Today’s Obsession: Publishing for the iPad

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Last week, Adobe released beta versions of a very interesting set of tools for InDesign—a Digital Publishing Suite for designers developing for the iPad. It’s available now at Adobe Labs. (One caveat: It’s in beta, so go into it understanding that beta means things may be a little buggy here and there.)

I’m stoked. I’ve been waiting for 1) Apple to stop forcing its own agenda and restricting the marketplace and 2) a solution to happen for designers (not necessarily developers and coders) to use in content creation. This is great for editorial pieces.

The tool set delivers a plug-in for InDesign that adds new functionality to the application so that designers can add multi-state objects to their layouts, like slideshows and videos, then track readership through Adobe Site Catalyst. It also adds a function for testing the published piece, which is now more invaluable than before. Nobody wants to ship a wonky iPad pub!

The final product is somewhere in between a magazine and an application and a web page: It allows multi-state viewing (horizontal and vertical layouts) with interactive pieces inside the articles. The only thing I see as an impediment to budgets is that each layout needs two versions—one horizontal, one vertical. Could be a problem.

The example Adobe shipped with its betas skirts the issue smartly by giving the vertical layout a different purpose—a reading-specific layout. More text, less visual. Flipped horizontally, the layout becomes more visual.

To test your files, you’ll need an Adobe app downloaded from the App Store to your iPad, called Adobe Preview. You can use this in conjunction with the Digital Content Bundler application (which compiles everything into a single folio of articles), then load it onto an iPad for testing.

The Digital Publishing Suite will be in wide release in the second quarter of 2011.

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