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By now you probably have been asked to design something for the iPad (and if you haven’t yet, inevitably, you will). So what is a relatively simple way to get into tablet design and production? InDesign CS6 has a great set of tools to introduce you to the process and streamline the workflow. You can build and design publications from scratch or convert a print document for delivery on a variety of tablets. This tutorial overview will focus on designing for the iPad.

Because there are so many tools, options and steps to this process, the best approach to learning how to design for the iPad is to start with a few basic features to get a feel of the whole workflow. Even if you don’t have an iPad, you can still check the interactivity and features using the Adobe Content Viewer on your desktop computer.

The DPS Desktop Tools

The Folio Builder, Producer tools, and the DPS (Digital Publishing Suite) were introduced in InDesign 5 where designers got their first crack at making publications for the iPad. DPS desktop tools allow you to publish engaging brochures, magazines, portfolios and books using Folio Overlays, Folio Builder, and Adobe Content Viewer.

Caption: The Folio Overlays panel along with the rest of the digital publishing tools, which can be easily displayed by changing the workspace to Digital Publishing. Screen shot of the DPS tools taken by author.

Each tool is explained below:

Media: Embed a small video and designate any frame to be the poster—which is a static preview frame from the layout— along with a controller. Note that you can’t use Flash (.swf) animation files as iPad does not support that format. Quicktime (.mov) and MPEG files will work.

Object States: Set up slide shows and destinations for hyperlinks.

Buttons: Create your own buttons or select from the sample buttons, then add a hyperlink. (Note that InDesign button or image rollovers are not supported on a tablet because again, it’s a Flash feature.)

Folio Overlays: This panel allows you to add features that are unique to tablet devices. There are eight options as you click on each one in the panel, a brief instruction will direct you how to set it up. For instance, when you click on Hyperlink, it instructs you to use either the Buttons panel or the Hyperlink panel to set one up. The other features allow you to add image sequences, panoramic images, web views, pan and zoom to images, scrollable frames, and video and sound. There is a preview link at the bottom of the panel that will launch your document into the Adobe Content Viewer so you can check for proper set up. The Viewer is also accessible from File>Folio Preview.

The Folio Builder: is where you create your folio, select the orientation, upload your thumbnails, organize your document into articles, and then upload your files to the cloud server. Then on the iPad you can download the document for viewing and testing using the Adobe Content Viewer app.

Adobe Content Viewer: allows you to preview your publication on your desktop and is an app on the iPad that allows you to download and view the publication.

Two new tools were introduced in InDesign CS6, Liquid Layouts and Alternate Layouts. These tools allow you to easily convert a layout so it can be viewed in both orientations on a tablet and for different tablet sizes, all in one single InDesign document.

Caption: Thumbnails, horizontal and vertical layouts for iPad viewing. Sushi artwork designed by Marywood University graphic design student, Dana Wren. Photos taken by author.

Caption: Thumbnails, horizontal and vertical layouts for iPad viewing. Sushi artwork designed by Marywood University graphic design student, Dana Wren. Photos taken by author.

Design and Production for iPad

To view documents horizontally and vertically on the iPad, you will have to design for both orientations. You can publish a single page (i.e. flyer), multiple pages in a single file (i.e. brochure) or have multiple files with multiple pages (i.e. magazine). You can design one orientation first, then create an alternate layout and use liquid layout to help you create the second version. For proper delivery on the iPad, you’ll need the following:

• An article or multiple articles. Create a new document and select Digital Publishing and iPad. You’ll see the page size of 1024 x 768 pixels is the standard size for iPad. Add content and design your publication in one orientation first. Then design the other view by choosing Alternate Layouts in the Pages panel. Then readjust your design to fit the pages. If you set up your articles using Liquid Layout before changing to an alternate layout, that will help with the process. There are good video tutorials on Adobe TV that will walk you through the steps.

Caption: When you create an alternate layout, a new layout is created in the Pages Panel and the layouts are automatically named H or V for horizontal or vertical. Art by author.

• Images. Image files need to be saved as PNG in RGB color mode. Save your image files around 2000 x 2000 pixels as JPEG or PNG. Image resolution for the iPad mini is 163 ppi, for iPad 2, it’s 132 ppi, and the new iPad is 264 ppi. So by saving your images 2000 pixels in either direction you should be good for all three device sizes.

• Thumbnails. Design a thumbnail view for the app icon that will appear on the iPad. Usually this is the cover of the publication or a logo or a unique graphic that is easily seen at a small size. This gets loaded in the Folio Properties panel.

Caption: Load thumbnails in the Folio Builder Properties screen. Art by author.

• A vertical thumbnail image saved as a PNG measuring 125 x 166 pixels named as: thumbnail_v.png
• A horizontal thumbnail image saved as a PNG measuring 221 x 166 pixels named as: thumbnail_h.png

Adobe Cloud ID. To get your publication to the iPad, you need an account so you can upload your Folio to the cloud server. Login through the Folio Builder and create a new Folio, which will contain all the images and articles.

• Uploading a single article. To import a single article to the Folio Builder, the file needs to be open and by clicking new article in the Folio Builder, it will load the article. If you used alternate layouts, the other layout will automatically load. Note, your articles are loading to the Adobe cloud server while working in the Folio Builder. Common error messages at this point usually point to improper page size, wrong image file format and improper pan and zoom setup. Careful attention to setup and previewing on your desktop before uploading is important.

• Uploading multiple articles. To import multiple articles at once such as for a newsletter or magazine, create a folder containing a vertical and horizontal version. You need to carefully organize and name your files. Each folder will contain the horizontal and vertical version with any linked images. Files should be named with _h and _v at the end, i.e. yourfilename_h.indd, yourfilename_v.indd.

Caption: An example of how the file structure should be set up for uploading multiple articles with different orientations and images. Art by author.

iPad test. As the final step, test and view your publication on the iPad, download the Adobe Content Viewer app. Once it’s downloaded, login with your Adobe ID and any folio that was published to your Adobe cloud account will appear. Tap on the icon to view. If you don’t have an iPad, you can test on your desktop using the Adobe Content Viewer.

It should be noted, it’s not required that you design for both viewing orientations, many magazines choose just one orientation, but if you do design for both, just realize it will require extra effort and time.

Checklist for Converting a Print document to iPad delivery

• Make sure your print document images are linked and updated.
• Package your files.
• Open the Links folder and resave all images to RGB; no larger than 2000 pixels in one direction and use Save for Web to save as PNG24. Create a new folder for them named “images”.
• Open up your InDesign file, go to Document Setup, select Digital Publishing, select the page size of 1024 x 768.
• Resave your file as, for example, “new_iPad.indd”
• Adjust all of your artwork to fit the new page layout. Relink images to new PNG files.
• Add any iPad overlay features you want; slideshow, pan/zoom, links, buttons, etc. Use the Preview button to check your work.
• Now create an Alternate Layout in the Pages panel. InDesign will create and name it “new iPad_h”. Select how you want the layout elements to position (i.e. center, object, etc.)


• Open the Folio Builder and login to the Adobe Cloud
• With your InDesign file open, click on Create New Folio. Name it, upload your thumbnail images.
• Add Article, select Add Open InDesign Document. This will add all layout versions and images.
• Now check on the iPad in the Adobe Content Viewer app and download your publication.

Software Notes

InDesign 6 includes all the DPS tools needed to design for a tablet, but note that you need to update your InDesign software frequently as the components of the DPS system are updated on what seems to be a monthly basis. In addition, you will need a free account so you can use the free cloud service for single user distribution. If you want to distribute and sell your publication app through the Apple App Store or Android Market, you will need to have a paid subscription to one of three different levels of the Adobe DPS. As a last step, you will need to download and install the free Adobe Content Viewer app on the iPad to view the publication.