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InDesign CC and the New Cloud Future. Long Live the Cloud?
Iain Anderson on Wed, November 6th 0 comments
Ever since the announcement about Creative Cloud from Adobe their service has been under scrutiny. Iain Anderson takes a look at how this has and may still affect InDesign users in the long term.

You may have heard about the announcement from Adobe: Creative Suite is dead. Long live Creative Cloud! If you were a fan of perpetual licenses — buying software outright rather than renting it monthly — then you probably won’t be pleased by Adobe’s recent discontinuation of their standalone boxed and downloadable products. You’ll still be able to buy CS6, but there will be no CS7; it’s Creative Cloud all the way from this point.

For some, this is fine. A working professional who regularly makes use of the latest software features will probably be better off on a subscription, at around $50/month. However, a more casual user who would only purchase Creative Suite once every 2 or 3 releases is less likely to be pleased by the new arrangement. There are discounts available for students and teachers (~$20/month), and current CS3/4/5/6 owners ($30/month for the first year), which is positive.

Overseas pricing has varied quite a bit, even after you account for local taxes not typically included in the US pricing. A recent inquiry in Australia saw prices fall here, and it remains to be seen if prices elsewhere will shift as well. And if you cease your subscription, of course you can’t open your files any more, which certainly makes some users uncomfortable.

Aside from all that, there are new features to look at. Here, we’ll look at the new InDesign CC — effectively the CS7 that will never be, for Creative Cloud subscribers only.


Decarbonized

This isn’t really a visible feature, but it took a lot of time and effort. The Carbon framework has been exchanged for the newer Cocoa framework, meaning that InDesign will continue to work on newer versions of OS X. It’s important, as Carbon has been deprecated and will eventually cease to function. Adobe had to make this change, and though it took a lot of effort, it hasn’t made much difference to the features. Some functions are a little snappier, and we may see further optimizations down the line.


Dark

The interface has gained the new darker look that Photoshop and Illustrator took on with CS6. If you hate it, you can dial it back to a lighter look, just like in Illustrator CS6.

If you don’t love the dark, dial it back to light [dark]

The icons have also been redesigned to coordinate with the flexible new interface, and you’ll see a few subtle shifts and refinements. This is part of the larger UI rework, to allow…


Retina support

On a new MacBook Pro — and presumably future desktop Macs when the technology arrives — you can finally enjoy InDesign in full Retina glory. It’s amazing to finally see a screen layout that looks better than the printed page. All the vectors and all the text look perfectly smooth and sharp, as do any placed images (in High Quality mode, of course).

My kids book (free on the App Store now!) with tiny, tiny hairlines.

My kids book (free on the App Store now!) with tiny, tiny hairlines.


It’s a huge deal for page layout, in no small part because hairlines (selection outlines, guides, margins etc.) are now much thinner. You can focus more on the layout with full access to handles and everything else, and Preview mode (W) looks just great.


Font Menu improvements

Nice to see an update to something you’ll probably use regularly. The font menu now allows you to mark fonts as favorites (stars on the left) then optionally view only those fonts. If you’re drowning in fonts, as many of us do, then this could be a lifeline.

All these fonts are active by default these days? Yipes!

All these fonts are active by default these days? Yipes!


EPUB Improvements

EPUB export has improved in many ways, including the ability to embed fonts for viewing in iBooks, better Table of Contents support, and improved CSS exporting. If you’re an EPUB fan, this will be right up your alley.

EPUB exporting has some improvements hidden away in the Advanced section here.

EPUB exporting has some improvements hidden away in the Advanced section here.


QR Codes

Love or hate QR codes, those pesky clients tend to request them, and now InDesign can generate them for you.

Scan the QR code to reveal an interesting page!

Scan the QR code to reveal an interesting page!


Lots of options for creating square barcodes that map to a URL, a business card, and more, in any color you wish.


Page Previews

There’s new page preview option in the New Document dialog, allowing you to see just what you’re creating before you press OK.

See your new document behind the dialog you’re creating it with.

See your new document behind the dialog you’re creating it with.


If you’ve ever accidentally created a document with Facing Pages when you didn’t want them, or forgotten Bleed when you needed it, this will be a big time saver.


Exchange Panel

A place to find new plug-ins, add-ons and scripts, Adobe Exchange has existed in web form for a while, but this new in-app panel makes it much more accessible. You can use it to discover new utilities that could make your life easier. InDesign remains as scriptable as ever (still in both Javascript and AppleScript on the Mac) and if you’ve ever found yourself doing a boring, repetitive job, you might just find a way to let InDesign do it for you.

The Exchange Panel lets you find new plug-ins, add-ons and scripts easily.

The Exchange Panel lets you find new plug-ins, add-ons and scripts easily.


Conclusion

In feature terms, this is a minor update to InDesign. No new tools and only a few new features. But that’s the tradeoff for the under-hood improvements. By spending time revising the underlying code, Adobe can ensure that InDesign will continue to work on future Macs — they had to do it. I’m glad they managed to sneak in a few small improvements on the side.

For those on the Creative Cloud already, here’s your promised reward: up-to-date software more regularly (closer to 12 month cycles) than before (roughly 18 months). If you’ve just bought CS6, and don’t have a Retina Mac, then you probably won’t be missing out too much by skipping this release at least. Looking at the longer term gives slightly different results, though.

If you’re not on Creative Cloud and don’t want to be — unfortunately, you’re now on borrowed time. At some point in the future, your new Mac will not run InDesign CS6 and you’ll have to subscribe. If the new policy isn’t to your liking, tell Adobe, because they don’t really have much competition in this space. Time will tell if the push to the cloud sticks, but for me, and I suspect many other professionals, it’s worth the shift. Not too pricey, not too scary, and the Retina-sized pixels are just right.


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