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Happy Birthday, InDesign

On August 31, 1999, Adobe announced the immediate shipping of the very first commercially-available version of InDesign. The question ten years ago was not so much, “is it better than QuarkXPress” so much as “does it have a chance of unseating an entrenched page layout standard?” What a difference ten years make.

I first saw an Adobe demo of the yet-to-be-released InDesign 1.0 at the HOW Design Conference in Dallas in June of 1999, a few months before its release. I wasn’t looking to switch, didn’t have the budget for it personally or at my job, and didn’t really believe that it was possible to steer the page layout software industry in a new direction. But I was intrigued. I saw a respect for typography that had been missing on the desktop for the past ten years. I saw some innovative features, and an elegant interface and toolset that reminded me of PageMaker, which I had long ago been forced to give up because of the industry-wide shift to QuarkXPress. But I hoped—really, sincerely hoped—that it would succeed.

I didn’t start dabbling with InDesign until version 2.0, and didn’t start using it in earnest until InDesign CS, at which point, I turned my back on the old regime forever. Since then, InDesign has quite literally changed my life. That’s not something you can say about most software, but it’s entirely true in my case. InDesign has transformed how I work every day, and how I approach my work. My passion for the product has also taught me a lot about myself. Since embracing it and learning all I could, I looked for a way to share that knowledge and that transformation with my fellow designers. That resulted in The InDesigner podcast, which opened the door to magazine articles, seminar workshops, teaching assignments, consulting work, a book, and more exciting projects on the horizon.

My personal association with InDesign has not only made my working life easier, it has broadened my professional life in amazing ways. I have become connected to a global community of fellow designers and many other brilliant software experts. I’ve learned as much, if not more, about myself as much as I have about techniques, features and workflows.

So, today—on InDesign’s 10th birthday—I’d like to thank all of those Adobe engineers, designers, type experts, product managers, and anyone else who had a hand in bringing this product into the world, as well as to all of those who’ve shepherded it along into healthy maturity in the ten years since. My story—and I’m sure that of many others—is likely an end-result of their efforts that was never anticipated. Raise a glass…pat yourself on the back…however you reward yourself: you’ve earned it.


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One Response to “Happy Birthday, InDesign”

  1. Like you, I was forced to use another popular page layout program kicking and screaming. Even though I owned a print shop where the leading software was used, I used PageMaker for all my personal design work. I didn’t jump at InDesign either until CS, but have been absolutely won over ever since–not just with ID but with the entire suite.

    I admit, I was skeptical at first as to whether Adobe could take over the market at that point by bringing out something totally new. It took a few years, but they worked at it diligently.

    Thanks to Adobe for listening to designers, typographers, and printers and, in turn, making products that are useful and relevant.

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