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Awakening to the Full Functionality of Adobe - 9/12/2011 -

Here are some good tips on how to get more out of your Adobe software.

By Ben Berkey

Every designer dreams of crafting layouts with artwork and photos that spring to life and leap across the printed page. That can only be accomplished figuratively in print, but a mastery of the Adobe software suite can enable the creation of PDFs with fully interactive video, audio, and more.

Content leader Chris Converse of Côdify Design Studio kicked off his session at the Association Media & Publishing 2011 Annual Meeting with a demonstration of Adobe’s full functionality. As author of Create Interactive Documents Using Adobe InDesign CS5 (2010, Peachpit Press), Converse specializes in digital publishing.

Having the correct tools and knowing how to use them are critical to balancing e-pubs and print, Converse said. The Adobe family of software—namely InDesign CS5.5—allows designers to bridge the electronic gap by creating documents with full interactivity: buttons, videos with pause and play functions, audio, and rollover text.

This e-pub wizardry is accomplished through Adobe Flash, the same technology used to stream YouTube videos. InDesign allows users to export files in Flash’s native SWF (pronounced swiff) format, but PDFs can incorporate similar functionality.

To illustrate InDesign CS5.5’s features, Converse presented "Inside Double Identity,” a behind-the-scenes look at a fictional movie. (The PDF requires Adobe Reader version 9 or higher to view.) Key features include the following.

1. Buttons. Any image, shape, or text frame in InDesign can become an interactive button. Select the item, then click Object > Interactive > Convert to Button. As seen in "Inside Double Identity,” buttons can take readers to another page in the document, link to a website, or cue pop-up text.

To create a simple but unique button, Converse suggested adding bevel and emboss effects to a circle via the Object menu. Place a triangle or any other desired symbol on top of the circle, group the shapes (ctrl + g), and then set up the button using the Interactive menu.

2. Video. Movie and sound files can be included in PDFs and SWF documents using Adobe InDesign. Inside Double Identity’s fictional film trailer demonstrates embedded video and audio, complete with a navigation bar for pausing and seeking.

Compatible media formats include FLV, MP4, SWF, and MP3. Other file types such as QuickTime (MOV), AVI, and MPEG are supported in interactive PDF format only. After importing a media file, go to Window > Interactive > Media for video and audio options.

3. Web Publishing. InDesign also allows users to generate web-ready data for use in content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress and Drupal. Content exported to XHTML format can be edited for websites using Dreamweaver.

"CMS’ biggest power is that they separate data from design,” Converse said. He explained that "the biggest key” to electronic publishing is designing content once and then adapting and repurposing the product for multiple platforms. Designers can do their initial work using familiar Adobe software—then InDesign’s XHTML features can ease the multi-publishing process.

4. A Flashy Finish. Adobe’s website offers more information about Flash and other features of InDesign CS5.5. For aspiring Adobe design wizards, Converse recommended self-teaching through web resources. Lynda.com features online instructional videos for Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft software. In addition, Adobe TV provides free tutorials and information about Adobe products and services.

Converse left session attendees with a reminder: Adobe’s interactive features can produce flashy PDFs and streamline web updates, but good design and content remain essential.

"Flash isn’t the final piece—it’s the guts,” Converse said.

Ben Berkey is a copy editor at Oncology Nursing Society and volunteers on the Association Media & Publishing Content Committee. Association Media & Publishing thanks him for covering this Annual Meeting session for our members who were unable to attend.


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