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Adobe CS5: QuickStart

The  tools for digital publishing have evolved quite a bit over the past thirty years. At the beginning,  PageMakerQuark Xpress, and  Word were the tools of the trade. It was possible for one person to be an expert on all of these applications. Granted, the digital portion of the entire publishing workflow was was limited, but still it was possible to learn it all. The suite of applications used to create, layout, and manage the digital publishing process keeps growing. Today, just familiar with a few of them is difficult enough, being an expert in every application necessary to produce a digital magazine is next to impossible. Keeping current with the updates to the applications we currently use (Dreamweaver, Photoshop) is challenging enough. With our venture into publishing for the iPad, we will now need to get up to speed on a component of the Adobe CS suite called InDesign. It came as a part of our Adobe CS4 package. As the application is for laying out pages for printing, we never even bothered to install it. However, now that Adobe has extended InDesign CS5 for use with their Digital Publishing Solution, anyone looking to create an interactive digital magazine for the iPad and other tablets will need to learn (or at least be familiar with) InDesign.

Learning by doing has always been more effective for us than just reading about it. However, just “poking around” without guidance can be frustrating and time consuming. Any time we have to learn something quickly, we look for well-written guides and tutorials. The Visual QuickStart series from Peachpit Press looked perfect for our style of learning: a logical progression, lots of examples, step-by-step directions. While there are plenty of tutorials, how-tos, and articles online for learning how to use any software, we still prefer to start with books. The reason why we like it is not because we are old-school (not that there is anything wrong with that), but because books have more of a structure, are typically written with a sequence in mind, and is easier to flip back and forth. We just find them more helpful when trying to learn something new.

Before we dive into Adobe’s set of tutorials on publishing for the iPad, we will spend the rest of this week getting acquainted with InDesign CS5. The goal is to go through the Visual QuickStart guide, complete a few of the layout exercises, and get a general sense of the software. We will report back on the effectiveness of the Visual QuickStart guide in helping us jumpstart our efforts and shorten our learning curve.

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