Re: Adobe's InDesign

Subject: Re: Adobe's InDesign
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 06:43:53 -0400

Keith Posner wrote:
> Has anyone had experience of Adobe's InDesign as a DTP tool? Some
> questions which come to mind:
> * Is it suitable for developing user documentation (ie longish book
> style documents)?

Not really. It's a graphic arts tool, Adobe's attempt to win over Quark
users. PageMaker is an old program that is getting creaky and hard to
maintain or enhance. Adobe may or may not release a new version this
year and that may or may not be the last version ever. InDesign, on the
other hand, is built on thoroughly modern code and will grow into
Adobe's major graphic arts program (just my educated speculation, not
Adobe's official position).

I played with InDesign at SeyboldBoston a few weeks back and have
puttered with the demo version I picked up at the show for another
couple of hours. Thus I have less than a day's hands-on experience. I'd
say it's a quick study for anyone who is familiar with PageMaker,
Illustrator, and Quark, as it combines features from all three programs.
You can do more drawing than in PageMaker, and you can certainly design
multi-page publications; but it is not really a book tool. Whether Adobe
plans to fold FrameMaker-type functionality into InDesign in the future
is something I wouldn't even begin to speculate on. I will say, though,
that it has the most sophisticated H&J engine that has ever been
released for a desktop system, so it would certainly be an attractive
choice for non-technical book publishing. When TOC and index
functionality get added (future release? plug-ins?), it's going to rock.

> * Does it suit a single-sourcing strategy for print, online and
> web-based documents?

Maybe. I had a PageMaker marketing flyer (graphics and blocks of text
scattered around in a very non-book layout). Just for kicks (okay, I'm
weird), I tried PageMaker's save as HTML function and then opened the
document in InDesign and tried it save as HTML function. World of
difference. PageMaker basically gave up. InDesign was actually able to
make some sense of it, although the strategy was mostly to turn large
chunks of pages into GIFs and arrange them in layers. Under the
circumstances, this may have been the best solution, but for ordinary
book pages, it would be grossly inefficient--and I haven't tested that
situation. So far, I'd speculate that InDesign isn't really focused on
the information content of documents, and therefore it is probably not a
great choice for single-sourcing. But maybe I just don't know enough
about it.

> * Does it have any clear advantages over other established DTP tools?
> Are there any disadvantages?

Advantages: Great typographic controls (really!). Lots of neat
Disadvantages: Dog slow (Adobe claims they're working on this). Not
geared toward technical publishing (at least not yet).


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Adobe's InDesign: From: Keith Posner

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