You can use tables, just as you can use word processing tabs, and if you use a monospaced font you could use just spaces. But that doesn't mean its the easiest or fastest or best way to accomplish a layout. All of which equate to money. In the late 80's, Manhattan Graphics, and then Ready-Set-Go, were the first programs to use these types of tabs. It was soooooo fast and easy. You didn't have to go to another aspect of the program (like tables - which are a bear to use anyway), you just put in the tabs like you would normally -- just add a depth to them if necessary -- totally optional.
It just seems it would be a simple thing to add in and it would save a substantial amount of time (money) and reduce the learning curve.
You are absolutely right that adding this feature which accomplishes the same thing as using tables would definitely save you a substantial amount of time / money due to the reduced learning curve and your existing familiarity with that particular layout metaphor.
However, it isn't just a simple thing to add in. It is yet another mode to be designed, coded, and forever tested with new releases. And the internal formatting codes would needed to be added not only to the .INDD file format, but also .IDML. And backward saving from .IDML to an older .INDD format would effectively require yet more software to be designed, coded, and tested to convert document segments using this feature back into tables!
Quite frankly, from what I know, this type of feature request from customers simply has not made it into the list of major asks for new InDesign versions. I think most of us "old-timers" learned to use tables for this type of layout.
This is the part that always confuses me.
You are right that it would save me, the customer, a substantial amount of time & money.
I keep forgetting that we are here for computer companies and that they are not here to meet customer needs.
To be honest, I really don't care what it entails to implement a feature that is a benefit to customers -- especially with an application as expensive as InDesign.
Hopefully, Adobe will not need a wakeup call, like the American Auto Industry received, in order to consider features that are time-saving and intuitive rather than flashy and insubstantial but are cheaper to implement.
Perhaps some enterprising soul will come up with a plug-in that will add publishing tabs to the program and sell it for a reasonable price. If they can sell a significant number to Adobe's customers, perhaps Abobe would be willing to buy the copyright for a few million. Just sayin'.
Like nearly everyone else here on the forums I'm a customer, too (and I have no affiliation with Adobe beyond my volunteer status here, before you start saying I'm representing the corporate interest). Your proposal wouldn't benefit me one whit, or at least not nearly enough to make me want to forgo something else, like better footnotes, that HUNDREDS, perhaps thousands, of users have been clamoring for for years.
Features cost money. Adobe has a budget for each product and each release. That budget is never large enough to do everything that everyone (including, by the way, a lot of people who DO work for Adobe) would like to see, so things get prioritized and decisions are made based on the waht the perceived benefit will be to the largest user segement. For everything that makes the cut there is something else that doesn't.
If you want to make a case for why this particular feature should become a part of a future version (and Dov, I don't buy the back-porting argument here -- span/split columns is an example of a new feature that just disappears and there's no reason for me to think the limited depth tabs couldn't just be converted to regular tabs and let the user straighten it out if they're foolish enough to back-port), then file a feature request, and be sure to explain how this has an economic impact on a large user segment.
And yes, features do get added based on that form. It just doesn't always happen, nor does it happen overnight.
Parker Daniels wrote:
... this most basic of publishing features. ...
This is the very first time I'm hearing of this "most basic" function, implemented as described. Can you name any software that does use this system?
According to your description, it sounds like a poor man's implementation of proper tables.
Publishing tabs have a start and a stop. When text goes past the stop, it wraps back to the beginning of the tab. When you press return the cursor jumps to the next line in the tab. When you press tab the cursor jumps back to the top of the next tab so the top lines all align. It really saves a LOT of time having to break, return, and tab text that is too long for a tab column.
Apart from using the Return key instead of the Tab, this exactly describes how (proper ) tables work in InDesign.
Can you name any software that does use this system?
Pasrker already mentioned a system from the dark ages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ready,Set,Go!), and it turns out Ready, Set, Go! is actually still available (though it currently still requires Rosetta on Mac, apparently, and the port to Lion is delayed). Also seems to be a Windows version compatible with Windows 7. One of the pages I read mentioned another feature missing in ID: user defined spaces. Not sure how useful that would be since we have a pretty large variety of prebuilt spaces that we can choose.