Adobe Hits Up Publishers with Innovative InScope Product

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Book, magazine, and Web publishing businesses are moving closer to all-digital workflows, and Adobe Systems is jumping on that trend with both feet.

On Monday the company introduced Adobe InScope, an asset management/workflow tool meant to be the glue that allows four of its publishing products -- Photoshop 6.0, InDesign 1.5, InCopy 1.0, and GoLive 5.0 -- to interact with one another as a collaborative publishing system. InScope will be available through a systems integrator (that's right, a systems integrator) in September.

In other words, InScope is supposed to let different people working on a page layout or Web page to work on elements of that page at the same time -- and survive the experience with the page intact.

InScope looks promising for publishing outlets. But at $1,250 per seat -- plus the systems integrator that businesses must hire to get started with InScope -- you can bet that only the most well-heeled and established of the publishing crowd will be adopting Adobe InScope anytime soon. Time Inc.'s Fortune magazine is an early adopter.

The mention of GoLive, Adobe's Web-development package, should make you think: InScope can take InDesign page layouts that were meant for print and with minimal hassle, repurpose them for the Web via GoLive. That's something that many publishers have been waiting for.

InScope and Quark Publishing System (QPS) both center around this work model: Users check text and graphics in and out to work on them. Page layouts are then updated via page-layout software -- in this case, InDesign or QuarkXPress. The key difference between the two tools is the target medium of the final product: QPS is best suited to print product, whereas InScope has a print-to-Web capability.

QPS, which Quark recently farmed out to Modulo Systems for development and distribution, hasn't seen a major revision for a while. In its absence, Adobe seems to have seized a new spot in that niche with InScope.

However, the InScope interface and architecture is very different from that of QPS. InScope's foundation is the WebDAV protocol, a common set of recommendations for tools that help people collaborate over the Internet.

On one end, an InScope server takes information from Photoshop 6.0, InDesign 1.5, InCopy 1.0, and GoLive 5.0 and makes it available to people in disparate departments of a publishing operation. On the other end of a networked connection, users access InScope via one of two different interfaces: (1) a Web interface based on Apple's WebObjects, which a manager uses to monitor the progression of elements attached to each layout or Web page, and (2) an interface for art directors or editors that remains in the background of one of the applications in use until InScope is invoked.

InScope isn't yet accessible to smaller publishing businesses due to its high cost. But it looks like it will help Adobe stake a claim in collaborative publishing.

Jennifer Berger is an associate editor at

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