4. InDesign layout aids
Of all the Creative Suite apps, InDesign probably has to work hardest to impress. Not to keep up with the competition – QuarkXPress is a worthy rival, but it only gets a major upgrade once in a blue moon.
No, InDesign's problem is simply that many users of desktop publishing (DTP) software would rather stick with what they've got. Upgrading is a hassle, and when it comes down to it, how many new ways can there be of sticking text and pictures on a page?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Like other DTP professionals, we don't like to have to change our habits; but what Adobe has done, rather sensibly, is add smarter ways you can work if you want to, while letting you carry on exactly the same as before if you prefer.
COLUMNS: With the new InDesign, you can vary text column formats within a single frame
For example, it's always been easy to re-crop pictures by repositioning an image within its frame using the Direct Selection tool. Now you don't even have to switch tools: moving over a picture shows a bullseye (a bit like the split-image focusing circles in an SLR camera) which you click and drag to reposition the image. Similarly, you can rotate an item without using the Rotate tool, and scale multiple items as one without having to group them.
Previously, you could set a radius numerically to round all the corners of a frame. Now you can drag handles to adjust the roundness of any corner or all at once. When creating a frame, you can press the cursor keys to divide it horizontally and/or vertically into a grid of equally sized and spaced items. It even works with ellipses and polygons.
Best of all are the new options for multi-column text. Having set a number of columns within a text frame, you can tell each paragraph to flow between the columns as normal or span multiple columns. This means you can set a headline within the same frame as a story, and more.
Above, within a single six-column frame we've spanned paragraphs to vary the text between one, two and three columns. Once set up, this gives you the flexibility to make each story longer or shorter without having to reposition any frames. But how? With the longawaited automatic column balancing. Layers, central to Photoshop and Illustrator, are sometimes overlooked in InDesign.
Now, though, the Layers panel is well worth a visit even if you don't use layers, because it lists every item on your page and lets you name items to help keep track of content. Finally, InDesign now makes use of multi-threading to compile your work into a PDF in the background, while you get on with what you're doing. Consider us impressed.
5. The Flash app packager
Anyone involved in creating content is probably wondering about developing apps for the iPad – not forgetting the iPhone and iPod touch. But that means knowing how to code in the Apple SDK, or finding someone who can. That's the barrier Adobe is trying to break down with Flash Professional CS5 although, Apple has recently changed its developer terms and conditions to try and prevent this.
Flash content runs on a variety of devices via Flash Player in web browsers and Flash Lite on phones, but Apple's mobile devices don't support it. To get around this, Flash Pro CS5 now has an option to export your project as an iPhone/iPad app. And it works.
Using the beta version, Adobe and a number of independent developers have already released iPhone apps created this way. Some are typical Flash games, but the scope is limitless. For example, CavityFree 3D is a toothbrushing tutor for iPhone from US healthcare firm ICE Dental Systems. Peter Hoven at Essentialtalk, which produced the app, explains: "We're very familiar with Flash, so we found the process straightforward and we expect to develop more apps using CS5."
CONVERTING APPS: Adobe wanted to enable developers to port apps to the iPhone and iPad
For example, dentists might check patients' radiographs on an iPad. Is Flash the right tool to make apps? We found expert opinion divided. Mike Jones, Flash Platform Consultant at FlashGen.Com, thinks the ease of repurposing existing content will drive adoption: "A lot of Flash developers and designers will be looking to deploy games.
There will be work to remodel them for a different form factor, but the game mechanics in most cases will remain the same. Then they can start to harness features like Multi-Touch, the accelerometer and location." For more practical applications, it's significant that Flash can't access the iPhone's own user interface, so apps will look non-standard.
Jones acknowledges the issue, but says: "At the end of the day, if a client wants to deploy to iPhone, this is a way to achieve that. I don't see the lack of native UI support being a barrier, although I'd like the ability to plumb this."
Matt Gemmell at Instinctive Code points out: "The bulk of apps for the iPhone are toys, games and utilities with custom UIs, so Flash seems perfectly acceptable."
Ian Betteridge, an editor at Redwood working on interactive publications for BT, is sceptical. "History is littered with 'write once, deploy anywhere' frameworks, and they never offer the performance or flexibility of native development." Hockenberry's forthcoming book, iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual, encourages native coding.
But Flash Pro demands little or no coding at all. You can even add animation and interaction to your artwork in InDesign CS5 and import from there. Transferring Catalyst projects is possible, though fiddly, via Flash Builder in the Web and Master editions of CS5.