is a professional page layout application which is geared to producing printed output
such as magazines and brochures, as well as to PDF and the web. It works with other
members of the Adobe CS2 suite, for example by exporting to GoLive and importing
from Photoshop and Illustrator as well as from Microsoft Word.
One thing to note is that Adobe has now taken more control over the activation process.
Unlike previous versions, just entering a serial number will not allow you to use
the software. Adobe switched to an activation scheme similar to Macromedia Studio,
where you must go through an Activation process that connects with Adobe's server.
This Activation keeps track of the number of activations that serial number has,
and with CS2, you are limited to two (allowing you to use the software on two machines).
This new activation process will thwart software piracy, which is likely the intent
of this change, but it could also be an issue if you need to reload the software
on your computer after a crash, or perhaps if you are moving the software from one
machine to another. Activation is an extra step that makes it harder to use what
you own. If you go into a store and buy a hammer, you can use it without phoning
the manufacturer. On the other hand, I have always found Adobe telephone support
for previous registration issues to be very good. I was disappointed with some installation
issues I had, which seemed to be related to installing as admin and then using on
a different account to access the software.
After installing and activating InDesign CS2, you are ready to start using the software.
InDesign versus Word processing
While there is overlap between word processing and page layout, the focus of word
processors is to originate content, whereas page layout is about presentation of
content that may be originated in other applications. The hallmark of page layout
is the capability to place multiple text flows, each in multiple connected frames
which can be adjacent or on separate pages. By contrast, while many word processors
have a simple text frame capability, a word processed document is generally a single
flow from beginning to end. InDesign offers drawing and word processing functionality
including drag and drop text editing and spell checking.
With InDesign your starting point is that you have a set number of pages to fill
- for example you may have decided in advance to produce a 4 page newsletter or a
40 page magazine. In general when you open a magazine you are looking at a left page
and a right page, which taken together constitute a "spread". InDesign
encourages you to design to those spreads and displays spread pages side by side.
A Spread Page
Like Illustrator, InDesign works with the true-to-life concept of an artboard where
you put the final work, while you keep scraps of things you are working on off on
In the end you may want to print onto paper twice the size of your magazine and fold
it in half. You won't print the pages in spreads, but in the order that they will
be in the folded pages. For example, for a 16 page magazine you would have to print
page 16 on the left of page 1, turn over and print page 2 on the left of page 15.
Word processors in general can't do this. InDesign comes with a handy plugin, InBooklet,
that looks after this for you for a simple document and can be upgraded to create
documents with more complex bindings.
InDesign versus scissors and glue
In the early days of page layout applications, using a computer was more efficient
and accurate than the old fashioned methods, but far less creative. With a phototypesetter,
a process camera, scissors, glue and technical pens you were not confined to vertical
and horizontal alignments of rectangular text frames. Today with InDesign, I am hard
pressed to imagine something I could do manually that couldn't be done with InDesign,
whereas InDesign suggests all kinds of things that would have been extremely time
consuming at best, or more likely impossible to do in the olden days.
For example, although InDesign lets you set type in evenly sized vertical columns
if you want to, it's equally possible to choose a layout that's more in keeping with
its subject, in this case the megaliths of northern Scotland. All the time of course,
the text flows after each tweak of a corner of the containing frames.
Text Flow and Positioning
As well as text editing, positioning, and typographical features (such as glyphs
and kerning), InDesign has drawing tools similar to Illustrator's. One point to note
is that there are small differences in the palettes between Illustrator and its siblings.
For example in the tools palette, the tools with multiple options can't be torn off
like they can in Illustrator - in this respect InDesign is like Photoshop.
InDesign is easy enough to come to grips with for anyone who has used a page layout
or desktop publishing application in the past. Experience with Photoshop or Illustrator
will make the user interface familiar. There is a comprehensive help system with
tutorial sections which cover the most important "getting started" topics.
If you are moving to CS2 from CS, the splash page can take you to the InDesign CS2
website where you can watch short but concentrated Quicktime videos of tutorials
on the new features.
What's new in CS2?
InDesign CS2 is a major upgrade over InDesign CS. The new features can categorized
as fabulous, workflow oriented, so-so, and euphemistic.
Fabulous new features include anchored objects, object styles, and support for layered
objects. Anchoring objects allows you to define precise positioning of a graphic
relative to a paragraph (for example) and to lock that position against accidental
mouse gestures in the vicinity of the object.
Object styles allow you to define a reusable named format for objects in your InDesign
document and reapply them to other objects. If you change a previously styled object
manually, the style offers you the option to reapply the manual change to all other
objects of that style. Example applications include applying consistent positioning
and drop shadows.
If you import a layered Photoshop file, InDesign can now allow you to hide and show
layers in the Photoshop file without going back to Photoshop; the same is true for
layered PDFs. Here are some illustrations of this feature in use.
Importing Layered Photoshop Files
Import a photo with several layers into InDesign. Select Object Layer Properties
and, in this example, turn off the layer containing the sea, ensuring Preview is
checked. Now it's possible to pour text into the blank area by setting InDesign's
Text Wrap tool to follow the alpha channel of the image:
Text Wrap Tool
Unfortunately, although the layer control works, on the review machine (1GHz 17”
flat panel G4 iMac with 1GB memory and 80G hard disk with about 5 GB free at best)
it worked extremely slowly, sometimes taking up to 25 seconds to respond to a command
to turn on or off a layer - which would be achieved in an eyeblink in Photoshop.
I hate to complain that it didn't "beachball" while I was waiting - but
I have to, because without the beachball I could continue to turn preview off and
on and lose track of what InDesign was supposed to be doing and end up going round
in circles. Once I developed the habit of clicking once at a time and then waiting
with one eye on the second hand of my watch, I began to believe that it worked.
Workflow-oriented features include improved import of MS Word and RTF, XML support,
plus InCopy assignments. For Word import, you can now define how Word styles map
to InDesign styles. InCopy assignment refers to the capability to assign articles
within your magazine to named members of your editorial staff using InCopy, a separate
copy editing application that is not part of the CS2 suite under review.
For the home user, the so-so new features are likely to be Adobe Bridge and InDesign
snippets. With Bridge we seem to be reinventing a wheel that has already been invented
once by the Mac OS X with the column browser, Expose and Spotlight and reinvented
by iLife. It's basically a browser that lets you organize and find all the files
that you might want to import into your InDesign file, including Photoshop, Illustrator
and Microsoft Word files. Bridge can zoom in or out on its content so you can see
enough of a candidate file to decide whether it's the one you want without actually
opening it - if the Mac OS X column view doesn't already do that for you.
Snippets is the name for the capability of dragging bits of your InDesign file out
into Adobe Bridge and leaving them there for use in different files later - again,
something that's possible to some extent in Mac OS X. Perhaps in a professional setting
these features could save time, but I suspect what you get out of Bridge depends
wholly on how much time you commit to organizing your media within it.
Finally, there's one astounding euphemism in the new features list. With Microsoft
Word we are all used to version after version of Word producing files that are totally
compatible between versions (although the new Microsoft XML format on the horizon
is going to put paid to that in the near future). Seemingly though, InDesign CS2
is not file compatible with InDesign CS. What to do? Write a conversion application
and have your marketing team claim it as a feature. Honestly!
is an industry standard page layout application which is geared to print publications
and capable of exporting to electronic media and the web. It offers unlimited flexibility
in bringing any visual design you can imagine into print, and the CS2 version has
some new features which add to usability and improve workflow. Adobe InDesign CS2
is recommended for professional users and for serious amateurs, especially those
who have access to the discounts available for students and educators.
- Totally flexible
positioning, rotation, scaling and transformation
- Drawing tools
- Anchored objects
- Object styles
- Can hide and show
layers in Photoshop and PDF files
- Performance issues
with layered Photoshop file manipulation
- File format can't
be opened by InDesign CS without conversion
5 out of 5 Mice