what the most important workflows are ... and try to improve and streamline those workflows," Siegel said. "We've definitely been focusing on trying to improve the integration between them."

In terms of working with Macromedia, Siegel said, "We've been integrating our mission. We've been integrating our cultures. We've been integrating our internal structures and processes. We've been talking very closely with one another and also going out and talking to customers, trying to validate how we should begin integrating our tools, what are the most common workflows to support. And so we've been working on integrating our technologies as well.

"We're going through those exercises right now. You'll be pleased with what we'll be able to offer for various publishing workflows."

That, according to Siegel, is the direction Adobe's headed in with its publishing tools.

"It started off in 1999 being about two page layout applications and more about features, but it's quickly evolved into being more about workflow and more about solutions that help solve customer problems and that streamline the workflow," he said.

Every which way but Intel
Finally, I also had a chance to try to siphon out a few details about Adobe's plans for the Creative Suite on Intel-based Macs. The company is sticking to its plan, at present, to release Creative Suite 3 in spring 2007, and that will be the first release of the suite and the individual applications that will run natively on Intel-based Mac hardware.

Siegel did say that Adobe does have a version of InDesign in development that runs on Intel-based Macs natively. But asked whether the company would release a public preview prior to the formal release of the Creative Suite, Siegel said no.

"It's definitely interesting and something we've considered, but we don't have any immediate plans for it," he said.

Uncharacteristically, Adobe did release a public preview of Lightroom, the company's raw image editing tool, for the Mac. But this apparentl;y will not become a precedent, despite the fact that rival Quark Inc. has released a public preview of QuarkXPress 7 for Intel-based Macs.

InDesign, as you may recall, was the first page layout tool to be released for Mac OS X, while Quark languished in OS 9 for an interminable period. This may have helped InDesign gain some ground in the Mac-dominant publishing world. Could a delay on an Intel-native port lead to a reversal of fortunes? Siegel says he's not fearful of that.

"Do we fear it? In talking to customers, I'm pretty confident about our strategy," he said. "We can either go back and try spending our energy porting our applications to work on the new machines, or we can talk to our customers and find out what's important to them to come out with new releases and make sure that they're solving all their other problems. And so we're going to invest in the future and our future releases. We're not necessarily going to go back and try to rev them. As you see our vision and see where our investments are, I'm pretty confident about our prospects."

He added, "I think we're focused on the right things here."

We'll provide you with more details about InDesign and Creative Suite 3 as they become available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, be sure to visit the Adobe InDesign forum at DMN Forums by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:adobe indesign, cs3, creative suite, macromedia integration, publishing, designers, page layout

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