InDesign CS2 full review

After InDesign’s release in 1999, half the design world heaved a sigh of relief – finally, a viable DTP tool other than the buggy QuarkXPress. The other half shook their heads and declared that it’d never catch on.

Six years on, and InDesign CS2 (the fourth incarnation of the product) is about to hit the shelves. We got our hands on a beta copy – and are glad we did, because it knocked our socks off.

Perhaps the most important new development in InDesign CS2 is the addition of Object Styles – stylesheets for applying and globally updating object-level formatting. In English, this means no more late-night hair-tearing after a client asks you to change each of the 200 boxes you’ve designed him to a different style – simply edit the object style that’s applied to the boxes, and voilà – you get a good night’s kip.

Snippets, likewise, make style-based page creation a cinch. Drag single objects or groups of objects (which can be a mix of geometry, images and text) from the Bridge onto the InDesign page, and they appear in exactly the right place. This makes it much easier to try alternative layouts or choose between images in context on the page – keeping the creativity flowing.

Spell-checking has received a dose of steroids. Where once adding a word to the custom dictionary required a trip to a contextual menu, opening a dialog box, clicking Add to open another dialog, and then clicking OK, now it’s a simple matter of right-clicking and choosing Add to User Dictionary.

InDesign CS2 also includes Microsoft Word-style dynamic spelling and grammar flagging for on-the-fly checks. And, thank goodness, there’s finally a decent import filter for Word documents – letting you specify style-sheet overrides before the text has been placed on the document. Save the style map as a preset and you can use it over and over again – layout subs rejoice.

Adobe has also beefed up PSD and PDF import. Users can now toggle layers and comps on and off in native Photoshop documents, and also specify which pages to import from multi-page PDFs. It’s great to be able to select a PDF, then simply click on a series of frames on the page to import each page sequentially.

Styles have been put on steroids, too – pages can now be styled with a single click. The secret? The Next Style command. Each style has a Next Style assigned to it during setup – so, for example, “Letters heading text” is assigned the body text style as its Next Style. Body text has the correspondent’s name, and so on. Therefore, selecting the letter title, right-clicking the “Letter heading text” style and choosing Apply “Letter heading text” then Next Style results in a new page of styled text.

Before InDesign CS2, you were about as likely to achieve consistent colour between applications as you were to find Lord Lucan. However, courtesy of Adobe Bridge, InDesign can take advantage of a central preset – the colours will look the same on-screen across all the tools in the Creative Suite.

The Suite also offers shared colour swatches for migrating custom, job-specific palettes between applications; automatic conversion of RGB images to CMYK when exporting to PDF; and customized on-screen appearance of blacks (making them appear darker in CS2, thus preserving relative tonal values, but not affecting CMYK output).

Add to this new Transform commands, a revamped pathfinder, multi-page export to JPEG, the ability to align text towards or away from a document’s spine and lock column guides separately from ruler guides, PageMaker functionality, footnote support and drag-&-drop text and more, and the upgrade becomes more and more of a no-brainer.

Adobe Bridge

Bridge is Creative Suite 2’s biggest new feature. It’s a replacement for Photoshop’s File Browser, is accessible from within Photoshop and is available from all the CS2 apps – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and GoLive – as well as being available independently.

The Bridge Center is the dashboard for a creative workflow. It displays recently opened folders and files, and provides the starting point for designers to browse, locate and preview their assets.

Thanks to support for metadata, designers can add information to a file and view that information in Bridge without having to open the file. Metadata can include everything from digital image-capture information such as ISO speed and aperture value to GPS data.

Bridge also features a stock-image search. Acquiring Stock photography has historically been a tedious task involving time-consuming Web searching and dealings with several agencies on a single project. Enter Adobe Stock Photos, a feature in CS2 that makes this process far more convenient, providing one-stop shopping for high-quality, royalty-free stock images. Stock Photos, is accessible from within Bridge, in the Favorites panel.

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