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Beta of InDesign Cross-References plugin

updated 09:20 am EDT, Wed June 20, 2007

Cross-References plugin

DTP Tools has launched a beta of its new Cross-References plugin for Adobe's InDesign CS2 and CS3. Cross-References, a modular system for referencing need, inspired by a similar feature in Adobe FrameMaker while taking a full advantage of InDesign's environment utilizing paragraph and character styles with XML driven format, the company said. The plugin can work as hyperlinks for electronic output, formats can be defined to automatically localize the reference according to the text language. References can point across files with live updates for all open documents. Users can reference file name, page number, paragraph number, paragraph text and chapter number (in CS3) as well as specify elements with their own character styles including overrides, language settings and localization alternates. Cross-References plugin is available for InDesign CS2/CS3 on both Windows and Mac OS X. A single license price is $130.

by MacNN Staff





  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Terrific Idea

    This is a terrific idea. I used to publish books with FrameMaker and when Adobe (boo, hiss) dropped FrameMaker for Macs, I shifted to InDesign.

    ID has a number of advantages over FM. ID-formatted text looks better, for instance and font support is state of the art. For what it does, ID typically does it better than FM. Indexing is far easier in ID than the painful handcoding required in FM.

    FM was a marvelous application circa 1995, but Adobe has done little to improve it since, making only minimum changes to each new version (which was why the Mac version sold poorly), and not integrating it into the CS family of applications as a "technical" suite. Adobe execs appear to have no ego investment in FM. The result is that a lot of FM users wonder if Adobe will even keep alive the Windows version past the upcoming 8.0.

    ID's problems lie in what it does not do. It can't for instance italicize selected text inside an index, a major flaw that I had to kludge around using CS3's powerful search and replace function. Until CS3, ID couldn't handle running headers and it still won't do sidebars or let users shift between single and multicolumn text inside a text frame like FM does. And that last lack is particularly painful, forcing users to dabble with multiple frames whose location on a page shifts anytime the text length changes. Things that are easy in FM remain hard or impossible in ID.

    In the beginning, ID was clearly designed for complex magazine and newspaper layouts with few book features. Each version has added more of the sort of features book publishers need, but the gap between FM, which was designed for long, complex books, and ID remains. Cross-references was one thing books often need that FM does well (which is why DTP Tools points to FM as an example). This adds cross-references to ID and does so at a great price. Too many ID add-ons are too pricey, costing as much as Adobe upgrades to add one feature.

    I can only hope that when Adobe adds cross-referencing to ID, hopefully in a to-be-wished for CS 3.5, they do so by acquiring this code, rather than simply shutting DTP out with a product that will no longer sell.

    --Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

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