I’d heard various stories of InDesign’s XML capabilities, especially at the CS2 release, but mostly they didn’t seem, er, compelling. Until now, anyway. I’m not sure Adobe aimed InDesign CS3 at people like me, but CS3’s capabilities seem to have just crossed the border into something I would use to combine publishing and structured documents. My guide? XML Publishing with InDesign CS2+, which we just published today.
At TOC today, it seems like lots of people are using InDesign and needing XML. The two things seem pretty different, pretty separate - but they don’t have to be.
I think most people who think of InDesign think of it as a better-supported QuarkXPress, rather than a FrameMaker targeted more at graphic designers. Frame has always been about structured documents, with various levels of support for SGML and XML, but it’s, well, I’ll just say it’s never been my favorite editing experience.
While InDesign is really appealing for precise layout and heavy attention to design, most of the work I do needs to be able to morph from one form to another. O’Reilly books aren’t just printed from one set of PDFs; rather, the PDFs are one of many different possible aspects, from Safari to our new chapter-by-chapter sales. We need XML out, and sometimes we need XML in.
Dorothy Hoskins has been working with these tools for pretty much as long as they’ve been usable. In XML Publishing with InDesign CS2+, she covers the whole lifecycle of XML in InDesign - importing, editing, and exporting, with extra attention to how to use transformations along the way. I think my favorite feature is a section called “What InDesign Cannot Do (or Do Well) with XML” - an important reality check. CS3 improves some things, notably transformations, but users working on complex projects are going to want to know the boundaries.
Hopefully the XML community and its army of people interested in structured documents can help strengthen this bridge between a design-oriented world and the benefits of structure.