Yes, I said that InDesign CC 2017 whimpers in under the radar. Version 12.0 has very little for me. Your usage may vary. But, this is all a normal part of the process as software matures. And, have no doubt, InDesign is matured—the best in the field.
To restate things, InDesign can now do almost anything you need. It’s been that way for me since CC 2014. The result is that the engineering team adds features which apply to smaller segments of our niche. To give an example, having footnotes span multiple columns means nothing to me—as I design single-column books. But, newsletter and technical report designers say this is very important to them.
InDesign CC 2017 whimpers with smallish or esoteric new features
None of them are spectacular. Several will be used by most of us. Some are so esoteric, few of us will use them. In general, they make the software more powerful. It’s a maintenance upgrade, with nothing changing [except for the fact that the basic UI continues to get more sparse and uglier—IMHO].
Feature sets driven by bean-counters
The cloud is problematic for me. First of all, as a one-person shop, I want everything on my hard drives. The cloud-based features are for large shops with team design. In this case, I can see the benefits of cloud-based libraries, and so on. However, many of the larger users have IT rules that do not allow designers to access the Web. So, cloud-based features are not nearly as wonderful as the Adobe MAX presenters would like us to believe. In reality, they mainly work for large advertising agencies and the like.
So, why does the engineering team spend so much effort of cloud features? Simply put, they make the subscription bundle sales effort necessary in the minds of accountants and sales executives. Users will be forced into using the cloud like it or not. Increasingly, new features are pushed by bean counters with bug fixes and truly helpful feature additions far down on the list.
Sad to say, but publishing is quite a ways down on their radar. They are pushing video, easy repurposing, mobile marketing, and so on. They look for the fashion and build something to fill that perceived need. The problem, of course, is that this rarely lines up with what people will really be doing—except for the ultra hip elite on the coasts in the largest cities.
Liquid layout, for example, is virtually gone. It was built for all the millions of new magazine readers who desperately wanted these features. What they didn’t foresee is that the actual magazine subscribers really don’t care about all of this. Apple’s magazine app is gone [I think. I haven’t checked recently.] The cloud? Who knows, but there are forces driving that which have nothing to do with user desires and much more to do with Big Brother, global control. But that’s another teaching far outside the purposes of this post.
So, lets take a look at the new features. I’m dividing them up in to features generally usable, and ones which require the use of Creative Cloud.
InDesign CC 2017’s in-house features
- OpenType enhancements
Just select characters, words, or a whole story. And then click to see OpenType font properties of any selected text or text box, which you can click to apply.
With the type still selected, make a new character style to use with your ebooks. Without the new character style, this is local formatting. Actually, this looks like a really good thing for print and PDF projects—unless you are producing books. Plus, I don’t want All Small Caps, but Small Caps. As you know, OpenType features do not work in ePUBs or Kindle books. In fact, that’s I why I sell Librum E SmCaps as an ASCII font, to provide small caps where needed with a character style. I won’t even mention the fact that…
- Arrowhead scale control
Scale start and end arrowheads independently of line stroke weight, and switch them with a single click. This is a small thing.. But as you can see above, that capture would be better illuminated with arrows having a smaller stem size. Here’s the interface:
- Hyperlinks panel performance
Up until now, if your document had many hyperlinks listed in the hyperlinks panel, the panel loaded slowly. With this release, the Hyperlinks panel loads much more quickly and works more quickly. Good thing.
- Discoverability of Control panel customization optionThe Customize Control panel functionality is now available right on the Control panel by clicking on the little gear in the upper right corner. You do have some control now. But I find many options I want are still missing—and some simply don’t work well.
- Preference for Panel tab height
This is a biggie for people with smaller and lower resolution monitors. The preference to turn off the large tab height is now available under Preferences > Interface > Panels > Large Tabs. It helps
- New footnote capabilities
Now footnotes can span multiple text columns in a specific frame or across entire documents. I don’t know much about this as I only do single-column books, at this point. If I had needed it, my longings have been assuaged.
- CC: Opening InDesign CC 2017 Files in an Earlier Version
In the InDesign CC 2014.2 update (January 2014), a new feature made opening files from newer versions possible if you have a Creative Cloud subscription. If you are using the subscription version of CS6, or InDesign CC, CC 2014, or CC 2015 when you attempt to open an InDesign CC 2017 file, you’ll see a dialog box telling you that the file needs to be converted to your application version. It also warns that features in the newer version may be modified or omitted. All you have to do is click the Convert button, and the Creative Cloud will convert it. When it works, it’s nice, and a great feature.
InDesign CC 2017’s Creative Cloud features
I do not want my assets stored on someone else’s computer. This is especially true with a server owned by a company like Adobe who has often simply cancelled features without notice.
- CC: Creative Cloud Assets improvements
Archive and restore all your assets stored in Creative Cloud, including the ones in your Creative Cloud Libraries, assets created with CC desktop products, and mobile projects.
- CC: New Creative Cloud Libraries capabilities
Send Link has been updated so you can share read-only access to a public library. When you follow a library, it appears in your Library panel and updates automatically.
- CC: Introducing Typekit Marketplace
Now you can buy fonts from some of the industry’s biggest names and use them in your InDesign projects. Typekit uses its font sync and web technologies to deliver your Marketplace fonts anywhere you need them. I don’t like this one as they don’t allow the small shops access.
- CC: Easier Adobe Stock search
This is wonderful if you use [and can afford to use] Adobe Stock. You can locate possible Adobe Stock images and assets by typing directly into the InDesign search field. Drag and drop search results from your Library panel right into your canvas and start using them right away. You can pay for the images then, or wait until after client approval. In addition, you can right-click on one of their stock images to do a visual search for similar images.
- CC: Animate CC integration
Access Animate CC animations directly from your Creative Cloud Libraries, then incorporate them into EPUBs as well as documents you publish to Publish Online formats. This is another of those fashionable features loudly touted by Adobe with very little reader interest. But hey, what do I know? All I do is publish books. For ad production, this is big [I would imagine].
Bottom line: you need InDesign
This is what is available. Most of these features are helpful, at least to some—even if you don’t use them, they harm nothing. There are many bug fixes. So, I recommend that you upgrade.