This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Which desktop publishing software to use

In spite of all the excitement and talk about the web, the really big money in the graphics world has always been, and still is, desktop publishing. My career started with the invention of desktop publishing, and I have been watching the different software companies jostle for the big prize.

As if this writing, Adobe InDesign is the best choice for desktop publishing. If that's the only desktop publishing software you have ever known, great, but watch out! Be ready for "the next thing". I've seen it happen in my industry and if you aren't paying attention to trends, you will be left behind.

The first successful software program for desktop publishing was called, appropriately enough, PageMaker. It was made by a company called Aldus. And for several years, they were the only game in town. Their competition in the early 90s was a software program called "QuarkXPress" (for no reason I have ever found), which blew Pagemaker away with new features that PageMaker didn't, or couldn't keep up with. By the mid-nineties, everyone in the desktop publishing industry was using Quark. As a graphic designer, if you didn't want to switch to Quark, your career was over.

That's when the software company Adobe purchased PageMaker from Aldus. Adobe already had Photoshop and Illustrator. Good programs that made them a lot of money, but nothing close to what they could get if they could develop a Quark-killer. And they did.

I saw the first version of InDesign in the late nineties, and it was pretty sad. Version 1.1 was so buggy and so terrible that Quark users, like me, just laughed at it. But I watched it. Over a period of time, Adobe phased out PageMaker and worked on upgrading InDesign. The results have been spectacular. Not only is InDesign much better than QuarkXPress, it has the built-in advantage of being an Adobe product. And because of Photoshop, everybody is familiar with the Adobe interface. In fact, if you are one of those people who learned both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, when you opened up InDesign, you could operate it easily!

If you are nervous about learning InDesign, don't be. If you know Photoshop, you are halfway there. The other half-way step is Adobe Illustrator, which is a secret a lot of people don't know. Adobe InDesign is really just Adobe Illustrator with more bells and whistles. Trying to learn InDesign before Illustrator is too many steps. Take the step in between and it will be easy!

Get Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator under your belt and you will be able to use any desktop publishing software that comes along!