Reviews on Adobe's InDesign
Answered by PBO members

I am a print buyer for a large corporation and recently one of our designers requested some information on InDesign, the Adobe page layout software. I spoke with a couple of our print suppliers about this, but they do not seem to like it. I'm curious to know what others in the print buying world have heard about this software. What is the trend? Will it die away like PageMaker? Is it better than Quark?

Carol Caruso
Print Buyer, Marketing Communications
John Deere Co. Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division

Note from Suzanne:
I asked PBO members to share their thoughts on InDesign. Three members sent us very helpful advice. Their responses are listed below.

If anyone would like to contribute additional advice or opinions, please send me an e-mail titled "Adobe InDesign" to


My name is John Martese. I am currently a sales representative for a high-quality print company. Throughout my career I have been closely involved with the prepress process and have trained my customers on the more esoteric points of working with page layout software and PhotoShop. Last year I wrote a book on InDesign for Prentice Hall PTR. Unfortunately it was never published, but I have studied InDesign closely.

When I was first asked to write about InDesign I said, "But I don't know anything about it, and why would anyone want to switch from QuarkXpress anyway?" As I researched and worked with InDesign, I absolutely fell in love with the program. If you are fastidious about type, it is simply the only program to use. The ability to import native PhotoShop files and edit Illustrator elements is truly amazing. It also has great cross-platform capabilities, especially when using OpenType fonts. InDesign is the only page layout program that supports this system of fonts. There are another dozen or so advantages over Quark that I won't go into here, but I think it is a great program.

The program does have some quirks and takes some getting used to. One of its major disadvantages is the market share that Quark has and the time companies have invested in the use of QuarkXPress.

Adobe has made InDesign 2.0 much more output friendly. With its direct export to PDF, most printers should be able to output from it. If they can't, you're working with the wrong printer. We have many clients based in New York City and have seen an increase in the use of ID from that area, especially among agencies.

I don't think ID will die away. Adobe has too much invested in it, and they seem to be very responsive to upgrading the program on a quick basis, something that Quark has not been great at doing.

I recommend your member take a look at the review in Mac World a couple of months ago. Also, they can download a trial version of it.

John Martese
Sales Representative
Monroe Litho
Rochester, NY 14605


Is it better than Quark? That would be a toss-up. I've downloaded Quark 5.0 beta and was really disappointed. It should be considered a minor upgrade. I've attended a preview for InDesign and have purchased a copy for testing. After suffering through PageMaker and moving to Quark I thought that there would be no replacement. I'm sure plenty of people would not want to give up Quark, but InDesign will give Quark a run for the money.

When it comes to features, InDesign has Quark smoked. I could best describe the difference by saying, "Quark is a page layout program. InDesign is a design program." InDesign has removed much of the back and forth movement from Quark to PhotoShop and Illustrator. You're not jumping back and forth between software to get an image or graphic to work right. The greatest feature could be seeing a real image rather than a bitmapped preview.

The drawbacks... Well, InDesign is still a memory hog! It will not run well on anything but a well-built G4. Quark is still a robust bit of software. It will take a lot of work by Adobe to convert diehard Quark users to jump ship, but they should be looking over their shoulder now.

Will it die away like PageMaker?
Probably not. Adobe is really pushing hard now with InDesign. I heard that PageMaker will now become Microsoft's competition for word processing. Microsoft has been steadily upgrading Word to work like a page layout program by adding more bells and whistles. Anyone working in this business hates to get a Word file.

Who's using it?
There are people out there using the software. We haven't implemented a change over yet because I really want to break it in first.

Lee Dunn
Print Production Manager
Impact Advertising/NCH Corporation
Irving, Texas


I am in the process of switching over to InDesign. It's cheaper and more versatile than Quark and outputs to PDF natively. Its XML support is improving. It integrates well with PhotoShop and Illustrator and it even has a bit of Web functionality. It handles long documents well and the table creator is easy to use.

Personally, I think Quark has shot itself in the foot by adding so little to v4.1. In fact, the only dramatic additions are the Web design tools, which implies that they are going for a market in which they can't hope to compete significantly since Dreamweaver, and to a lesser extent, Go Live, are so well established.

Perhaps In Design's biggest weakness, apart from its up-hill struggle against the Quark establishment, is the fact that many printers aren't familiar with it. However, the fact that it exports to PDF natively means that it is well placed to slip into the modern printer's CTP workflow.

In summary, once I'm settled in with InDesign, I can't see myself ever needing to use Quark again!

Andy Lane
Print Buyer / Designer
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