Adobe InDesign 2.0

$699, $149 upgrade from previous versions of InDesign
Licensed PageMaker users may upgrade to InDesign for $299

After more than fifteen years of working with PageMaker, my once–amicable relationship with the original page layout application was beginning to wear thin. PageMaker 7.0 was flaky running in Classic under OS X. Multiple insertion points would appear when I worked with text, scrolling around a page would send me flying to the far corners of the pasteboard, and attempting to create a PDF invariably resulted in a freeze and crash. Clearly, the program was not up to speed for the brave new world of fast processors and OS X. It was time to retire the old warhorse and move to its successor.

Enter InDesign 2.0, Adobe?s flagship page layout software. After experimenting with Adobe?s free 30-day try out CD-ROM, with its tutorials and instructional videos (fill out a form at Adobe?s web site to request it by mail), I was ready to take the plunge. John Maas kindly gave me a hands-on orientation, just as Harriett Johnson had introduced me to PageMaker 1.0 many years before. John?s orientation served mostly as a morale booster; once I spent a little time with InDesign 2.0, I was amazed at how easy it was to make the transition.

Adobe has put a lot of effort into designing a common interface for its applications so that tools, palettes, commands and keyboard shortcuts are the same across programs. If you use other Adobe products such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Acrobat, you?ll feel right at home in InDesign.

The interface is so sensible and intuitive to use, I sometimes find myself grinning with pleasure. Functions that were buried deep in PageMaker 7.0?s menus and sub-menus, such as changing the amount of space that precedes or follows a paragraph, are available at the click of a tab on the palettes that occupy the right edge of the work area. The Toolbox palette that floats on the left side of work area includes the eyedropper, gradient tool and Bezier pen tool along with tools for scaling and transforming objects. Best of all, there are two buttons at the bottom of the Toolbox that toggle between Normal View mode and Preview Mode. This hides guides, rulers and other non-printing items to give a glimpse of the finished page. Wow!

In the process of writing this review, I migrated the productionof Newsbreak from PageMaker 7 to InDesign 2.0. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well InDesign 2.0 retained the styles, layout and formatting from my PageMaker 7.0 template. If you?ve ever tried to recreate a page layout design in another application, you know what a chore that can be. Aside from hesitating at the ancient SUCO map graphic (which I was able to paste in without trouble), InDesign 2.0 imported the template and sample newsletter flawlessly. InDesign 2.0 is also able to open PageMaker 6.5 and Quark XPress 3.3-4.1x documents.

InDesign 2.0 offers a number of enhancements over the previous version of the application. Drop shadows, which used to require a trip to Photoshop to create, can now be made with a click in InDesign. See this newsletter?s book review page for samples of the drop shadow effect. Feathering, which softens the edge of an image and gives it a professional look, can also be applied and edited directly in InDesign 2.0. A new printing interface makes it easy to create custom page sizes, print thumbnails and make precise adjustments. And enhanced support for Portable Document (PDF) and web formats helps you to repurpose your work without having to recreate it. PDF creation works like a dream. Hooray!

InDesign 2.0 in a nutshell? I love it, and can?t imagine how I?ve managed without it. A bit of advice: if you?re still using PageMaker and have a Mac that supports InDesign 2.0, take advantage of the upgrade offer and make the switch now.

System Requirements: Power PC G3 or G4 processor, Mac OS 9.1, 9.2x, or Mac OS X v.10.1 or higher, 128 MB of RAM with virtual memory on, 220 MB or free hard-disk space, CD-ROM drive, 256 colors at 1,024x768 monitor resolution. For PostScript printers: Adobe PostScript level 2 or Adobe PostScript 3. Internet connection recommended.