[Note: I updated this blog entry in August 2013 to include information about a great panorama tool called PTgui and to provide more info about taking panorama photos.]
A panorama overlay can give you the impression that you’re inside a building or cockpit, allowing you to spin around and zoom in and out. Creating the source files for panoramas is not easy, but if you use the right tools and equipment, the process can be painless—and even fun.
A panorama overlay requires six images that represent the inside of a cube. Here are the six images used for the courtyard panorama that appears in the DPS Tips app (Overlay Basics > Panoramas).
You can use Photoshop to stitch together the source image to be used as the basis for the six cubic images. However, converting a 3D panorama image into the six images requires a third-party tool such as PTgui or Pano2VR. PTgui and Pano2VR cost about the same amount, but PTgui is more versatile. With PTgui, you can stitch together the images to create the source file and then generate the six images from that source file.
Here’s how to create the images required to build a panorama overlay in DPS.
Creating scrollable frames in DPS is easy. Just create a content frame and a container frame, paste the content frame into the container frame, and then use the Overlays panel to specify scrollable frame settings for the container frame. (If you’re confused, see the help article about scrollable frames, and then come back.)
But what if you know the content isn’t final and you’re going to edit the scrollable frame content later? And what if your scrollable frame content includes a bunch of buttons and overlays that are hidden from view?
When you create a stack of overlays in a DPS article, which overlays take precedent over others? While the answer is complicated, it’s also logical. Before I go into which overlays win out in a stack, first I need to explain the concept of “inactive” vs. “active” overlays.
Inactive and Active Overlays
When we’re teaching the concept of interactive overlays, we like to explain that non-interactive content is added to the background image of the page while interactive overlays appear on top of this background image, which is why they’re called “overlays.” While that’s accurate, it doesn’t tell the whole story. It fails to take into account that some overlays can be active or inactive.
Let’s take a look at Colin’s image sequence of the Fremont Bridge in Seattle. You can experiment with this example in the Advanced Overlays issue of DPS Tips, or you can watch this quick 10-second video.
Notice what happens to the red arrow and the image sequence overlay. Tapping the image sequence hides the red arrow, which is part of the background image, and double-tapping the image sequence exposes the red arrow again. Why?
If DPS articles include memory-intensive overlays, you might run into trouble when viewing them on mobile device with obvious memory limitations. Sometimes the app becomes sluggish, sometimes it crashes, and sometimes it takes a PDF article too long to load.
How do you avoid these memory problems? If you go against guidance and do something like create a pan and zoom image with a 5000×5000-pixel PNG image or scale down a huge video, you’ll likely crash your app. However, in some cases, individual overlays that by themselves wouldn’t cause memory problems can be a problem when combined with other memory-intensive overlays on the same page or even on adjacent pages.
Whenever you turn to a page in an article, the DPS viewer loads each page above and below that article into memory, and it loads the current page of the next or previous article. This pre-loading improves the performance of articles and helps prevent crashing when users swipe quickly.
In this example, viewing page 2 of the third article loads the pages above and below it as well as the first page of the articles before and after.
The Digital Publishing Suite Gallery is a great place to check out apps created with DPS tools. Apps used to be added to the gallery through an obscure option in the DPS App Builder that’s no longer available. To add your DPS app to the gallery, take a couple minutes to fill out a form.
Publishers want to use many of the same techniques for digital magazine publishing that they use in their print magazines. With the v25 release, both Professional and Enterprise publishers can take advantage of a few new features that help them market their magazine more effectively.
First, take a look at Colin’s video. Then come back and read the rest of this article for additional details.
Here’s a common experience. Someone wants to check out the new magazine on their iPad, so she downloads the free app from the App Store full of anticipation. When she opens the app, she doesn’t see any content–just a library with issues for sale. So she gives the app a poor rating, deletes it, and goes back to play another level of Angry Birds.
With First Folio Free, publishers can now select an option in the Account Administration tool that entitles the most recently published retail folio to first-time users of an app. That way, when users download the app from the App Store, the most current issue can start downloading, providing a better initial experience for some publications.
Select this option in the Account Admin tool to enable First Folio Free. [Click image to enlarge.]
In the DPS forum, people frequently answer questions by pointing to the such-and-such article in DPS Tips to see an example and steps. In response, several people have mentioned that they don’t always have access to an iPad or other device to view DPS Tips. You don’t need an iPad. If you know where to look, you can view all the DPS Tips articles on a computer.
I used the social sharing feature to make all of the folios available in most computer browsers. If you click the following links from an iPad, you’ll jump to the first article of the issue in the DPS Tips app. Click any of these links on a desktop or laptop computer (or a new Surface tablet), and you’ll see a “Web Viewer” version of the articles in each issue.
In Web Viewer, click the icon in the lower left corner to switch to a different orientation. Click the icons in the bottom center to view different articles. Click the icons in the lower right corner to view different pages in the article.
Article displayed in Web Viewer. (Click to view larger image.)
Note that not all features are available in Web Viewer. For example, panoramas are not yet supported. You’re better off using DPS Tips on an iPad or another mobile device, but if you’re away from your iPad, use these links.
The new DPS Status page shows ongoing issues with DPS servers as well as planned maintenance. If you’re a DPS publisher, you’ll want to bookmark this page so that the next time you experience a server error when uploading an article or publishing a folio, you can check to see whether a DPS server is causing the problem. Or, if you know you’re going to publish your new issue at a specific date and time, you’ll want to check the DPS status page to see if maintenance is planned for that time period.