The Creative Cloud Chronicles: The Digital Publishing Suite Arrives
By Chris Dickman, Founding Editor, Graphics.com
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Adobe announced the inclusion of its Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition in the Creative Cloud some months ago, so it's good to today finally have it become available. The premise is simple enough: make it possible for designers to create iPad apps in a design-centric environment that shields them from having to (shudder) write code. Of course, as in all things code-free, that protection comes with a limitation of what's possible. But in this case the apps being created are just InDesign publications with added interactivity, so it's indeed possible to generate these in a way that allows designers to focus on the design and user interactivity aspects of such productions.
The Creative Cloud iteration of the Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition is pretty much identical to the one for which you'd normally have to pony up $395. It provides a collection of tools for the creation of iPad apps from such documents as single-issue magazines, yearbooks, brochures, annual reports or design portfolios.
So how does it all work? It's frankly a pretty simple process. You first create your publication with InDesign, then using the Folio Overlays panel add such interactivity as hyperlinks, slide shows, audio and video, panoramas, and pan and zoom. You then build a Folio with the InDesign Folio Builder panel, at which point you can copy publications to a connected iPad for previewing via the Content Viewer. Finally, you use the DPS App Builder to generate the application. And here we come to one of the major benefits of using DPS via Creative Cloud. Those employing the desktop version of DPS must purchase a serial number, costing $395, for each app, while Cloud members have carte blanche to crank out as many as they like for submission to the App Store. So if you plan to create two apps a year, it's cheaper to have a Creative Cloud membership, which also includes so much else, than to purchase two DPS licenses separately.
Another significant difference is that Cloud members can update an app as many times as they like after it has been approved by the App Store, until their subscription ends. In contrast, those purchasing a license can only update an app for a year, at which point they'd need to purchase another license — making it rather expensive to update client apps over time. The image below provides a simplified view, while the following clip goes into more detail about the app creation workflow.
The inclusion of DPS within Creative Cloud coincided with some workflow improvements, which are shared with the single license version: it's no longer necessary to use Folio Producer Service; only one login is required (either in Folio Builder panel in InDesign or in DPS App Builder); DPS App Builder can be launched directly from InDesign; and a number of interface enhancements in the DPS App Builder help users throughout the app creation process. An example of that is shown below. Also noteworthy is the new ability to design and build a single app that's optimized for both earlier iPads and those using Retina displays.
There's no limit on the number of apps that can be submitted to the Apple App Store for publication, so for freelance designers or small shops this completely removes the barrier for entry to the growing app creation space. If you're a designer, there's no longer any excuse to not include app development among your portfolio of services. Since this is still early days in the creation of such interactive publications, Creative Cloud now provides all you need to jump in and develop expertise early in the curve, not years from now. The only snafu is for Windows users, since they'll need a Mac not only to submit files to the Apple App Store but to run the DPS App Builder. And of course Single Edition can't create Android apps — for that you'd need to move up to the pricey Professional or Enterprise editions.
Adobe has extended its Creative Cloud upgrade offer of $29.99 per month for the first year for those using CS3 or later suites or apps, or you can simply go for a 30-day free trial.
Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition Resources
DPS, Single Edition on Adobe.com
Adobe videos covering DPS, Single Edition
Single Edition Resource Guide