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Create Digital Magazines Using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and InDesign CS5.5

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With the advent of the Apple iPad and other tablet devices, Adobe saw the future of digital publishing and created the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Adobe expert Brian Wood gives you an overview of the creation process for digital content that you can view and sell via tablet devices.
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With the advent of the Apple iPad and other tablet devices, Adobe saw the future of digital publishing and created the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. The suite is a complete solution that combines Adobe InDesign CS5.5 content and a set of hosted services in order to transform print publications into digital content, like a magazine, for tablet devices. If you own an iPad, Blackberry Playbook, or Android tablet device, you may have seen the digital content that has already been created for Martha Stewart, Readers Digest, Wired, and many more (see Figure 1). To learn more about the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, check out the Adobe website.

Figure 1 Digital content as viewed on an iPad

Here’s generically how digital content is created using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and InDesign CS5/CS5.5:

  1. The design (a magazine, for instance) is created using InDesign along with other content from other Creative Suite components like Photoshop and Illustrator. Interactive content such as links, web content, video, and much more is added using InDesign and the Overlay Creator panel.
  2. Using the Folio Builder panel in InDesign CS5.5, you can build a digital document called a folio with “articles.” (You’ll learn what this means shortly.)
  3. Preview and test your content that you create in InDesign on the desktop using the Adobe Content Viewer.
  4. Using the Folio Builder, you can upload to a free account and share the .folio with others for testing purposes.
  5. After subscribing to the Digital Publishing Suite, you can create a custom viewer app for commercial purposes. You add finishing touches to the content in the Folio Producer Service, such as titles, descriptions, and more. You can also use the Viewer Builder to create a custom viewer app and submit it to the Apple App Store, Android Market, or a different store yourself without incurring a per-app creation charge.

While I’d love to take you through each step of the process in amazing detail, I can’t with one article. So this article will focus on an overview of the process. Along the way, however, I will point you to lots of other resources that will take you further into each step.

So, with InDesign CS5.5 (or CS5 with the tools installed), let’s create some digital content for tablet devices.

Create the Content in InDesign

When you create a simple digital magazine, for instance, you will be creating a single .folio file with one or multiple “articles.” Each “article” is a separate InDesign document. Every time you create an article, the user will scroll on the iPad horizontally (right or left) to get to the next article (by default). Pages within an InDesign file are pages within an article that scroll vertically (see Figure 2). You can create InDesign files for the cover, an InDesign file for a TOC (if you want), articles for ads, and an InDesign file for each article.

Figure 2 How InDesign documents work in the final digital content

You can use content you already have designed, but you will find that it will need to be re-worked a bit to fit within the digital tablet resolution. The document size in InDesign for iPad content should be around 768x1024 pixels vertical and 1024x768 pixels horizontal. Because a tablet like the iPad has two orientations, you can create a dual-orientation or single-orientation article. The orientation refers to landscape and portrait viewing on a device like the iPad. You can lock the content to a single orientation (such as vertical) when you make the final .folio file or allow the content to change, depending on the orientation of the device.

This means that your InDesign content has two layouts—vertical or horizontal. This translates to two InDesign files (one portrait and one landscape) for each article or ad. When the user rotates the mobile device, the second orientation is displayed. If you choose to lock the content to one orientation, you would only create one layout (horizontal or vertical).

Next, you will create the InDesign document:

  1. Create a folder for your content on your hard drive. In that folder, create a folder for the cover (called “cover”) and a folder for each article in the document. You can name the article folders “Somename_Article.” Within each article folder, you will add two InDesign files, one for each orientation, and a links folder for the links (see Figure 3).
  2. Figure 3 Set up the folder structure for your content

  3. Create a new document with the web intent chosen and a page size of 768x1024 (for the vertical orientation). This page size is for content that fits within the bounds of the iPad. If you want, you can also make a document that is vertically taller than 1024 pixels. This type of page uses something called smooth scrolling.
  4. Save the file in the correct folder on your hard drive. Make sure to add _v for vertical or _h for horizontal to the filename to indicate the orientation.
  5. Add your design content.
  6. Change the orientation (and design content) of the document (File > Document Setup), then save in the same folder with the correct suffix. If it’s horizontal now, add _h or if vertical, add _v.
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