Good-bye Adobe DPS, Hello AEM Mobile
Adobe recently announced that Digital Publishing Solution (DPS) would become part of a new product called Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Mobile. Confused? You’re not alone. This is the second name change for DPS in less than a year. Why did Adobe do this, what’s changing, and what does this mean for DPS users?
A little background
Five years ago, when the iPad was unveiled, Adobe introduced Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) as a way for designers to produce digital, interactive magazines using InDesign. DPS provided a relatively simple tool for building a customized tablet app, an InDesign plug-in for creating app content, as well as a distribution platform for publishing this content into the custom app.
These were heady times. Adobe had great success selling the solution to most of the large magazine publishers. I traveled the country teaching people how to use DPS, and my PePcon workshops about DPS were full.
But a couple of years ago it became clear that people weren’t consuming digital magazines on tablets at the rate that many publishers had hoped. Users seemed to have a preference for a continuous feed of content delivered to their phone, instead of interactive, curated, magazine-style content delivered at infrequent intervals to their tablet.
So in 2015 Adobe announced a new product called Adobe Digital Publishing Solution (not Suite). This became known as DPS 2015, and the “old” DPS as DPS Classic. Existing DPS customers could choose to continue to publish using either DPS Classic or DPS 2015. But DPS 2015 made it possible to create a highly-custom, responsive app interface and navigation sytem, to publish a continuous feed of articles, and to include reflowable HTML content in an app.
Now, Adobe has decided to make DPS part of the Adobe Experience Manager product line.
Why the change?
- Adobe sees a huge corporate market for AEM Mobile to create apps that distribute information to sales teams, provide training materials to employees, recruit new hires, show retailers how to display products, and many other uses. These are Adobe’s target customers for Adobe Marketing Cloud, of which AEM is a part.
- These types of apps often need to contain content generated from a wide variety of sources. AEM Mobile apps can still include highly-designed content from InDesign, but also content exported from Powerpoint presentations and PDF files, as well as HTML content.
- HTML content is the future, because such content can be auto-generated very efficiently from a Content Management System (CMS). And guess what? At its heart, AEM is a CMS. And, as a bonus, HTML content is responsive (able to reflow based on the screen size).
- These corporate apps tend to be a mix of rich content mixed with app functionality. Creators of these apps want to include features such as payment calculators, location-aware features, data storage on the device, and connections to databases, email, and calendars. Adobe is promising that you will be able to include these types of widgets and device connections via future integration with Apache Cordova.
What does it cost?
Each iteration of DPS has become more expensive. There is no longer any kind of entry-level monthly “professional” subscription. Each contract is negotiated with Adobe based on the number of apps, size of company, size of audience, etc. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that pricing starts at around $50,000/year. Obviously, this price point is only attractive for customers with industrial-strength requirements.
What to do?
If you’re a DPS Classic user: You’ll be able to continue to use DPS Classic, unchanged, for now. You may need to renegotiate your contract with Adobe, but presumably you will be able to continue to use the DPS Classic platform until it is someday dismantled by Adobe. If you determine that you are no longer one of Adobe’s target customers, you should begin looking at some of the alternative solutions described below.
If you’re a DPS 2015 user: There is no immediate change to your workflow other than a new name and logo on the DPS (AEM) Web portal, the DPS (AEM) Preflight app, and the InDesign plug-in. In the months to come you will presumably see new features and capabilities available to you. Read this FAQ for more details for existing DPS customers.
If you’re looking for a digital publishing solution: Try a 30-day free trial of AEM Mobile and all of its promised capabilities, and determine if it is the right fit for you.
But what if you aren’t large enough to be an AEM Mobile customer?
Alternatives to AEM Mobile
The great news is that alternatives to Adobe DPS/AEM have matured a lot in the last couple of years.
- InDesign’s Publish Online feature makes Web-based digital publishing available to anyone, at no cost.
- An amazing InDesign plug-in called in5, particularly when paired with app-building solutions such as Phonegap, Baker Framework, or LiquidState, is very powerful and extremely economical.
- Twixl Publisher, Aquafadas, and MagPlus Designd are all systems that are quite similar to DPS classic in capabilities and operation, but much less expensive. In my opinion, Twixl Publisher is the strongest contender.