InDesign Digital Files: Differences Between ePUB, PDF, DPS and HTML
Digital publishing is a constantly shifting landscape. Your digital decision starts with one basic question: What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to share a document, or create an interactive experience? Is your goal to push information, or share a document that doesn’t change?
Apps Versus Publications
The first question you want to ask is are you creating an App or a Publication?
Apps are specialized programs designed for a specific use that meets the criteria of the App store. Apps push information to those that requested it with continuous access.
An App is something people sign up for, expecting current, targeted information. Think The Weather Channel. Weather is constantly shifting, and the App is different every time you access it.
Publications are one-offs that provide information. They replace written material to be accessed through computers, phones and tablets. Examples: Catalogs, magazines, newsletters. If you publish a magazine for National Geographic users expect to view the magazines, but you don’t expect the issue from last year to be updated.
So you Want to Create an App with InDesign!
Great! InDesign has extensive features to add interactivity, hyperlinks, and rich media. Getting into the Apple Store or Google Play isn’t easy. Often “apps” are denied because they are actually “publications.” To your App to market, you must follow by their very submission guidelines. And you may have multiple issues that Apple or Google have, but when you are rejected, you only are told of one. Many people are creating Web Apps for distribution
According to Apple: We have over a million Apps in the App Store. If your App doesn’t do something useful, unique or provide some form of lasting entertainment, or if your app is plain creepy, it may not be accepted.
So once I create my App, how do I get into the stores?
Adobe Experience Manager
If you want to be in the App stores, one option is Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). Adobe had morphed Adobe DPS and Adobe CQ into this one platform. Adobe Experience Manager is a great solution, if your budget affords it. Adobe doesn’t list prices, their website states you have to fill out a form or call them to find out more. Word on the street is that it starts at $50,000 per year, so unless you work for Coca Cola or a large conglomerate, it can be cost prohibitive. AEM enables you to create InDesign apps, but at a cost.
Third-Party Resources like Twixl Publisher
Third party options like Twixl enable small to medium businesses, in addition to enterprise to publish to App stores. Twill supports multiple types of interactive content such as audio, video, HTML5, slide shows and more. Cost is between $850 per year and $5,000 per year for unlimited publishing.
Web Apps with in5
in5 Is another resource to create “Web Apps” to bypass the Apple Store and Google Play. You can convert your InDesign file to HTML5 and create an experience very similar to apps downloaded from the stores.
So you Want to Create a Digital Publication with InDesign!
Exporting from Adobe InDesign to ePUB
ePUB files are exported from InDesign with the intent to be read on eReaders.
There are 2 flavors of ePub: Reflowable, like a Kindle or Nook book and Fixed Layout ePub which includes animation, hyperlinks, video, audio and interactivity. The ePub file can be distributed to any user, but there are limitations on what tablets, programs or readers are able to read and display files. Also, publishing to Kindle has a few more hurdles rather than just a “straight save to ePUB.”
in5 and Adobe’s Publish Online
Adobe’s also offers “Publish Online” but is proprietary and is hosted only on Adobe’s servers, with an Adobe branded web address. Users can download a PDF, share and print the file. If you need to add an InDesign file to your own website, in5 gives you that capability, Publish Online does not. in5 is a great bridge to creating InDesign apps, magazines, or documents.
Exporting from Adobe InDesign to PDF
Creating PDF’s from InDesign are quick, easy and free. So why can PDF’s be problematic? First, they still rely on Flash which is only viewable on desktop computers, not many mobile devices. Second, users must update their Acrobat Reader to open them. Third, unlike HTML, there also are no analytics to see readership. Fourth, Unlike ePUB, PDF’s are a static size and don’t reflow according to the tablet size.
PDF’s are very easy, but in addition to the above issues, once you send them out, you have no way to trace who opened them. There are not analytics that you would be able to follow if you exported to an HTML5 file and it were hosted on your website.