InDesign CS3: Mastering Design Collaboration

InDesign CS3: Mastering Design Collaboration


Whether you need to collaborate with the person over the cube wall from you or across the planet, InDesign CS3 has several powerful ways to coordinate joint efforts among creatives. In this excerpt from the new book Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production, author Pariah S. Burke will help you build an efficient, effective collaboration workflow.

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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

–John Donne Meditation XVII (1572–1631)

Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production, by Pariah S. Burke, 2007

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 12: “Collaboration” from Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production by Pariah S. Burke (Sybex, 2007).

Few InDesign users operate in a vacuum, creating documents start to finish all on their own. The majority of modern workflows, even among freelancers, entails some form of collaborative content creation. Perhaps it’s a group of designers cooperating on the packaging for a large product line; maybe it’s designers and copywriters crafting the perfect advertising creative.

In the past, much like print and web, West Berlin and East Germany, the personnel, activities, and especially software tools employed by design and production have always been separate from, and often mutually unfriendly toward, copywriting and editorial. All of that is changing. More and more print workflows are embracing digital content delivery; Germany has been unified. Most importantly, the software, which has always been, at best, reluctantly compatible and, at worst, openly hostile toward one another is actually beginning to cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate. Creatives keep on designing while writers keep on writing, but the barriers that separated them from each other and their peers are being torn down as fast as the Berlin Wall.

How ever–and with whomever–you collaborate, InDesign can speed and improve the process.

Whether you need to collaborate with the person over the cube wall from you or across the planet, InDesign CS3 has several powerful ways to coordinate joint efforts among creatives.

Saving to Older Versions of InDesign

Not all of us upgrade as quickly or regularly as others. For some, InDesign CS2 is ideal, with all the features needed for their particular work; they don’t need or want CS3 and will not upgrade to it for a while if ever. (I doubt you are included in this group; after all, you obviously bought a book titled Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production.) Others may lust after a new version but simply can’t justify its price tag. Whatever the reason, it becomes necessary on occasion to move documents between the latest and earlier versions of InDesign.

The fact that InDesign CS (CS1, version 3.0) did not save backward for compatibility with 2.0 (the first commercially successful edition of InDesign) brought forth a public outcry so vociferous that it still echoes throughout the halls of Adobe and many press and pre-press shops around the world. Allow me to dispel another common misconception: Despite what you may have heard, InDesign does save backward. It has done so since CS2, which saved documents compatible with CS1.

To save a document such that it can be opened in CS2, choose File > Export. In the Export dialog, change the Save as Type drop-down to InDesign Interchange format. When you save the document, it will be with the .inx file extension. InDesign Interchange documents are XML based, and may be opened in InDesign CS2 or CS3 with the File > Open command. Both versions can also export them, although CS2 users sending documents to CS3 users can simply send documents in the standard INDD format. CS3 will open documents created by any prior version of the program. It will only save INDD files as CS3 version, however.

Maintaining a round-trip editing workflow between InDesign CS2 and CS3 is tedious, but doable. The CS2 user can send his work as either INDD or INX formats, but the CS3 user must send her work back as INX files, which the CS2 user can open and edit.

Note: An update to InDesign CS2 was released shortly prior to the release of CS3. Contained in the update was a new version of the INX filter that enables CS2 to open CS3-authored INX documents. If you or a CS2-based associate experiences any problems opening such documents, ensure that InDesign CS2 has been updated to the latest version. You can do that by opening InDesign and choosing Updates from the Help menu. The Adobe Updater utility will then check for recent updates to InDesign and all installed Adobe applications and present you with a list of available downloads. Install any available InDesign updates. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to install available updates and patches for all your Adobe applications.

Next: One Document, Many Designers

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4 Responses Discussing “InDesign CS3: Mastering Design Collaboration”
  1. This, in my opinion is ridiculous!

    Design by committee to the unth degree. Having been in publishing for almost 20 years, I have yet to experience a scenario where the most time and cost efficient way of doing things is to have several designers working on the same FILE at the same time.

    What Adobe seems to leave out of their vision of ‘workflow’ is the customer – you know, the people that pay people like us so they can change their minds at the drop of a hat.

    Sure, one application may work, but five personalities working harmoniously at the same time – that’s a joke.
    Simultaneous concept development… never works.

    My mind’s eye envisions a server bulging with dupes of pages and folders from people who are, for a lack of a better word… in a state of flux.

    11 Oct 2007
    10:47 PT
  2. Sorry, this seems like a poor man’s version of Composition Zones. Last time I checked in Quark 7 you simply selected an area, a page, a spread or a section of a document you wanted to “farm out” and with a little bit of practice, anyone on the network or Internet (if invited) automatically gets a document with only their bits editible. Upon saving, your grayed out areas then update. It’s a lot different when software is designed specifically for colaboration as Quark 7 and 8 are, as opposed to the Rube Goldberg approach which has been available for years already. BTW: Our customers who use this are growing and would never go back to not using it. It’s like taking processors out of your Xeon chip…parallel processing is where it’s at.

    08 Jan 2008
    14:05 PT
  3. I like the little comment boxes, they are nice. :)

    06 Mar 2008
    02:15 PT
  4. No matter how you look at it, cool collaboration tools in Quark are useless if you are still stuck with a lame layout application.

    03 Jun 2008
    20:06 PT

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