InDesign is arguably one of the most powerful applications in the Creative Cloud and that is saying something when you consider some of its sister applications. If you have never used InDesign, it can be difficult to summarize because it does so many different tasks and most of them well. All in all, it is a desktop publishing system that can professionally produce brochures, magazines, newspapers, flyers, posters and books for print or online. For a little history, ala Wikipedia, InDesign was the successor to Adobe PageMaker which was being eclipsed by QuarkXPress at the time. In fact "Quark stated its intention to buy out Adobe and divest the combined company of PageMaker to avoid anti-trust issues." Well, we all know how THAT turned out so let's take a look at the application that won back a large share of the desktop publishing market.
Whether you write, edit, layout or all three, Adobe's InDesign is like a super hero's multi-function utility belt. Need a brochure... BOOM. A flyer... BAM. How about a multi-color magazine cover... BANG! It's all there in the same utility belt and we've only gone through a few pockets. If it's print you need... even digital version and tablet ready then InDesign can take you by the hand to create your own or you can do it your way if you are an old pro in desktop publishing.
When you open InDesign, you see the familiar Adobe interface scheme. Toolbars on top and left, menus on top and right. New users might benefit from downloading some of the free or commercial templates out there if you are looking for something specific like a magazine or brochure. I found some nice templates at stockindesign.com by Erick Ragas. These templates were used as the basis to test InDesign for this review. They were well laid out and easy to manipulate and customize. Like other Adobe applications, you can click, double click or select items to be edited including colors and layout. If you've never done desktop publishing before then templates can save you a lot of frustration.
The new document popup dialog allows you to choose from Print. The web or Digital Publishing is your initial document setup. This dialog is your typical page setup with size, columns, margins and it includes blood and slug. From here, you see the blank document with visual guides for columns and print area. If you need to setup a newspaper or newsletter-style publication, then select the number of columns the situation calls for and you have an instant multi-column publication. With the basis of the publication setup, you can now concentrate on other aspects such as text and image layout, quote boxes or sidebars. Drag out text boxes and images that can be moved around within the publication make layout a snap. Don't like that image on the left? Why not drag it to the right? Want an overlay? No problem-- just bring it forward. Publication layout is only limited to the imagination of the designer.
One plus this author likes is the ability to change options like main colors with a global effect over the entire publication in a single change. Properly setup templates can provide this when new to an application. As I am not a frequent user of this product template, it can get me ahead of the game quickly instead of being mired in the technicalities of creating the publication from scratch. The StockInDesign templates seemed to be laid out particularly well in regards to making minimal changes with maximum effect over the entire publication. The tools of InDesign lend themselves well to the mundane and repetitive tasks involved in publishing.
Looking into some of the features, one can immediately spot a major plus in using tables with images. When an image is placed into a table, that cell will-- in all aspects-- become an image frame with all frame and fitting options applicable, which will make it much easier to combine images and text in a table. Another neat little feature is paragraph shading, which just as it implies shades paragraphs in color and within non-rectangular text frames too.
Creative Cloud Libraries
Let's take a look at a feature Adobe has updated and seems to be just what a lot of digital artists can use... an online repository of assets called Creative Cloud Libraries (CCL). According to Adobe, the CCL is a central location for all types of assets created with Creative Cloud titles and other applications. This includes desktop and mobile applications and appears to be able to function as an online artist morgue, where you can dump anything that inspires you or assets to help create that next project. The CCL is designed "to provide a mechanism to capture design assets from a variety of apps and not limited to desktop applications." Every digital artist could benefit from maintaining a morgue and the Creative Cloud Libraries may be the place to start.
Creative Cloud Market
From Adobe's Creative Cloud Help - Creative Cloud Market is a collection of high-quality, curated content for creatives by creatives, available to all paid Creative Cloud members-- except photography plan customers. Creative Cloud members can access assets from Market for free on both desktop and mobile (via Creative Cloud connected apps), choosing from an incredible selection of vector graphics, icons, patterns, UI kits, and more. Creative Cloud subscribers can download up to 500 unique, royalty-free assets each month. This powerful new service allows you to seamlessly find assets to build upon, manipulate, and modify to jumpstart your creative process.
Creative Cloud Market categories include vector shapes, icons, for placement, user interface, patterns, and brushes.
A commercial service provides "..millions of high-quality, royalty-free photos, illustrations and graphics." According to the Adobe website, Adobe Stock can be used in applications supporting Creative Cloud Libraries and other design and authoring apps. This is not a freebie as plans start at $29 per month for 10 images for existing Creative Cloud users and at $49 per month for 10 images with a rollover of up to 120 images. There is also a $199 annual, ($249 if paid monthly) plan for 750 images per month. Watermarked images can be dragged into the layout for review before purchasing.
Publish Online - Available in North America and the UK only.
This service purports to be a new technology preview for CC members. It appears to be "a create once, publish anywhere" type of service that "with one click you can publish a digital version that works on all devices, in any modern browser, without the need to install a plugin." Adobe goes on to say "Just provide the document URL to anyone to view the document in a beautiful, yet simple, online reading experience, on any device, and on any platform. You can even share the online document in Facebook." This allows the creation of a richer user experience that can include interactive buttons, slideshows, animation, audio and video using the interactive features of InDesign.
All in all, there is quite a bit to like about InDesign. With a customizable workspace, you can create a publishing environment for a wide variety of tastes and styles along with an even wider variety of uses. So, if you are needing to publish anything from a brochure to a book, then you would be well served to give the latest version of InDesign a test run.