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Creating an interactive PDF

From: InDesign CS6 Essential Training

Video: Creating an interactive PDF

Most people think of PDF as a print format, or for proofing, but PDF files support a wide range of interactive elements. You've probably seen PDF forms that you can fill out and submit electronically. Now you can make these kinds of PDF forms right inside of InDesign. You can also add movies, sounds, buttons, animations, hyperlinks, and all kinds of ways to wow your audience. This catalog, designed to be viewed on screen, is almost finished, but we're going to complete the task here by adding just a little more interactivity.

Creating an interactive PDF

Most people think of PDF as a print format, or for proofing, but PDF files support a wide range of interactive elements. You've probably seen PDF forms that you can fill out and submit electronically. Now you can make these kinds of PDF forms right inside of InDesign. You can also add movies, sounds, buttons, animations, hyperlinks, and all kinds of ways to wow your audience. This catalog, designed to be viewed on screen, is almost finished, but we're going to complete the task here by adding just a little more interactivity.

First, let's add a movie. It's easy to do. You import it just like any other graphic; you go to the File menu, and choose Place. Here in my Links folder, I'll scroll all the way to the bottom, and choose this MP4 file. That's a movie format that InDesign can read. When I click Open, it loads my place cursor, again, just like any other graphic. I have a lot of empty frames on this page, so I don't accidentally want to click in one of them, but I can click and drag to create a frame. InDesign places the movie into that frame.

Sometimes the frame comes in a little bit too large, so I'm going to make it a little bit smaller by clicking on the Fit frame to content button, up here in the control panel. To control this movie, I'm going to open up the Media panel, and you can find that in the Window menu, down here in the Interactive submenu. But there's actually an easier way to do it. Instead, I'm going to come over here to the application bar, and switch to the Interactive for PDF workspace. Now all the relevant interactive panels appear, ready for me to use them.

I'll come down here and open the Media panel, and you can see that I actually can view this movie right inside of the panel. (video playing) I can even skip forward here. (video playing) Unfortunately, this movie looks like a big black box on my page. I can change that by finding a frame that I like inside the Media panel, and then setting it as my poster.

When I choose From Current Frame in the Poster pop-up menu, it automatically updates on my page. Now I'll give this movie a controller; that is, something to let the viewer start and stop it. I can do that from the Controller pop-up menu, and I'm going to just choose this one at the bottom. It has a lot of different functions in it. Plus, I'm going to make that controller show only when the cursor moves over the movie, by turning on the Show Controller on Rollover checkbox. So that's it. Now I've got a movie in my InDesign document. I can't play the movie on my InDesign page.

In fact, none of this interactivity works on the InDesign page, but when I export a PDF, you'll be able to see it. Next, let's add a hyperlink to this object here. I'll put my Media panel away, and instead, open my Hyperlinks panel. When somebody clicks on this text, I'd like it to take them to the Web site. To do that, I simply click on the Hyperlink button at the bottom of the Hyperlinks panel, and then I'll type in the URL I want it to go to. I'll click OK, and the hyperlink is added to the bottom of the Hyperlinks panel. Terrific! Now let's add a button.

Close the Hyperlinks panel. I'm going to add a new button down here in the navigation area. Most of these are already set up as buttons, but one of them -- the go to page button -- is not yet set up. Of course, I want these buttons to be on all my pages of my document, so I put them on the master page. Let's open the Pages panel, double-click on Master A, and we can jump to the master page, and you can see that all of these are selectable objects now. Let's zoom in down on this corner.

To make this an interactive button, I'm going to open the Buttons and Forms panel. Next, I click on the make button button, down here at the very bottom; it's called Convert to button. You can convert any object in InDesign into a button, and as soon as you do that, this panel springs to life, and we can start adding actions to it. It's a good idea to name your buttons something recognizable. I'll call this next page, and I'm going to set this up so that on a particular Event -- in this case, On Release or Tap; that means when I either tap on a screen, or when I release the mouse button -- on that event, do an action.

I can see a list of all my actions in this little pop-up menu here. In this case, all I want it to do is go to the next page, and that's pretty much it. This is now an interactive button. But let's give it a little more pizzazz. How about a rollover effect? To add a rollover effect, all you do is click the Rollover state, down here in the Appearance list. Of course, right now, both Normal and Rollover look exactly the same, so I need to change these. First, let's add a bevel and emboss effect to the Normal state. You have to understand how buttons work.

They're actually nested objects. My original object, that kind of blue triangle thing, is nested inside a new button object. So to get into my original object to format it, I need to double-click on it. When I double-click on it, I select the original object, and now I can open the Effects panel from the Window menu, and I'll give the Fill a Bevel and Emboss. I'll just go with these default values for now. So now I've set what the Normal state looks like; now I need to change what the Rollover state looks like.

I'll click Rollover, then double-click on this again to select inside the Rollover button state; that selects the object, and I'll give this one a different Bevel and Emboss. I'll use the same values, but this time, I'll set the Direction to Down. Now we've got normal, and down. To see the difference, all you need to do is click on the two states in the Appearance list, in the Buttons and Forms panel. Okay, now let's go ahead and close the Effects panel, and I'm going to add a different kind of button. In this case, not on this page; the master page. I'm going to go to one of the pages near the end of the document.

I'll double-click on Page 13, zoom back to Fit in window -- Oh, that's a little bit too far out -- let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit, and we can see that this is a form. New in CS6 is the ability to create form objects right on the page in InDesign. I have to tell you, this is one my favorite features in InDesign now. InDesign lets you create a wide range of form objects. Let me show you. I'm going to reopen the Buttons and Forms panel, and then I'm going to draw any frame. I'll just use this Graphic Frame tool to draw out a frame on top of the area where I want the first name to be typed.

While that's selected, I can turn it into a button by clicking on the Convert to button button, and then I'm going to change the Type from Button to Text field. Now I need to give it a name. Text Field 1 is not very helpful, so I'll call this first name. I could add actions if I want, but in this case, all I really want to do is allow the person to type their name here. Now I'll grab the Selection tool, press Option+Shift, or Alt+Shift on Windows, and drag this over.

That makes an exact copy of that same form object; it's just a fast way to get another form object there, but this one I'm going to call last name. You could see I could go on from here; Option+dragging this, or Alt+dragging this down to the next line, making this wider, changing the name to address, and so on. Let's go ahead and make a radio button here for Male, and Female. I'll grab one of my frame tools, draw a shape on top of this checkbox that I've created, and then set that to a radio button.

Turn into a regular button, and then change Type to Radio Button. Now, to position it more precisely, I'm going to use the arrow keys on my keyboard. I'll just tap that into place. Let's give it a name; I'll call this gender, and I'll duplicate it over on top of the other box. Tap that into position with the arrow keys. Now, radio buttons are set up so that only one can be turned on at a time. But to start with, I don't want either of these to be on, so I'm going to select each of these, and click on the Normal Off in the Appearance section of the panel.

That way, when I first open this PDF, neither of them will be selected, and the user can click on one or the other. The last thing I need to do to these radio buttons is give them a value. This one is going to be male, and this one is going to be female. This way, when the form is submitted, the appropriate button value will be returned. Let's do a couple more. How about a checkbox? Instead of drawing frames, I'm going to go to the Window menu, and I'm going to choose Sample Buttons And Forms. That shows up when you're in the Interactive for PDF workspace.

You can use them, edit them; whatever you want. I'm going to go ahead and drag this first one onto the page, and then I'll close this library, and obviously, this checkbox is a little bit too large. So I will Command+Shift, drag on a corner, or Control+Shift on Windows; there we go. Get it about the right size, and then I'll drag it down into position. Actually, I think I need to zoom in closer to get this. I'll drag it down into position, and then I can use my arrow keys to get it right. I'll set this to Normal Off, which again, means when I first open the PDF, it will be set to off.

I'm going to change the name. I'm going to call this basic character. I'll duplicate that down to here, and I'll call this one basic character 2; you get the idea. I can also type a description. If you type a description in this field, then this will show up as a tooltip when the user hovers their cursor on top of this object. Why don't I just grab this text; I'll double-click to grab the Text tool, I'll select it, copy it to the clipboard, switch to the Selection tool, choose my form object, come over to the Description, and paste.

That was a lot of work, but I got the description I wanted. Obviously, I would have to go though, and add checkboxes to all of these items, but the last thing I'm going to do right now is add a Signature field. I'll press Option+Spacebar or Alt+Spacebar to get back to the Power Zoom tool, move down to the bottom, and zoom in again. That's a little too close. I'll zoom back to 200%, go down to the bottom of the page, then add a new object back down here. I'll use the Graphic Frame tool once again, draw out an area, make it a button, and change it into a Signature Field.

In this case, that's all I need to do. It's finally time to see our PDF in action. Let's go ahead and export it. I'll go to the File menu, and choose Export. You'll notice in the Format menu that there are two options for PDF: Interactive, or Print. In this case, since we're doing movies, and buttons, and hyperlinks, and all of that, guess which one you want to choose? That's right: Interactive. I'll click Save, and up comes the Interactive PDF dialog box. There's a number of options in here, including the ability to set the View. For example, when I open this, I want to make sure that it fits the entire page in the window.

I also like to make sure the resolution is at least 100, if not 144 ppi. That way, people can zoom in on the PDF, and still see a good quality image. I'll click OK, and InDesign will write the PDF to disk, and automatically open it up an Acrobat. Here we go! The movie is right here, and if I click on it, it starts playing. (video playing) Notice that the controller only shows up as I move the cursor on top of it. (video playing) If I move my cursor over this text over here, I see that it is actually a hyperlink.

I'm not going to click on it right now, but you can tell that it's a hyperlink, because the cursor changes to a little W, and I see a tooltip that tells me where I'm going to go. The buttons work too. Down here in the lower right corner, I can see the button that I created, and when I hover over it, it changes. And finally, I'll jump all the way to Page 13, and see our form. Let's zoom in on this a little bit more, and we can see that I can now click inside this, and it's a fully interactive form.

I hit Tab, type my last name, and I can click on a radio button. Notice that these radio buttons work just the way you'd expect; only one is selected at a time. Checkboxes on the other hand, I can choose more than one at a time. As cool as all this is, I've only scratched the surface of all the amazing things that you could do with interactive PDFs in InDesign. If you want to learn more, check out the Interactive Documents and Presentations title in the Online Training Library.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6 Essential Training
InDesign CS6 Essential Training

113 video lessons · 82850 viewers

David Blatner

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 47s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 50s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 16s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 8s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 32m 51s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 4s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 36s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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