Into the bowels of hell with InDesign

Hands-bound-by-cord-462x346Before we begin it’s important to categorically state that what I contribute here is a personal opinion. Not a review. Not a judgement on behalf of PC Pro the brand. They’re good people. They know stuff. Here’s what I know: every single day I work with InDesign is a living hell.

Into the bowels of hell with InDesign

This is partially my fault. I use it for one week a month without any sort of training whatsoever. What I know about InDesign I’ve picked up through bloody minded necessity. A former technology journalist, I’m now a travel writer by trade, happiest knocking out Word docs and editing photos in Photoshop. InDesign is my life’s third wheel, and I hate every single moment I’m strapped to its rim.

I hate the way it lumbers across my machine, dragging its toolkit of horrific torture icons behind it. Do you want this pointer, or this other basically identical pointer? Tell you what; while you mull it over I’ll have a little crash, see how that goes.

When InDesign crashes it puts its fists through my entire desktop, and jumps up and down on the pieces

That’s another thing: I hate how spitefully it crashes. When Word crashes, it does so whimsically. It stops to have a little think then decides the best course of action going forward is to just not work anymore. So it stops, like a footballer asked to count beyond ten. When Word crashes, I half imagine it ambling off the edge of a cliff, whistling a jaunty tune, my words falling out of its pockets like confetti.

Yes that infuriates me, but there’s an honest incompetence to it that comforts me. It’s not personal, it’s bad breeding. Word is a dribbling idiot you entrusted with your car keys. When InDesign crashes it puts its fists through my entire desktop, and jumps up and down on the pieces. Admittedly, everything comes back, everything’s saved, but I wouldn’t need a parachute if the plane would just stay in the air.

Aha, you say: but isn’t it brilliantly flexible, isn’t an amazing content creation tool? Yes it is. I admit that. But it’s just too fiddly. Too clicky. Too misery inducing. Just when I think I’ve got the hang of something, it goes mad. Nine times out of ten the dropper tool formats my words perfectly. But it’s the tenth time, when it decides the paragraphs should be at either end of the screen, bubblegum pink in a size 30 font. Imagine waking up tomorrow in a world where you couldn’t grasp the door handle anymore, and when you did you found yourself walking on the ceiling with anvils for ears. This is my life with InDesign.

I swear, come to my office on the right day and you’ll find me gripping the edges of my monitor, begging InDesign to finish creating the PDF before crashing my machine, just wishing I had a digital altar to lay my firstborn across. Somewhere along the line I’ve become a servant to the software that was supposed to make my life easier. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m afraid. The truth is that I don’t hate InDesign, I hate what I’m becoming because of it.

So what about you lot? Any software making your life miserable? Come, share, lament. We’re all friends here. Unless you don’t like Scrivener, of course. If that’s the case I might have to set InDesign on you.

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