Adobe talks: InDesign

Adobe InDesign marks its five-year anniversary with the release of the latest version included with Creative Suite 2. While InDesign is already the product of choice for many companies and designers, Adobe isn’t resting on its laurels. Adobe said they still have a lot of opportunities to explore, including a new InDesign Server.

When the software giant first released InDesign they found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being second in the marketplace—in the page layout market—that meant second to Quark. Instead of touting the features of the first version, the Adobe marketing engine remained relatively silent, while in the background teams worked hard converting print service providers to accept InDesign layouts and PDF documents.

“One of the things we learned was that it’s not just about having a superior product; it’s really about the ecosystem,” InDesign product manager, Chad Siegel, told MacCentral. “It was about training and service providers being able to output and understand the files—we have made a significant investment in the infrastructure of the publishing industry.”

That work, said Siegel, is ongoing as Adobe broadens its attention to include design schools that are teaching tomorrows workforce and working with the IT departments in large companies. With large organizations using complex workflows, Adobe said they are actually focusing on what it takes to deploy the application to make it the most effective for them.

Thanks to Quark and Mac OS X

There are two things that Adobe said really helped the adoption of InDesign throughout its product life—the first was Mac OS X. Adobe was quick to support OS X with its entire product line, including InDesign, which gave users that wanted to make the switch to OS X a page layout product to migrate to, explained Adobe.

Ironically, the second component that helped InDesign was Quark, according to Adobe. Quark was not as quick bringing QuarkXPress to Mac OS X, which left the market open to competitors.

“One of the big catalysts for the Adoption of InDesign was Mac OS X,” said Siegel. “Quark didn’t have an OS X version before [version] 6 and the market was waiting to see what was going to come out. When Quark did come out with their OS X product it was a pretty easy comparison to see which product had the features the people needed.”

InDesign still evolving

The notion of who InDesign is meant to serve is still evolving, changing as the market changes, according to Adobe. In the last release the company wanted to give users more control over creativity instead of having to rely on other applications.

There are, of course, situations where users need another application for creative work. This, says Adobe, is where they thought about what it means to be a piece of Creative Suite and how integration affects their customers.

Many of the included features of InDesign are possible only because of the integration worked on by the separate product teams that make up Adobe’s Creative Suite. Working with InDesign customers is the other major factor that determines what the team will work on, explained Siegel.

“We are always talking to customers to understand what problems they are facing and what workflow challenges they have,” said Siegel. “We generally don‘t develop our features in isolation, what we try to do is map them to a real customer problem.”

One major request that Adobe receives on a regular basis is the ability to migrate from QuarkXPress. While InDesign can open Quark files before version 5, InDesign will not open files authored with newer versions—Adobe does, however, offer tips on its Web site for users that wish to make the switch.

“It is our understanding that their file format is encrypted and we will not reverse engineer that encryption to get at the content,” said Siegel. “Essentially our hands are tied—that’s why we don’t provide that ability.”

InDesign Server on the way

As yet announced, Siegel said Adobe is working on a new project for InDesign users—The InDesign Server CS2. The server is a new technology platform for third-party systems integrators and developers to build design-driven, server-based publishing solutions, according to the company.

The server technology will enable Adobe partners to provide new levels of automation and efficiency in high-end editorial workflows, collateral creation, Web-based design solutions and variable data publishing.

“There is still a long way to go and there are a lot of cool opportunities for us in the future,” said Siegel.

This story, "Adobe talks: InDesign" was originally published by PCWorld.

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