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Analysis: InDesign CS3

It won’t be surprising that you start to see more lighting effects, such as interior shadows, in the magazines within a few months of the availability of InDesign CS3. The new version includes the lighting effects so familiar to Photoshop users, and with InDesign’s new Effects panel you can apply any of the 10 effects plus basic transparency to any of the objects in your mockup.

What makes it stand out from the approach used in Photoshop is that any, some, or all of these effects can be applied independently to the object itself, its frame, and the content. This alone already implies a good amount of creative possibilities. The only thing I haven’t seen in the previous version of the product is the ability to apply lighting effects to text selections.

While designers are likely to focus on the new special effects, editors are likely to explore the capability for the new text variables, whereby InDesign can automatically update the text in the document by entering the current date, for example, the current number of the publication, the topic covered on the folio of each page or keep the copyright date updated on all documents. InDesign CS3 includes several predefined variables, although you can create new variations from them as well as new variables entirely from scratch.

Another significant novelty is that it starts from a feature that was already available in the previous version of the product, substantially expanding its possibilities. It’s all about Find / Change. In InDesign CS3 you will be able to use three new types of search: by object attributes, by special characters and, for the geeks, searches based on the use of the Grep syntax of Unix. The ability to find and change document attributes will greatly facilitate the task of updating the document design or finding old objects that you want to modify. The ability to find and change special symbols using the same interface as the glyph palette will also make it easier to use special symbols. Finally, InDesign allows you to save any search so that it can be used again in the future.

Like other components for the Creative Suite update, InDesign CS3 is a universal application that works natively on both PowerPC-based and Intel-based Macs.


Many of the enhancements in InDesign CS3 make the program more intuitive and flexible. For example, it is now possible to create style groups in the various style panels to enhance the sometimes out-of-control styles in your document. You can also create new styles for tables and table cells, thus allowing the use of a consistent format and facilitating subsequent design changes.

The Pages panel now displays page previews, making it easy to select the desired page from one of the most used panels. It is also possible to import master pages from one document into another, thus facilitating the standard layout sharing feature.

However, what I suspect will delight designers is the ability to import multiple files at the same time. Now you can select multiple text and / or graphic files and import them in the order you want, and even show a preview of each file in the place where you place the pointer, so that you can know which one you are importing in the position of the document in each case.

Similarly, I think most designers will frown when faced with the revamped user interface and that it has been done as part of the effort to integrate the Creative Suite with Macromedia interfaces. It can be frustrating when the elements of a familiar interface change, but these changes help make it easier for you to use multiple products. Nor are these radical changes that interfere with the ability to handle the software.


In my opinion, InDesign CS3 will be the kind of update you’ll appreciate after you’ve used it for a while, which is when you’ll start to notice some of the more subtle changes. Once the final product is available, Macworld will do a full review of the product and its capabilities in depth.