Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing for interactivity, part of InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals (2014).
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- When it comes to choosing the right file format for your interactive documents, one approach you could take is to think about the features that matter the most to you, and then see which file formats support those features. In this movie, we'll take a look at a very handy table that shows every feature in InDesign for building interactivity, and which file formats support those features and which ones don't. You can find the PDF that I'm looking at in the Exercise Files folder in Chapter 9, Lesson 1. On the first page of the PDF, it shows the kind of files that you can export with interactivity, including interactive PDF, SWF, reflowable EPUB and HTML, fixed layout EPUB and Adobe DPS.
So let's go through this table and talk about some of the more important items in it. First, over here on the left, we have Preserve Layout Appearance. This is one of the fundamental questions you first have to ask when you're planning to convert or create documents for interactivity. Are you trying to use InDesign as the primary design tool for your layout or will you create formatting some other way? The formats that replicate the look of your InDesign pages are interactive PDF, SWF, fixed layout EPUB and DPS.
Reflowable EPUB and HTML is a different story. With those formats, you do have some control over the formatting of text and objects that you can set up in InDesign, but there's always gonna be additional work after you export, with things like CSS. And in most cases, the person viewing your document can alter its appearance, changing the fonts and the size of text and so on. So if you wanna create an EPUB that mirrors your design, choose fixed layout EPUBs. If accessibility is important to you, then you're limited to the formats where you can export structured content, PDF and reflowable EPUB/HTML.
Fixed layout EPUBs can be made accessible, but the code that InDesign generates may make this a much bigger challenge since every word is wrapped in a span tag in the HTML code. So that's why I've marked it as having some support. And remember that what creates the look of the pages in DPS is essentially just an image. If you wanna be able to adapt layouts to fit multiple screen sizes and orientations and mobile devices, then your only choice is gonna be DPS. When it comes to animation, you're limited to SWF and fixed layout EPUB if you wanna use InDesign's animation tools, but you can put animations created with Adobe Edge into EPUB, HTML and DPS.
Note that I've marked EPUB as having some support because whether an animation will work or not depends on the software you're using to view the EPUB. Some things that might work in the desktop version of iBooks might not work in the mobile version. And the same goes for HTML content. Something like an embedded Google map might work in Adobe Digital Editions, but not at all in iBooks. Buttons for navigating and interacting with content on the page have mixed support in most file formats. There's a lotta detail that you can get into when it comes to buttons, so there's a separate table dealing with them that we'll look at in a minute.
Right here, just notice that buttons don't work in reflowable EPUB and HTML. Cross-references are well supported across most formats, but if you wanna use InDesign's form tools, your only choice is gonna be PDF. Hyperlinks and media, like audio and video, are supported in all formats, but if you want the animated page turn effect, your only choice is SWF. Just remember that SWF is based on Adobe's Flash technology and it won't work on mobile devices, including the iPad.
Multi-state objects, which can be very powerful tools for creating interactivity, are only supported in SWF, fixed layout EPUB and DPS. Okay, let's look at Table 2 on the next page and see the details of button support. Here we have the same file formats, and on the left are all the possible actions that you can attach to a button. Again, you'll notice that none of these works in reflowable EPUB and HTML. The greatest support for buttons is in interactive PDF, where almost all the actions work.
But the exceptions include some important ones. Like, you can't click a button to go to a specific page in an interactive PDF. Instead, you might wanna create a specific destination on the page where you need the button to take you, as the Go To Destination action is supported. Also notice that multi-state object actions are not supported in PDF. Support for buttons is also very good in SWF, including multi-state objects, but again, SWFs aren't gonna work on mobile devices like iPads.
However, you can get that same broad support for buttons in fixed layout EPUB, which does work on iPads. In DPS, you have good support for page-based navigation buttons, but you can't use the Go To Destination action. You also can't show and hide other buttons, but you can more than make up for this loss with the full support for going to states in a multi-state object. So with the information in this table as a guide, you can start to narrow the choices for what kind of interactive document is right for your purposes.
Next, we'll start our look at the workflow for each kind of document.
- Overview of interactive document types
- Enhancing a project with interactive objects
- Setting up hyperlinks, page transitions, and a table of contents
- Understanding media formats
- Adding HTML animations
- Manage folios with the Folio Producer
- Creating EPUBs
- Adapting a page layout for mobile devices with Liquid Layout
- Changing page designs with primary text frames
- Formatting text with text style mapping
- Workflows for designing interactive documents
- Customizing the workspace
- Organizing content with layers
- Using third-party scripts to work on interactive documents