Adobe CS 5.5 is now available, with free shipping through May 31. There is an option to either upgrade or join the new subscription plan. Quite a few users have expressed concerns about the price of the upgrade; I believe it is the most expensive upgrade in the history of the Creative Suite, and it’s only a point release—with only some of the products being updated. InDesign, Flash Catalyst, and Dreamweaver all have significant updates, so if you use these you might want to consider whether or not the new features make the upgrade worthwhile.
For InDesign users, you certainly want the upgrade if you’re publishing eBooks, as most of the new features have to do with EPUB creation. Some of these new features include:
- Cleaner XHTML: Many improvements here. Just one I’ll describe in detail: in CS 5 the exported XHTML had language declarations for every single paragraph; we had to use Dreamweaver’s find/change to fix this by removing all the paragraph-level language declarations and adding the language instead to the XML section in the header. However, in 5.5 this has been fixed so that it properly declares the language in the page header.
- Image control: CS5’s export had very limited image control. the new export allows you to choose overall size and resolution options, allowing the export of larger images that ebook users can zoom in on, rather than screen-sized images that look badly pixellated when zooming in. In addition, it is possible to control export settings in CS 5.5 for each individual object, or set this in an object style.
- Correct handling of images in layout: in CS 5 if you have an image anchored to the end of a paragraph it will appear in the EPUB as part of that paragraph. As a workaround we had to put extra hard returns in our layouts to which we could anchor the images. Now you can specify that the image should appear centered below the paragraph in the object export options, so that we don’t have to use extra hard returns (which is generally a big no-no).
- Simplified Image Anchoring: we used to have to select an image, cut it out, then click in the text where we wanted to create the anchor, paste, and then reposition the graphic so it went back to the right place on the page. In 5.5 we can simply click and drag a special portion of the image frame to the desired anchor point and it automatically sets the correct anchoring options; the image becomes anchored for export but remains in the same place on the page with no extra work required.
- Suport for InDesign vector content and groups: CS 5 would not export any vector content created in InDesign; shapes and text converted to outlines would simply vanish. in CS 5.5 you can select any object or group and set its export options to rasterize the content at an appropriate size and resolution for onscreen viewing.
- Define CSS classes in InDesign: CS 5.5 has a new tab in the styles dialogs for writing tags for XHTML and PDF. This means you can specify what CSS class will be generated by each of your paragraph styles.
- 5.5 correctly enters the date: EPUB validators would call all EPUBs exported from InDesign CS 5 invalid because they did not properly include the date. While I do not believe this caused any serious problems with any reader devices, it’s still worth pointing out that we can get officially valid EPUBs out of InDesign.
For more information about these new EPUB features:
View a handout I made for the Portland InDesign User Group listing issues with CS5, their workarounds, and whether or not they are fixed with CS 5.5.
A short video from Adobe’s website:
Enhanced eBook authoring in InDesign
Article on InDesign Secrets with screenshots: