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Happy New CC 2019. Adobe updates its creative cloud software

Ken Jones runs Circular Software. He was Technical Production Manager and Publishing Software Trainer for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for many years and now offers software, training and advice to publishers such as Parragon, Nosy Crow, Walker Books and Quarto on how to get the best from their print workflow.

If you are an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, then Christmas comes early each year as InDesign and many other apps get updated to coincide with the Adobe MAX conference.

Adobe MAX has become a huge event: last week well over 12,000 creative professionals gathered in Los Angeles for inspirational talks, new product announcements and training sessions. But, as the neon fades and the whoops die away, let’s cut though the hype to find out which new features in the new Creative Cloud 2019 a.k.a. ‘CC 2019’ apps can actually make a difference in our day-to-day work in the real world of book publishing.

More fonts and better management

I’ve long been a fan of ‘Adobe Typekit’, a ready-made font management system in the cloud which works very smoothly, and it has just got better still. Rebranded as ‘Adobe Fonts’, users can now find, filter, preview and install fonts all from inside InDesign or Illustrator CC 2019. Also, there is the welcome news that previous limits have been lifted and all 14,000+ fonts are now included with every Creative Cloud plan. InDesign CC 2019 also supports the emerging OpenType SVG font format which can support multicoloured fonts.

Scaling layouts

When resizing a page, perhaps for a ‘shrinkdown’ edition of a previous hardback book, how should InDesign deal with changes in page size and proportion? The idea behind InDesign CC 2019’s new ‘Adjust Layout’ feature is not that new as there have been a couple of attempts in the past to achieve similar results. This useful addition replaces the more confusing Layout Adjustment feature and does seems simpler and more useful. It offers options to adjust text frames and also scale text, within user-specified limits, as objects are intelligently scaled down in proportion. Page margins can now be amended in the document set-up dialog.

One Panel to rule them all

I was not convinced of the need for the new Properties panel in InDesign CC 2019 but actually it has already become something I use to quickly find info or make amendments to the properties of a selected object. It is very similar to the Control panel usually found across the top in InDesign (which is still around) and brings InDesign into line with other Adobe creative apps. The Properties panel will be most useful for new users.

Fitting and Spacing

The new and snappily titled ‘Space Between Paragraphs Having the Same Style’ option is a simple but neat addition that I expect to get immediate use by most book publishers. It removes the need for the clunky workaround of using extra styles simply to force spacing into the first and last paragraphs in a section. They should add the same option to paragraph indents next…

InDesign’s new ‘Content Aware Fitting’ option chooses how best to crop images based on their content. It is an interesting enough idea, but for most book layouts I think it will be little used.

PDF annotations in InDesign

Importing PDF annotations into InDesign is potentially very powerful although it feels this feature may be one to watch before adding into our workflows. There are some restrictions – PDFs need to have been made in InDesign CC 2019, comments need to be made in Acrobat and the InDesign document must not be touched for fear of bringing comments in incorrectly. Also, I’ve seen complaints that not 100% of comments arrive and it is too easy to accept all changes without viewing them first.

CC Library Improvements

Creative Cloud libraries are a way to share common assets between your team: think shared logos, colour schemes, consistent styles and even standard text, perhaps for imprint pages. These ‘CC libraries’ have had an extra boost and can now be managed in groups, properly re-ordered and labelled with notes. Bridge CC 2019 also now displays a high-quality previews of CC library items including transparency.

Illustrator Freeform Gradients

I’m really impressed with this new addition to Illustrator CC 2019. Illustrator Freeform Gradients gives a better way to create natural and diffused blends of colour and transparency. Colour intensity can controlled with simple tools and the gradients can be dynamically shaped with points and lines. Definitely worth a look if you like this sort of thing.

Better views in Illustrator

‘True-size view’ is something that I noticed had arrived in InDesign a while back and it is good to see it now in Illustrator CC 2019 too. Because the software is aware of hardware it is running on and the resolution of your screen, viewing things at ‘actual size’ now means you actually are. Neat.

Trim view and Presentation mode in Illustrator CC 2019 also now match InDesign in being able to remove non-printing distractions such as grids, guides and bleeds to show you a true, trimmed page size preview of your work whilst still in the editing program.

Photoshop Content Aware Improvements

Photoshop has a ‘content aware’ feature which means parts of the image itself can be automatically sampled and combined when retouching an image or extending an image canvas. Now in CC 2019 these results can be fine-tuned, parts of the image can be omitted from the area being sampled and the output can written to a new layer above the artwork. This gives more control and makes it much easier to modify the results.

Otherwise I am underwhelmed with the new features in Photoshop CC 2019, the 20th major version of Photoshop. Many of the interface tweaks are welcome, such as making multiple undos and blend mode previews easier to find and making proportional scaling the default but there is just not that much new. Even the new type of layer, the ‘frame layer’, just seems like they have made vector masks a little easier to find.

As Photoshop moves into newer areas such as 3D and AR, and a new iPad version coming next year, it feels as though Photoshop is pretty complete these days and doesn’t need much more adding…

Fools rush in

Although pre-release groups have been testing these new versions for months, inevitably in the first few weeks after a major update has been released to the wider public there are a raft of new bugs identified. Many are fixed in a quick update, usually released within the first few weeks, and many professionals wait for this ‘dot release’ update to come out before using new software versions on their live work.

Also, be aware that as usual, any documents saved in InDesign CC 2019 have a new file format and so have the potential to change when opened in earlier versions.

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