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What is Adobe® InDesign® Server?

Adobe InDesign Server software is a layout and composition engine that powers automated publishing solutions. Based on InDesign software, it offers the ability to automate the design, layout, and typographical capabilities of the desktop application through scripting and plugins and by integrating into others systems such as publishing workflow, digital asset management or product information management systems.

InDesign Server is a proven and tested application with an extensive network of Adobe partners and developers that have created solutions that help customers increase return on investment (ROI) in many ways, including:

  • Automating repetitive processes
  • Increasing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by automating the creation of brand assets
  • Integrating into portals and websites to allow marketers or consumers to modify InDesign templates through a web browser to localize, translate or customize without having to use InDesign
  • Automating the creation of many document types such as catalogs, brochures and longer structured documents by connecting to data sources such as DAM, PIM or eCommerce systems


Is InDesign Server compatible with InDesign for desktop?

Adobe releases a new version of InDesign Server shortly after every desktop release.  If your solution requires that InDesign files be compatible between desktop InDesign and InDesign Server, we recommend that customers first determine what version of InDesign desktop they are using or will be using in this workflow.

Version numbers of InDesign Server and InDesign desktop should match for optimum compatibility. To find the current version of your InDesign desktop version, do the following in InDesign: InDesign > About InDesign.

To find what version of InDesign Server is currently available, visit the tech specs page.


How does InDesign Server integrate with an existing Creative Cloud workflow?

If your company uses software, such as InDesign, InDesign Server can import content from many of those desktop applications. InDesign Server can also export content in a number of formats used by Creative Cloud components.


How does InDesign Server differ from Adobe InDesign and InCopy® software?

InDesign Server is based on the desktop version of InDesign, but there are important differences:

  • InDesign Server has no built-in user interface.
  • Like InDesign , InDesign Server can be driven through scripting and C++ plug-ins. However, InDesign Server can also be driven through a SOAP interface or Java™ APIs.
  • Solutions powered by InDesign Server can scale as requirements change, with support for multiple instances running on multiple servers.
  • InDesign Server has been rigorously tested to help ensure that it delivers long periods of continuous uptime.
  • InDesign Server has been designed and tested to work on the server versions of the Windows® and Mac OS operating systems.
  • InCopy, also based on InDesign , is a copyediting and copyfitting tool for use in publishing workflows. While InDesign Server does not replace InCopy, it can provide similar functionality in an automated publishing solution, often in the form of a web-based editor. These solutions can exist on their own or as part of a desktop InCopy workflow.


What kinds of output can be generated from InDesign Server?

InDesign Server provides the same export capabilities as InDesign and can export to a number of formats, including INDD, PDF, EPUB, EPS, PostScript®, FLA, JPEG, XHTML, SWF, IDML, and InDesign snippets.


What are the minimum system requirements for running the InDesign Server engine?

You can find the system requirements for the InDesign Server engine on the tech specs page.


What’s the difference between InDesign Server and an automated publishing solution powered by InDesign Server?

InDesign Server is a layout and composition engine. Only by combining it with other software components can you build an end-to-end automated publishing solution. Many DAM, PIM and Publishing workflow systems vendors provide integration with InDesign Server


What is web to print?

Web to print refers to solutions in which customers use a web browser to modify a template created in InDesign through a simplified web interface. This allows non-designers to customize, personalize or translate InDesign files. There are a number of B2C solutions developed by printers and B2B solutions for brand collateral


What is Variable Data Publishing?

Variable Data Publishing (VDP) refers to solutions that use database information to automatically populate templates and create many versions of the same document, each intended for a different person. InDesign Server is used to power many of VDP solutions and can scale to meet higher volume production requirements. 


How does Adobe support InDesign Server?

Adobe provides a number of developer resources at our I/O site. The SDK for InDesign and InDesign Server are essentially the same. Scripts developed on desktop can then be run on server. Many developers start on the desktop.

This blog answers a number of questions on how to get started with InDesign Server.  

Adobe offers developer support through our Exchange program, which is designed for those developing solutions and allows for the purchase of support cases as needed.


What skills do I need to develop my own automated publishing solution?

You should have a track record of building publishing solutions and a working knowledge of some of the following: C++, scripting, SOAP, and XML. Ideally, you should also have some experience developing for the desktop version of InDesign so that you understand the challenges associated with automated publishing.

InDesign Server also includes support for IDML, which allows you to represent the complete richness of an InDesign document in a published XML format. This provides new opportunities for developers who have experience creating and manipulating XML. Using IDML, you can build a large portion of a solution without InDesign scripts or plug-ins. Once you have created an IDML document, you can then use InDesign or InDesign Server to render the document into an InDesign file format, such as INDD or PDF.


Where can I get further information if I want to develop my own solution?

Contact Adobe Sales or contact a member of the InDesign Server team directly at sharewithIDS@adobe.com, for more information on developing a custom InDesign Server solution.


What languages does InDesign Server support?

InDesign Server supports the same languages as Desktop. For supported languages, see the InDesign Server tech specs.


Is InDesign Server scalable?

InDesign Server can scale to the requirements of individual businesses. Depending on the license you have purchased, you can run a single instance on a single processor or multiple instances on multiple cores or servers.


Is there a trial version of InDesign Server?

Yes, Adobe offers a free, fully functional, 90 day time-limited version of InDesign Server at this prerelease site. The trial version allows customers to evaluate an Adobe partner’s automated publishing solution before purchase. 

The trial version of InDesign Server is not the same as the developer versions. Adobe provides a watermarked version to developers free of charge if you are a member of the Technology Partner Program. Customers may purchase a Development version without watermark for testing and staging.


What kind of documentation is available to explain the capabilities of InDesign Server?

Visit the InDesign Developer Center to find technical documentation for InDesign Server.


Will I violate the terms of the End-User License Agreement (EULA) if I use the desktop version of InDesign as a server engine?

Yes, the EULA for the desktop version of InDesign does not allow for its use as a server engine to power an automated publishing solution or to be shared by others. Use of InDesign desktop for scripting is limited to the named user that has purchased the subscription.


Are there advantages to licensing a solution or technology from another partner rather than developing from the ground up?

Building an entire solution in-house can help you manage development costs, gain expertise with InDesign Server, and retain control over the end product. However, using technology from another partner may help you lower risks, get to market sooner, and leverage the development experience of others. Adobe does not offer consulting or training so consider working with a partner unless you have expertise in house. 


Does InDesign Server have built-in load balancing and queue management?

Adobe does not provide load balancing any longer. Several partners have standalone load balancing solutions available commercially.


How fast is InDesign Server?

InDesign Server is designed to be a very fast server engine that, for example, can create many thousands of PDF files in an hour. However, customers and developers should understand the difference between InDesign Server and a solution powered by InDesign Server. A solution powered by InDesign Server contains other technology and factors that have an impact on speed and scalability.

The InDesign Server SDK contains a Performance and Scalability Toolkit, which allows developers to measure the speed of InDesign Server alone and offers a way to measure the speed of InDesign Server as part of a broader publishing solution. This toolkit includes a console to monitor and report the results of these tests, as well as prebuilt scripts that enable you to run tests out of the box. The Performance and Scalability Toolkit also contains guidance on how to optimize the performance of InDesign Server.


What other resources are available to developers working with InDesign Server?

Developers may also find the Adobe Forums a useful resource. These forums provide an opportunity to post questions to other InDesign Server developers; however, they are not designed to be used to replace formal support, as there is no guarantee that a question will be answered.

Developers new to InDesign Server may want to consider engaging with other partners who can provide support, guidance, or even development consultancy for a fee. A list of InDesign Server partners can be found in the partner finder.


What can partners do to help Adobe market their companies and solutions?

Enroll in the Exchange program. You should make sure an Adobe account manager or partner manager knows the details of your solution as it comes to market so you can be considered for inclusion in the partner finder. 


What should a partner do to be considered for inclusion in the InDesign Server partner finder?

You should have a shipping product with customer references, or offer development training and support services to other partners or customers. If you are enrolled in the Exchange program already, contact the Help Desk to request your solution be listed