Adobe InDesign 1.5

"A Must Have Upgrade!"

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type of productInDesign 1.5, by Adobe Corporation, is the newest version of their high-end page layout program created for graphic designers, production artists, and prepress professionals who want to design on the desktop but have the ability to print on a commercial offset press or a desktop printer. You can use the program to produce magazine spreads, brochures, flyers, CD covers, catalogs, and advertisements. Adobe introduced the first version in September box cover1999 as an alternative to QuarkXPress. Many reviewers (as well as this one) thought the program was an excellent start in integrating page layout, prepress, and drawing tools, but other users felt that Adobe had left out important features. Thus Adobe has quickly released the new version (which includes a slew of new features) and addresses about 90% of the omissions mentioned by various users. This new release tightens the integration between InDesign and Adobe's other publishing programs with its new design tools and productivity enhancements such as text on a path, a new eyedropper tool, and printer styles. InDesign 1.5 still lets you open QuarkXPress documents; even use QuarkXPress keyboard shortcuts. Since it looks like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, sharing many of the same tools, palettes, and commands, it is easy to learn and use if you are already familiar with Adobe products. The program is now compatible with Windows 2000 and Mac OS 9. This review will emphasize the new features of Adobe InDesign 1.5. For a discussion of the initial software and a general look at how the program works, please see our review of Adobe InDesign 1.0.

Adobe has kept its modular approach in InDesign 1.5 that was developed in the initial release. The program is based on an open, object-oriented, modular architecture that is highly extensible; thus Adobe, third party developers and system integrators can quickly and easily create solutions, upgrades, and services for the product. In fact, the program consists almost exclusively of plug-ins; the actual size of the application is just a few megabytes in size. As the bulk of the program's features, and even many parts of its user interface exist as plug-ins that reside in a subdirectory within the main directory, the user can customize the program by mixing and matching plug-in components in various ways. Third party plug-ins are already available and more are on their way. See a list of plug-ins available on the Adobe Web site: Available for both PC and Macintosh. Price: $699; Upgrade from InDesign 1.0 is $29. Check the Adobe Web site for special prices for owners of other Adobe products and QuarkXPress owners. Web site:

  user levelAdvanced Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced Users. Anyone familiar with other Adobe products will find Adobe InDesign 1.5 easy to learn, as it shares many of the tools and features you find in Photoshop, PageMaker, and Illustrator. The program comes with an informative User Guide and an extensive on-line Help. There are also tutorials on the CD which provide information and step-by-step instructions about the features of the program. Excellent books on the software are available from Peachpit Press and Macmillan, and the Adobe Web site offers additional information and tips and tricks. Check out the following for tutorials on InDesign:

.new featuresWhat's New in InDesign 1.5. Below is a list of the new and enhanced features in Adobe InDesign 1.5.

  • New Operating System Support
  • Path Type (Text on a Path)
  • Built-in Trapping
  • Vertical Justification
  • Drag-and-Drop Color
  • Styles for Printer and PDF Output
  • Enhanced Pages Palette
  • New Ways to Create Clipping Paths
  • Configure Plug-ins Command
  • Find Font Command
  • New Transformation Tool Options
  • New Options for Master Pages
  • Eyedropper Tool
  • New Default CMYK Swatches
  • More Control Over Stories
  • New Location for Preferences and Color Settings Commands
  • New Drawing Tools
  • Enhanced Shape Drawing
  • New Path Editing Options
  • Enhanced Palettes
  • Enhanced Grids and Rulers
  • New Tab and Indent Options
  • Portable Hyphenation
  • Paragraph Formatting Enhancements
  • New Object Distribution Options
  • Improved Default Color Names
  • New Options for Graphics Display

reviewInstallation, Manual, & Help: As with the previous version, Installation is easy and quick. There are two manuals: (1) a 465 page User Guide that is the same as the one shipped with Adobe InDesign 1.0; and (2) a 79 page User Guide Supplement just on the new version. The three tutorials excerpted from the Adobe InDesign Classroom in a Book that were on the CD for the previous version are now on the Adobe Web site instead, but there is still the instructional tour, in Chapter 1 of the User Guide, with step-by-step instructions and explanations of features and tools. Adobe also provides a Quick Reference Card with all the shortcuts and palettes that you can keep by your computer for reference. As usual, Adobe includes a variety of other goodies on their CDs, and with InDesign 1.5, a demonstration version of a script called Build Booklet is available, along with a Script Guide that explains how to create scripts using Visual Basic.

Benefits: The new features and enhancements in InDesign 1.5 offer four significant benefits:

I. Tight Integration Among Adobe Products

Integrated Adobe Design Environment: Adobe InDesign 1.5 is integrated tightly with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

  1. Illustrator and InDesign now share similar pencil, smooth, erase, and eyedropper tools. Illustrator and Photoshop both have a free transform tool like the one in InDesign 1.5.
  2. InDesign now offers dockable palettes like those in Photoshop and Illustrator. Plus, you can make palette lists more compact to display more, just as you can in Illustrator.
  3. The new text-on-a-path feature is related to what you can do in Illustrator. And the ability to draw shapes from a center point works similarly in both Photoshop and Illustrator.
  4. InDesign now supports drag-and-drop color, so you can apply colors to objects just by dragging them from the Swatches or Color palette and dropping them on the fill or stroke of an object. Illustrator uses a similar approach to color applications. In addition, the InDesign Swatches palette can display colors in large or small swatches or in a named list--again, just like Illustrator.
  5. The transformation dialog boxes in InDesign work like their counterparts in Illustrator.
  6. InDesign supports alpha channels and paths in imported Photoshop files.

Interface: Adobe has used the same basic interface in this version as was found in InDesign 1.0, but has included new features that enhance the work area and make it easier for you to set up interfacedocuments and work with pages. You can now change the overall layout of the toolbox to fit your needs. The toolbox can be set to two vertical columns (typical); a single vertical column, or as one horizontal row. The amount of time before a tool tip displays can now be set. In addition, the palettes in InDesign 1.5 are now dockable. You can connect them together and then move, hide, or display them as a unit. Rows in palettes can be compacted to save space. There is a new pop-up menu that makes it easier to go to a specific page. The direct-selection tool has been enhanced so you now can select segments and multiple points on a path, as well as subpaths on compound paths. With the new grid and ruler options, you can specify different values for horizontal and vertical grid spacing, and you can position the document and baseline grids in front of or behind page objects. It is also possible to set the horizontal ruler origin (zero point) in relation to each spread, each page, or each spread at its spine. In the interface image to the left, I changed the toolbox to a single horizontal row and connected palettes: Attributes, Color, Gradient, Transform, Character, Paragraph, and Stroke together to save space.

II. New Creative Options

Text on a Path: Now you can add flair to your pages by inserting text along an InDesign path, whether open or closed. You can apply settings that modify the relationship between the text and text on path optionspath. Using sliding indicators, you can manipulate starting and ending points for the text, dialog boxwhich is handy if you want to indent the text from either end of the path. You can set how the text aligns vertically with the path, flip the text across a path, apply a distortion effect, or specify leading, kerning, tracking, and other typographical controls (see image to the left for view of dialog box). Plus, you can choose whether the text's baseline, ascender, descender, or center is aligned to the path (see image to the right for examples). Path type has an in port and an out port just like other text frames, so you can thread text to and from it. Also, InDesign 1.5 introduces the following new formatting options for creating special effects with path text:

  • Rainbow Effect--it rotates each character so that its center is tangential to the path and creates a natural-looking effect.
  • Skew Effect--it adjusts each character's horizontal edge to follow the path without changing special effectsthe vertical edges and creates an effect that could suggest a wave or a cylinder.
  • Stair Step Effect--it keeps the left edge of each character on the path without rotating the character and creates a stepped effect.
  • 3D Ribbon Effect--it maintains each character's horizontal edge while rotating its vertical edge perpendicular to the path and creates a splayed effect.
  • Gravity Effect--it keeps the center of each character on the path while shifting each vertical axis to align with the path's center point.

Drawing Tools and Options: InDesign 1.5 has new drawing tools and new features for existing tools. The new drawing tools--pencil, smooth, and erase--work much like the ones in Illustrator. The pencil tool lets you draw open and closed paths as if you were drawing with a pencil on paper. It's handy for fast sketching or creating a hand-drawn look. The smooth tool allows you to remove drawing toolsunwanted bumps from an existing path or section of a path or smooth a path. It retains the original shape of the path as much as possible, and you have fewer points, which can make images easier to edit, display, and print. The erase tool lets you remove a portion of an exiting path or stroke and can be used on paths but not on text. You can set options for the pencil and smooth tools, which control how sensitive these tools are to the movement of a mouse or a stylus for a graphics tablet. New drawing options allow you to draw shapes from the center out with the rectangle, ellipse, polygon, and line tools. Plus, by pressing the spacebar as you draw an element, you can move it at the same time. See image to the left for examples of the new drawing tools.

New Free Transform Tool and Dialog Boxes: This new tool, similar to the one in Photoshop and Illustrator, allows you to make multiple changes to an object with one tool. You can use the free transform tooltransform dialog boxnew tool to rotate, scale, shear, and move selected objects with a single action (see image to right for examples). InDesign is unique in desktop page layout programs in that you can shear multiple objects together, including text and graphics. The new transform dialog boxes enable you to transform objects precisely by entering numeric values for many operations (see image to left for example of Shear dialog box).

Improved Color Handling: The new version of InDesign provides a number of enhancements that make it easier to work with colors. You can control how the colors in the swatches palette appear by choosing whether to display large swatches, small swatches, or tiny swatches and the color color swatch dialog boxname (see image to right for example of large swatches palette). If you display the color names, you can choose to display small palette rows, so you can see more colors in the same amount of palette space. Plus, the palette now includes standard RGB and CMYK colors by default, giving you more options for applying color quickly. InDesign 1.5 color names provide more useful information as well. When you create a new color, its large swatchesdefault name is made up of the LAB, CMYK, or RGB color components used to define it (see image to left for New Color Swatch dialog box). If you edit the color--say, increasing the amount of yellow in a CMYK color--the color's name is automatically updated to reflect the change. You can always assign your own names to colors instead. And there are other enhancements. Imported spot colors can be edited, so it's easy to convert them to process. You can drag and drop color swatches anywhere, making it easier to apply colors as you work in a document. You can create new colors as you define or edit character and paragraph styles simply by double-clicking the swatch icon on the character color panel, and you can now apply tints to paragraph rules. The gradient tool now applies the last-used gradient by default, and a new reverse gradient button makes it easy to invert a gradient that's been applied to an object or objects.

Enhanced Text Wrap: You can now automatically set text wrap boundaries for any imported text wrapgraphic that has a preview proxy, including EPS and PDF files. To create a text wrap boundary, InDesign looks first for an embedded path, such as a clipping path. If that's not available, then it looks for an alpha channel. If neither is available, it uses automatic edge detection to define a path for the wrap. You can also specify which method InDesign uses, and even specify which embedded path or alpha channel to use, if more than one is available. This feature expands the range of graphics you can quickly incorporate into layouts with complex text wraps. See image to right for examples of text wrap and the dialog box.

Clipping Paths: With InDesign 1.5, you have a range of options for generating clipping paths. You clipping path boxcan perform automatic edge detection on imported graphics that don't have a clipping path or alpha channel stored with them. Or, you can use the path or alpha channel in imported graphics to define the mask. When a graphic contains multiple alpha channels or paths, you can choose which one to use as a clipping path. Alpha channels tend to produce the highest quality masks, though automatic edge detection can also produce good results. See image to left for clipping path dialog box.

III. Productivity Tools

Eye Dropper Tool: The eyedropper tool is for sampling attributes and quickly applying them to other selected objects. You can copy the character, paragraph, fill, and stroke attributes assigned to different text, as well as the fill and stroke of drawn objects. You can even sample colors in imported graphics and then save those colors as swatches for ongoing use. This is a must have tool. It is easy to use and a time-saver.

Print and PDF Export Styles: You can easily automate printed and PDF output jobs by saving all output settings as either a printer or PDF export style. Using output styles, similar to using character export styles boxand paragraph styles, is a fast, reliable way to apply settings consistently to jobs that require accurate settings for many options in the print or export PDF dialog boxes. You can export and import output styles, making it easy to back them up or to make them available to your service providers, clients, or others in your workgroup. See image to left for example of dialog box for PDF export styles.

Expanded Scripting Support: One of the most powerful features in Adobe InDesign is its strong scripting support. A script is a series of commands that tell InDesign to do something, such as find and replace images or run through a list of final production tasks. It can be simple, affecting only a single selected object in an open document, or complex, affecting multiple objects in a batch of documents stored in a folder. It can even invoke other programs that also support scripting. Scripts work quickly and efficiently because they interact directly with the program, rather than working through the program's interface (as macros do.). And they can automate a wide variety of tasks you want to perform. InDesign 1.5 expands the scripting support introduced in version 1.0. Now you can write scripts that automate PDF preparation and export. You could, for example, use a script to turn dozens of inDesign documents in a folder into PDFs using a particular combination of PDF settings. InDesign supports two widely used scripting languages--AppleScript for scripting on the Mac OS and Microsoft Visual Basic or Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for scripting in Windows--so you can write scripts for either platform. The InDesign Scripting Guide, which is included on the InDesign CD, covers the InDesign scripting interface in detail.

Configure Plug-ins Command: InDesign's standard feature set is actually a collection of plug-ins, or modular software components, connected to a small core application. This modular architectureconfigure plug-ins makes it easy to add or remove features. With this new version of the program, there is a Configure Plug-in command to help you manage the plug-ins. You can: (1) create custom plug-in sets for different tasks or workgroups; (2) get detailed information about installed plug-ins; (3) isolate plug-ins when troubleshooting problems; (4) decrease InDesign's use of system resources by turning off plug-ins you don't use every day; (5) and organize plug-ins from third-party manufactures. See image to right for example of Configure Plug-ins dialog box.

Binding Spine and Other Page-Handling Improvements: The Pages palette presents a number of improvements to help you view and manage large documents. The palette now displays the binding spine for each spread, so you can see at a glance where it falls in a complex layout. You can then set the ruler origin at the binding spine to more easily manage how objects relate to the spine. page palette optionsIn addition, you can customize how the Pages palette displays page icons. A new palette options dialog box lets you choose from four different icon sizes, and for maximum flexibility you can specify icon sizes for pages and masters independently. You can also choose whether the masters section or the pages section appears at the top of the palette, as well as how the masters and pages sections of the palette act when the palette is resized: you can fix the size of either section, or both can be resized proportionally. There are also new options for working with masters. Master prefixes can now include up to 4 characters, giving you more choices when naming them. In addition to applying local overrides to master elements that appear on regular pages, you can now detach the object from the master altogether. That way, you can prevent the object on the local page from being affected by the changes you make to the master page. See image to left for example of Pages Palette Options dialog box.

New Editorial Features: The program has a variety of new features that help you plan for and work with text more efficiently:

  • Specify column, frame, or page breaks by inserting a special character--this character gives you significantly more control over how threaded text flow from frame to frame.
  • Automatically create jump lines--you can automatically maintain the jump line of stories thatjump lines continue from or to other pages. For example, you could include a line that says "Continued on page 12." When you create jump lines, you're actually inserting a jump line page number that updates to reflect changes to where the story is jumping to and where it's jumping from.
  • Work with new, easier to use tab options--the program streamlines how you add certain types of tabs. You can, for example, position a right-aligned tab exactly on the right indent in one quick step.
  • Fill threaded text frames with placeholder text to rough out a layout--in the earliest stages of layout development, you can get an immediate sense of how a spread will look by choosing a single command that fills threaded text frames with placeholder text. This makes it easy for designers to work on layout possibilities while a story's content is being developed.
  • Quickly copyfit text by using keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease work space kerning--you can now select a single line of text with a new keyboard shortcut, and then tighten or loosen the word spacing of the selected text with new shortcuts that apply kerning only to the spaces preceding each word in the selected text.
  • Instantly change the case of selected text without retyping it--this case change command is great for changing the case of selected text without retyping it. It only works with 1-byte Roman text, though.
  • Select a single line of text for quick copyfitting or to fix local spacing problems--This new option makes it possible to shrink or expand selected text to fit a given space, without affecting the legibility of individual words.

Streamlined Production Features: Numerous enhancements across the product save you time and help you work more efficiently. For example, you can apply new built-in line styles made up of combinations of thin and thick lines; the patterns scale as you change the line weight. There's a new option for replacing the content of a selected frame when you place a new object, and dozens of new keyboard shortcuts, including ones for pasting a copy of an object to the same location and scaling an object incrementally.

IV. Precision and Control Tools

Vertical Text Justification: InDesign offers new options for vertically justifying or aligning the lines of text in a frame. When you justify text vertically, InDesign evenly spaces the lines of text regardless of leading and paragraph spacing values (vertical justification is only available for vertical textrectangular text frames). This option works well for instantly arranging a pull quote, or for fitting text to a fixed space. When you align text vertically, you can choose whether InDesign aligns to the top, center, or bottom of the frame--but it always maintains the paragraph's leading and spacing values. Vertical alignment helps keep text consistent from column to column or frame to frame. See image to left for example of Text Frame Options.

Font Management: InDesign 1.0 helped you manage fonts with its built-in preflighting and packaging controls, but version 1.5 now adds the next level of support with the Find Font command, which creates a list of all of the fonts in your file and even saves that list as a separate text file, which you can hand off to your provider. With the Find Font command, you can identify all of font managementthe fonts used in a document, even in placed EPS and PDF files. Plus, you can search for fonts by name and replace fonts in the layout (though not in imported graphics). You can also jump to the precise location of a font. If a font is used only in the actual layout, it's listed once in the dialog box. However, if a font appears in imported graphics, it's listed for each graphic. See graphic on right for view of Find Font dialog box.

New Object Distribution Options: With InDesign 1.5, the distribution options available in the Align palette have been expanded. You can now insert equal space between the facing edges of selected objects to distribute them within the boundaries of a selection. In addition, you can specify a numerical value, which inserts consistent spacing between objects and even expands the boundaries of the selection, as necessary.

Built-in Trapping: The program delivers a new built-in trapping engine for trapping text, InDesign-draw objects, and imported bitmaps on the host computer. This trapping engine is based on the trappingsame Adobe PostScript 3 technology that Adobe in-RIP trapping provides licensed PostScript 3 imagesetters. These new capabilities supplement the in-RIP trapping support available in version 1.0 and ensure that you can use the hightest-quality trapping technology to print traps to any PostScript Level 2 and higher RIP. When you select the new Application Built-in option, InDesign automatically traps abutting colors throughout your document, even those in imported bitmaps. Each color intersection is evaluated to determine the neutral densities of the adjacent colors. You can specify neutral density values that correspond to those of the inks you use. You can also define page zones to specify the areas of the document that you want to trap. Then, InDesign uses these parameters to create the trap. When an object overlaps different background colors, InDesign considers each overlap separately in order to achieve optimal results. See image to left for dialog box.

Improved Image Display Options: The program makes it easier to balance image display speed and quality by offering new options that control the resolution at which each image displays on screen. You can now set image display options globally and then override them for any individual image. This control can improve performance. For example, graying out one or two images while continuing to display other images on a spread may save significant system resources. InDesign provides the following display options:

  1. Full Resolution--displays images at the resolution at which they were saved, as long as RAM permits;
  2. Optimized for Memory--downsamples images until the downsampled versions reach a minimum resolution of 72 dpi or fit into 15 percent of the RAM available (whichever happens first). Images that fit into 15 percent of RAM are cached for instant display;
  3. Fully Optimized--downsamples images until the downsampled versions reach a minimum resolution of 36 dpi or fit into 15 percent of the RAM available (whichever happens first). Images that fit 15 percent of RAM are cached for instant display; and
  4. Gray Out--displays gray boxes instead of images. This option is fastest but only allows you to see image size and placement.

Portable Hyphenation--With InDesign 1.5 custom hyphenation dictionaries are more powerful than ever because you can embed hyphenation exceptions in design files. This capability helps to prevent recomposition from occurring when a file is opened and edited on a different system. You can easily hand off files to another designer or a production person to work on, or give them to a service dictionary provider to make final preparations, without worrying about problems. The Dictionary panel of the Preferences dialog box provides options for whether user dictionaries are merged into a document (default) and whether the user dictionary, the document-specific exceptions, or both are used to compose the document. You can also set a flag that forces affected stories to recompose when the user dictionary is edited, so line endings always stay up to standards. For even more control, you can choose whether edits you make to a user dictionary are stored only in a particular document or in the external user dictionary. This lets you prevent document-specific hyphenation exceptions from being used in other documents. See image to right for view of dialog box.

Wish List: Although Adobe quickly released this new version with an amazing array of new and advanced features, there are still important items we would like to see. This does not indicated that InDesign 1.5 is not a great program, but that reviewer's never seem to be satisfied. Here is my wish list:

  • More robust text editor;
  • History palette;
  • Support for non-postscript printers.
  • Built-in tools for generating indexes, footnotes, and table of contents.
  personal comments

With InDesign 1.5, Adobe has shown that they are serious about developing a robust page layout program with drawing features. This version should dispel any misgivings individuals had with the initial program. Anyone who wants more features than Adobe PageMaker provides, or needs to develop high-end publications, or who desires a program that is integrated with other Adobe products and is a viable alternative to QuarkXPress should try Adobe InDesign. Adobe has provided an upgrade that is well-rounded in that it includes something for everyone. And Adobe has priced the upgrade at a reasonable $29.00 so that that there isn't any reason not to upgrade. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, if you use predominately Adobe products such as Photoshop and Illustrator, you will benefit more from using InDesign, which is tightly integrated with them, than other programs such as Quark. The ease of use and time you save being able to have drawing functions right in your layout program makes Adobe InDesign 1.5 a must have product.


system requirements

Intel Pentium II or faster processor (300 MHz or faster processor recommended);
Windows NT 4.0 or later with Service Pack 4, or Windows 98 or Windows 2000;
48 MB or RAM (64 MB or more recommended);
75 MB or more of available hard-disk space for minimum installation;
CD-ROM drive;
Video card supporting 256 colors at 800x600 monitor resolution (24-bit, high-resolution display recommended);
For PostScript printers: Adobe PostScript Level 2 or later required.

PowerPC 604 or faster processor (PowerPC G3 or G4 recommended);
Mac OS Software version 8.5 or later;
48 MB of installed RAM with virtual memory on; 96 MB with virtual memory off (128 MB recommended);
120 MB or more of available hard-disk space for installation;
CD-ROM drive;
832x624 monitor resolution (24-bit, high-resolution display recommended);
Adobe PostScript Level 2 or later printer.

Graphics: Adobe Illustrator 8.0 & Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Web Page Editor: Dreamweaver 3.0
Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series