InDesign CS4’s Hidden World-Ready Composer
Thomas Phinney, Adobe's recently-departed font guru, has written a fascinating posting about the hidden language features found in the CS4 versions of InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. These features make use of the World-Ready Composer, an alternate composition engine which enables support for complex script languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, and the Indic languages.
If this sounds familiar, that's because Bob Levine wrote a posting about this on InDesignSecrets.com in December 2008. He described a Windows-only plug-in which allows access to the right-to-left (RTL) features of InDesign CS4, and a cross-platform plug-in which does similar things.
But Thomas' posting on his personal website gives much more information about the World-Ready Composer. Here are a couple excerpts.
He reveals the reason we don't see the World-Ready Composer when we open InDesign:
...the World-Ready Composer was not fully tested and debugged, and hyphenation dictionaries and spell checkers aren't available for the extra languages. Therefore, the World-Ready Composer is neither documented nor officially supported by Adobe in CS4, and no user interface was provided for the added features in the apps (like selecting the composer, or choosing right-to-left text). Although many people assume this work will be finished in CS5, the last time I checked Adobe was making no promises as to when these capabilities will be finished and formally released.
He tells of some of the things you can do with it, even without a user interface:
- In CS4 applications, one can now open and print Hebrew and Arabic documents created with Winsoft's ME versions of the Adobe applications.
- If one opens a document that has text frames, paragraphs, and/or styles which use the World-Ready Composer, one can then copy and paste those into another document, or delete other content and use the original document as the basis of something else, thereby gaining access to the World-Ready Composer.
- If right-to-left text direction is part of the formatting of the frame/paragraph/style, it comes along for the ride.
- In InDesign CS4, all these features are accessible to scripting, and the scripting interface is documented! These features are also open to plug-ins. This decision by the InDesign team opened the way for third-party developers to make scripts and plug-ins to ease access to the added functionality. See below for more details on both.
He also provides some templates and scripts not previously available, and describes other plug-ins and scripts for working with these new features.
This is all very exciting stuff, and anyone who has need for languages beyond those we see in the list in the Language menu on the Control panel should check this out.