Tag Archives: edition

REVIEW: Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

The Overlay Creator

The Overlay Creator panel is the DPS component that InDesign designers will spend most of their time in. The Overlay Creator panel, a plugin that works with InDesign CS5 and later, is the interface for adding multimedia and interaction to InDesign files for inclusion in digital publications. You can add a variety of interactive features to InDesign documents, not all of which are new to InDesign:

  • Image Sequences display multiple images, which has a variety of applications including time-lapse sequences, animated clips and 360-degree views. Image Sequences can auto-play or respond to user “scrubbing.”
  • Audio & Video insert audio and video assets into InDesign documents. Thanks to the multimedia features that have been added to InDesign in the past few years, adding audio and video is easy to do and the media controls generated by InDesign are good.
  • Hyperlink overlays will add links to your digital publications that link to online content, articles within the publication and more. Quick tip: Apple provides a method to write hyperlinks that send SMS text messages. Apple has a URL Scheme Reference that explains how to build these links.
  • Like the Image Sequence, the Slideshow overlay displays a slideshow in digital publications. Think of Slideshow as a traditional slideshow, incorporating InDesign elements including text and graphics, while Image Sequence is more of a “flip book” slideshow format with only images.
  • Pan & Zoom is one of my favorites, allowing users to pinch and expand images in digital publications. The designer has to think ahead when using Pan & Zoom and insert large images in their graphic frames. These can be scaled down to the desired default view, but the digital publication will retain the full-resolution image so it can be blown up when the user enlarges it. The DPS does not enlarge images on its own.
  • Panorama will combine multiple images into a panorama. This can be tricky because the user needs to load six photographs into InDesign with the right angle and order so it can be stitched together automatically. There are also some esoteric settings in the Overlay Creator including field of view and limit vertical pan. Reading through the instructions and a little playing around with the controls will help users grasp the Panorama overlay, and there are tutorials online for shooting images to be stitched into panoramas.
  • Web Content, which used to be called “Web View,” will embed online webpages or an HTML file within digital publications. It’s really surprising and very cool to see a webpage loaded in an InDesign publication, but it works and users can even interact with the webpage. The process is actually fairly easy to implement.

Creating interactivity with the Overlay Creator does a good job of condensing extensive interaction into a panel with a few settings, but I think Adobe’s development team can make the process more intuitive, particularly with bringing multimedia onto the page. The current InDesign has a lot of panels to sift through and the Overlay Creator adds quite a bit more chrome to the package. Keeping track of all the user interface elements involved with Overlay Creator was my biggest challenge, not bugs or a lack of interactive features.

The Folio Builder

The other component of DPS that resides in InDesign is the Folio Builder panel, where users combine articles into .folio files for publication and also finalize the document’s orientation. Working with articles and folios can be a mundane task but this part of the process is where designers can see their work on a tablet for the first time through the Content Viewer, an Adobe app available on the desktop or on the Apple App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World and for webOS.

Articles can be pulled from multiple documents, so you can build a horizontal and vertical version of a publication and combine it into one app in the Folio Builder. Creating two versions of a publication is not ideal, but it’s necessary if you want a publication that changes orientation properly. Adobe seems to be at least on the right track in creating “liquid layouts” in InDesign that will re-orient themselves depending on the orientation, which would be a wonderful new feature. Here’s a demo of the technology at Adobe MAX.

Adding articles and pushing folios up to the Content Viewer is most of what the Folio Builder does, but there are also some sharing features which I think is very important in a production environment. The Folio Builder panel’s menu has a Share option which will let users share a publication with other users who have an Adobe ID. You can also append a subject and message to the share notice. This is very useful but I would also like an interface in the DPS website where you can set up groups of multiple users so you can grant rights and share folios with groups of people at once. This is what I do when developing Facebook applications. Even though you can share to multiple individuals at once in Folio Builder, groups and shared rights make collaboration easier.

Day 1 Announcements From Adobe MAX: TypeKit, PhoneGap, WoodWing and DPS Single Edition

Adobe Acquires TypeKit and PhoneGap

Adobe has bought TypeKit and made the web font service a part of their Adobe Creative Cloud’s services. Jeffrey Veen came on stage and talked about the challenges of fonts on the web but showed how some websites are achieving very professional typography now through Adobe technology. I’ll agree to that—I use TypeKit on my own websites, and it’s easy to deploy and works across all browsers.

Jeffrey also said almost 60 foundries contribute to TypeKit. This includes Adobe, but they don’t offer the entire 2,300-font Adobe Type Library. Maybe that will come later. Jeffrey demoed some new features of the TypeKit website, such as rendering previews to show how fonts will look in different browsers and easier search tools.

I wonder what will happen to current TypeKit customers. Will they have to buy the Adobe Creative Cloud to maintain their websites’ fonts? I hope not, and I don’t think that would be practical for TypeKit’s users.

Adobe also announced the acquisition of Nitobi Software, which produces the popular PhoneGap platform for building mobile apps for multiple platforms including Android and iOS. PhoneGap leverages HTML5 and JavaScript, so I expect this would be rolled into Dreamweaver, Adobe’s HTML-editing software.

WoodWing Moves Users to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

This announcement might have surprised me the most today. WoodWing Software, whose editorial workflow products allow for digital publishing to tablets and devices, has entered an agreement with Adobe to incorporate their Digital Publishing Suite with WoodWing’s Enterprise Publishing System. The Digital Publishing Suite will now be the only option for WoodWing customers to publish to tablets.

It sounds like WoodWing’s editorial and designer workflow will remain pretty much the same: users will use their Content Station and InDesign plugin to build the digital editions. At that point, .folio files will be created and uploaded to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite platform for packaging, distribution, monetization and analytics. WoodWing’s Reader Application and Content Delivery Service are ended effective immediately. Customers will transition to the Digital Publishing Suite by November 2012.

Digital Publishing Suite Now Available In Single Editions

If you’ve wanted to publish a one-shot digital publication or a book, you’ll be happy to know Adobe today announced the Single Edition in the Digital Publishing Suite. The service, which takes interactive InDesign documents to the iPad, has until now been an enterprise-priced service for large companies and big periodical publications. Now companies can pay for just a single publication and get all of the Digital Publishing Suite’s features, including distribution through the Apple App Store, monetization and analytics.

It will cost $395 per publication, which immediately establishes it as a business product. Single Edition is not for people wanting to publish a family memento or maybe a church cookbook—but niche publications could very well benefit from its features.

BOOK REVIEW: Talent Is Not Enough

I think sometimes the designers who stand out in the marketplace, land the most prestigious clients and make the most money aren’t those who have the most brilliant talent. Instead, they’re the ones who can build a brand and a business around their work and handle it professionally. Creative people aren’t always the best businesspeople and so many can struggle with the business side of graphic design.

I used books like the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook when I started my design business, but Shel Perkins’ Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers might be a better book than any I had. It’s almost 450 pages long and very focused on the business of design, and the advice Shel gives is solid. I think it can really set a designer up for business success.

There is some breadth to the topics covered in Talent Is Not Enough: marketing, human resources, cash flow, office management and intellectual property are all covered in the book. Many are essential topics, though some business types—such as sole proprietor—will find some chapters not very useful because they don’t apply to them. I’ll also say that some topics—marketing in particular comes to mind—are not fully covered in this book and should be supplemented with other books and information.

The other criticism I have of the book is it glosses over what I think are the two questions always asked by new creative professionals: “How much should I charge?” and “How should I write my contracts?” The chapter on pricing models is short and doesn’t give any dollar amounts, which is hard to quantify for everyone but help new designers the most. The aforementioned Graphic Artists Guild Handbook did share hourly rates, and it really helped me start my business. It also shared some boilerplate copy for proposals and contracts. Talent Is Not Enough does share contract boilerplate as well, and the copy is well-written, but it’s not clearly marked in the book. Placing the legal documents in an addendum might be helpful in a third edition.

Despite these quibbles, Talent Is Not Enough is a very fine business resource and updated for our times with the second edition. I have over ten years in the industry and I learned new things from this book. A designer just starting out will gain a good business foundation by adding this to his or her other repertoire of books on business development.

Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers
Shel Perkins
Published by New Riders
US $39.99
Rating: 9/10

BOOK REVIEW: Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Ed.

dwws3rd

In 2005 I adopted web standards to improve my skills in web design and make that a major component of my work, and the book that really drove it all home was Jeffrey Zeldman‘s Designing With Web Standards. Part pundit, part teacher, Zeldman walked me and many others through web standards and turned the discipline into the gold standard for building websites. This point was made clear in 2006 when I wrote a less-than-exuberant review for a piece of software and the creators responded by pointing out my personal website does not validate with XHTML Strict.

Now it is 2010, HTML5 is emerging and Zeldman has written the third edition of Designing With Web Standards with the help of Ethan Marcotte, who also wrote a bit of Handcrafted CSS. As a reader of a previous version, I found the new third edition to be less useful than the first because much of the old material still exists in the new edition. Many chapters are the same or similar and new game-changing technologies, such as CSS3 and HTML5, are covered but still in the early stages of adoption. XHTML, the central language of web standards, hasn’t changed much at all in the past decade. The next decade will be more important, as XHTML is supplanted by HTML5 and browsers really begin to converge on one standard (even Internet Explorer).

Zeldman’s writing is sharp and clear as always, and the third edition is an essential read for those new to web design or web standards. For experienced web designers who know web standards, the third edition is a great refresher but not too different from the first or second editions.

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Ed.
Jeffrey Zeldman with Ethan Marcotte
Published by New Riders
US$49.95
Rating: 8/10

BOOK REVIEW: The DAM Book, Second Edition

dambook

Peter Krogh‘s The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers, Second Edition is a fabulous resource: 500 pages encompassing all aspects of digital asset management (DAM) for photographers. Software products like Lightroom serve to control most aspects of DAM (and, in Lightroom’s case, publish digital photos as well) and many Lightroom books I’ve reviewed are surveys of digital asset management options. However, The DAM Book stands out because of its depth, knowledgeable author and full coverage.

Sorely needed and still relevant

Digital photography has changed radically in the last five years and a book like The DAM Book needs a new edition now and then to stay relevant. The second edition has several important changes in its content and Peter does a good job of drawing attention to revised recommendations and techniques. Digital photography has changed enough in the last few years that I would recommend buying The DAM Book even if you already own a copy of the first edition.

It’s also refreshing to note that The DAM Book has several chapters that remain timeless and rooted in the fundamentals of digital asset management. Topics like image storage, backup and validation, cataloging and data migration change very little no matter what hot gear is in the latest issue of your photo store catalog. I’m a reviewer who has a lot of stale and outdated books on his shelf, everything from two-year-old Lightroom books to Photoshop 7 Down & Dirty Tricks, and I appreciate the books that earn a place of the shelf every year.

Good visuals and writing

The DAM Book nails the three crucial elements of photography book design: good writing, good photography and good graphic design. I was pleasantly surprised that there are many diagrams in The DAM Book: file organization, photo workflows, archive systems, RAID, hard drive backup systems and more are all charted clearly and supported by Peter’s clear writing style. I referred to these diagrams often when I was developing my own backup strategy and system.

The DAM Book is a little out of the ordinary in that Peter’s photography is not emphasized in favor of prolific text and charts. This goes against the usual strategy of publishing large photos in photography books—Scott Kelby’s books often cover the majority of its pages with photos and screenshots. But I’m very happy that Peter made the writing the primary content: his photos are beautiful and he lists the keywords catalogued with each photo, but the written content is properly emphasized. And while not everyone will find his recommendations to their liking, Peter makes sure to list as many options as possible and explain the pros and cons of each one.

Conclusion

The DAM Book is a timeless resource—I’d put it on par with Dan Margulis’ Professional Photoshop for its depth, its breadth (almost 500 pages long) and thorough assessment of digital asset management techniques. This is the book I’ve used to help catalog my own digital photos, and I will be going through the book again to refine my system. It’s an excellent buy for any professional digital photographer.

The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers, Second Edition
Peter Krogh
Published by O’Reilly
US$49.99
Rating: 10/10