InCopy CS3 Review
InCopy CS3, released in conjunction with the rest of the CS3 suite but only available separately, includes a couple of important updates, but overall it is a minor upgrade from the previous version. However, for the first time, its plug-ins are installed by default in the host InDesign CS3 program, which is convenient. Most companies that use the InDesign/InCopy workflow will want this upgrade in order to maintain compatibility with the latest version of InDesign.
Enhanced remote collaboration
The most notable new feature in this release is the ability to e-mail Assignments via the Package commands in InCopy and InDesign. (assignments is Adobe’s term for one or more stories with a layout preview, which can be checked in or out for editing as a group). Using this feature means that for the first time, remote editors can participate in the InDesign/InCopy workflow without live access to the same local file server. (Previously only the purchase of expensive third-party plug-ins offered this feature.)
Instead of grey boxes, remote editors can see low-resolution previews of placed images in an Assignment even if the original image is missing from the layout (because it’s on the company’s server), since Assignments now carry this information by default. After the editor makes changes to the stories, they can package their Assignments for e-mailing to another remote editor or to return to the package to the designer. When the designer gets the package back, InDesign checks the stories back into the workflow automatically, and updates the changed stories in the layout.
A few other enhancements are easy to miss. For example, though you won’t see any visual clue indicating this addition, you can now rename assignments in the Assignments panel. Doing so doesn’t actually rename the files on the server but it’s useful because InDesign often uses arcane filenames when it exports stories to InCopy format. In addition, you can reorder stories in the Galley or Story views. It’s much easier to edit in these views (and to make sense of galley printouts) when the stories are in reading order. InDesign and InCopy save that order when you quit the programs. And, unchanged from previous versions, if you import a Microsoft Word file into InDesign and turn on Track Changes in the Import Options dialog box, InCopy users can see those tracked changes in the Story and Galley views. (And, unchanged from previous versions, InDesign users can’t see them.)
However, InCopy CS3 doesn't fix a flaw from previous versions in how it displays tracked changes from Microsoft Word: To see exactly which text was added by the Word user, InCopy editors must change the added text markup style in InCopy's Preferences. Even then, since Word users don't get assigned a User Colour (as all InCopy and InDesign users do), you can tell which Word user added or deleted text only if you have the Change Info panel open and the cursor in the tracked change. This lessens the value of importing Word's revision tracking.
Improved Workflow and Performance
Several new workflow features are available in InDesign as well. For example, when you move stories between assignments in InDesign, the program now automatically moves the story files to the new assignment’s folder. That makes it easier to keep related stories together, which is helpful for InCopy users who might open a specific story file directly rather than through the assignment file containing multiple stories and the layout context.
The speed hiccups in updating Assignment changes between InDesign and InCopy that I experienced in the CS2 version have also gone away with this new Universal version of the program. The rest of InCopy’s changes match new InDesign features, such as support for table styles, the revamped user interface, search and replace, bullet and numbering enhancements, and Text Variables.
If you use InCopy - even if you only work on-site (and so don’t need the new e-mail-based Assignments feature) - you’ll want to upgrade to CS3 at the same time that your colleagues in the design department move to InDesign CS3 for the sake of compatibility. Although you can open InDesign CS3 stories and assignments in InCopy CS2, any editing you do in InCopy CS2 could wipe out some of the new text formatting—not a risk you want to take.
If you’ve never used InCopy, the case for buying the CS3 version is less clear. It’s certainly cheaper to provide editors with their own copies of InCopy rather than InDesign—and the new e-mail packaging feature makes it a good option for remote editors. But if you haven’t adopted InCopy by now, chances are you have a production workflow that does the job without it. It may be time to rethink that workflow for other reasons, but not because of any new features in InCopy CS3.