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Dynamic Liquid Layout in InDesign (MAX Sneak Peek)

I mentioned in my previous blog post that we saw a fascinating look at future InDesign technology at this year’s MAX Sneak Peeks (a.k.a. “sneaks”). One of InDesign’s senior product managers, Kiyo Toma, demoed a flexible layout in InDesign that could be ported to various tablets of different sizes — reflowing appropriately, as each device has its own dimensions.

This is an incredibly important development, if only because we all are going to want to publish the same things to the iPad and the Kindle Fire (and probably 4 or 5 other significant tablets in 2012), but they’re all different sizes and it’s a major hassle to re-lay out the same page multiple times.

He also showed placing dynamic HTML, including an HTML5 animation from Adobe Edge, then exporting an HTML5 page directly from InDesign — a page that appeared to include sliding page transitions like a magazine or book, and which could be shown in a browser.

Check out this amazing demo, which starts about 10:40 into the whole movie. (Note that Kiyo, like most of the sneaks presenters, was dressed up as Dwight from The Office, in honor of this year’s emcee Rainn Wilson. He’s actually far more cool.)

Amazing, no?

Now, Adobe was quick to point out that this is not a guarantee that we’ll see this in the next version of InDesign, or even in any future of InDesign. It’s just something they’ve been tinkering with. But if it does show up, I think we’re in for some fun times.

And perhaps not just for interactive on-screen pages, either! What if you had a client who wanted six versions of the same ad (same content). If you added “springs and struts” (as Kiyo called them) to page items… could we change the InDesign document and have the objects move with some intelligence?

As I’ve said for years, page layout is all about setting the relationships among the items on your page. Define the relationship and you’ve defined how the page should change in different circumstances.

Let’s just say, I was pretty dang excited watching this.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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9 Comments on “Dynamic Liquid Layout in InDesign (MAX Sneak Peek)

  1. Amazing, yes! Can’t wait.

    I had to laugh when Kiyo inadvertently turned the iPad upside down and said, ‘Oh, upside down … it’s a bug. Ship it!’ :)

  2. @Judy: No, the MAX sneaks are just “technology.” Never a product announcement. It could be CS6 or CS7, or they could decide that interactive is dead and we’re all going back to print forever.

    One reason Adobe sometimes does sneaks like this is to gauge interest. If you think this is a good thing, let us/them know.

  3. I’m very excited about is. Adobe should push this for the next InDesign release, as it will be recognized as a significant update and makes InDesign even more ready for the tablet world.

  4. Certainly in a world with an ever increasing number of ‘page sizes’ (screen resolutions) this would be a fantastic tool.

    If I’m not mistaken the ‘content aware editing’ was implemented rather quickly in Photoshop, the version that was released after they showed it as a technology demo. So if everybody starts asking, demanding it as a feature, who knows… :-)

  5. As a long time user of Indesign, and a relatively new but very excited enthusiast of responsive web design, I’ve got to your you are dreaming if you ever think this is going to work.

    Responsive sites are great, but they’re completely unhindered by a fixed page size like you have to start with in Indesign.

    Just design will pull itself around so much it’ll not be pleasing to the eye for most designers, and if the code it generates is anything like what comes out of Muse then we’re all in for a great shock.

    The most upper market magazines on iPad right now still have to be designed in both orientations so its looks good enough to be considered a magazine still. No-one wants badly flowed or designed pages, especially publishers who are used to wanting complete control over pages.

    Also, a HUGE gap here (much like Adobe’s attempt at the whole Indesign to Flash mess) is what do they expect you to do with this HTML 5 magazine? Put it on your website? Does this generate a branded app? There’s no publishing platform, so unless you’re willing to host these massive bloated files yourself, you’d be better off with

    a) A PDF
    b) A proper responsive site

  6. @ David Blatner
    “One reason Adobe sometimes does sneaks like this is to gauge interest. If you think this is a good thing, let us/them know.”

    Ok, I’m letting you know …
    THIS IS A GOOD THING! (Shouting intentional)

  7. ¿What happening with ‘export in HTML5? One year later I still waiting for this. Indexable text with embeded fonts?

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