Adding Zoom and Print to InDesign SWF Files
I love the SWF export feature from InDesign, but it's missing some really important features, including:
- A way to gather two or more SWF files together into a "project" frame.
- A way to automatically add zoom buttons so readers can magnify parts of the page easily
- A way to embed a PDF file so that if your audience wants a print version, they can get it easily.
Adobe's answer to this has been: export to XFL (or FLA in CS5) and whip it all up in Flash Pro. It only takes a little actionscript and a developer and a week of work and... gah! That's crazy-talk, and I'm sorry, but as much as I want to learn actionscript, it ain't going to happen anytime soon.
Fortunately, some developers have stepped up to make it easier for us non-coders. For example, I've been playing with eDocker from Prepress Center in Finland. (I have to admit, I have a special affinity for Finnish companies, as their names all seem to contain the word "Oy!" in them. I also love the irony in a company called "Prepress" making a SWF tool.)
eDocker is a way to gather one or more SWF files exported from InDesign CS4 (or later) into a container that offers zoom buttons, a way to scroll/pan around after zooming in, navigation buttons, PDF download button, a Help button... and it's all customizable!
They've created this application using AIR, so it's very easy to install and run on Mac or Windows. You apparently need to be connected to the web while it's running (perhaps for anti-piracy reasons), which is a bit frustrating at times. But it makes the process so straightforward that any non-coder can use it.
If you're reading this on an iPad and don't have Flash, here's what the screen looks like:
What you're looking at above is a SWF exported from InDesign CS4, inside a frame created with eDocker. The InDesign document was "facing pages," so you're looking at page 2 and 3 together. Notice the buttons along the bottom to download a PDF of the document, switch to full screen mode, navigate to other pages, zoom in/out, and print.
When you zoom in, you get a Pan cursor to move around, like this:
So how hard was it to make this? From InDesign to this final packaged SWF took about 2 minutes.
If you don't like the look and feel of the buttons (or the frame or the help image, or whatever), you can customize them all. They're just little swf files themselves that you can drag into the packaged folder. For example, I replaced the eDocker logo in the upper-left corner with an InDesignSecrets logo -- I admit that it's not pretty, but that's my fault.
I have heard that there are other companies out there offering similar services, though some of them require you to use their servers. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I find the simplicity of eDocker very compelling. You can try it out for 3 days free here (after that, it's 325 euros, which is a lot less than paying a Flash developer). Let us know what you think!
Are there other products or services you know about that do similar things? Let us know about them!