Adobe InDesign CS5 represents a major step forward in usability and adds substantial new features for creating and exporting interactive documents and eBooks.
If you’re a longtime InDesign user, you’ll appreciate Adobe’s focus on making this version more efficient for common tasks. For example, you can now use the Selection tool to make common adjustments to page objects such as aligning, distributing, rotating, resizing, repositioning, cropping, and scaling frames and frame content. Previously, these tasks required switching tools. It’s now easier to select objects within groups, apply rounded corners to frames and adjust their radius, and so on. And at last, a new Auto-Fit feature keeps the relationship between an object and its frame consistent as you resize the frame.
Beginners, or even seasoned users who are new to using a specific tool, will appreciate the new Tool Hints panel, which tells you the basic function of each tool and how the tool’s behavior will change if you hold down modifier keys.
As you might expect, Adobe also added completely new features—features that may change the way you work. For example, when laying out pages you can now have multiple page sizes in one document. Not only is this more convenient than keeping several document files for one project but it also makes it much easier to maintain consistency across those documents (in spelling, styles, colors, etc.).
The Layers panel has been completely redesigned, now functioning much like the ones in Photoshop and Illustrator—you can create Layer groups, select all the objects on a layer, move objects from one layer to another, and so on.
Producing text-heavy documents is much easier in InDesign CS5. Paragraphs may now span multiple columns in a text frame, a terrific help for headlines and subheads. InDesign can now automatically balance columns of text for you and keep them balanced as you edit the text. And InDesign now tracks changes to text, by user, and lets you use the Story Editor to accept or reject changes. (This feature also integrates with Adobe InCopy!)
There are also new tricks for laying out pages: You can drag out a grid of picture frames or threaded text frames and adjust the number of rows and columns on the fly. The new Gap tool lets you drag the white space between multiple objects to adjust their spacing and size. And InDesign can now create and format captions for graphic frames, based on the metadata in the graphic file.
Adobe Bridge, which is included with InDesign, has also been enhanced. It now lets you preview individual pages within an InDesign document, browse its assets, convert InDesign pages to JPEG, output to PDF with watermarks, and rename files in batches. And the new Mini Bridge panel lets you work with Bridge assets directly within InDesign.