InCopy CS4 review

Adobe’s latest version of InCopy, the companion program to InDesign that lets writers and editors work on a document concurrently with the designer, offers a host of significant new features and enhancements. Chief among them are expanded support for table editing, the ability to create dynamic cross-references, and a conditional-text feature that lets InCopy users work on different versions of the same document for different audiences from within the same InDesign file.

Although part of Adobe’s Creative Suite 4, you have to buy InCopy separately. While InCopy integrates closely with InDesign to create a collaborative publishing workflow, writers and editors can also use it by itself to create standalone (.icml) documents independent of an InDesign layout. To take advantage of this release’s new features, however, you’ll need to use the InCopy-InDesign workflow, in which the designer and the wordsmiths work on a layout in tandem.

Expanded table editing

Editors, who until now have been able to edit a table’s contents only in Layout view, will cheer at InCopy CS4’s new support for editing tables in Story and Galley views. This capability means that editors can also now track their changes to table contents in those views, and more easily communicate with colleagues by adding notes within individual table cells. No more having to print out tables to mark edits on the hard copy.

In Story and Galley views, each cell in a table row appears on its own line. You can click a disclosure triangle to toggle the display of table rows on and off in these two views for readability.

Enhanced productivity

A new hyperlink feature lets you quickly add links to text on-the-fly via the new Hyperlinks panel. You can link to other pages in a long document, to external files, or to web URLs. You can then test the link from within InCopy.

The Hyperlinks panel is also home to the new Cross-References pane. This feature makes it easier for you to work on long documents and easier for your readers to navigate them. For example, if you add a cross-reference to a different chapter in your document and later change the chapter’s title or its page number, the cross-reference will update automatically.

InCopy CS4 supports the conditional-text feature introduced in InDesign CS4. For managed InCopy files – that is, InCopy stories that are attached to an InDesign layout – the designer must first create the conditions in the InDesign layout before the InCopy user can apply them to specific text. In a standalone InCopy document, you can both create and apply conditions – when the .icml file containing the conditions is placed in the InDesign layout, the conditions are added to the Conditional Text panel. So, for example, if you were creating a manual for Mac and PC users, you could create one condition that would display the Ctrl key for PC users and another that would display the c key for Mac users. Previously, the designer would have had to either create two files or place the two versions on different layers.

Interface updates

Several interface enhancements streamline the InCopy work process. The Application frame (the default view in the Windows version) encloses all the InCopy documents and panels within a single window to block out background distractions, making your workspace easier to see and work in. The Application bar is new. Using the Application bar’s accessible control buttons, you can quickly modify the document view and switch among a slew of commands to arrange multiple open documents. You can also use the bar’s Workspace Switcher pull-down menu to select from a number of task-specific workspaces.

Another nice addition to the interface is support for tabbed documents. Similar to the way many browsers let you neatly organise windows into tabs, InCopy’s tabbed-documents feature makes managing multiple files easier.

Other notable additions include the ability to create standalone InCopy documents consisting of single-page spreads rather than the previous version’s default two-page spreads, and the ability to work with rotated spreads for easier editing. This is handy if you have to edit photo credits, which typically appear vertically.

OUR VERDICT

The ability to edit and track changes in tables alone makes InCopy CS4 worth serious consideration by anyone who works with tables. Add to that the conditional-text and cross-reference features, a more powerful Links panel, and a variety of interface enhancements, and InCopy CS4 is a tempting upgrade. If your workgroup makes the move to InDesign CS4, you’ll want to upgrade to InCopy CS4 to maintain compatibility and take advantage of all the new features.

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