Adobe's New Year present to the world was to terminate PageMaker, the original program that gave rise to the expression ‘desktop publishing'. Previously touted as a business person's alternative to the new graphics-heavy world of page-layout programs, PageMaker 7.0 is finally giving way to its younger sibling, InDesign CS. To encourage the vast numbers of devoted PageMaker users to make the change, Adobe has developed a set of plug-ins to help make the transition less traumatic.
We say ‘developed', but a more accurate description might be ‘cobbled together'. These plug-ins do not make InDesign CS look or work like PageMaker; rather, they mimic a couple of features that PageMaker users might otherwise be aghast at losing. For example, InDesign CS doesn't offer any of the basic imposition features available when printing from PageMaker, so Adobe has thrown in a Special Edition (cut-down version) of ALAP's excellent InBooklet third-party plug-in. This lets you set up basic 2-up, 3-up and 4-up imposition flats with custom bleeds and crops. In another example, the Plug-In Pack includes a Data Merge palette that supports simple automated data-merging on the page, again something that PageMaker does but which InDesign CS alone doesn't.
There are a few patronising touches, such as the insertion of PageMaker's Crop tool (now called the Position tool) into the InDesign interface, and the availability of something similar to PageMaker's Office-like button bar. Our view is that InDesign has enough tools already, thank you - although we understand completely why InDesign's normal selection tools are baffling to most people. But that terrifyingly wide bar of microscopic, illegible buttons is awful: switch it off and leave it off.
Despite all this, we recommend every InDesign CS user buys the Plug-In Pack purely for the Bullets and Numbering plug-in. This automates bullets (use any glyph you like) and numbers (arabic, latin) for paragraphs or even just simple lists, and they can be saved within paragraph style sheets. You can customize the bullet/number size, the tab space, colour and more. InDesign users have been demanding this feature since version 1.0, and now here it is at last.
General newcomers to InDesign CS, not just PageMaker users, will also appreciate the CD-based training videos included in the Pack, while the InDesign program Help documentation has been rejigged slightly to suit PageMaker upgraders. Some of the other elements in the Pack are over- sold somewhat, such as the PageMaker keyboard shortcuts and Publication Converter, which appear to offer features that InDesign CS essentially supports already. The Template Browser is cute but some more templates wouldn't go amiss.
PageMaker users might appreciate the helping hand, but it isn't exactly a full-body massage. Then again, forget PageMaker: the Bullets and Numbers plug-in alone makes the Pack an essential purchase for every InDesign CS owner.