InDesign CS 5.5 Announced: New Features, Subscription Pricing
Adobe today announced a significant release of InDesign and the Creative Suite, dubbed 5.5! While there is a little for everyone -- there's one or two features that will excite every CS5 user -- how much you'll want 5.5 directly correlates to how much work you do with interactive documents (EPUB, DPS, HTML, and accessible PDF files).
[Note that we'll be seeing more detailed information about InDesign CS5.5 in this week's InDesign Magazine, and in future blog posts on individual features. But we wanted to give you a quick overview now.]
Until now, if you wanted to specify an order for your stories -- that is, headline first, subhead next, then story, and so on -- you had to either put everything in the same text thread or use the Structure Pane (which was designed for XML and is difficult to master). Order is particularly important when trying to export EPUB, XHTML, or accessible PDFs, but can be important at other times, too. Now, in CS5.5, you can set a story's order in the new Articles panel. An article can combine multiple text and graphic frames, and then allows you to rearrange their order.
Have some text that shows up looking the same in 15 different places in your document? You can now duplicate a story and link the duplicate to the original, like a clone. Change the "parent" text and the "child" text changes, too. Linked text is not technically new; you've been able to link to Word and Excel docs for many years (by turning on a checkbox in the Preferences dialog box). But the ability now to link from one story to another inside the same document is novel. Note that you cannot change the formatting or the text in the "child/clone." Well, actually, you can, but if you later change the parent and then click Update in the Links panel, any changes you've made to the child are wiped out -- again, just the same as it has always worked in linked Word docs.
There's no doubt that linked stories could be very helpful for some people, but most people will likely end up ignoring this feature unless Adobe makes it more robust.
Export Tagging is a new option at the bottom of both the Paragraph Style Options and Character Style Options dialog boxes. It lets you override how InDesign maps your InDesign-styled text to CSS styles and HTML or Tagged PDF markup. For paragraph styles, you can choose to map the style to a Header tag (h1-h6); for character styles, you can choose from span, em, and strong. In either case, you can click inside the Tag field and manually enter a completely different tag that you want InDesign to use for that style.
In the example above, we're editing a paragraph style called "Pullquote." InDesign's default behavior (what you get if you leave the Tag field set to [Automatic]) is no different than before -- the paragraph will be formatted as a regular paragraph with the style name as a class attribute: <p class="Pullquote"> in the exported EPUB/HTML file. Now with CS5.5 we could change that. For example, we might want to manually enter the HTML element "blockquote" in the Tag field. Another nice feature is that the Class field is also editable. By default, it's the same name as the character or paragraph style you're editing, but you can always change the name to something shorter or more CSS-friendly, a lot easier than renaming the style sheets.
Object Export Options
Here's an awesome improvement: You can select an object choose Object > Object Export Options to:
- apply Alt text (for the visually impaired or for situations when graphics are turned off) or tag an object as an "Artifact" so that it won't be read aloud by PDF screen readers.
- control how an image will be converted to JPG/GIF/PNG (resolution, etc.)
- tell a text frame or non-graphic object to rasterize (turn into a graphic upon export)
This is incredibly helpful when you need page objects to appear in HTML or EPUB just the way they appear on screen in InDesign.
EPUB Export Improvements
The best new features in CS5.5 are probably found in EPUB export. First of all, EPUB finally takes its rightful place among the formats in the Export dialog box! No longer do you need to go looking in some other place for it:
Once you're in the the EPUB Export Options dialog box, you'll see that the controls and options have been vastly improved. In General settings, you can now specify a cover image (that's a huge help!), content ordering (hint: use the Articles panel!), and formatting options like margins.
In the Image options, you can now specify image size, resolution, alignment, and spacing. The ability to export images as PNGs has also been added.
In the Contents options, you can now specify a paragraph style to indicate chapter breaks. You can also control footnote placement, and automatically clean up those line breaks you added to your InDesign but later wished you hadn't:
Although there's no editable field for it, InDesign CS5.5 now includes the required metadata for publication date in the exported EPUB. (That was the most common reason that InDesign-generated EPUBs used to fail EPUB validation tests.) Yay! However, the date it includes is the date of the export; so if you want a different date, you'll still need to get in there and edit the component EPUB file.
DPS Tablet Features
You have probably heard about the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite over the past year, but details were sparse since it was in beta. With the release of InDesign CS5.5, the beta is finally over and now anyone can get started creating interactive magazines for the iPad and Android Tablets. Interactive content is added to your InDesign document via the Overlay Creator panel and everything is put together with the Folio Builder panel.
We have to admit that it's kind of weird that DPS doesn't take advantage of most of InDesign's own built-in interactivity features (audio, video, animation, etc.). It can work with multi-state objects to make slideshows, but that's about it. Everything else you have to do using its own tools. Maybe they'll merge these two worlds in future versions.
What's there to say about a new dictionary? Adobe added the Hunspell dictionaries into CS5.5. Should we rejoice? Should we ignore them? You can tell us in the comments below. (To activate these dictionaries, choose a language in the Dictionary pane of the Preferences dialog box, then choose Hunspell instead of Proximity in the Hyphenation or Spelling pop-up menus.)
Easier Anchored Objects
Lets face it; anchored objects have always been a bit of a pain to create. Now, instead of copy and pasting, you can just drag a tiny blue square on the upper right corner of each frame into text to create an anchored object. As you drag the blue square, your cursor will turn into an I-beam as you release it into text. When you release the square your object will anchored to the text, but it will remain in its current location as a custom position anchored object. To place the object inline, just hold the Shift key as you drag the square. If you want to place it in a different spot, just drag and drop the square again, putting it in a new position.
By the way, after your object is anchored, you can Option/Alt+click on the anchor icon to open the Anchored Object Options dialog box.
Finally, we couldn't fail to mention one key addition to the Interface preferences: the ability to (finally!) turn off frame edge highlighting:
It's still enabled by default, but given the amount of angst this little feature has created in some folks (okay, it's the Number One complaint we've heard about CS5), the ability to turn it off is most welcome. It also shows that Adobe listens to their customers. Let that be a lesson to you: the squeaky wheel gets the grease (and the checkbox).
One of the most interesting revelations about 5.5 is Adobe's new subscription policy, which will be available through the adobe.com store. First: You do not need to use it. It's optional!
But for some folks, it could be the cat's meow. For example, let's say you hire a freelancer and need them to use InDesign and Illustrator for two months. You don't want to buy a copy of the Suite just for that! No problem: you can buy a monthly subscription to one product for $49, or to the Design Standard Suite for $99 per month... $200 for two months of work! Pause the subscription for a couple of months and the software stops working, then start it up later. Easy!
Note that these are US prices. For example, in Europe the CS5.5 Design Standard subscription is ?119/month, and in Australia it's AUD$149/month. At least that's what's Adobe told us. Prices may vary, of course, so check with Adobe.
Also, note that it's a bit cheaper if you subscribe a year at a time. For example, the CS5.5DS we just mentioned would be $780/?948/AUD$1,188 (you can work out the monthly bill yourself). Why subscribe for a year instead of purchase? Um... it may be cheaper than owning and then paying upgrade fees every so often (you get the upgrades "free" if you're a subscriber). We don't know. Seems a little weird to us. Let us know below if you can think of a compelling reason to purchase yearly subscriptions.
If you simply want to upgrade the product you have, without worrying about subscriptions, you'll still be paying out quite a bit. To upgrade InDesign alone (as a "point product") from CS5 to 5.5 costs US$119/?149 or AUD$175. If you have CS4, it'll cost US$199, ?249, or AUD$299.
To upgrade the Creative Suite Design Standard package, it's $299/?349/AUD$449 if you have CS5 now; or $499/?599/AUD$763 if you have CS4 (or more if you still have CS3). Of course, you're also getting Acrobat X for that, plus the upgrades of some other apps. (Not all programs were upgraded in 5.5. For example, Photoshop has no new features.)
Should You Upgrade?
Ultimately, while 5.5 looks to be awesome for anyone doing EPUB and accessible PDF docs, we're not convinced that all CS5 users will want to upgrade right away. However, if you're still using CS2, CS3, or CS4, this is definitely a good time to make the jump to Five.