One of the big new features in InDesign CS4 is the ability to export InDesign documents to SWF format. When played in Adobe Flash Player or a web browser, SWF files look like slideshows, or flip books. SWF files are similar to interactive PDF files that include hyperlinks, page transitions, and navigation buttons. One difference is that SWF files include the whiz-bang page curl feature.
Tomasz Kuczborski created this sample SWF flip book. You can open it and play with the page curl feature. Just drag any corner of the page to turn it. Check it out:
Click here to view the sample file. You can also right-click the link and choose to download it.
You can create a SWF file from any InDesign document, regardless of its page settings. If you’re creating a document from scratch with the sole intent of exporting it to SWF, you can choose a preset such as 1024 x 768 from the Page Size menu in the New Document dialog box.
To help make decisions about page setup, think of a SWF file as a movie. When you export the InDesign document to SWF, the InDesign spreads become separate clips in a timeline, like slides in a slideshow. When you export to SWF, the Spreads option is turned on by default. If you deselect Spreads, the SWF file advances page by page rather than slide by slide. I’ve never seen a case in which you’d want to advance page by page in a document with facing pages, but you may have your reasons. In my experience, the easiest approach is to turn off the Facing Pages option and think of each page/spread as its own slide. See the Flash export issues and the Create interactive SWF (Flash) files for the web Help topics.
SWF files based on InDesign documents can have two kinds of page transitions. If you select “Include Interactive Page Curl” in the Export SWF dialog box, you can drag the page corners to turn pages, as you can see in Tomasz’s sample file. In addition to the page curl, you can apply page transitions that take effect when you press arrow keys or click navigation buttons to move forward and backward through the SWF file.
I like to apply the same page transition to all the pages in the document. Applying different transitions to different pages seems jarring to me, unless you want to alternate between, say, a left wipe and a right wipe.
1. Choose Window > Interactivity > Page Transitions to open the Page Transitions panel.
2. Select the type of transition you want to use, such as Dissolve or Fade. Or, select Page Turn for a consistent look with the page curl.
3. Click the “Apply To All Spreads” icon in the bottom right.
You can also choose Choose from the Page Transitions panel to select the transition using the dialog box shown above.An icon appears next to all the pages in the Pages panel to which the transition has been applied. You won’t be able to preview the transitions until you export to SWF. For more details, see the Page transitions Help topic.
Tomasz didn’t include any navigation buttons in his SWF file, but they’re easy enough to add, especially with the new Sample Buttons panel.
1. Open your master page.
2. Open the Sample Buttons panel. (Choose Window > Interactivity > Buttons, and then choose Sample Buttons from the Buttons panel menu.) Scroll down to view the navigation arrows.
3. Drag left and right arrow buttons from the Sample Buttons panel to your master page.4. To make sure each button has the right action, select the button on the master page, and then look at the Buttons panel. The left arrow button should have a “Go To Previous Page” action. You can edit these button actions.
For details on creating your own buttons, see the Make buttons interactive Help topic.
SWF files use RGB colors, so all CMYK colors are converted when you export to SWF. The only significant color changes that occur during this conversion are in transparency images, such as when a transparency effect is applied to text that appears over a grayscale image. To avoid surprises with such transparency issues, choose Edit > Transparency Blend Space > Document RGB. However, keep in mind that the Document RGB color space may throw off colors if you print the InDesign document.
You can add hyperlinks to the InDesign document that jump to URL pages or to other areas of the document. See the Create hyperlinks Help topic for details.If you create a hyperlink to a URL, make sure the hyperlink type is a URL, not a Shared Destination. Some people have reported issues with Shared Destination hyperlinks not working.
I’ve been focusing on SWF files, but I wanted to mention that you can also export XFL files. Unlike SWF files, XFL files can be edited in Flash Pro. However, all interactivity features such as page transitions and buttons are stripped out of the XFL file, so you have to rely on Flash Pro to add animation and other effects.Here’s how to export to SWF.
1. Choose File > Export, and then specify a filename and location.
2. Choose SWF from the Save As Type (Windows) or Format (Mac OS) menu, and choose Save.
3. Change the settings as needed, and then click OK. For details, see the Export content to SWF Help topic.
You can play the SWF file in Adobe Flash Player, or you can upload it to the web to be viewed in a web browser.