InDesign is the successor alternative to Adobe's own PageMaker 7 which was acquired with the purchase of Aldus in 1994. By 1998 PageMaker had lost almost the entire professional market to the comparatively feature-rich QuarkXPress 4.1 which was released in 1996. At this point Quark stated their intention to buy out Adobe and to divest the combined company of PageMaker to avoid anti-trust issues. Adobe rebuffed the offer and instead worked on a project built independently of PageMaker, code-named "K2," and released as InDesign 1.0 in 1999.

In 2002, it was the first Mac OS X-native desktop publishing (DTP) software. In version 3 (InDesign CS) it received a boost in distribution by being bundled with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat in the Creative Suite. InDesign exports documents in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) and has multilingual support. It was the first DTP application to support Unicode for text processing, advanced typography with OpenType fonts, advanced transparency features, layout styles, optical margin alignment, and cross-platform scripting using JavaScript.

Later versions of the software introduced new file formats. To support the new features (especially typographic) introduced with InDesign CS, both the program and its document format are not retro-compatible, but InDesign CS2 has the retro-compatible .inx format, an XML-based document representation. InDesign CS versions updated with the 3.01 April 2005 update (free from the Adobe website) can read InDesign CS2-saved files exported to the .inx format. The InDesign Interchange format does not support versions earlier than InDesign CS.

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InDesign Branch
Preceded by
PageMaker 7
InDesign Followed by
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