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First Look: Adobe InDesign CS3

Universal Binary release gets enhanced creative, productivity features By Dave Nagel
With the announcement of Adobe Creative Suite 3 today, Adobe has taken the wraps off all of the new versions of its creative software. This includes a brand new CS3 versions of InDesign and InCopy, the company's page layout tools for print publishing. We have a preview of the new features in InDesign CS3.

The new versions of InCopy and InDesign are scheduled to ship next month. InDesign will be available as a standalone app or as part of three different versions of the Creative Suite: Design Premium, Design Standard and Master Collection. (See the end of this article for more details, including pricing, on the various suites.)

Performance and compatibility
First up is the all-important switch to Universal Binary support for Intel-based Macs. Like most of the applications Adobe is introducing today, InDesign supports both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later, bringing immeasurable performance improvements to the application over InDesign CS2 running under Rosetta on Intel-based Macs.

This is probably the most significant enhancement InDesign receives in this latest round of updates, though it does incorporate a number of creative and workflow improvements as well.

The new version also supports Windows XP and Windows Vista.

New creative features
There are three major new features in InDesign CS3 that fall into the creative category.

Live effects
First up is the new ability to apply live effects to objects, just as in Adobe Photoshop. Effects can be applied to any type of object, as long as that object's bounding box is currently selected. (For example, in order to apply live effects to type, you must select the bounding box of the type, rather than the type itself.)

The effects available in InDesign CS3 do not correlate exactly with those in Photoshop, but there are some crossovers. The crossover effects include:

  • Drop Shadow;
  • Inner Shadow;
  • Outer Glow;
  • Inner Glow;
  • Bevel and Emboss;
  • Satin.

In addition, InDesign CS3 also gains a few new live effects not found in Photoshop. All of them are related to feathering the object in question. These include:

Basic Feather, which create a feather around the object. You can set the width of the feather, the choke, the noise value and the edge quality of the corners of the object (diffused, sharp and rounded).

Directional Feather allows you to feather individual sides of an object. For example, you might only feather the bottom edge of a graphic, or the left edge, or a combination of the top and right edges. It also provides controls over choke, angle, noise and shape (leading edges, all edges and first edge only).

And Gradient Feather, which is similar to Directional Feather, except it's based on a gradient and doesn't provide individual controls over the edges. The Gradient Feather can be applied from the outside in or inside out; individual stops can be adjusted; and the type of gradient can be controlled (linear or radial). It also provides controls over opacity, location and angle of the gradient.

What's also worth noting here is that Live Effects can be applied to objects as a whole, to text contained within an object, to the stroke of an object or to the fill of an object--or any combination thereof. So you can, for example, apply a bevel to both the stroke and the fill of an object separately to produce more complex objects.

Transparency enhancements
The new version of InDesign also offers 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.

Transparency options (similar to Blending Options in Photoshop) have been consolidated into the Effects palette, provide controls over blending mode and opacity and options for knockout group and isolate blending.

Here's a look at the new Transparency palette with the options displayed.


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