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Previewing interactive PDFs

From: InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Video: Previewing interactive PDFs

I'm going to do something unusual here. I'm going to jump to the end of the process and talk about how to preview and export interactive documents, even before I talk about how to make them. While that offends my own delicate logical sensibilities, it is important that you understand how previewing and exporting works before you get too far. After all, you're going to want to test these features as we go along. There are a number of ways to preview your InDesign document to get a better sense of your page design. For example, the Preview mode that you probably already know about. Just press the W key, and now, it hides everything that's non-printing.

Previewing interactive PDFs

I'm going to do something unusual here. I'm going to jump to the end of the process and talk about how to preview and export interactive documents, even before I talk about how to make them. While that offends my own delicate logical sensibilities, it is important that you understand how previewing and exporting works before you get too far. After all, you're going to want to test these features as we go along. There are a number of ways to preview your InDesign document to get a better sense of your page design. For example, the Preview mode that you probably already know about. Just press the W key, and now, it hides everything that's non-printing.

And that's nice. Or maybe the Presentation mode, which is Shift+W key, and it takes over the entire screen. But the problem with presentation and preview mode is that they're not interactive. You won't get any sense of interactivity in these modes. So, this isn't really going to help us right now. I'll press the Escape key to jump out of Preview mode, and then hit the W key to get out of Preview mode. And if we can't trust the presentation of Preview mode, well, then what can we look at? The best way to get a sense of interactivity inside InDesign is to use the SWF Preview panel, and that's over here in the dock, right here.

And I'll click on that and up comes the SWF Preview panel, and a couple things you need to know about the SWF Preview panel. First of all, if you click on it to open it, or if you choose it from the Window menu, it just shows up blank, doesn't do anything. You have to tell it to play. And that's this Play button over here in the lower left corner. But before we click on that, we need to tell InDesign what to play, and you have three options. Over here on the right side, you'll see Play Just a Selected Object, or Play This One Page, or Play This Entire Document. Well, of course you always want to play the whole document, but here's what's really going on.

See how this is called the SWF preview? You probably know that SWF means flash, this is actually originally designed to preview your flash files out of InDesign. So, what In Design is going to do, is it's going to export either the selection, the page or your document as a flash file, a temporary flash file to your hard drive, and then open that flash file inside this panel. So, what that means is, the longer your document, the more complex your document, the longer that process is going to take. So, in general, you don't want to preview the entire document unless you really need to.

The next thing you need to know about the SWF Preview panel is that you almost never are going to click on it to open it. Let's go ahead and close it by clicking on it. Instead, you want to use a keyboard shortcut. And the keyboard shortcut is Cmd+Shift+Return on the Mac, or Ctrl+Shift+Enter on Windows. And you want to use that, because that not only opens the panel, but it plays the page inside of it automatically. You don't have to click that button or anything. But the problem is, it's playing inside this tiny little window. This little panel here. That's not really helpful. Who wants that? That doesn't give me any sense of what's really going on. So, the good news is we can stretch this out, we can make this as big as we want. I'm actually going to pull this panel out of the dock right now, and I'll close my pages panel.

And I can actually make this much larger by clicking on one of the side or corner handles. I'll just drag this out and make it much larger on my page. In fact, you could fill the page with it if you want to. Now, I'll take this and I'll drag it back into my doc. But I'm not going to put it inside a group, I'm going to put it by itself. Maybe below the Pages panel. You see I'm dragging it over until I see the single blue bar. That forces it into its own panel group in between pages and links. Now, the great thing is that InDesign remembers how big that panel is. So, again, here's that keyboard shortcut, Cmd+Shift+Return or Ctrl+Shift+Enter, and up it comes at full size and plays that page.

Hit the keyboard shortcut again and it'll close. Because I've made a change to my workspace by making that panel larger and putting it in a different group, I definitely want to re-save my custom work space that I created earlier on in this chapter. So, I'm going to go up here to my application bar and say New Workspace. And I'm going to save a new workspace with exactly the same name. Yes I want to replace it, and now I'm good to go. That way I can always get back to this mode if I need to, if I mess up my panels later. The last thing you need to know about the SWF preview panel, it goes back to the name again, it's a Flash preview panel, not an interactive PDF preview panel.

And we don't have an interactive PDF preview panel inside of InDesign at this time. And so this is the best we've got. But, it does mean that the SWF preview panel shows things that you cannot do in interactive pdf. For example, let me open this one more time with our keyboard shortcut, and you'll see that as soon as the page comes in, see that little animation there. Somebody did that animation in this document using the animation panel in InDesign. And as I mentioned earlier, the animation panel does not apply to interactive PDFs.

That animation will not work, when we export this out as an interactive PDF, but there's other stuff here that it does for you, just fine. Like I have little roll overs on here, and you can see when I move my cursor over these words they roll over. And those are things that do export out properly in PDF. Now, the flip side of the whole SWF problem is that there are some things that will export out as a PDF properly that will not display properly inside this panel. The primary example of that is your form fields. In a later chapter, we're going to be talking about how to add form fields to your PDFs Like check-boxes, and Pop-up menus, and text entry fields, and that kind of thing. And those will work in your PDF when you export them, but they will not work in your SWF Preview panel.

If this preview panel isn't really accurate for PDFs, then what do you do? How do you test your PDFs? Well, the answer is to get your documents out of InDesign and into Acrobat. In the next movie, I'll talk about just that. How to export interactive PDFs, and how it's different than the export process that you're probably already familiar with.

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

30 video lessons · 11674 viewers

David Blatner
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