The latest update to Adobe's DTP package, InDesign CC 2014, was released last week. Existing Creative Cloud subscribers will find the new version available to install automatically as part of their subscription, alongside 2014 versions of the other major tools that form part of Adobe's creative toolset, including Photoshop CC 2014, Illustrator CC 2014, Dreamweaver CC 2014, Premiere CC 2014, and After Effects CC 2014.
Originally, the move to the Creative Cloud was expected to end the previous milestone release approach, with Adobe pushing out updates on a rolling basis to all its apps. But interestingly, Adobe's chosen to make a bit of a fanfare about this release, perhaps to help convince users that they're getting a new set of tools on a regular basis.
That said, it's worth pointing out that despite the new 2014 moniker, this version of InDesign isn't a major upgrade to the previous iteration, what we're now calling InDesign CC 2013. There are a few nice additions that are both useful and welcome, but the primary focus of this release is on workflow enhancements, fixing frustrating processes, accelerating layout and especially publishing to digital formats.
And just to reiterate, if you want to get access to InDesign CC 2014 you will have to take out a subscription to the Creative Cloud service - there's no other way you can buy the software. You can sign up here.
This version of InDesign features a couple of handy new features, alongside a variety of upgrades and enhancement to existing functionality. It's important to note that the main focus of the release, as we've already seen, is on improving the tools that are already there.
For this reason there aren't any 'wow features' that you can get truly excited about, but regular users of InDesign will notice and appreciate the changes.
You'll find enhancements to the way files are packaged during export, the search, service integration (including Behance) and the way InDesign handles footnotes. Other time-sapping aspects of working on complex layouts have also been addressed, such as the ability to move and clone table rows and columns.
It's also worth remembering that Adobe have been rolling out updates to the CC versions of its products throughout the lifecycle, so that some additional features have already appeared since the original launch of InDesign CC. You can find a blow-by-blow account of all these updates here.
Adobe is keen to promote the idea that its products no longer exist as separate, isolated apps. Instead, they want you to think of each tool as being part of a wider network of tools within a creative toolset, able to seamlessly connect and work as part of a larger design workflow.
This includes connecting with the likes of tablet-based apps, and specialist tools such as website development tool Adobe Muse. As if to prove the point, Adobe have also just released some exciting new hardware to leverage this idea fully
The Creative Cloud website provides a central hub to allow you to install apps, share files and access resources including tutorials. Adobe have also just updated this to reflect the shift towards greater integration.
For the 2014 version of InDesign, there has been a lot of work put into improving the ePub export options.
InDesign now supports Fixed Layout ePubs which is especially useful if you're developing eBooks for kids, or where the layout needs to match a print version perfectly when viewed on an eReader. You also get control over adding additional meta data.
Alongside this new layout and metadata control, you can now customise the height and width of an object by editing the CSS file via the Object Export Options dialog box, providing a greater degree of control than was possible previously.
Tables have been enhanced to improve workflow. You now have the ability to simply drag-and-drop table rows and columns from one position to another within the same table.
This works as you'd expect intuitively: simply select the rows you want to move, hover over the selected rows, and drag to the new position. Even better, by holding down the alt key you can also duplicate the selected row or column - a major timesaver!
HiDPI Support for Windows
Mac users have had full HiDPI (Retina) support since the CC release of InDesign, a year ago. As Windows machines have started to catch up with the high-resolution display technology, so Adobe are now offering Windows support for HiDPI.
This is useful not just because it makes everything look nicer on screen, but it also gives a more accurate representation of artwork on screen.
If you work in an environment where you're always using the same selection of colours, you'll love the Support for Fixed Layout ePubs. Put simply, this allows you to group your favourite colours together so that rather than having to wade through a lengthy list of swatches, you can quickly access your common colour sets. It's a simple addition but will make a meaningful difference to your workflow.
There are many small but significant upgrades in this version of InDesign, all designed to remove frustration and save time in day-to-day use.
One such example is the improvement Adobe has made to effects applied to objects on the art board.
Previously, when an item was scaled up or down, the effects applied to them remained statically set at the original values. Now, however, the effects scale with the object, retaining the overall appearance of an object regardless of its size.
Is it worth the upgrade?
Unlike traditional software releases, the decision over whether to upgrade to the latest version of Illustrator is largely going to depend upon whether you have an existing Creative Cloud membership. The 2014 and previous CC version of InDesign can exist side-by-side (and you can even access CS6 if necessary), so there's nothing to stop you grabbing the latest version right now.
If you're still using an older boxed version, and are wondering whether CC 2014 is enough to persuade you to jump to the subscription model, there's plenty here to get excited about.
Although InDesign hasn't come on significantly since CS6, there have been a lot of nice little enhancements that make the experience of using the tool more creatively rewarding. If you publish to digital formats such as ePub, this release is likely to be especially useful to you.
And it's also worth pointing out that Creative Cloud comes with various additional benefits including a Prosite via Behance, a Typekit subscription and the ability to legitimately install all the tools on both a laptop and a desktop machine.
Words: Sam Hampton-Smith
Have you installed the latest version of InDesign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.