ever since Adobe launched their Creative Suite back in 2003 there has been ongoing speculation about when the various elements would be combined into a single application. the obvious contenders right from the start were InDesign and Illustrator since their functionality overlapped in many respects.
the problem has always been, however, that the fundamental architecture of the two products is completely different, even though the user experience is quite similar. the main reason for this is that Illustrator was developed from the ground up by Adobe, but InDesign is basically an expansion of Pagemaker — originally developed by Aldus.
well it appears that the merger is now well and truly in the pipeline with beta testing in full swing. if you’re not yet involved, you can apply to take part in Adobe’s Prerelease Program here
as with most beta versions there is still a lot of clunkiness to sort out, but the developers have also come up with some quite reasonable solutions to the inevitable problems. one example is the tool panel which, by default, is a monster hybrid of the two panels we are already familiar with. but there are also panel presets for just-InDesign and just-Illustrator panels. and now you can also specify your own custom tool panel, just as you’ve been able to do with menus since CS4 :
it looks like Adobe are planning to ease users into this new way of working because the new document window will now let you choose ‘artboards‘ or ‘pages‘ as the intent (the rest of the window changes depending on which intent you choose) — effectively keeping the two working styles independent, at least for the time being :
as with all change there are many who are not happy. generally speaking, it looks like the mainly-InDesign users aren’t too concerned, whereas the Illustrator aficionados are not at all happy (probably because Adobe is attempting to integrate the Illustrator functionality into InDesign, rather than the other way around) — some uncharitable testers have taken to calling the new application IllDesign.
there are also those who, perhaps not without reason, have questioned the timing — suggesting that Adobe had plenty of opportunity during the ten years of the Creative Suite to get this hybrid up and running but that they kept it under wraps to enable them to continue selling the two separately. obviously that is no longer a concern now that everything is integrated into Creative Cloud.
you can read more at the Adobe forums : forums.adobe.com/community/creative_cloud/indesign_illustrator_merge