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InDesign CS3 Upgrade Review

One of the most important improvements to InDesignR CS3, as well as the entire AdobeR CreativeR Suite CS3, is the increased integration between the individual programs in the suite. For InDesign, this means some significant new features and improvements. Let's take a look at some of them.

Special Effects

One improvement I appreciate the most is the enhancements to transparency and other special effects that you can add to the content in your InDesign document. When using past versions of InDesign, I have found some special effects, such as drop shadow, to not be the same quality as the same effect created in Photoshop. So I would apply Photoshop's special effects to my graphics before I placed them into my InDesign document. However with this new version, InDesign has the same graphics engine as PhotoshopR and the effects available with InDesign are of the same quality as Photoshop. Even more, these effects can be applied individually to the stroke, fill and text elements of an object. These effects, and combination of effects, are non-destructive to the object because they are stored separately from the object they are applied to. Therefore they can be edited at any time throughout the creative process. The Effects panel and dialog box work together to ease the production process. For example, all effects applied to a selected object will be indicated by an icon(fx) in the Effects Panel. When you double-click on an icon, the Effects dialog box opens to display the settings for that specific effect on that object. You can also control the Blend Mode and Opacity of an object and apply an effect to several objects simply by dragging icons within the Effects panel. Finally, the Control panel has a new fx button and drop-down menu of special effects.

Web Publishing

Multi-purpose publishing also has some new tools and improvements. In the past, when publishers and businesses first added a website to their marketing efforts, it was difficult to take an existing print project, such as a product catalog, and duplicate it as web content. InDesign CS3 can do this with ease. With the improved integration between InDesign and DreamweaverR, you can create a document once and it only takes a click of your mouse for InDesign to generate the XHTML for a web version based on the actual layout, styles and content from the original version. The XHTML code is ready to be uploaded or you can edit it further using Dreamweaver. Especially nice is the way InDesign will convert InDesign styles into CSS. It will also convert the print ready images into JPEG for the web.

Customized Workspace

If you have read some of my other reviews for the Creative Suite programs, you already know that there is a new layout and icon-based panel system which is much more user-friendly. With this new system, it is easy to toggle your favorite panels, or group of panels, fully open and then close them into icons. As in previous versions, you can customize the workspace and save any number of customized layouts for reuse in other projects. With the new Workspace button and drop-down menu, it is easy to use and manage all of your custom layouts.

Quick Apply

Now that you have all those improved special effects and new features to use in your content, you need a quick and easy way to organize and apply them. The new Quick Apply panel helps you find styles, commands, text variables and scripts with an easy-to-use search. Just type in the first few letters for your search and the panel will display all matches. Of course, you have a lot of control over the search criteria and can even save searches to be used again.

Collaboration

When collaborating on a project, it doesn't take long before you need a way to keep everyone's "mini projects" organized within the main project. One improvement in the collaboration process is how much easier it is to place one InDesign file within another "master" file. Another is the new rules-processing engine. Developers can create conditional rules using JavaScript, AppleScript and VBScript which will control the formatting and layout of your project. As new parts of the project are imported, these rules are applied keeping format and layout consistent. This feature works much like CSS by allowing developers to keep all the style formatting for a project in one location.

Formatting

Those of you who use tables and lists in your InDesign projects will be glad to know that you will have more control over styles applied to the entire table and its individual parts. In the Table Styles panel, you can create complex, customized styles to format content and save these styles for reuse. You can do the same for numbered and bulleted lists within the Paragraph Styles panel.

Another way to ease reformatting is the improved grep pattern-based Find/Change search feature that can be used on one document or across several documents. You have control over the scope of the search and even complex search criteria can be reduced into a one-step search. Of course, you can then save and reuse your customized search patterns.

The new text variable feature is a powerful way to maintain consistency throughout even the largest project. By using predesigned, customizable text variables for repeated elements such as headers and product names, you can control the styles, usage and other options for these common elements. You can even create you own text variables.




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