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The SWF Preview panel gives you a convenient and quick way to preview interactive elements like animations, buttons, page transitions, hyperlinks, and media. Unfortunately, you can't preview PDF-only features like form fields, but even so, it's a great tool to have in your workflow, so let's see how to use it. Looking at the first page of my document, I can see that the title text in this slide is in five separate text frames, and each text frame has an icon in the bottom right-hand corner indicating that some animation has been applied to it. If I click on some of the frames, I can see the motion paths for the animation.
So I can see this one will come in from the left, this one will come in from the bottom, this one will come in from the right, and if I click on the 8 Reasons, I can see a diagonal motion path showing that this will come from the center up to the top-left. But by themselves, these motion paths don't really give me a sense of what the animations will look like. So for that, I need to preview them and for that, I'll use the SWF Preview panel. I have the SWF Preview panel right at the top of my workspace, up here by itself, and if I didn't have it, I could go to Window > Interactive > SWF Preview. Or I could press the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+Return or Ctrl+Shift+Enter on the PC.
There are also buttons to open the SWF Preview panel at the bottom of several other panels, like the Animation panel, the Timing panel, Object States, Media, and Buttons. So there are plenty of ways to open the SWF Preview panel. I am going to press Command+Shift+Return and preview this page. I can see the animation starts playing immediately in the panel. One thing you can do is to make the panel larger to give you a nice big preview.
What's happening when I use the SWF Preview panel is InDesign actually exports a temporary SWF file that it displays in the panel. If you're working with especially complex documents or just on a slower computer, you can actually see the dialog box where InDesign says it's generating a preview and then exporting each page to a SWF. So let's take a little tour of what we can do with the SWF Preview panel. First of all, it's worth memorizing that keyboard shortcut for previewing: Command+Shift+Return on the Mac or Ctrl+Shift+Enter on the PC. This will quickly open and close the panel.
So I'll press it again to close the panel and I'll press Command+Shift+Return again to open it and preview this page again. There's another shortcut worth memorizing too, and that's Command+Shift+Option+Return on the Mac, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Enter on the PC. This one previews the entire document instead of just the current spread. This is the shortcut you'd use if you want to preview the navigation controls you move from one page to another. The downside of previewing a whole document is that it can take a little while longer to render.
At the bottom of the panel, there's a Play button to play the preview, which I can also press Option or Alt while I click that button to replay a preview that I've already generated. This can save you a little time when you're previewing. Instead of generating a new one each time, you can just replay the one you've already generated. I can stop the preview. If I am previewing a document, I can navigate to different pages. And on the right-hand side, I can choose to preview just a selection, the current spread, or the entire document. Sometimes you may notice that previewing the whole document seems not to be working.
You pressed the shortcut or the button to preview the whole document and still, all you see is the current page, and the navigation buttons over here are grayed out. If that's the case, the cause is probably the Preview settings that the panel is using. When you export a SWF, just like any other export from InDesign, you have choices of the different settings you can use. These settings determine all the aspects of your output. In order to preview SWF output, InDesign needs some settings to use. So if you look in the Panel menu, you can see Edit Preview Settings. And these are the settings that InDesign will use to generate previews in the SWF Preview panel.
InDesign remembers the settings that were used the last time a SWF was exported, and that's what it uses in this dialog box. So if the last time someone exported a SWF they only exported a single page or a range of pages, the so-called Preview Document mode won't preview the whole document; it will only preview those pages that were exported. But this is easily fixed. All you'd have to do is go to the Panel menu, choose Edit Preview Settings, and set this selection to All Pages and then click Save Settings. And incidentally, those settings will also be chosen the next time you export a SWF.
Let's go back to the Panel menu. There's one more choice I want to look at, and that's Test in Browser. If I choose that, the temporally SWF file has exported and it opens in my default browser so I can see and test it. So there you have the SWF Preview panel. It's an essential tool in your interactive document's workflow. It's handy and easy to use. Just remember those keyboard shortcuts and remember that what you see in the panel is determined by the Preview Settings you can access in the Panel menu.
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