Author Archive: Timothy Plumer, Jr.

It’s all about structure!

I was trying to think of a better title-One that would grab you and draw you in. But, it’s late on a Saturday evening here in Pemaquid, ME so I took the simple approach. But, if you got this far, this link should keep your attention:

http://blogs.reuters.com/mediafile/2012/01/12/16-year-old-makes-6200-in-dec-from-her-e-books-on-amazon/

Yeah, maybe I’m in the wrong business too.

So, if you have something to say, you can say it. Working for Adobe as I do, I am blessed with the opportunity to show people in K-12 and Higher Education how to create eBooks. One the topics I often questioned into to covering is about the best way to create an eBook—what format is best?

The answer is, and should be, all of them. PDF, ePub, HTML, JPG (yup, sometimes JPG), xml, Bobs-house-of-ebooks-and-emporium (it’s a proprietary format) ((no, it’s actually made up, but there are proprietary formats and you should consider them.)) The more access to the work you give the world, the more people will be able to access it. Seems simple, no?

But, to return to the question at hand, the best format cannot be predicted. In the next 5 years, I am certain that there will be new options and one of them might guarantee you a paying audience like no other. So, what I like to do is to better prepare people to move their content around and use whatever distribution format makes sense to them. To accomplish that, you need structure—and lots of it.

Use styles like they are going out of style
Because they are not. Styles help you to format text by tagging a paragraph with a name. Then, by describing what the style should look like, you can apply that formatting to entire paragraphs at a time. As a bonus, when you need to adjust formatting, you simply change the style’s definition and the application you are using (in my case Adobe InDesign) will update all of the text that has been tagged with that style. They have been around since before the desktop publishing revolution started. There was such a time. I was there, and it was terrible.

An image showing the style panel in Adobe InDesign

The Paragraph Styles panel (Window: Styles: Paragraph Styles) allows you to apply styles to your text.

However, a new reason to take the time to set up style sheets has emerged for the common user. By tagging a paragraph, you are also determining what the content is. Not what it says, but what it is. For example, Heading 1, as a tag tells me that the content is a Heading 1 paragraph. Visually, that information is conveyed by the font choice you have made (usually BIG and/or BOLD typefaces). Since machines cannot (yet) see, when you need to use a machine to convert the project from one format to another, a human has to sit there and do it by hand. I have done this work for a living. It’s tedious, boring work.

If you have content that is structured with styles, it will be many times faster for you to convert it from one format to another—opening up the opportunity to use someone’s new distribution service. There are more reasons:

  • Automatic table-of-content generation requires it (InDesign will create a TOC automatically if you just ask it)
  • Bookmarking tools often ask you identify the style you want to have become bookmarks (make everything tagged with the Heading 2 style a bookmark. (If you create a PDF with the PDF Maker Acrobat installs into Word, a simple checkbox will create bookmarks—even nested bookmarks—for you.)
  • Find and replace features often allow you to select a style sheet as a way to grab specific content. (Both Word and InDesign do this along with just about any text or page layout program you might find)

There are almost certainly others.

Once you have the styles created, you get two huge operational benefits. On the front end, you can more quickly move the content from a standard text editing tool, such as Microsoft Word (although, I use InCopy for a variety of reasons that are beyond the scope of this post) and then drop it into your layout document. If your InDesign and Word content both use styles with the exact same names, InDesign accepts the text and applies the formatting you set in InDesign. Why the split? First off, layout has overhead and copywriting is fast. Writing without the overhead of formatting, page layout objects, etc. is faster. Plus, as an older gentleman (stop laughing) It’s hard for me to stare at a screen all day as it is. Having to read 13-point body copy is no fun. So, I write—using styles—with BIG SANS SERIF typefaces. Headings are BIGGER and bolder but the overall effect is that it is easier for me to see what I am writing. So, if you use style sheets in a consistent fashion, you can pour the text into your InDesign document and let the style sheets in the InDesign file format the text for you.

Map style sheets in Adobe InDesign
The next thing to do is to map the style sheets in InDesign to standard HTML tags.

The Paragraph Style Options dialog box with the Export Tagging Options selected.

Among the options (double-click on a style in the Paragraph Styles panel) for a style are the Export Tagging settings.


Doing this makes it easier to convert your content later if you need to. Heading 1, for example, likely maps to H1 in HTML and ePub. Because InDesign also allows you to add class names to the mix, the tags for the content you create get specific enough to allow you the flexibility of converting the text to a variety of formats and readies for whatever formatting that converted copy can provide. If it’s a web page or an ePub, Cascading Style Sheets control the look and layout of the piece.
This is what the text looks like as exported HTML. Note the tags (bolded for emphasis) around the three paragraphs. With this structure it is easier to use the text in a variety of ways because the text is tagged to describe what it is.

This is what the text looks like as exported HTML. Note the tags (bolded for emphasis) around the three paragraphs. With this structure it is easier to use the text in a variety of ways because the text is tagged to describe what it is.

Once you have done this, your text is much more portable—even if you decide to export it from InDesign and, for example, add it to a blog post. All you need to do is to come up with that 6,000 per-month topic and start raking in the dough.

Installing CS5

Hey all,

We here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog have been fielding a lot of questions lately about installing CS5 across the whole, building, or school. Knowing that you certainly don’t want to be toddling around campus with DVD’s and serial numbers, we thought you might like to see this movie about using the Adobe Application Manager Enterprise Edition:

Deploying with AAMEE

Now, it requires a couple of things for you to use it effectively. First, you’ll probably want a licensing serial number. If you are installing in bulk, you should buy that way. If you are buying individual seats, then talk to your favorite reseller about our Licensing programs. Read more about them at the Adobe Volume Licensing page:

http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/volumelicensing/

To actually deploy the software, you’ll need a deployment tool, like Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). To learn more about the process, check out the Adobe Enterprise Deployment page:

http://www.adobe.com/devnet/creativesuite/enterprisedeployment.html

Finally, if you are an IT person looking to stay on top of what is happening with installers and such, I recommend that you bookmark our Installation and Licensing site blog:

http://blogs.adobe.com/oobe/

Enjoy!

What? Another cool tool on labs, you say?

Yes. Yes we do say. We here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog love labs. Whenever we feel like facing a new challange and playing with some cool, new tools, we drift on over the Adobe Labs (link to Adobe Labs) and check it out. A new tool we found there got us very excited, so we wanted to share it with you.

Adobe WorkflowLab (beta)

It can be used for planning out project tasks and overall workflow and organize thoughts for project post-mortems or to learn about best practices using built-in workflow starting points. Go grab it for yourself and have a look (link to the WorkflowLab beta)

 

Read on for more details. . .

Continue reading…

Support for Windows 7 and Snow Leopard

A quick one from your pals at the Adobe Education Technologies blog. . .

If you are wondering about our support for the two new major OS releases in the last month or two, Snow Leopard and Windows 7, wonder no more. Follow this link and get the direct scoop from out support teams: Link to the OS compatibility chart

Education Quarterly # 16 is out now!

Grab the newest edition of the Education Quarterly right here from the Adobe Education Technologies blog! Inside, you’ll find showcases, contest winners, ideas, tips, and tricks. You can download it here (link to download the PDF file), or find out more online (link to the Asia-Pacific Edu website).

Lightroom 3 is in Beta and available for you to try

,,

We here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog like to think of ourselves as amateur photographers (except for Rick—who is a real photographer, but the rest of us try to keep up). We are all VERY excited bout the next release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom—version 3 BETA, and you can see it yourself on Adobe labs: (link to the Labs Lightroom 3 BETA site)

Some of the new features included for you to play with in the Lightroom 3 beta are:

  • Brand new performance architecture, building for the future of growing image libraries
  • State-of-the-art noise reduction to help you perfect your high ISO shots
  • Watermarking tool that helps you customize and protect your images with ease
  • Portable sharable slide shows—with audio—designed to give you more flexibility and impact on how you choose to share your images, you can now save and export your slide shows as videos and include audio
  • Flexible customizable print package creation so your print package layouts are all your own
  • Film grain simulation tool for enhancing your images to look as gritty as you want
  • New import handling designed to make importing streamlined and easy
  • More flexible online publishing options so you can post your images online to certain online photo sharing sites directly from inside Lightroom 3 beta

Read on for more resources and information about the next release of one of our Adobe favorites:

Continue reading…

Adobe TV & Elements 8

,,,,

In case you missed it, last week we announced the updates to the Elements "twins" Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8, you can read more about it on Adobe.com (link to the Elements site).

However, that’s not what we here at the Adobe Education Blog wanted to tell you about. We were given the opportunity to help to launch them by recording some Adobe TV (link to Adobe TV) episodes that also premiered on the same day.

Read more:

Continue reading…

Acrobat.com and security

Acrobat.com (link to Acrobat.com: https://acrobat.com/) has a number of very useful tools, and we here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog use it all the time.

With services like:

  • Share,
  • ConnectNow,
  • Collaboration and Review in PDF files with Acrobat and Reader,
  • Form data collection,
  • Truly collaborative word processing with Buzzword, and
  • Similarly collaborative presentations and spreadsheets,

we have begun to change the way we work with documents and remote colleagues. Because we are not alone in this, we get a question about the security of the tool frequently. Specifically, what does Adobe do to secure your work and privacy. Have a look:
http://www.adobe.com/acom/systemreqs/

Acrobat.com event

,,,

We here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog use this stuff all time. Attend tomorrow’s eSeminar to find out how you might:

Hear how Acrobat.com can make you more collaborative from the visionary behind the product. Webinar: Wed, 6/24, 12-1 pm PDT

Description:
Meet Erik Larson the visionary leader behind Acrobat.com. We at Adobe have embraced Acrobat.com because it makes us more competitive and just makes work more enjoyable. Erik will share how Acrobat.com provides a fundamentally different and better way to work through stories and real-world examples. Come hear about the future of Acrobat.com and the vision behind the product. This will be an interactive session; Bring your questions and thoughts.

Details:
Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Time: 12-1pm PDT
Meeting URL: http://my.adobe.acrobat.com/comseminars

No registration required. Just click on the URL above or enter it into your browser.
More details are on the Acrobat.com blog: http://blogs.adobe.com/acom/

Some Widget fun with Captivate 4

,,

Adobe Captivate 4 has a new feature called “Widgets” which are a collection of Flash-created SWF files that you can add to your projects. Captivate ships with a bunch of them, and one of them in particular—the Certificate widget—is pretty fun. With it, you can offer a certificate to someone who passes a quiz you have created. There is even a button to print the certificate so you can proudly display your certificate of completion. We here at the Adobe Education Technologies blog built one called the Certificator, and you can see it in action by clicking the following link (link to the certificator: http://se.adobe.acrobat.com/certficator/). To learn more about how this was created, grab the Captivate project files, and start learning how to create your own widgets, read on. . .

Continue reading…