Friday, June 18, 2004

InDesign - the love story

So I got my hands on InDesign last week - for anyone that don't know this is Adobe's version of Quark, the industry standard programme for designers and journalists. There's a big debate going on about whether InDesign will take over Quark in the end, fierce fights between those who love Quark's simplicity and those for whom Quark has thwarted their style ambitions just once too often.

I thought I'd share my impressions sometime, and this seems like the right time. Because at this moment, we've fallen out. InDesign is a tease.

It wasn't easy from the start - insisting that I delete most of my hard drive to run the trial version, but eventually we got to the impressive installation presentation: everything that InDesign can do. I nearly cried as it told of importing tables, thinking back to long nights spent tortuously putting sports tables onto Quark pages which could have been spent asleep. The butterfly logo suggested fabulous colours and flirtations with whole new worlds. The first thing I tried to do was open a Quark page - it worked! - and it looked fabulous. Fonts are rendered (if, indeed, I mean rendered) as they will look on the printout so it really does look like you're crafting your printed product on screen. I did some cool things, spinning text boxes and playing with wierd colour effects.

But then I tried to do some work. Real work. And it didn't like it. Much as it looks like Photoshop, not all the commands are the same so little things like changing colours were excruciating. Like a stilted conversation after a good first date, I felt deflated. But it got better. We worked together finding solutions to some of the things I actually needed to do, and discovered some good things about InDesign:

- you can use the paintdropper tool to choose the sort of text you want to use if it appears elsewhere on the page. Clever.
- you can turn your work into a webpage very easily and it looks lovely.
- transparent photos!
- importing tables is easy and works very well. You can also import all sorts of other things such as word documents, which will come out looking like they did in word rather than defaulting to some other text
- you can zoom in really really far. This has no real advantage in itself but Times New Roman really looks good close up.

That's about as much as I've discovered so far, mainly because it takes hours to load up, crashes my mac often and throws little fits every now and again, paralysing us both. It wants all your attention, just turning away for a moment to check your email is enough to send it into frenzied rage. InDesign wants more power that I can offer it hence the awkward little glitches that stop you from doing basic things one minute when it's quite happy to do it the next. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

We could do great things together, me and InDesign. We may not be speaking at the moment, but I don't think I'll be able to resist it for long.


John Fitzgerald said...

Hi Clare,

A great blog! On the Indesign- Quaker News has just switched, and I'll soon be starting my first issue in Indesign- wish me luck!!


Clare White said...

Haven't revisited this post in a while! Indesign is much nicer these days, though I guess you'll be using it on a PC which is never as nice... good luck!