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Adobe Shows Flash and InDesign Technology Preview

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Michael Ninness, Adobe’s Senior Product Manager of InDesign, opened The InDesign Conference in Miami today with a demo of some technology that Adobe is working on. He made it very clear that this was not necessarily going to be in any future version of InDesign, but that they’re considering it and wanted to get the audience’s feedback on it. That said, the demo did run inside an application that was labeled “InDesign CS4.” That doesn’t mean anything, but it was titillating, if nothing else. ;)

The technology preview followed a stream of examples of magazines that were created using InDesign and painstakingly converted to Flash by designers and developers around the world. His theme was “wouldn’t it be nice if we could make these people’s lives easier.” He then switched to InDesign, opened a simple layout, created a regular frame, and then opened a Buttons panel that appeared to combine CS3′s Behaviors dialog box and the States panel.

He then exported his layout (using File > Export) as a Flash (SWF) file that included basic interactivity. It was simple, elegant, and obviously anyone could do it. David Stephens, an software engineer on the InDesign team who apparently wrote much of this code, was pointed out by Senior Evangelist Tim Cole, who shared the stage with Ninness. The audience was obviously appreciating the demo, applauding for Stephens’ work.

Ninness then showed a Page Transitions dialog box (found in the Pages panel) that let the user specify slides, dissolves, and other cool transitions. One of the items was labeled “SWF Only,” which let me to wonder if these transitions would also work in other export formats. (I have long wanted the ability to choose page transitions in exported PDF files.)

Once again, he exported the file as SWF — this time pointing out some of the export options, including the option to scale the file to any size (such as 1024 x 768) and checkboxes for “Include Transitions” and “Include Keyboard Shortcuts” (which writes the appropriate code so that people can press arrow keys to navigate the slideshow he was creating). Flash played the transitions beautifully.

Joking about the nature of the demo, Tim leaned over and glibly noted, “Yeah, it’d be great if you could actually do that.”

Ninness then showed a sample file from InDesign Magazine and exported it in a file format that he could open in something labeled “Flash CS4″ (but again, no promises!). There were a number of options, including a pop-up menu that read, “InDesign Text to Flash Text.” When exported, each page of the InDesign file had been converted to a movie clip and appeared as a frame in the Flash document.

Ninness pointed out that this was a great first step, but then to add real interactivity (animations, and so on), he had handed the Flash file off to a developer (Chris Converse) who made the magic… and magic it seemed to be. I guess I’m pretty easily amused, but seeing the final SWF, with fancy transitions from page to page, objects animating on each page, and buttons for zooming in on areas was just totally cool.

It was a short and sweet demo, but clearly Adobe has a lot up its sleeve. I love the idea of Flash export. Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know as we learn more over time.

[See video of the keynote on youtube. Part 1 / Part 2]

  • Date: 09/21/2014
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