InterfaceAdobe InDesign CS6 sports the same familiar interface of other recent versions of the page-design program. In the past, Adobe (and other graphic arts software makers) took a lot of heat for delivering cramped and cluttered workspaces. But I find it hard to complain about InDesign anymore. Menus and toolbars snap in and out of place easily. Preset buttons let you switch quickly from one customized set of tools to another. In InDesign, I think Adobe has found an ideal balance by providing more than enough features but not cramming them all onto the screen at once. In its official press materials, Adobe doesn't even mention InDesign's interface, because it's no different than before. But to me, that says Adobe got it right. And I think that's worth an acknowledgment.
New Features Alternate Layout. Designers, especially those who make marketing materials, know that one project is never a single piece of work. That poster you spent two weeks creating? It also needs to be a banner, a direct mail card, and oh, did anyone mention the new iPhone app that will have the same look?
InDesign's new Alternate Layout feature removes much (but not all) of the tedium of replicating and reconfiguring content for different page dimensions and uses. Say you've designed a two-page magazine spread that needs to be ported for viewing on an iPad. Select "iPad" from the Alternate Layout menu, and not only will the right dimensions appear for the new design, but all the content that you need to reuse, like text boxes and images, will be copied to that workspace as well. Plus, that new workspace is right in the same document in which you started. It's still up to you, the designer, to figure out how to fit the page elements onto the new layout (unless you use Liquid Rules, discussed in more detail below), but InDesign at least gets you started by laying out all the pieces of the puzzle.
Liquid Layouts. Think of Liquid Layouts as template rules for porting content. This new feature lets you set up rules for moving content from one layout to an alternate one, which is helpful if you tend to design for the same dimensions and platforms over and over again. You can scale content, re-center it, and align assets to guides. There's also an object-based rule that lets you tell InDesign how to adjust a specific object and where to place it. Liquid Layouts don't make the work a cakewalk by any means, but they can cut out a lot of time for designers who adapt the same kinds of content from one template to another over and over again.