The future of Adobe® InDesign® software

What does a Porsche 911 have in common with Adobe InDesign?

On September 24th I joined an impressive group of innovators in Hamburg to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Adobe InDesign. I was further honored and delighted to be chosen to give a keynote speech about the future of Adobe InDesign.

In preparation for the presentation, I asked myself where InDesign stands today and what basic functionalities are missing. In my opinion, InDesign is largely complete, provocatively I said in a preliminary discussion with Ingo Eichel: “InDesign has arrived at the end of the product innovation cycle”.

Is it bad for a product to reach the end of its product innovation cycle? I spontaneously thought of the analogy to the Porsche 911. The Porsche 911 is a timeless masterpiece that. has remained modern and relevant for decades with only minor and thoughtfully cautious alterations.

Porsche has always made sure that the 911 is unmistakable and that its unmistakable product features are reflected in every new model.

Like the Porsche 911, Adobe InDesign is a timeless masterpiece. But what makes InDesign a timeless masterpiece?

InDesign is universally applicable and the best pixel-precise layout tool on the market. Companies such as “Hoffmann Werkezuge” use InDesign for a variety of communication tools: catalogues, advertisements, documentation, brochures and much more.

Typography and layout functionalities are absolutely market-leading. If the existing standard functionality is not sufficient, scripting options or third-party solutions can be used.. As it relates to Hoffman tools, priint:suite is the solution used for automated catalogue production.

From the outset, InDesign was designed with API, SDK, and plug-in architecture scripts to enable extensive third-party enhancements…an ideal breeding ground for a unique and thriving partner ecosystem.

Another success criterion of InDesign – and this has ultimately proven to be the killer of QuarkXPress – is its integration with other Adobe products, such as Photoshop® or Illustrator®. The introduction of the Creative Cloud® added integration with other Adobe services.

What can be changed in a timeless masterpiece? The first thing you need to know is what makes the product so successful and what character it has, and you need to be careful about changing it. To use our Porsche example, a 911 is not an off-road vehicle.

Some of InDesign’s excursions, such as the Digital Publishing Solution, were such aberrations. That’s why the focus is on evolution rather than revolution. But there are considerable fields of action for Adobe InDesign:

Integration with other Adobe products and services will become increasingly important. This does not only mean the Creative Cloud Services, but especially the Marketing Cloud Services. If the link between “offline” and “online” is not successful, InDesign will be reduced to a niche product. Similar to the 911 sports car. As grandiose as it may be as a sports car, it is and remains an elitist niche product.

The integration of InDesign into a multichannel or omnichannel process is therefore of  fundamental importance. One thing is clear: InDesign is a tool for the print channel, whether on paper or in digital form as PDF documents.

For some time now, InDesign has been used not only by well-trained experts, but also by semi-professional occasional users. In addition, there are millennials who expect to be able to use a program in just a few minutes. This requires a new approach to the use of InDesign: basically, it requires a context-dependent reduction to the essentials of user guidance. Property panels are a first step in this direction. But that’s not all. AI and automation must be incorporated to reduce the user workload. Initial approaches can already be seen, for example, in intelligent image detail determination. If you compare this with PowerPoint, where complete layouts are suggested to the user, InDesign is still in its infancy. The applications of automation are manifold and certainly not covered by a standard product. This is why the openness of InDesign guarantees that third-party providers such as WORK II can offer comprehensive and customer-specific automation with the priint:suite. As a software manufacturer we look forward to the next 20 years of Adobe InDesign and are working on new ways of automation for the best DTP program.