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In InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations, Adobe Certified Instructor and designer James Fritz shows print designers how to use InDesign by itself and in conjunction Flash Professional to layout and design a wide range of digital documents. The course provides a tour of digital publishing trends, showing real-world examples of what can be achieved through InDesign. Several start-to-finish projects are also included, such as creating a presentation with transitions and animations, and building an interactive microsite. Exercise files accompany the course.
The two main ways to present from InDesign are SWF or PDF. Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages; therefore we need to figure out which is the best fit for presentation. For PDF presentations one of the advantages is the fact that it's printable. So if you want to be able to print out the copy of your presentation to give to your audience, you could do it straight from the PDF that are presenting from. It is also searchable. So if you are trying to find something on a specific page, you can bring up the Find dialog and look for what you're trying to find. Bookmarks are supported, so if have a longer presentation, you can jump to a particular area.
It's also more accessible. So for people that use screen-reading devices they will be able to access your presentation. Finally, it has more media support. It supports legacy media files such as AVI and MOV, in addition to the Flash video formats. A negative aspect of the PDF presentation is the lack of animation support. While it is possible to get animation to work inside a PDF, it is a lot more difficult than inside a SWF file. Finally, you must present from the Adobe Reader or Acrobat Professional. You can't present from just any run-of-the-mill PDF program.
For a SWF presentation, it supports most of Acrobat's interactivity. It also supports all of the animation that you can do inside InDesign directly without having to jump through any hoops. You can also present from a stand- alone Flash player or inside a web browser. Finally, it supports the fun Page curl effects. A negative of the Flash player is the fact that you have to use the Flash plug-in or the Flash p layer. If you don't have it installed on your computer, you're not going to be able to present with it. You also can't use any legacy media. So if you do have any older video file formats, they're going to have to be converted to Flash video formats before you can give your presentation.
PDF isn't necessarily better than SWF, and SWF isn't necessarily better than PDF. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Now you may be wondering which file format should you use. It really boils down to what is your presentation all about. If you have a lot of animations, SWF is the answer for you, because it supports the native animations from InDesign. But if you want your presentation to be printable, or more accessible, you probably should be using a PDF. Knowing how you intend to present your presentation before you begin is a powerful asset, since you can design your document with an end file type in mind.
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