Adobe opened the Seybold Publishing Conference in Boston, US with a keynote committing itself to producing the best set of publishing tools for the new millennium.
The company formally announced Adobe InDesign, an extensible layout tool geared toward graphics professionals and based mostly on a series of plug-ins. It was formally introduced during the keynote by Charles Geschke, president and chairman of the board at Adobe, and Chief Executive Officer John Warnock.
Already dubbed "the Quark Killer" in reference to its likely market competitor QuarkXPress from Quark Inc., InDesign brings together the functionality of many of Adobe's other popular publishing tools -- such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat -- in one environment, the executives said. It also allows users to open QuarkXPress and Adobe PageMaker 6.5 files directly.
Warnock said InDesign is the culmination of a four-and-a-half-year effort within Adobe to design a publishing architecture that integrates the functions of all the company's applications.
"There were differences between our products that made interoperability in some ways cumbersome," Warnock said. "We wanted to make them more and more similar."
Many of InDesign's features were demonstrated on both Macintosh and Windows platforms, although a memory error derailed one part of the Windows demo, eliciting applause and laughter from the crowd.
The demo included importing native Photoshop files and copy-and-pasting Illustrator drawings, which were then tweaked within InDesign. Exporting to PDF from within the application was also demonstrated, with immediate notification of font problems in the document.
A multiline composer feature was also shown, allowing users to check and adjust the kerning not only of an individual line, but also of the lines before and after it for better-looking paragraphs.
The executives commented several times that InDesign, together with Adobe's other products, is the basis for a whole new open architecture for publishing. Warnock called it an "ecosystem that works together."
"We're trying to provide an infrastructure so that all this stuff makes sense together," Warnock said. "It's not just a feature here and a feature there."
InDesign will be available for Macintosh OS 8.5, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 for $US699. It's scheduled to ship in the third quarter.
GoLive 4.0, a cross-platform Web design and publishing tool, was also demonstrated during the keynote. It allows professional management of large Web sites and integrates all Adobe products, Warnock said.
"The Web has become an integral part of all of our jobs," Warnock said. "Our overriding goal is to make our Web and our print production tools interchangeable."
Warnock discussed the proposed scalable vector graphics (SVG) standard for the Web, which he said Adobe is supporting as a way "to seriously upgrade graphics on the Web." Geschke likened many current Web efforts to "publishing on a dot-matrix printer -- it's not good enough."
"We'll have plug-ins for each browser, and we'll target it with all of our applications," Warnock said. "You'll be able to design Web pages with no compromise. The Web is going to change and Adobe is going to play a central role."
"The Web is at the core of our market strategy and, more importantly, of our vision for the future," Geschke said.
The GoLive demo showed SVG's ability to zoom in on a Web graphic without the need to re-contact the server. It also demonstrated the ability to fix links in PDF files without launching Acrobat.
The other new products announced at the keynote included PressReady, a colour-management tool for ink-jet printers and PageMaker 6.5 Plus, the latest version of Adobe's page-layout software.
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