The Greatest Software Product of All Time: A Developer’s Appreciation of Adobe InDesign
Max Dunn
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Thank you for a fantastic article Max. It is a good historical look at a great software program. My start was in the typesetting/service bureau industry in the late 80s. In the early 90s I was working primarily with Quark XPress, but then Kodak showed up at our service bureau wanting films from FrameMaker documents. What is FrameMaker? I thought. At the time Frame Technologies had a $99 offer for service bureaus to purchase FrameMaker 3 and I asked them if I could buy an extra copy at that price. I installed it on my Mac SE30 and the rest was history. The first thing I fell in love with was its table editor. I soon started my own business supporting FrameMaker users at Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Xerox, and Johnson and Johnson (later Ortho Clinical Diagnostics). We did a ton of conversions of PageMaker content to FrameMaker.

In 1998, FrameScript was released and I really took to it and began to embrace automation. Almost overnight, my business transitioned to a focus on FrameMaker automation.

After InDesign was released, I was intrigued by Adobe’s plans and wondered if they could take on an entrenched program like XPress. Even though I wasn’t doing much work with it, I bought the first version and every upgrade after that. I was amazed by the rapid improvements every version showed. They seemed to really respond to what their customers wanted and showed a lot of attention to the small but meaningful details. I confess, as a FrameMaker user, I was (and am) a little jealous of all the improvements that InDesign got.

After awhile, I did more and more with InDesign, especially as it added long-document features. I got into ExtendScript and committed to mastering it as I had FrameScript. This also served me well when FrameMaker added ExtendScript support in version 10. Now I am into XML publishing with InDesign. I have developed a hybrid workflow, combining XML with XSLT and InDesign Tagged Text.

In short, I love working with InDesign, even though FrameMaker was my first love. I can describe it with a biblical analogy: FrameMaker is my Leah, “tender eyed,” but InDesign is like Rachel, “beautiful and well favoured.” In a word, InDesign is elegant.

Thanks again for the wonderful post.

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