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Understanding buttons

From: InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Video: Understanding buttons

Hyperlinks are one sort of interactive hot spot in a PDF. That is they do something when you click or tap them. But there's another kind of interactive hot spot too, buttons. Now buttons are good for navigation. Letting people jump from one page to the next for example, but hyperlinks can do that too. But you can use Buttons to do even more than hyperlinks. A button could start a movie playing, for example, or submit a form, or control the visibility of images or text on your page. You can make just about any object on your InDesign page into a button. Pictures can be buttons, text frames, lines, really anything. And making buttons in InDesign is a one click deal. For example, I want this text frame up here, this one that says contact, to be a button that takes me to the third page, the contact page of this document. I can tell by the dotted line around that text frame that that object is on a master page.

Understanding buttons

Hyperlinks are one sort of interactive hot spot in a PDF. That is they do something when you click or tap them. But there's another kind of interactive hot spot too, buttons. Now buttons are good for navigation. Letting people jump from one page to the next for example, but hyperlinks can do that too. But you can use Buttons to do even more than hyperlinks. A button could start a movie playing, for example, or submit a form, or control the visibility of images or text on your page. You can make just about any object on your InDesign page into a button. Pictures can be buttons, text frames, lines, really anything. And making buttons in InDesign is a one click deal. For example, I want this text frame up here, this one that says contact, to be a button that takes me to the third page, the contact page of this document. I can tell by the dotted line around that text frame that that object is on a master page.

So I'm going to go to my Pages panel and I'm going to double click on A Master. Now I can select it and do stuff to that frame. Let's go ahead and zoom in here to 200% by pressing Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. To turn this regular text frame into a button I need the Buttons and Forms panel. And I have it in my dock right now, so I can just click on it, but if you don't have it in your dock you can always go to the Window menu and choose it out of the Interactive sub-menu. Now that I have my panel open, I can convert this selected object into a button with one click.

I'm just going to click on what I call the Make a Button button, which is this button way down here at the bottom of this Buttons and Forms panel. As soon as you click on that, it turns it into a button and the panel changes, and also you get this dashed line around the button. You'll also notice this little gray icon that shows up in the lower right corner. That won't print, it's just an indicator that tells me that this is a button. Now this button won't do anything yet, it's just sitting there, so I'm going to have to add some actions to it. But before I add any actions, I'm going to go up to the name field, and give this a real name, because InDesign added this really weird name, button448. And that's just not very descriptive at all still so let's take that out and I'm going to change this to Contact button you can call it anything you want but that's descriptive and you want to have something in there that will remind you later what this button does.

Now let's give it an action every action needs to be triggered with an event, something that triggers the action into happening. So first I'll click on the Event popup menu, and you can see that there's a bunch of different events here. The first one is the one you'll typically use On Release or Tap. Tap just means like on a tablet if somebody taps the screen. On release, is a little bit confusing. It's a mouse click, but technically it's when the person presses down the mouse, and then releases it. The second one, On Click, means when the mouse button goes down. That's the difference between click and release, but most people just use release. The next two, On Roll Over and On Roll Off, is only appropriate when you've got a mouse, a cursor that's moving on the screen, and it can roll over on top of the button, and you can have an action happen when you roll over an object. The last two, Onfocus and Onblur, are a little bit more confusing. This has to do with when somebody tabs onto a button. In Acrobat, every button can be tabbed to.

Just hit the Tab key and it selects it. And for people who have various disabilities, sometimes they can't use a mouse, and they need to use the Tab key to jump to buttons and activate them. So, that's what Onfocus and Onblur is about. On focus is when you tab two and Onblur means when you tab off of it, when it's no longer in focus. You can actually set up different actions for each one of these events. But I'm just going to set up one action on one event which is going to be On Release or Tap. Once I've chosen the event, I can choose an action.

And I'll do that by clicking on this little plus pop up menu here. And you can see we have a bunch of different actions to choose from. We could go to the first page, last page, next page and so on. There are some down here that are just for making forms, which I'll talk about in a later chapter. You'll also notice in the middle here, we have some SWF-only actions. Obviously this will only work in SWF files, that you export. They will not work in PDF's. So, we're just ignoring those. The funny one though is Go To Page, Go To Page only works inside of flash files that you export, not PDF's.

For some weird reason, PDF does not have any ability to go directly to a page. You only can go to destinations. This item up here. A destination is a text anchor, or a bookmark. So if you're trying to go directly to a page like we are with this button, you first have to choose Go To Destination. Now InDesign's going to ask, what destination. Well, I don't have a bookmark on that page yet, so I better add one. I'll go back to My Pages panel, double-click on page three. That's going to be the contact page. Open my Bookmarks panel and I'm going to add a new bookmark for this page called Contact.

Once I have my bookmark, I can go back and assign that bookmark to my button. So, once again, I'll go back to the Pages panel, go to my master page. Now I need to scroll up, select my button, open the Buttons and Forms panel. Now that I've got my bookmark, I can choose it out of the Destination pop-up menu. There it is, Contact. That's the one that I just created. Now a couple more things you should know about buttons. You can actually assign more than one action to an event. Right now this event On Release or Tap is just going to go to that destination, going to that page. But if I go back to the Actions popup menu, I can choose another action here. For example, View Zoom.

And now I'm actually getting two actions with a single event. View Zoom is actually a really useful action because you can do things like go in and out of full screen mode. Or you could zoom in zoom out or set the magnification of a PDF inside Acrobat. In this case I don't really want to do any of that so I'm going to remove that action simply by selecting it and then clicking on the little minus button up here and that let's me take that action out of this event. If I look down at the bottom of the Buttons and Forms panel you'll see that there's a description field. And this is really helpful if you want to add a tool tip so that when somebody hovers over the button and if they don't really know what it does, they could get a little tool tip to give them a description.

In this case you don't really need one, but I'll add one anyway saying go to contact page. There we go. I also have a Printable check box here. Which means if somebody prints this document out of Acrobat will that button show up in the printout? I'll leave it turned on. Here's something else you should know about button objects themselves. See that dash line around it and how it kind of looks like a grouped object? Buttons are sort of like groups. When I converted that text frame into a button, it actually made a new button object, and nested the text frame inside of it.

That's why if I double click on this button I get the text frame selected. It actually went inside the button to select the text frame. Now, if I double click again, I can actually select the text inside that text frame. Whenever I try and edit a button, I find it's really useful to think about it in terms of this nested structure. Just so that you know that there's a frame nested inside a button object. Now, I should point out that if you want something that looks more like a 3D button, something really cool, you can always use one of the buttons that ships with InDesign inside the Sample Buttons and Forms library. Adobe gives you all kinds of button objects in here, and if you want to use one, all you need to do is click on it, and then drag it right out onto your page. Now these are already setup as buttons, so all you need to do is go to the Buttons panel, and set in action.

In this case, the go to page action has already been applied to this button, and as I just mentioned, that does not work in PDF, only SWF. So, you'd have to remove that and choose a different action for your interactive PDF file. One last thing you should know about buttons, is that you can convert a button back into a regular object again. And you do that by clicking on the same button that you clicked at the beginning. What was the Make a Button button, is now the Convert back to an Object button. So I simply selected on the page, click this button, and it tells me hey watch out all the actions are going to disappear yes I understand that click OK and now it's a regular object again.

I love making buttons and in my opinion they are the most important elements in an interactive PDF letting your audience control their experience as they move through your document

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

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David Blatner
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