Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Ideas for How InDesign and Acrobat Can Be Improved (Kickstarter Ideas)

I am currently at the Print and ePublishing Conference (PePcon) in Austin. Attending the conference with me are InDesign trainers, developers, users from around the world. It's an amazing event and I am so fortunate to be a part. During the course of this event, I have the opportunity to meet with independent InDesign developers as well as members of the Adobe InDesign team. We have so much to talk about! I have plenty of ideas about how to make InDesign (and Acrobat) better. So for you, the InDesign developers of the world, I have prepared detailed notes. I hope find my ideas thought-provoking. But moreover, I hope that you implement my ideas into a future version of InDesign.

And for those of you who are independent developers, if you see any ideas here that you'd be interested in developing, let's chat!


  • Split columns should work at the end of a story, without having to add an extra non-splitting blank paragraph at the end.
  • When creating a hyperlink, Shared Destination should not be the default. 
  • When changing a hyperlink type from Shared Destination to URL (using the dropdown list), Shared Destination is checked by default. Then I have to uncheck it. Every time! Plus, after changing the hyperlink type from Shared Destination to URL, the URL I had before is gone, so then I have to paste/type in the destination URL that I had previously specified.
  • Often (almost always), when making a note in InDesign, after I click the "New Note" button, I can only type one letter and then the text cursor jumps out of the note and back into the regular text flow, just to the right of the note. I think it's only let me make a new note and type directly in the note once or twice. Since most of my documents are from a previous version, this happens most of the time. I found that on new CS6 documents, and documents that I had exported as IDML and then back to INDD, this does not happen. It would be nice if it always worked as expected.

Conditional Text

  • Sub Conditional Text (and here): Parent conditions can set be set that child conditions can all be applied, or be mutually exclusive I am pleased to announce that Rorohiko has built this! Read my writeup about Conditional Text Groups at InDesign Secrets. You can purchase Conditional Text Groups at the Rorohiko website.
  • When renaming a condition, the cursor keys do not work to cursor through the characters in the name.
  • Conditional Table Cells
  • Apply/remove condition of text within cells by selecting a range of cells.
  • An easier way to see the content within a hidden condition. Currently, you have to hover over the little condition marker. I would like to see the content of conditional text in the story editor, just as I can see the content of Notes in the story panel.
  • I would like hidden conditional text to able to be included in Find functions.


  • In the Find/Change Dialog box > Conditions: When searching for text with multiple certain conditions applied, only one of which I know, I cannot find the text unless I know exactly which conditions are applied. If I choose [Any Condition], that forces the checkboxes to act like radio buttons. I need to be able to find the text, regardless if I know all of the conditions are applied. I want to be able to search for Condition 1 + Any Condition.
  • In the same Find/Change dialog box, under conditions, the scroll bar doesn't scroll with the mouse scroll wheel. It just jumps all the way from the top to the bottom. It should scroll properly. This was fixed in InDesign CC!
  • In the Find/Change dialog box > Find Format Settings > Paragraph Style drop down menu: there should be a little twirl down triangle next to each style group, so we can easily see and close the groups.
  • There should also be an option for alphabetizing the list, so it's easier to find what we're looking for. (Same thing goes for listing the paragraph styles in the TOC dialog box).


  • Relative links: I want to be able to specify a links folder where all the links are stored. It should function in the same way as the Document Fonts folder. InDesign should automatically look at the Links folder next to the InDEsign document, and relocate all the links. This should be something that I can turn on and off: a document-specific preference.

Colors and Gradients:

  • Make the gradient panel bigger and easier to use
  • Be able to add rotation to a gradient swatch, and the ability to set type to Linear, Radial, or doesn't matter
  • To be able to set gradient rotation angle in gap colors and paragraph rules
  • Gradients swatches with transparency (not just gradient feather)



  • If my text is set is set to be displayed in points (and it always is) I also want to have other spacing associated with my text be displayed in points as well (such as spacing before and after, indents, etc). Even though I like to layout my entire document in inches, I want to be able to have more options when it comes to setting the units of choice for other things.
  • In: Preferences > Unit and Increments > Other Units: There should be another one listed here besides Stroke. It should be for Effects. Just because I like to work in inches doesn't mean that I want my effects to work in inches. Those should work in points (or whatever I want them to). Perhaps the Stroke unit preference could be "Stroke and Effects."
  • Units in the Strokes Styles dialog box should be the same as the units of measurement as specified in Preferences > Unit and Increments > Other Units > Stroke. (Currently, the units in the stroke styles dialog box is pulled from the default unit of measurement (what you set with no documents open).



To PDF print export:

  • Add the ability to include interactive elements when exporting a Print PDF (for PDF sticky notes and form objects).
  • Add View and Layout options to Print PDF export
  • Add the ability to fix hairlines when exporting to PDF

Table of Contents

  • I would like to be able to tell InDesign which documents will be referenced in the table of contents. Let's say I have 75 documents in a book, but I know that only 20 of them have paragraph styles that will affect the table of contents. InDesign still has to open every single one of the files, even though they won't affect the TOC. 


  • I wish that User Names and colors would automatically determine the PDF note author and color.
  • I'd like to have a drop down property in the Notes panel so that I can choose a different sticky note icon for when the document is exported to PDF. I even designed a new UI for what I think the Notes panel should look like. Check it out here.
  • To be able to add notes independent of text flow, just like I can in Photoshop or Acrobat.
  • To be able to specify a geometric shape as a note, just like using the pencil or rectangle tool in Acrobat (so that the shape appears as a comment in the comments pane in Acrobat.




  • When sharing a file using Adobe send now, add a check box for "Choose Open file." The fields automatically populate sometimes, but I shouldn't have to navigate to a file that I already have open in order to select it as the file I want to send to someone.


  • Provide a list a keyboard shortcuts (quick key accelerators) somewhere within the program, rather than just in the online help file.
  • Make the quick-key accelerators customizable.
  • Bring back command + space bar for the marquee zoom tool.
  • Make Comments pane one of the choices to have visible upon opening a PDF.
  • Add "Fix Hairlines" to the Action Wizard. (Acrobat DC added the ability to create Custom Tools, to which you can add any tools that you want and appear in the Actions list) So I can now activate Fix Hairlines with just clicks, instead of navigating through a bunch of menus)).

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