Adobe Drops DPS Single Edition Support from Creative Cloud
[Editor’s note: This article is in two parts. First, an article by Bob Levine; followed by additional notes by David Blatner.]
Adobe is announcing today that it will be “retiring” the Digital Publishing Suite Single Edition (DPS SE) from the Adobe Creative Cloud on May 1 (2015) and removing it as a purchasable product from Adobe.com even sooner, on December 4, 2014.
However, if you have SE projects already in the pipeline, or you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber (which includes an unlimited number of DPS SE applications), don’t panic yet — you have some breathing room.
Before I tell you what this means, let’s see what it doesn’t mean. Digital Publishing Suite will continue as a stand-alone publishing service for both Professional and Enterprise account holders. There are no changes right now to those plans that pertain to Single Edition apps. So, if you’re a Pro or Enterprise customer you can stop here.
If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, however, the value of your subscription just went down a bit. When May 1 rolls around, you will no longer be able to create or modify any Single Edition app. That said, 5 months should be plenty of time to wrap up any current projects so it’s not like Adobe is pulling the rug out from under your feet with no notice.
Why is this Happening?
While I don’t have any numbers, I don’t think it’s a secret that DPS SE never really caught on. It’s sort of an orphan product anyway. Not really an app, not really a book, not really anything. It’s caught between the worlds of a designer and a developer. I would imagine the cost to maintain the platform for the very few using it, along with what is now an excellent, and in some ways a superior alternative, combined to make this move inevitable.
Fixed Layout EPUB
Adobe’s announcement points out that fixed-layout (FXL) EPUB has reached a point where it’s a better choice. Having investigated the features in it, I agree with them, especially for those that don’t understand the requirements that Apple has for Single Edition apps (mostly the fact that they need to be very interactive).
If Adobe had announced this earlier, I’d have been complaining about it quite loudly—because there was no alternative—but with the October release of InDesign CC2014, many of the interactive features available to DPS users are now a part of FXL. Even native animations work! (I posted an article about this on my blog last week, before finding out about this announcement.)
The biggest drawback to the fixed-layout EPUB solution is the lack of compatible readers for these advanced EPUBs. Of course, the lack of readers is nothing compared to the limits of DPS SE, which is compatible with iPads only.
Still Want an App? There are Alternatives
The first, and easiest way around the loss of DPS SE is to find someone with a Pro or Enterprise account or to sign up for one yourself. Absent that, all is not totally lost here. While DPS Single Edition is great if you only want to publish on an iPad, it’s been evident from the start that Adobe was more concerned with multi-issue publishing. For anyone interested in Android, Amazon, or Windows market places, Single Edition was never a viable choice. Single Edition isn’t even compatible with iPhone!
Let’s take a look at the choices for other digital publishing services. The supported features and platforms they offer vary and in some cases (such as support for InDesign animations by some) are actually superior to DPS.
All of the above vary in cost, features, and device support so I can’t really recommend one over the other. None are free, but they all offer InDesign plugins as free downloads and they have free readers, similar to Adobe Content Viewer available on the supported stores. If you feel strongly that apps are the way to go for your project, do your own homework and pick the service that’s right for you.
But… don’t dismiss FXL out of hand. As I already mentioned, it is good choice for many projects such as illustration heavy books, and it’s very simple to create as well as to view fixed layout EPUBs. In fact, as long as you have a compatible reader on your computer or mobile device, it’s just about as simple as creating a PDF. If you want to learn more about it, Anne-Marie has a wonderful course on lynda.com.
I think one of the things that doomed DPS SE was the requirements that you actually had to be a bit of a developer to publish the app. Many users never got past the point of the requirement of having a Mac to create certificates for the app as well submitting it to Apple. Even if you got past that point, you’re up against Apple’s very inconsistent review and approval/rejection process. This is something you will continue to run into even with other vendors.
While the value of Creative Cloud hasn’t diminished all that much—and to the vast majority of users the absence of DPS SE won’t even be noticed—I’m hoping that come May 1, Adobe will be a open to helping those have projects they haven’t quite finished or that need revisions. We’ll have to wait until then to find out.
It’s never good when a company cuts a product or service, and it’s always worse when it’s something that you use. When the bus company cuts the route you take to work, or the appliance company stops making the replacement items you need to keep your vacuum cleaner working, it’s annoying and an inconvenience. So Adobe’s announcement that they’re dropping support for DPS SE from Creative Cloud memberships is frustrating. But… a few things to remember:
First, not that many people used DPS SE. If you’re one of the few, then this is terrible, but the vast majority of CC members didn’t make SE apps and probably wouldn’t do so anytime soon. There are a number of DPS users, of course, but my sense is that the vast majority of people who get excited about DPS end up with the pro or enterprise accounts, not SE.
Second, compare DPS SE to Fixed Layout EPUB (FXL):
- DPS SE apps would only run on the iPad. FXL can be viewed on the iPad, iPhone, and any Mac running 10.9+. It can be viewed on Kobo devices, Readium-enabled Chrome browsers, and any Mac or Windows computer running Adobe’s free Digital Editions v4 software. That means your InDesign layouts could have a far wider reach than they could with DPS SE.
- While FXL from InDesign is not mature yet, it’s getting significantly better and the fact that Adobe appears to be getting behind this open industry standard is very exciting. There’s no doubt that FXL cannot currently replicate what DPS can, but I think over time it might even be able to do more.
- You can’t get analytics or multi-issue subscriptions with EPUB… but you can’t do that with DPS SE either (you need a higher level pro or enterprise DPS account to get that), so there’s no loss there.
For all these reasons, and more, I think that FXL is going to be a better publishing solution for many InDesign users… in fact, it may even replace PDF in a number of cases.