The Flight InDesign Plugin that we developed a year ago is getting renewed attention recently, including an update for 2017 and new, easier, installers. I spoke at the Canto DAM Summit last week, and in preparation I explored a new cool feature that we're slating for the next release, made possible thanks to the gradual evolution of Adobe CC Extension technology. Related to that is a better way of expressing the value of our core Silicon Connector technology, which can be seen by looking in a bit more detail at the other, bad alternatives to it. Below is my presentation from the Canto DAM Summit Americas 2017.

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Adobe InDesign is the tool of choice for page layout, yet it is a relatively old piece of software, originating in the late 1990s. While InDesign has a concept of "links", its initial approach to graphic references was fundamentally that of desktop software prior to the age of the world wide web. Concepts of linked text in InDesign have evolved slowly over the past 15 years.

A link in InDesign is not, by default, a URL, as one might expect of today's programs. Instead, InDesign links are pointers to assets that are local (on the physical drive of the computer running InDesign) or available across the local network (via a network share). A simple plug-in (our Silicon Connector) can bring InDesign into the modern age, where true URLs enable cloud-based workflows, but we'll get to that later.

Silicon Connector for Box 2.0 is finally available! When Silicon Connector for Box first came out in 2013, it was designed to let InDesign users access assets in the Box cloud directly. Since then, the Connector product has become so popular that we've added Connectors for 10 other DAMs/storage platforms. We have gotten continually better at extending Adobe Creative Cloud technologies, and we have now applied that experience to bring integration between Adobe CC and Box to an entirely new level.

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It started with a naive InDesign user

Silicon Connector first saw the light of day in 2010, when we at Silicon Publishing were building a large-scale online editing solution for a major client. Our solution was based on Adobe InDesign and Adobe InDesign Server, which were brand-new to this tech-savvy and ambitious organization we were working with. Although the client instantly understood the superiority of InDesign for page rendition and output quality, they looked at InDesign with very fresh eyes and came up with a big feature request.

“These links are barbaric!” said their brilliant technology lead. “They go to the file system, not to URLs as a real link should in this day and age.”

Silicon Publishing co-founder and CEO talks of Silicon Publishing's origins, where they are today, and where they are headed in the future in this interview with Superb Crew.

Silicon Connector is enjoying huge popularity, and as we build out more and more implementations (12 Connectors and counting!) the product is becoming more clearly defined, while the product roadmap is also taking shape. While the main feature of "connecting InDesign to URL-based assets" is itself quite enough of a product to save large authoring groups immense amounts of time, the "nice-to-have" features have taken on a life of their own, and become common to most new implementations. Here I will clarify the ways the product definition is being extended, now and into the future.

I hope to explain:

  1. What we originally meant by the term "Silicon Connector" and how this was consistently rather poorly explained by us, and in turn how it was often misinterpreted by the world.
  2. What we mean now by "Silicon Connector". How to understand what this product is, and what it does.
  3. Where the product and its many variants (AEM Connector, the InDesign Plugin for Flight, the Widen InDesign Plugin, WebDAM CC Connector, etc.) are headed.

In places, this post quotes heavily from the original blog post about Silicon Connector that came out when we first announced this product in 2010. At that point of time we had a narrow perspective on the product. Six years later, it has grown quite organically and evolves in response to feedback from thousands of users worldwide, as it connects InDesign to a diverse and growing array of over 10 Digital Asset Management systems.

With the CC2015 launch, Adobe finally announced the inevitable, which many of us expected from the moment they acquired Fotolia, and some of us imagined much earlier: Adobe Stock. This has been a very long time in coming, and it completes an initiative from many years ago, one that we have witnessed from the beginning and participated in. There is nothing new about the concept of Adobe Stock, but the technology underpinnings and business model have both gone through some changes.

2005: Adobe Stock Photos is Launched

If you have been around a long time, you may remember the Creative Suite 2 launch, of April 2005. The announcement is not so different:

Adobe Stock Photos is a new service introduced with Adobe Creative Suite 2 software. Offering one- stop shopping from within your favorite Adobe applications, Adobe Stock Photos is an efficient and convenient way for creative professionals to search, try, manage, and buy high-quality, royalty-free stock images. Adobe Stock Photos provides access to over 230,000 photos and illustrations from some of the world’s leading stock image libraries including Photodisc® by Getty Images, Comstock Images® by Jupitermedia®, Digital Vision®, imageshopTM royalty free by zefaimagesTM, and amana®.

We have just completed our eighth Silicon Connector, and over the coming months you will see some amazing new advances in connecting InDesign to remote assets, across the DAMs with which we have just finished integration. Because Connector lets InDesign talk directly to assets living in cloud-based DAMs, it is becoming very popular recently.

We have just identified the DAM that will become the ninth Silicon Connector. We chose Alfresco because, based on past experience, we know it is a solid system, and we see the user base growing recently. Alfresco is not just a DAM, it is a CMS, but our initial work is going to be just getting InDesign to talk to the assets using Silicon Connector. CMS integration has potential as well, but asset connectivity comes first, and this is very easy for us given the Connector foundation.

We have been working hard on our Silicon Connector product, and as it grows exponentially in popularity, its value versus any alternative connecting Adobe InDesign to DAMs and cloud-based storage systems is being confirmed again and again based on the feedback of thousands of users around the world. Here are both the specifics of the roadmap and the general software product development lessons learned from product feedback over the past 3 years, especially during the past 6 months.

At the time Adobe InDesign was created, 15 years ago, it was generally impractical to store print-quality assets on web servers. A decade and a half later, however, the maturity of cloud-based file storage and asset management systems is making links from InDesign to assets housed in modern platforms, such as Box, a powerful solution for creative professionals.

Asset storage as of Adobe InDesign 1.0

Adobe InDesign is the tool of choice for the creation of high-quality print documents. It is nearly ubiquitous among those creating newspapers, magazines, books, catalogs, marketing collateral, or almost anything that prints. InDesign started out as a competitor to QuarkXPress, and given the dominance of Adobe in tangential technology (PostScript, PDF, PhotoShop, Illustrator) along with substantial and well-focused investment in the product, it was inevitable that InDesign would take the place of Quark at the center of high-end publishing workflows.

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