Why doesn't InDesign have a feature like custom kerning tables?

Tilman EndeTilman Ende Posts: 2
edited September 2021 in Type Design Software
Yes, it is about the custom tables for manipulating kerning pairs in QuarkXpress that it seems many users would love to see in InDesign. It's an old and common feature request. Nothing i care for but of course I would call the solutions, that exist instead, less intuitive.
As I thought about it, I wondered if maybe there was a specific reason Adobe didn't want an implementation like that. Some people are guessing font licensing as an explanation, but does copying kerning values ​​from a font count as piracy?


  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 165
    edited September 2021
    Because if it makes no difference in sales why spend money on adding it? As long as there’s no alternatives, they are more interested in features which attract new beginners rather than satisfying the needs of few high-level nerds. So still no variable fonts or even OT features in AE, and you’re hoping for custom kerning tables? :wink:
  • There is a script by Peter Kahrel that allows custom kerning pairs in ID...not quite like the nicety in QXP, but serviceable.
  • It does seem weird that Adobe never added this feature. At the time InDesign was released in 1999, QuarkXPress was the market leader, way ahead of PageMaker, which lost its early lead by the mid '90s. (InDesign replaced PageMaker.) I suspect that Adobe would have implemented this feature if a lot of users were using it in QuarkXPress. The fact that they didn't leads me to believe that it wasn't used much by Quark users, or not enough to make it a priority for Adobe to copy. Of course, I'm just speculating. I'd be curious to hear from someone who was there.
  • I think you are correct, Mark. To this day there many/most Q users have no idea about the feature.

    Back in the day, it was a great feature due, I think, too even of letter spacing, whether too loose or, less often, too tight. While I still use the feature once in a blue moon with newer fonts, it's rare as manual kerning takes care of the odd need.
  • InDesign 1.0 was total crap, and it screwed up the other Adobe programs linked to it. I couldn't uninstall it fact enough.
  • @Nick Curtis An Agfa technician was in our plant about nine months after InDesign 1.0 was released and he said among their support staff they referred to it as "PageMaker in a dress" which was a reflection of their opinion of it.
  • Adobe pay sattention to feature requests. Start a twitter campaign to get people to request kern tables with the official feature request web site. When enough people asked for a glyph palette in Photoshop they added it. And now they’re adding Harfbuzz to Indesign because people kept asking.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,846
    I used that feature in Quark a lot, in the 1990s, before I switched to InDesign. 
    For instance, a custom kerning table for Palatino (sorry, Hermann!)
    Also custom tracking/letterspacing—good for size-specific setting, as you can plot letterspacing against size.

    BTW, the reason I dropped Quark was its lack of OpenType support.
  • Tilman EndeTilman Ende Posts: 2
    edited September 2021
    @James Puckett It is a recurring topic on the official feature request. Also the question is not if this can be done with InDesign. @Mike Wenzloff Kahrel’s books and scripts are a great source. How i understand the ongoing debate from former QuarkXpress users however is that InDesign in this regard is very cumbersome. 

    It might be a design decission. Adobe aims not exclusively at professionals and tools for a higher degree of control dont offer their full potential without using scripts. Maybe they dont want to make it look too technical.
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