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David Blatner brings his knowledge of and passion for InDesign to the latest release of this state-of-the-art publishing program, showing how to harness its power and functionality. InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics covers the process of publishing with an eye on the program's latest nuances: optimizing page layouts, automating InDesign with Data Merge and XML, exploring interactive documents (including making movies), and exporting publications to a variety of formats. Exercise files accompany the course.
I have a secret that I want to share with you. I have never been comfortable with working in Flash and that means I have had trouble making interactive SWF files, those Flash SWF files. Well, that is changing now that I can export SWF directly out of InDesign. Adobe has made the process nearly painless. Watch this. I have got my file open in InDesign;. I have got some various buttons, and hyper links, and so on in this file. So I go to the File menu and I will choose Export. I am going to put this out on my Desktop, and I choose SWF from the Format pop-up menu. When I do that, InDesign presents me with the Export SWF dialog box. It has lots of options. Let me go through them one at a time.
I am going to Scale this down to 640x480 because I am going to be embedding it into another web page and this page right now is a little bit too big. InDesign gives a number of preset sizes in here or you can just choose your size from the Width and Height fields. I am going to export all the pages in this document. All three of them. I don't have any Spreads in my document. If I did, I could leave that turned on. Right now it's a facing pages document so it doesn't really matter, but if I did have spread, they would both show up, the left and right hand pages would show up together on the SWF file, which is kind of cool.
Now if I want to I can rasterize the pages. Rasterizing means turn it into a bitmap. So the whole page would get converted to a giant bitmap and I am not entirely sure, to be honest, why they offer that. It seems to me like one of the whole reasons of doing SWF is that it is vector file format. So I want stuff to stay in vectors, but I suppose if you need it to be rasterized, great. You can do it so just by turning on that checkbox. The next option is Generate HTML File. So not only will it write the SWF disk, but it will even write an HTML file that references that SWF and I find that very, very useful because I can never remember the HTML codes to embed that SWF file in it. So InDesign will do that for me and of course, I would like it to View the SWF after Exporting in this case because I am demoing it for you so of course, I want it to be visible.
The Text pop-up menu lets you decide what's going to happen to InDesign text. You have three options really. You want to convert it to Flash Text, to Vector Paths, or Raster Images. I generally choose Flash Text. Even though the text might change on the page a little bit because Flash's text composition engine is a little bit different than InDesign's composition engine. So text might change a little bit on the page. If you really, really need to make sure that the text is exactly same as it was in InDesign, then choose Vector or Raster.
But one of the great benefits of Flash Text is that search engines like Google can actually look inside the SWF and see that text so it becomes searchable. I am going to leave it set to Flash Text for right now. Now this document, as I mentioned, has some interactivity. I have some Buttons over here, these three navigation buttons. I have some Hyperlinks. I have actually added some Page Transitions to this as well with the Page Transitions panel and so I want all of three check boxes turned on because I want that interactivity in my final SWF file.
The fourth checkbox, Include Interactive Page Curl, is a fun effect that InDesign can build into your SWFs. I am going to leave that turned on and I will show you exactly what that does in just a moment. The last settings let you control what's going to happen to your images and your vector curves inside your InDesign document. If you really care about the highest quality bitmap images then you could Lossless. I don't really understand why you would be doing that in a SWF, so I will leave that set to Auto and Medium Quality is just fine. Curve Quality has to do with the quality of Bezier curves in the InDesign document. For example, this logo in the upper right corner is all created with Bezier curves, text that has been converted to outlines. So how accurate do you want the SWF to be in representing those Bezier curves and Medium is fine, but check it out and see how the quality is for you.
I will go ahead and click OK and the first thing I will see is that InDesign is Warning me and it's warning me because it sees that I have buttons in my document that I am trying to preserve in the SWF file. Problem is SWF does not support certain things that Acrobat PDF does. For example, a Close button. You can't close a SWF. In PDF, you can close the PDF but you can't close your SWF. You can't go to Next View or Previous View. You also can't do things like play a Movie or play a Sound. This is an important limitation that you need to know about.
InDesign will not export movies or audio files out of InDesign into a SWF, it just strips them out. They will not show up in the SWF file at all. So any buttons that play those things are also not supported. I will go ahead and click OK and now InDesign gives me another warning. You will see I have got some buttons on my page, and some hyperlinks, and so on, and I also have objects that have some transparency effects applied to them and you would think that InDesign would be smart enough to see that the transparency effects are not on top of my buttons, the buttons are on top of their transparency effects, but for some reason, InDesign is not smart enough and so it warns me, hey! If you have transparency effects on top of your buttons or your hyperlinks, the interactivity is going to get turned off because it can't deal with both transparency and hyperlinks for some reason and that's fine. I have set my document up correctly; I don't have to worry about that. So I click OK and InDesign exports the SWF to my hard drive.
It immediately opens it up in my default web browser and I can see that it looks the same except it's been scaled down and it's all a beautiful, really lovely SWF file. If I hover on top of these buttons, my rollover effects looks great. If I click on one of those, it immediately changes to that page using the page transition that I have specified, just try it again. I like that effect. On other hand, I had imported a movie into this place in InDesign, and I can click all day on this and it's not going to play because once again, InDesign cannot export movies, or any video, or audio to the SWF.
Now earlier I had mentioned that Includes Page Curl Transition, this is cool. Whenever you move the cursor over the corner, it becomes sticky. Do you see that? And I can click and drag the page over and I get the page curl effect. That's what that checkbox is all about. Click near a corner and drag it and it looks like a real page and some people like that kind of thing, some people thinks it's totally over used, but I still think it's great. I love that effect. Now as I said, InDesign is still very limited in the things that can be put in a SWF file, but all is not lost. You can still do those things in Adobe Flash, which in CS4 has gotten far easier to use, but how do you get your InDesign file over to Flash? That's what I will discuss in the next movie.
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