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Issue 21.5 ('Photomosaics')
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Long Memories

Put yourself in your user's shoes

Issue: 21.5 (September/October 2023)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Author Bio: Marc taught himself programming in high school when he bought his first computer but had no money for software. He's had fun learning ever since.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 11,167
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 21502
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

I have been using Adobe InDesign since version 1.0 debuted on Mac OS X a long, long time ago. At the time, I was a pro at using Aldus PageMaker (and Quark Xpress, though I hated it), but the Adobe-Aldus "merger" was killing off PageMaker and InDesign was a from-the-ground rebuild of a pro-level desktop publishing app and represented the future. I remember deciding early on to use OS X and InDesign for my new REALbasic Developer magazine for that very reason.

In those early days, however, InDesign definitely had a few bugs. It still does, of course, but these days they generally aren't fatal. Back then, bugs might permanently damage your document or crash the app. That once happened to me, corrupting a document and requiring me to redo all my work from the beginning (fortunately, I was only a few hours in so it wasn't an utter catastrophe, but it still stung).

To this day, over 20 years later, I still periodically make a duplicate of my xDev layout file while I'm working on a new issue (see Figure 1). I just select it in the Finder and hit Command-D to make a copy. Once the issue is put to bed, I can delete those extras, but if there's damage to my document I don't have to start over from scratch. (Note that I do this even though my document is on Dropbox and has old versions saved in the cloud I can restore from in the case of corruption.)

The funny thing is that I haven't seen permanent corruption of an InDesign file in I don't know how long. More than a decade, surely. Yet those early bugs caused a permanent change in how I work.

Another one is almost funny. Eons ago, probably in 2002 when I launched this magazine, I was working on a layout and used InDesign's "Arrange" menu to send the selected item "back" (so it wouldn't cover up another item). The application instantly crashed. It was so sudden and unexpected, I was terrified of using that command thereafter.

Just recently, during the production of the last xDev issue, I used that command. It's something I probably use dozens of times per issue, rearranging the layering of items on a page in the magazine. I have literally never seen InDesign crash ever again from that command—it only happened that one time 20+ years ago—and yet all these years later, after conservatively using that command thousands of times since, every time I go to use it I hesitate for a fraction of a second. My fingertips tingle and I get a chill down my back. I glance at the document's Save state to make sure I've saved my latest work so I won't lose anything.

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