First Look: InDesign CS5.5

Keith White
30 June, 2011
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Just spent a day getting out of the InDesign print world into the InDesign digital publishing world and my head’s still spinning. I’ve published a few local history books in ID and converted them easily to PDF for iPad viewing. I’ve also done a couple of pieces in ePub format but I was interested in learning about the wider multimedia possibilities that ID 5.5 offers – embedded video, audio and interactive objects.

At the end of the day I’m not sure if I really know what I’m doing but I’ve got a rough three-page document ready for enclouding in the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. I’ve got a text box (duh!) an image you can zoom and pan on, an image you can explore through 360 degrees, a movie, an audio file and a slideshow

So how did I get here? Start with ID 5.5. The .5 upgrade is mostly about digital publishing and has some powerful new tools to get you there.

I started with a couple of videos on the Adobe site by guru Terry White (no relation) which gave me a glimpse of the path I needed to follow. Yes ID 5.5 has powerful tools which do a lot of work for you but that doesn’t mean no pain at all. For starters I found I needed to download Adobe Air and then its satellite Adobe Content Viewer (both free). I also found I needed to make the acquaintance of some new items in ID’s Window menu. Firstly Articles which holds the various components of my publication; then Extensions which contains the Overlay Creator and the Folio Builder which I shall explain shortly; and finally Interactive which contains nine tools to make the interactivity work.

Given the choice of using a finished ID document or starting from scratch I chose the latter, choosing Web rather than Print, which I had been advised was more suited to my digital destination. As well as the choice of Portrait or Landscape orientation there was also a Both option. As this involved some extra work I courageously avoided it.

I imported a .doc into a text frame (good) and then a TIF image (bad). JPEG or PNG please. I set the imported image into a smaller frame so I could use the Pan and Zoom features from the Overlay Creator panel. Clicking Preview launched the Content Viewer. To simulate the iPad environment click to simulate tapping and drag to simulate swiping. Use the + and – keys to simulate pinching. All worked fine as I moved my pic across, in and out with my mouse. You can also press R to rotate between portrait and landscape orientations if you have taken the trouble to use the Both option mentioned before.

Next, a 360-degree panorama. First I set up a folder of images (JPEG/PNG) numbered sequentially in the order I wanted them to appear – img001, img002 etc. Then I set an empty frame on the page, selected it (took me a while to work this one out) and then chose Panorama in the Overlay Creator panel. There were some fine-tuning options which I bypassed this time. I uploaded my folder of images and sized them to the frame. Previewing in Content Viewer the images showed full screen and I could mouse around till my head spun. Next some video which I loaded up via the Interactive/Media menu item. I had some HD footage which I’d downscaled to the prescribed MP4 using Toast (it’s a fabulous video converter by the way – converts heaps of formats). Again, there were a few presentation tweaks which I’ll probably come back to. Feeling confident I then added a separate MP3 audio file via the same Media panel and then previewed video and audio. Purrfect.

Last item for the day – an image sequence. Same deal almost as for Panorama except I selected Image Sequence from the Overlay Creator panel and set delay times. All worked fine first go. Here also were some refinements which I would consider in Draft 2.

The last step was to create a .folio file for upload to the ADP cloud. A few simple moves in the Folio Builder panel and my first crude efforts were en route to my account at where I could share it with others. This free service is restricted to one .folio file. If you want any more you will need to pay a modest monthly fee. Or you can sign up for the hosted services of the Digital Publishing suite (see diagram) This is designed for high-volume business users as the following details from Adobe confirm.

The Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is a cloud service (SaaS) delivered via a Platform Access fee (an annual fee to access Digital Publishing Suite hosted services) as well as a Service fee – a fee to deliver and fulfil publications across platforms and devices (iOS / Android / Playbook et al) incurred each time a user downloads a .folio file.

There is a Professional version and an Enterprise version.

The Platform Fee requires an up-front payment of the full annual cost of US$5,940.

This fee includes :
All titles in a publishing customer’s portfolio (i.e., you can make an unlimited number of apps). 5,000 .folio files with first year of service (i.e., 5,000 downloads of folio files with no size limit). Gold technical support, which provides 24×7 access to support resources.

The Service Fee (i.e., number of folios delivered to readers) is sold in bundles :
22c per folio (25,000 for $5,500) 15c per folio (250,000 for $37,500) 12c per folio (500,000 for $60,000)

The Enterprise Edition integrates with back-end publishing systems and enables flexible commerce models including direct publisher purchase of single issues and subscriptions, supports robust analytic reporting capabilities and offers scalable pricing for high-volume content publishers.

The Enterprise Edition fee is quoted direct from Adobe and allows businesses to:
Integrate print subscriber databases
Integrate publisher entitlement systems
View analytics dashboards on content downloads and content performance
Deliver viewer data directly into Adobe SiteCatalyst for extended, drill-down analysis and reporting. (Requires a SiteCatalyst subscription, sold separately.)
Integrate with a rich media mobile ad platform (Medialets)
Create custom HTML store
Create a custom user interface

So there you have it. A peep into Adobe’s brave new world of cloud-based digital publishing. Although the premium pricing structure puts the system way beyond humble hacks like me I certainly enjoyed playing with ID 5.5′s powerful new toolkit.

Next time and a bit closer to home, I’ll have a look at the interesting enhancements ID 5.5 offers for ePub creation and how they look in iBooks on my iPad.

ID 5.5 Full price $1168. Upgrade from 5.0 $200. From earlier versions (including PageMaker 6/7!) $337.
Monthly subscription $48.75 ( for a 12-month plan) or $81.25 ad hoc.
All prices $AU

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