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Software Review – Adobe Digital Publishing Suite From Adobe Systems

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Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is the new online digital publishing services that, in conjunction with Adobe InDesign CS5.5, can be used to design, monetize, and optimize a whole new class of digital publications. It will give you everything that you need to produce engaging digital documents for tablet devices through the use of a turnkey set of hosted services and viewer technology.

Over the last couple of years the digital landscape has grown dramatically. With the introduction of tools like the iPad, Kindle, and a whole host of e-readers and tablets, it is estimated that 57% of consumers expect to purchase one of these types of devices during the course of the next three years. Add to the basic capabilities of these readers, the ability to print, watch video, as well as integrated feature interactivity, if you want to sell to this market you need the tools that will provide the most bang in one complete package. That is the one of the goals of the new Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is targeted at the professional and enterprise level entity that is looking to create first class publications such as rich digital magazines and newspapers that are similar to WIRED Reader and The New Yorker. It contains five enterprise level services that are used in combination with InDesign CS5 to provide a complete end-to-end workflow.

Another goal of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is to provide extended market reach through the use of an array of mobile devices to engage readers by providing feature rich layouts and interactive features, provide flexible commerce models to sell both single issues as well as subscriptions, give you the tools to create multi-platform authoring, multi-channel monetization, the ability to attract advertisers, and provide immediate business insights through analysis.

There are two parts to the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. The first part is through the use of Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 which added a whole host of features aimed to digital publishing – especially with regard to Adobe InDesign CS5.5.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

So what is new with InDesign 5.5?

• Folio Producer tools – will add interactive overlays to your documents as well as let you preview them all within the context of your publication. These let you create and distribute for the iPad, BlackBerry Playbook, and the Motorola Xoom. You can also include audio, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks.

• EPUB export enhancements – will let you design more interactive eBooks that now include images that resize for almost any size screen along with better looking text and typography. This gives you the ability to offer readers a much more smooth and pleasant reading experience.

• Articles panel – will be useful to improve the readers experience in textbooks, or other books that contain images, captions, block quotes, or sidebars. You just drag content from your document into the Articles panel, and then organize them to appear in a logical order for the reader when exported.

• Embedded video and audio in ebooks – and add another dimension to your ebooks. InDesign now supports video and audio tags for newer standards such as HTML5 and EPUB 3.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

• Styles mapped to tags – will allow you to create more sophisticated text. You create digital documents that conform to open standards with improved basic typography without needing to make changes directly to the HTML code.

• Linked text – will save you time and reduce errors by linking identical text blocks in a document, so that edits you make to the parent story apply to all of them.

• Dynamic image resizing – allows you to produce documents that look good on any device by letting your images adjust automatically.

• Drag-and-drop anchored objects – lets you add anchored objects quickly. These will let the text reflow on the page and the anchored object remain in position moving the text it is anchored to.

• PDF accessibility – will reduce the time it takes to create PDF documents that people with disabilities can use more effectively. Now you can more easily add, edit, and view alternate text attributes that are associated with an image or object.

So what is the Digital Publishing Suite?

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

The second part is the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. This is a tablet publishing solution that takes documents created in Adobe InDesign and gives you the platform and tools to produce, distribute, monetize, analyze, and view your publication.

You create your document in InDesign and turn it into a .folio. That .folio is then pushed to the Digital Publishing Suite Folio Producer Service. Once processed, it can then be move to the Distribution Service which is then distributed to Android, iPad, or PlayBook as a branded App.

These move to the various App stores based on each individual stores terms and conditions – this means that they have to go through the same approval processes as all other applications must do for each platform. Sales and other data are all tracked through Analytics Services.

The process itself is pretty straightforward. You do the initial document creation in InDesign getting it setup and ready to go. Once that is done, you use the .folio Builder panel to create the Folio. Next you upload it to the Producer Service online. This is where you organize, edit, and publish Folios for testing and distribution. The Viewer Builder Service is used to create a branded, content viewer application for iPad or Android.

Once everything is in place, the Distribution Service is used for manage fulfillment of Folios that have been published and made available for purchase. The Analytics Service is used to view aggregate data for the published folios and to track how your publications are doing.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

There are two levels of service for the Digital Publishing Suite – Professional and Enterprise, the later giving you a lot more customization features as well as being able to publish private in-house applications as well as high volume discounts. Both are targeted at the larger scale publishers with the base of the Professional version starting off at $495/month or $5940/year. You can find out more detailed information on the Adobe Digital Publishing site.

Overall, I think that the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite was very well done, and very well thought out. It is intuitive in its design and very easy to use. With the large number of self publishers that are growing every day. I think that it would be nice if there was an affordable level that could provide some of the same capabilities on an even smaller scale.

If you are looking to publish materials to e-readers and tablet platforms and would like to find an easy to use and very streamlined workflow to do it in, if you want the ease and ability to produce your publication and send it quickly and easily to the growing number of devices that are out there on the market, then you should give serious thought to the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. I can highly recommend this set of services.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Regina

    Does this program also publish to the kindle? I didnt clearly see any mention of that just the ipad etc.

  • Greg Robins

    Adobe’s DPS system is “OK” – there are some limits on it. For example it does not take advantage of some of the capabilities of iPad (geolocation, accelerometer, camera), but for merely taking a magazine and giving it some interactivity, it’s easy.

    The process of gaining certificates and making them work is hugely complex, and very little documentation exists for it. I had to spend 2 hours with Adobe (the help desk was AMAZING), but they need to work with Apple to fix this since it’s not sustainable for designers like me to have these ultra-geeky holdups. They both have billions – they should spend more on making the certificate process easier and automated.