A first step with InDesign

Yesterday I installed the demo version of Adobe InDesign and started mucking about some. Thus far I’ve only worked with a “book” layout, but I’ve really enjoyed what experienced. Some initial thoughts are below.

InDesign's UI is powerful, but won't win a beauty contest.
InDesign’s UI is powerful, but won’t win a beauty contest.

I do have to say I’m not typically a fan of Adobe’s UI design. I’ve gotten used to Lightroom, and I tolerate Photoshop, but their UI’s often feel cluttered 1. InDesign, by the sheer amount of features the UI displays, makes Photoshop look minimalist. This isn’t to say the UI isn’t functional, it is, especially if you’ve used some other Adobe apps are are use to their design language. It’s just that it’s not pretty, and the odd “faux full-screen” feels dated in 2015. InDesign is really not designed for a smaller screen, but remains usable even on my 13 inch retina MacBook Pro.

Once I figured out how to set up Master pages and add spreads I really enjoyed setting up my test document. Setting up headers and footers was a joy, and inserting placeholders for page numbers and section headers was simple. Even more simple was the ability to designate where new sections began and set up titles and page number types.

Equally impressive was my ability to set up tables and add header and footer rows. Tables are easily set to span pages with a click and configured with alternating rows for increased readability.

What InDesign does not do is create a number of pre-sets for thinks like shape and paragraph styles, even the default color palette is limited. This is so the user can create their own styles for use in their projects. Creating personal styles and colors is not a difficult process, but it does take some getting used to.
The amount of both power and freedom available in a “blank slate” setup is evident, InDesign is unapologetically a professional tool. Folks who want to take up its use are well-advised to remember that.

If I get a chance, I’ll play around with some more of InDesign’s layout tools this weekend. I’m interested to see how it works with layers, masks, and image editing. My “book layout” experience, however, gives me high hopes that this is an application I could really use in my toolbox.

  1. Think “Microsoft Ribbon,” but in a way that makes it look like the user interface was made by humans.