Adobe InDesign CS5 review

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Adobe InDesign is generally seen as having won the professional publishing crown, but the war isn’t over. Not long after the release of CS4, QuarkXPress 8 outflanked InDesign with its impressive productivity enhancements and embarrassingly superior Flash output.

InDesign CS5 is Adobe’s response, and it immediately closes down a major weakness by allowing you to mix and match page sizes within a publication. Adobe adds an unnecessary and confusing Page tool in the process, but the size can at least now be set from the dropdown on the Pages panel.

More welcome is the improved handling of the elements that make up each page. The Layers panel now shows an Illustrator-style hierarchical view of objects, which makes it easier to hide and lock individual elements. It also makes it easier to re-order elements and add objects to existing groups. Best of all, you can isolate the components in a group, without having to ungroup them first.

Adobe InDesign CS5

The most eye-catching new feature is the way placed graphics are handled. The new Mini-Bridge panel lets you browse and select files by thumbnail, drag multiple files onto the page, and place items in a grid, simply by hitting the left and right arrow keys to create columns and rows. Once placed, you can refine a grid using the Gap tool, which updates multiple frames simultaneously by modifying the white space between them.

InDesign’s long-standing range of fitting options and keyboard modifiers lives on, but in a similar vein to the Gap tool you can simplify matters with the Auto-Fit setting, ensuring that content resizes along with its frame. CS5 also adds a basic on-picture Content Grabber widget for repositioning.

Further refinements to frame handling include the ability to set corner effects directly on the frame itself and to handle each corner separately. You can generate and automatically position captions, including data pulled directly from the image file itself, and each caption can be live, so when you change the image it automatically updates.

In terms of text layout, you can now create a grid of multiple text frames using the cursor keys, and span and split columns. The latter can be applied on a style or per paragraph basis, and text can span its own column, all columns or a set number of columns. Even more impressive is the ability to split text within the current column.


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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