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April General Meeting Report

by Steven Kiepe, Vice President for Programs

The April general meeting brought a long-awaited visit from Adobe, developers of some of the most capable graphic and desktop publishing programs available for any computing platform. Mr. David Hemly, Adobe Standards Manager for Publishing and Dynamic Media was on hand to demonstrate some of Adobe's latest works including the new version of their desktop publishing application for the future, Adobe InDesign, revision 1.5.

Do you find yourself continually upgrading your software with an almost weekly procession of bug fixes and feature refinement, often at the almost routine price of $30 to $150 a shot? With each new upgrade, do you often find changes to core application features so significant that you must re-learn how to use the program (remember the keystroke changes between Photoshop versions 3 and 4)? Additionally, many application revisions institute new bugs at the same time they are eliminating old ones. To steal an analogy from Mr. Hemly, it is similar to the block stacking game, Genga. Old programs keep piling on features, each additional layer weakening the underpinnings below it. Old source code, not optimized to handle the new features becomes increasingly fragile until finally it collapses. A case in point is the current state of Corel's WordPerfect application, a well-respected word processor whose source code has reached terminal capability. A complete rewrite of the entire WordPerfect source code would be required to produce a new reversion. Adobe has been paying attention and is stepping in another direction with their new flagship desktop publishing program.

InDesign was authored in a modular manner &emdash; a core application (less than two megabytes in size) with specialized sub-programs appended to it. The modular nature of this coding means that certain features (and more importantly, software code) can be reused in other Adobe applications, greatly facilitating programming, updating and enhancing standardization. Although a radical deviation from the coding found in Adobe's former desktop publishing flagship, InDesign is not a replacement for PageMaker (which will be released with at least one more update) although it can open both PageMaker and Quark files.

InDesign has great new features not common to PageMaker or the competition, Quark. An eyedropper tool picks up text attributes for quick standardization between document sections. Importing and placing graphics is much easier, a simple copy and paste versus the use of graphics boxes. Additionally, placed objects can be modified within InDesign without re-opening the creating application.

For precision work, InDesign allows a zoom of up to 4000% but speed is not lost as only the area of the screen being worked on is enlarged which has the additional benefit of minimizing memory requirements. Not only is precision viewing enhanced, so are the overall visual attributes of a finished document. Multi-line text composing (justification) is the standard, allowing the application to determine the best structure of text across several as opposed to a single line. New also is optical margin alignment, which enhances visibility of hyphens and other punctuation at the end of a line. A "visual" kerning option allows overlap of some text boundaries (empty space) to enhance readability. For those always concerned about fitting text to a given space, vertical justification is also new to the program.

Other new and highly desired features in this application are reminiscent of capabilities inherent in other Adobe products such as Illustrator and Photoshop. InDesign allows text to be placed along a path within the application. It also allows adjustment of Photoshop clipping paths, again without opening the original graphic program. Text can be placed, skewed or otherwise distorted within InDesign but still be edited later as the text itself and its assign attributes are associated versus permanently assigned.

InDesign is still a work in progress as there are a few areas yet to be completed. Bookmarks, table of contents, index and table generation are all expected in a future revision. Numerous features currently found in FrameMaker will migrate to InDesign in the future.

Moving off in a different direction, David provided an update on some of Adobe's other programs. Adobe LiveMotion is a soon to be released program that can create and style layered objects for other applications, web pages and the like. If makes outstanding buttons which can be reused across many applications and documents. For a limited time, a fully functional beta version is available free on Adobe's web site. David also demonstrated Adobe Acrobat and highlighted some of its capabilities beyond generating PDF files. Acrobat also can pull down entire Internet web sites and capture them as a PDF file for later viewing, to as many levels as desired.

After a very full session, our time was exhausted. The April meeting was definitely the one to attend, at least in terms of freebies. Adobe graciously donated thousands of dollars worth of the finest software on the market today. Needless to say, there were many happy winners.

We started the drawing with the customary T-shirts but without Tom Witte to throw them to the crowd, it just did not feel right. Anyhow, Sandra Mason and Jamie MacDonald both took home a new shirt. Harley Nygren and Allen Kent received copies of Creating Cool HTML 4 books, courtesy of IDG Books. Thomas Downing and Tom Bouchard received Adobe label notebooks (the paper kind, not the computer!). Aladdin had forwarded copies of DragStrip and MacTicker, passed to Richard Goodwin and Curt Marshall, respectively.

The really big prizes were close behind. Don Wong won a copy of Adobe's ImageStyler, the first graphics creation and production program designed specifically for producing spectacular web graphics. Bill Geiger picked up a copy of Adobe GoLive, a high end web site creation program. Scott McKnight took home a copy of Adobe's Photoshop LE, the powerful, consumer level graphics program. A host of budding graphic artists then lined up for a serious illustration tool, Adobe Illustrator 8.0. The lucky winners were Steve Fink, Dennis Dimick, and Marshall Henderson.

The great software prizes were still long from exhausted by this point. Four lucky winners took home copies of Adobe Photoshop 5; Jim Ritz, Robert O'Brien, Glenda Finley and Needham Langston. Georgia Sadler went one better by avoiding having to upgrade her copy as she won a full copy of Adobe Photoshop 5.5, the latest version. John DiBella picked up the full version of Adobe Acrobat 4 (not to be confused with Acrobat Reader). Finally, the last two grand prize winners (whew!) joined the throng of happy WAP members. Pat Fauquet and Joe Timm both picked up copies of Adobe InDesign v1.5, the latest release. What a magnificent haul of software! The only thing missing was that I didn't win anything (again!). Oh well, there's always next month. See you then.

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Revised June 16, 2000 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi
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