InCopy CS2 full review

Because print publishing combines a complex set of coordinated tasks often performed by different people, workgroups of editors and designers typically rely on various techniques, such as appending file names with initials or draft version numbers, to indicate information about file status. But such manual methods may not be enough for some projects.

That’s why Adobe offers InCopy CS2, software that lets multiple users work on text in an InDesign CS2 layout. InCopy provides check-in services for individual articles as well as copy-editing support, such as tracking changes and flagging story length relative to a text frame.

With InDesign CS2, released earlier this year, Adobe has upgraded InCopy to support the new version. Outside of keeping up with new features implemented in InDesign CS2, such as anchored objects and drag-&-drop text editing, the new version of InCopy doesn’t have many more functions than the previous version.

Useful additions
InCopy CS2’s unique new features include the ability to replace text macros with full text (such as “MW” with “Macworld”) and to place graphics in empty frames, so editors can now add or replace icons, logos, and other images without bothering a designer. Another feature lets you create a new InCopy file with a user-defined text area (such as width and column depth) for copy fitting, so editors can make sure copy fits even before the designer has made the layout available. That’s nice.

InCopy also now lets you place text markers -essentially non-printing notes à la Adobe Acrobat comments - which is very handy for communication among editors.

Like its predecessors, InCopy CS2 includes both a standalone program and a set of plug-ins that brings the InCopy functions into InDesign, so designers can manage access to the layout’s stories by standalone InCopy users. (Only a copy of InDesign that has the InCopy plug-in installed can assign and manage stories.) Editors and copy editors then use the standalone InCopy software to work on individual stories. This allows multiple editors to work on different pieces of a layout simultaneously and prevents them from mangling the layout if they were to use InDesign instead. Note that InCopy’s performance is strongly affected by your network’s speed so remote users may find it frustratingly unresponsive.

Not always intuitive
InCopy can be difficult to understand, and the lack of a printed manual doesn’t help. (The PDF manual is a decent primer, if you’re willing to print it out or switch back and forth on screen.)

When you want to make a layout available to InCopy users from within InDesign, you first must indicate which stories are available (InCopy calls these assignments), a fairly laborious process requiring you to click inside each story in your document and add it to the Assignments palette. This exports separate files for each story. After that, a user can check out a story, which makes it unavailable to other users. Although you can automatically assign all stories in the document or in a layer, this results in lots of unnecessary folios and labels appearing in the Assignments palette. InCopy is not flexible enough to distinguish between these elements.

Changes to text are not dynamically reflected in the layout, so hypothetically, a designer could be resizing a text frame to accommodate a story length at the same time a copy editor is cutting text to fit the space. An editor must complete all copy changes, then check the story back in before the designer can see the changes. Moreover, that still requires the designer to specifically run the Update Content command. Adobe says its customers found dynamic updates to be potentially distracting, and decided not to provide them. Users can write scripts to do such updating.

Also, while the Assignments palette includes icons to show what stories are checked out and whether the text has changed, the icons are not at all intuitive, and I found it could take 10 to 15 seconds for both InCopy and InDesign to reflect any status changes.

InCopy CS2 works better when used to edit text than it does to manage assignments. You can straightforwardly edit in a layout view, story view, or galley view. The galley view shows all stories and lets you hide or show individual stories, while the story view shows just the story you’re working on. Both use InDesign’s Story Editor dialog box to edit text and apply styles. Editors will like the bold indicator at the bottom of the program window that shows whether a story is the right length for the space. InCopy can also highlight changes if you have revisions tracking turned on, and lets you accept or reject them, much like Microsoft Word does.

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