Seybold seminars, the technical meeting for those who use computers in publishing, returned to Boston's Hynes Convention Center in March after a two-year sojourn in New York. The reaction of both exhibitors and attendees was extremely positive, with attendance setting records, according to Ziff-Davis group v-p Bruce Gray, organizer of the event. "We had more than 18,000 attendees, and 350 exhibitors registered," Gray said. Exhibitors especially had objected to both the expense and the logistical difficulties in New York.

The news from the floor, however, was more mixed. The good news included the introduction of Adobe Systems' long-awaited page-layout program, now officially called InDesign. InDesign seems more intended to compete head-to-head with the corporate-scale Quark Publishing System, rather than the individual-designer-scaled Quark XPress, for which PageMaker remains the principal competitor.

As industry consultant Stephan Jaeggi noted, "Given the complexity of the program, and the schedule for release of different components [many modules for Macintoshes won't be released for another quarter or more], InDesign seems to be a system for large publishing corporations using Windows."

Another Adobe rollout welcomed loudly was the new Acrobat 4, with improved Portable Document Format (PDF) work-flow handling of color and fonts.

In the past, only 13 font families were automatically supported in PDF files, and designers who specified another font without including ("embedding") the actual characters in the electronic file, would find their specification overridden by one of the 13 basic fonts. Acrobat 4 allows designers to specify any Adobe-approved font and to embed any special fonts or characters.

Unfortunately, under the new PDF rules, if a designer modifies a character and d sn't embed the new character in the file, when the printer's imagesetter reaches this unfamiliar character, it will leave a blank space in the final printed product (and no preflight checks will catch this error). Several prominent publishers have been forced recently to pulp substantial print runs because of this glitch. For the time being, it seems, there is no substitute for final blueline proofs.