Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) Single Edition enables you to design, prepare and package an unlimited number of interactive iPad apps to the Apple App Store, using nothing more complicated than InDesign. DPS Single Edition is included with your Creative Cloud subscription, offering a fantastic saving from the previous pricing model which charged per app built.
The key to how to create an app for iPad using DPS is to start in InDesign. InDesign has long been able to generate interactive PDF files with embedded video, hyperlinks and buttons. With DPS you can quickly generate fully interactive apps along the same lines, taking advantage of the built-in support for rich multimedia, as well as HTML5.
DPS is an excellent solution for generating portfolio-style applications that work natively on iPad, sales catalogues and book-like single-issue publications. It’s also very straightforward to use, taking advantage of a tool already used by designers working with print design.
How do you create an app?
Start with a simple folio overlay from the choice of preset options, each of which acts as the scaffolding for your content. Next add in your content, layering up text, additional ‘screens’ and multimedia to create your design and presentation, just as you would for a print-based publication or interactive PDF.
Folios support slideshows, audio, video and fully interactive HTML, such as Google Maps integrations and animations created in Adobe Edge Animate. If there isn’t a widget or piece of functionality covered by the presets, you can download commercial plugins, or you can craft your own using HTML5, which DPS supports natively.
If you find that one of the off-the-shelf folios doesn’t quite suit the specific needs of a particular project, you can create your own from scratch instead, making the final design approach entirely customisable to perfectly suit your project.
Once you’ve crafted your layout and added all your interactions, publish to the Adobe Content Viewer, which enables you to preview your app directly on your iPad. When you’re happy that everything works as it should, publish and upload to the Apple App Store. You will need an Apple Developer account to be able to publish in the App Store, which costs $99 per year. Once you’ve uploaded it to the App Store you can set pricing, and subsequently publish updates to your app using the standard Apple process.
What makes it Single Edition?
The term 'single edition' makes it sound like you’re missing out on something, which is true to an extent. The difference between the full-blown multi-issue DPS editions and the Single Edition that’s included with your Creative Cloud subscription is that the latter doesn’t enable you to publish further 'issues' to your app.
The DPS system was created with magazine publishers in mind, and forms the basis of many of the apps you’ll come across in the App Store, from which you can download a container app and then buy individual issues as an in-app purchase. DPS Single Edition doesn’t support this functionality, so once you’ve published your app you’ll need to create an entirely new app if you want to do anything other than update your existing content. It’s a limitation on paper, but for most users it simply defines the parameters of how you publish content.
Another major difference between DPS Single Edition and the Multi-Folio version is that Single Edition only supports iPad apps, whereas the other versions enable publication to Android tablets and other mobile devices.
Finally, you should note that although you can set your app to be either paid-for or free in the App Store, DPS Single Edition doesn’t support in-app purchases, where the other editions do. This means that you can’t sell premium content in your app without upgrading to one of the other editions.
Is DPS limited?
It’s a common misconception that DPS is limited to simple portfolio apps that look and feel like a magazine. While it’s true that this was the original intention when Adobe developed DPS, thanks to its support for HTML5 you can create fully immersive, interactive and bespoke apps that simply use the DPS folio as a wrapper to deliver your HTML5 app. Adobe has worked hard to update the DPS system, adopting and supporting standards. The result is that you can pick up almost any Dreamweaver or Edge Animate project and incorporate it into your DPS folio.
That said, you do need to understand that the suite is still orientated towards magazine-style applications, so there are elements about the interaction between screens, the navigation and menus that betray the publication roots, even if you’re simply using DPS as a wrapper for HTML content. There are workarounds that can help overcome the most obvious of these, but keep in mind that DPS is intended for a different type of app to those created with PhoneGap.
This feature first appeared in The Ultimate Guide To Adobe Creative Cloud.