The new Silicon Designer is scheduled for release in January of 2020. We are very happy with the state of the product and its direction. Silicon Publishing people are fresh from the Adobe MAX conference, where David Blatner showed Designer in one of his InDesign presentations, so we had a webinar to show the things we thought were cool at MAX and the state of our product, which has seen steady advances over the past two years.

Following is an overview of the webinar along with links to related information.

The Best of Adobe Max 2019

Adobe MAX was packed this year, with nearly 20,000 attendees from around the world converging in Los Angeles. Some highlights:

  • Creativity for all, on the go: Photoshop on the iPad is officially released, with Illustrator on the iPad coming soon. Adobe released a Photoshop camera app, and Fresco is now available on the Surface. Silicon Designer fits well with the trend towards empowering non-designers to create well-designed content.
  • InDesign turned 20:  Shantanu called out this milestone in his keynote. InDesign CC2020 has many new features, our favorite being SVG support. David Blatner had an awesome session on these new features, and even showed our Silicon Designer in the context of a gentle introduction to InDesign Server.
  • XD Features continued to expand: a number of impressive XD features were released, including co-editing, document history, and component states. Dear to our hearts is their continued dedication to third-party developers. The extensibility (now finding its way into other CC products) gets better and better.
  • As usual, celebrities and famous designers/artists were there: we especially enjoyed a talk by Billie Eilish & Takashi Murakami on Creative Collaboration.
  • The traditional Sneak Peaks were again inspiring: particularly interesting was Project About Face, a tool for validating the integrity of photographs. Having given us the tools of illusion with Photoshop, Adobe is now working on the antidote.

All in all, a great MAX conference. The CC2020 release itself was probably the most impactful news: attendees were trying it out as they learned about it. We were really happy this year that the InDesign team did such an awesome job of supporting the extensibility features, which made it possible for us to offer CC2020 versions of many of our plugins/extension concurrently.

I have to admit that our favorite moment at the conference was seeing David Blatner explain InDesign Server and show Silicon Designer to nearly 1,500 people in attendance for his session “Adobe InDesign: Pro-Level Secrets”. Not everyone knows about these niche software products, although from our myopic perspective, they are the pinnacle of technology itself.

Silicon Designer: InDesign for the Rest of Us

For anyone new to Silicon Designer, a quick overview may be in order. Silicon Designer is a platform for editing InDesign documents, through a web interface. An InDesign template is marked up to define which content is editable in which way and uploaded onto a web server, which then creates a web-based editing experience.

Silicon Designer

Silicon Designer

The idea is not to replace InDesign, which still remains the tool of choice for high-end design. Instead, it is to enable non-designers to work from a customizable, web-based interface, editing templates or documents created in desktop InDesign, with their edits reflected in a memory-resident InDesign file using InDesign Server. We can generate an actual InDesign file if desired, but more commonly we generate an image for proofing, or a high-quality PDF for print output.

We pride ourselves on several principles that have guided this platform for well over a decade:

  • We have de-coupled the behaviors of the application from the user interface. No two Designers look the same, as it is so easy to customize, and can provide very different user experiences based on any given use case.
  • We support web-based editing through the right combination of modern, standards-based approaches. This is well-explained in our blog post Silicon Designer and the Power of Web Standards.
  • We build Silicon Designer in a modern, modular way with RESTful services and JavaScript interfaces. It can reside inside a shopping cart, a DAM, a workflow system, or a web portal; and it can easily interface with external image galleries, data sources, and other systems.
  • We use the powerful InDesign engine to render output via Adobe InDesign Server. This is literally InDesign itself, so it has all of the wonderful capabilities, including support for native PSD and AI files, standard PDF job options, and the suite of wonderful typographical and graphic features that make it the tool of choice for print rendition.
  • We use InDesign templates to define the editing experience for the template at a very granular level. Users can define, for example, that a given text frame can only change the text, not the style, or that copy fit for a given frame is applied in real time in a specific way. Objects can be locked down, made movable, rotatable, etc., at the page item level.

As I explained in my blog post Five Considerations in User Interface for Online Design, there is not a single one-size-fits all user interface for online editing. A grandmother creating a greeting card may benefit from a simple interface where she can’t make mistakes, while a salesperson editing a price should probably not be allowed to override brand guidelines; at the other extreme, a student making a school yearbook might want to go to town with drop shadows, rotated images showing through non-rectangular clipping paths, wild fonts, or other creative design features. Silicon Designer covers the extremes from guided to free-form editing, and everywhere in between.

The New Silicon Designer

We have spent the past 2 years on two major threads of activity to advance our Silicon Designer product:

  • We have built out the features around WYSIWYG, on-canvas editing. These are now very robust, with features such as multi-select, alignment tools, snap-to-grid, transparency effects, and layers panels.
  • We have optimized the scalability, throughput, and flexibility of form-based online editing, for those needing less creative power and a more brand-driven experience.

We now offer more client-side features, with greater scalability and server-side capability than at any point in our history. Yet we continue our tradition of supporting a flexible user experience by offering hybrid client-centric and server-centric approaches through a single platform.

See how simply Silicon Designer makes creating beautiful creative design and marketing content to everyone in your organization: book a free expert consultation now.

The Silicon Designer Roadmap

As highlighted in the webinar, we have big things underway for the future. expanding the product significantly:

  • We continue to unify our work in server-based rendition and client-side on- canvas editing, enabling a single system to span the extremes and anything in between.
  • We will offer a more robust “Starter Kit” with greater exposure of our APIs for quick implementation and easy extensibility.
  • We continue developing long document features. The evolution of Designer in some ways parallels what we saw with InDesign itself.
  • We are working more and more with semantic XML, story editing, and component-based authoring.
  • We are creating more dimensional features to visualize 2D print, enabling previews of products such as mugs and shirts, while supporting 3D printing.
  • We are interfacing with our variable data publishing solutions.
  • We are making advances in concert with Adobe’s technology trajectory, synched with the evolution of InDesign itself while expanding to interface more fully with both Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud products.

As always, we are driven by the goals of our clients and partners, and we welcome ideas from the industry. It truly is an honor to be part of the global Adobe community.

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