Wednesday, 18 May 2011

iPad and Adobe CS5.5

Last week we bought an iPad 2 for the business to use as a marketing tool when meeting potential clients and networking. We felt it was much better than lugging around my 17inch lap top and it would be possible to pull it out and switch it on (instantaneously) naturally during a conversation over lunch or a drink without having to wait 15 minutes for my Windows machine to load. We also believed that the tactile nature of the iPad would be better suited to conversation and akin to flicking through a brochure rather than the more formal PowerPoint presentation.

Another factor which influenced the idea for the purchase of the iPad was the recent release of the Adobe Master Suite CS5.5 which we downloaded for the free 30 day trial. A big part of the marketing for the launch of this latest Adobe update has been about the Digital Publishing Suite which includes the ability to produce digital content for the iPad in the form of Apps. The videos produced by Adobe showing this in action look impressive and I was keen to try it out so we could impress our clients with our up to date use of technology. Well, surprise, surprise it turned out not to be that simple... The tools provided are in themselves fairly easy to work out with InDesign as the basis for the design / layout of the digital content. However, publishing the App and transferring it to your iPad (or other tablet device) has to be carried out through an upload to a special Adobe account which the user has to set up. I understand that during Beta testing of the new tools it was possible to transfer the App directly to the iPad but this option has been removed from the final product. It seems this was on the premise that this prevents unauthorised copying of your digital content. However, this is where my initial excitement in the new software started to fade. It is only once you have got well into using the software that it becomes apparent that these tools have really been developed for large publishing houses and not for small scale publishers such as ourselves. Granted, when you purchase the full copy of the Master Suite you get up to 12 months access (I've not managed to check what the costs are after this period) to the necessary basic online account for publishing but you quickly discover that this is severely limited. The basic account restricts you to creating a single publication - new ones can only be produced by deleting the old, and it does not provide the abiliy to share your App with anyone else. If you wish to create more publications or to share them with others you have to sign up for the professional service which costs £1000's per year - definitely not an option for architects like us! My final gripe is that this system does not appear to be quite ready - uploading the articles which create the App is buggy and I had to upload, delete, and re-upload my articles before I could get my App to work properly.

In spite of the issues above I persevered and created my first Digital Publication for the iPad this morning. In reality what I've produced doesn't differ in appearance greatly from the far simpler process of creating a PowerPoint or Keynote show and exporting it to the iPad Keynote App. However, Keynote for the iPad does not support movies and there are some additional interactive options available through the Adobe App which aren't through a slide show which make further investigation potentially worthwhile.

Well the proof as they say is in the pudding. This afternoon we used the iPad and App for the first time for a presentation to a potential client. The result was effective (given through a projector via the AVI adaptor) and the structure of the document allowed us to be more spontaneous than normal. So the conclusion so far is that I'm impressed and pleased with the iPad whereas the jury's still out as far as we're concerned for Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite..

Screenshot from iPad App showing Document Structure
Screen Shot from iPad App

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