Details from Adobe's Digital Publishing Summit
Last week Adobe hosted its 2012 Digital Publishing Summit event, where the company unveiled several important new features of the Digital Publishing Suite. There were significant and welcome improvements, but the devil's always in the details. So let's take a close look at each of the six themes of the presentation.
Content Viewer for iPhone
Specifically, Content Viewer 2.5.0 now supports iPhone 3GS, iPhone4/4S, and iPod 3rd and 4th generations, in addition to iPad 1-3. On one hand, this is wonderful news. It opens the door to a market of over 200 million people carrying iPhones and iPods around.
On the other hand, the process of creating all the layouts for those newly supported devices is no trivial matter. Publishers will have to think carefully about where to invest their time and effort. In order to accommodate to all those devices with their different screen sizes and resolutions, you would currently need to produce four separate .folio files, totaling eight layouts to provide both horizontal and vertical versions.
It's true that InDesign CS6's new features of Liquid Layout, Alternate Layouts, and the Content Collector allow you to adapt layouts faster than you ever could before. But going from an iPad to an iPhone means losing four-fifths of your design space. And that means designing a new layout from scratch that works on the smaller screen.
And by the way, toward the end of last week there were rumblings that the next iPhone will have a new, larger screen size, adding yet another layout to account for. You're welcome.
A new option for publishers to enable social sharing of articles has been added. This allows readers to tap the screen to show a sharing button, which they can then use to share an article via Facebook, Twitter, email, or by copy and pasting a link. Publishers can select which articles can be shared, and which methods of sharing to allow.
They can also set up paywalls, so users can view a certain number of articles for free before they are required to subscribe. Currently Social Sharing features are available only in multi-folio iPad apps. This means no single edition apps, no iPhone/iPod apps, and no Android apps. It would be great to see these features extended so all DPS users can take advantage of them in the future. In the meantime, there are some HTML-based workarounds for adding sharing to your apps.
New Font Embedding Rights
If you license fonts from the Adobe Type Library and you produce DPS folios in PDF or HTML formats, you're now allowed to embed many of those fonts in your publications with no additional costs. Which fonts you ask? Well there are over 800 of them, in 94 typefaces from Adobe Arabic to Zebrawood. Check Adobe's Font Permission List for details.
It's interesting that Alternate Layouts was also a featured part of the presentation, when two of the publications showcased, National Geographic and Us magazine (which launched its iPad app on Thursday), are single orientation apps. Publishers seem to be focusing their efforts on creating single layouts for different devices (iPad and Kindle Fire) rather than different orientations within the same device.
Since CS5, InDesign has included tools for creating animations. Digital Publishing apps would seem like the most natural place in the world or these animations to be used. Unfortunately, InDesign's animation tools currently are Flash based, which means they don't work on iOS devices.
The fix for this dilemma is Adobe Edge. It's a separate application that allows you to create HTML5 animations, which you can then place into InDesign and use in your DPS apps.
Support for Metric Guidelines
No this doesn't have to do with measuring your layouts in millimeters or centimeters. This is a whole different kind of metrics, the kind that advertisers and publishers use to determine the pricing of ads that appear in digital publications. These folks will now be able to use a common framework to independently verify analytics coming from the Adobe Content Viewer.
The thinking is that with better analytics they'll be able to tell which articles and ads were most effective, as well as what kinds of content and interactivity people prefer. This is kind of a dark horse, but don't underestimate the importance of this one. It will play a part in determining how much those ads are worth, as well as which content and which interactive features are deemed successful (and which aren't).
All in all, the presentations at the Digital Publishing Summit provide an interesting snapshot of where we are in the evolution of Adobe's DPS tools. Some of the new features (metrics, sharing, iPhone apps) are only for the big players.
But others (font embedding, Edge animations, and alternate layouts) are important for anyone publishing content through DPS, including folks who signed up for Adobe's Creative Cloud just for the benefit of publishing unlimited single edition folios. Stay tuned, because when it comes to digital publishing, the only constant is change.