Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video Print plus digital: Newspapers, part of InDesign CS4: Interactive Documents and Presentations.
So one of the disturbing trends we are seeing in digital publishing of course is the demise of certain newspaper markets. I live in Seattle and we just lost the Seattle PI, Post-Intelligencer recently but there is some interesting developments going on, the digital space for newspapers and we are starting to see some experimentation, and one of the examples here is The New York Times. This is The New York Times website, very vibrant website with all the news that you would expect from the New York Times paper edition, just online. But they have recently launched a New Times Reader, a separate application for consuming their content.
So this is just the browser version of this. If I scroll down to the very bottom towards their page, they have a Services section here, and there is a link here to the Times Reader. I am going to go ahead and click on that and that will take you to a page that kind of explains what the Times Reader 2.0 project is all about. This is a separate application rather than consuming in Internet browser, this is a standalone application built on the Adobe Air platform. You can download this for free and get some access to the content. Of course they are trying to promote a subscription to the digital version of their paper. I am going to switch back to their front page, which we can see what the current headlines are, scroll up to the top here.
So U.S. Relies More on Allies in Questioning Terror Suspects. And the second link here, I just want you to pay attention to those two links, because I'm going to actually switch to the standalone application, the Times Reader. And you'll see that the latest news, they are really are just feeding the same content from the website into the standalone application as well here. So there is those two stories. So you might ask, well what's the benefit of viewing The New York Times content in a separate application? Let's go and expand this app so it takes up the whole screen, and we'll start playing around with the reading experience of this application.
First of all, it is a separate application which means it's a dedicated reader just for this particular publisher's content but it's also got some interesting usability and reading experience features. So for instance, if I resize the application, you will see the content relays itself out. So now I've only got room here for two columns. If I make it wide enough, I actually have room for additional columns of information. So there is some layout logic built into the app here. You can also change the type size. So if you want your body copy to be larger, you can go ahead and change that as well.
So I'll go back to Medium, and whatnot. It's got some nice navigation features as well. Now this is the version that's free. So you will see that some of the content is not available to me because I'm a print subscriber to The New York Times. If I was a print subscriber, the entire set of content is available to you for free as a part of your print subscription. You have the option to subscribing to just the digital version and not have to deal with the print version if you don't want to. I believe their price right now is about $15 a month for the digital version, and if you want to subscribe to that you have access to all that content.
But you do get enough free content here to kind of get an understanding of the user experience of the application here. So for the free version, the Front Page content is available, the Business content is available, and what everyone likes of course is the Crossword. You have the digital version of the crossword available. The thing I find interesting is that you can store up to the last seven days issues in this offline reader. So when you are connected, it always is looking to download the latest content that The New York Times is pushing out but it stores the content here up to seven days offline.
So if you want to get on an airplane, or you don't have an Internet connection for a while, you still have access to your paper if you will, even when you are not connected to the Internet. So that's kind of cool. In terms of navigating, so if I actually click on a particular article here. I'll just click on this one. You can see it's got a nice reading experience, very nice beautiful typography. And I have got some navigational buttons that I can use at the bottom of the application, or I can just use my keyboard. So if I use my down arrow, I can actually go to the next page in the article. You will see there is a pretty tasteful insertion of text ads being fed in by Google.
And if I want to go to the next article in this section, I use my right and left arrow keys to go to the previous article or the next article. And I get a nice animated transition between. If I want to again go through the current article, I just hit my up and down arrows to navigate within an article and then right and left to go within a particular section. They actually have their nice feature up here, to the Browse feature. This actually zooms out and you get a little nice size thumbnail of the current articles. So you can just use your right arrows here, or left arrow to scroll back and forth within that particular section.
If I use my down arrow to go another section, you will see that these are now previews because this is a locked area. So it actually says here, real tiny typing. You may never be able to read that but it says Subscription Preview. If I were to click to zoom in on that section, you get a little preview of the headlines and short little summaries there. But I wouldn't be able to click into that content unless I was a paid subscriber. So will this take off? Will we see other papers using this kind of model? I don't know. It's probably too early to tell, but obviously the newspaper industry is looking for different ways to monetize their content. And The New York Times is going to have a bold approach here to encourage you to pay for a better reading experience and a better access to the content.
So we'll see where this all goes in the future but if I had take an opportunity to kind of just show you what one paper is doing, to try to reinvent themselves and create a relationship between their readership and their content and encourage them to pay for the content.
- Configuring a custom InDesign workspace for designing digital documents
- Building slide navigation buttons for interactive presentations
- Adding reflection effects to images within a presentation
- Using InDesign to build an interactive mood board
- Creating an interactive digital spiral-bound portfolio
- Using InDesign and Flash Professional to build and animate a digital magazine
- Adding a video file to an interactive document
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: After exporting a portfolio in InDesign, as instructed in the tutorials, the portfolio items appear fuzzy. The letters typed into the InDesign document look fine, and the PDFs placed into InDesign look as they should, but once the items are exported, the type is fuzzy. What could be causing this?
A: The problem described occurs when a PDF is placed into an InDesign document and then scaled on the page. When the final SWF file is then exported from InDesign, the PDF graphics end up looking “soft and fuzzy” because they are being downsampled to a lower resolution.
First, be sure to update InDesign to the latest CS4 dot-release from Adobe. There was a bug in the shipping version of InDesign CS4 that caused images in SWFs to always go out as low-quality JPEGs regardless of the settings chosen in the SWF Export dialog. This issue was addressed in a subsequent release. To initiate the update from within InDesign, choose Help > Updates.
When images, including PDFs, are placed into an InDesign document and then exported to SWF, the images will all be downsampled to 72dpi and saved in one of two file formats, JPEG or PNG. The JPEG file format is a "lossy" file format, and depending on the image quality setting chosen, the final images quality could vary wildly. The PNG file format is "lossless", in that it does not add distracting and ugly artifacts to images.
In the SWF Export dialog, the default setting for Image Compression is set to Auto. Change this setting to "Lossless (Do Nothing)". It is unfortunate that this option is named this way. The three choices should be listed as Auto, JPEG and PNG. Adobe has changed in this in InDesign CS5, but for CS4, one has to know that "Lossless (Do Nothing)" really means “save the images as PNGs.”
The plus to using PNGs is that the images will end up looking great. The minus to using PNGs is that the file size of the SWFs will be larger because the images are not being compressed.
2. Choose High or Maximum JPEGs
If file size is a concern, then switch the Image Compression option to JPEG, but choose a higher quality setting from the JPEG Quality pop-up. The default is set to Medium. Choose High or Maximum instead. The higher the quality setting, the better the images will look, but their file sizes will be larger. That said, the file size of a maximum quality JPEG is usually smaller than a PNG.
3. Resample in Photoshop and Import JPEGs
The method that gives the user the most control over image quality and file size is to downsample the images in Photoshop to the exact pixel dimensions desired before placing them into InDesign. Open the PDFs (or any other image file formats) in Photoshop and size them to the desired pixel dimensions. If opening a PDF, Photoshop will display an Import PDF dialog first where the pixel dimensions can be set. If other file formats are used, resize them in Photoshop by choosing Image > Image Size. Then make sure the Resample Image checkbox is turned on, choose Bicubic Sharper from the pop-up menu at the bottom, and enter the pixel dimensions in the Pixel Dimensions section of the dialog box (not the Document Size section).
Once the images are the correct size, save them as JPEGs, and set the quality desired level.
After the final JPEGs are placed in the InDesign document, do NOT scale them. Place them at actual size (100%). If a JPEG goes into InDesign at 100% and nothing else is done to them, they will "pass through" to the final SWF untouched. Meaning, they'll go out exactly as they came in. This also means the JPEGs cannot be altered in any way that would cause them to be resampled during SWF Export. Examples are applying transparency effects, drop shadows, etc., to the JPEGs in InDesign.
See the examples below, where a PDF was placed into InDesign, scaled to 50% of its original size, and then various SWFs were exported, changing the Image Compression and JPEG Quality options as described in items 1 and 2 above.