Computer ArtsFeature

Eight great InDesign plug-ins

Expand your toolset and make your workflow more efficient with eight of the latest InDesign plug-ins available for creative designers.

Layer Comps
Price:
£24 Mac and PC
Company: DTP Tools
InDesign compatibility: CS-CS5
Whilst CS5's Layers panel features a raft of improvements and object-specific control, Layer Comps adds something a little extra, bringing this useful Photoshop feature to InDesign. Essentially the plug-in, which adds an extra panel to InDesign, enables you to turn multiple layers on and off, and save snapshots of the result - helpful for when you have different versions of text or headlines for different versions of a document (but it's laid out as one). Whilst it's not essential, especially for CS5 users, it is inexpensive and useful.

Layer Groups
Price:
£24 Mac and PC
Company: DTP Tools
InDesign compatibility: CS-CS5
Again, this one is really for those who haven't upgraded to CS5. It's a similar plug-in to Layer Comps, adding the ability in InDesign to manage your layers into groups - just like Photoshop. One thing to note is you can't use groups in the standard Layers panel; you'll need to use the Layer Groups panel that the plug-in installs. Nice functionality, and useful for managing asset-heavy documents or those with lots of non-printing layers. You can buy both Layer Comps and Layer Groups in a Layer Tools bundle for £40 (far less than the upgrade to CS5 from earlier versions).

Q2ID v5
Price:
£213 Mac and PC
Company: Markzware
InDesign compatibility: CS4-CS5
Need to convert legacy QuarkXPress documents over to InDesign files? If you have hundreds of old XPress docs and your company now uses InDesign CS4 or CS5, Q2ID v5 might just be the plug-in that stops insanity setting in. Page positioning, fonts and styles, images, text attributes, tables, layers, blends, runarounds and more can all be converted. Whilst it's not cheap, it really does depend how much time it's going to save for you.

LayerLifter
Price:
Free Mac and PC
Company: Rorohiko
InDesign compatibility: CS2-CS4
There's no reason not to like this plug-in: it's free, and it adds a context-sensitive route to the Layers panel. Once it's installed (sadly not compatible with CS5), you simply Right/Ctrl-click on an object and then choose LayerLifter. From the flyout menu that appears, you can quickly assign an object to a layer. It's not revolutionary, but it can speed up workflow. Note that you will have to download the company's (also free) APID ToolAssistant plug-in before you can use it.

History
Price:
£32 Mac and PC
Company: DTP Tools
InDesign compatibility: CS-CS5
When the History panel was added to Photoshop in version 5, it was somewhat revolutionary. DTP Tools' History for InDesign does the same thing, bringing a new panel to InDesign from which you can see available undo and redo steps, and also save snapshots of different versions in the same doc; the latter meaning you can return to any specified state no matter what you do to your document. Well worth its price point of just over £30.

PDF2ID
Price:
$399 Mac and PC
Company: Recosoft
InDesign compatibility: CS3-CS5
Yes, it's pricey, but yes, it can be very useful indeed. If you've ever had to recreate a PDF file in InDesign you'll know it can be a very laborious task - and this plug-in aims to alleviate that very pain. After installing the plug-in and opening a PDF, you're presented with a dialog giving you fine control over the PDF to ID doc conversion process. When you're done, you're left with an editable InDesign doc. Like Q2ID, you just have to weigh up whether the investment is going to be a sound one.

Blatner Tools
Price:
£65 Mac and PC
Company: DTP Tools www.dtptools.com
InDesign compatibility: CS-CS5
Designed by author and publishing expert David Blatner and developed by DTP Tools, this suite of 12 plug-ins for InDesign is a very useful addition to any print designer's arsenal. Features include being able to quickly find which graphic in your ID file contains a particular spot colour, the ability to apply a keyboard shortcut to a swatch, layer or any style and - rather handily - enables you to export and import ID preference files.

Grid Calculator Pro
Price:
$399 Mac and PC
Company: Designers Bookshop
InDesign compatibility: CS3-CS5
Grid Calculator Pro is undoubtedly a comprehensive tool for design pros creating grid-based layouts. It aims to take the pain out of the maths involved in creating grid-based systems for books, mags, brochures or other layouts - leaving you to focus on the creative. Essentially it enables you to create a grid based on your leading, with the tool then working out measurements of columns, indents, margins and other attributes - making sure everything is accurate and lines up. There's also a Basic edition of the plug-in with a cut-down toolset that's available for a very reasonable $37.

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