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Macworld for Designers

Is it comfy in the back seat? By Dave Nagel
It should come as no big shock to you that publishing is no longer the star of the computing world. Even on the Mac platform, design and page layout have begun to take a back seat to video and animation. And last week's Macworld Expo reflected this with the focus on new and more powerful video editing and compositing tools with nary a word about the platform's foundations in DTP. (Remember that acronym? Takes me back.)

The bad
Apple itself has clearly lost interest in design and publishing. While it remains obviously a much larger market than, say, compositing, it has nevertheless lost the kind of crowd-pleasing appeal that used to make it the foundation of any Apple presentation. And even Web publishing--which was so clearly the center of everything not too long ago--has begun to fade.

Apple has had little to say about publishing for far too long. Their announcements at the show were clearly geared toward consumers. The closest Apple came to addressing the publishing market at all was the announcement of iPhoto, but even this was geared toward home users and potential iMac customers--those willing to buy a $1,300 dongle for iTunes.

And speaking of the iMac, did you catch that little statement by Steve Jobs during his keynote address regarding LCD monitors? He proclaimed Jan. 7 as the official day of death for traditional CRT monitors. How's that for disregarding the publishing market? Now, I don't know about you, but I can't imagine a design firm or publishing house doing any serious color matching from an LCD screen. Sure, it can be done--kind of--but LCDs are still way behind CRTs in color accuracy, brightness, evenness and, of course, price. I know a lot of ad agencies like to show off their fancy, translucent LCD monitors for the benefit of clients. But when it comes to actual work, that's where you'll find those big CRTs--and they won't cost you the $2,500 Apple is trying to charge you for its 22" Cinema display.

Now, on the OS X front, there was good news and bad. On the bad side, we're still waiting for most of Adobe's design and publishing apps to port. And we're still waiting for Macromedia to say anything whatsoever about plans for Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Director and Flash.

The good
On the positive side, we know that Adobe's OS X efforts will soon bear fruit. According to Adobe, Photoshop for OS X is currently in the "final release candidate" stage of development, meaning that an official release or public beta couldn't be too far away. We also learned that it will be the first Photoshop release to support AppleScript--a significant development for those wo have learned just how powerful and time-saving scripting can be. While we don't know just how scriptable the final shipping version will be, and degree of scriptability will be quite welcome.

We also know that Adobe is nearing release for its LiveMotion 2 and InDesign 2 applications. Both will support OS X, and both will bring some highly coveted new features to the workflow. LiveMotion, Adobe's competitor to Flash, will finally offer support for Javascripts beyond the slight support found in version 1.x. And InDesign will bring a host of new features (including transparency) that could just make it the most powerful page layout application available. But we'll have to wait a little while longer to find that out.

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