Adobe Unveils Digital Publishing Platform for Interactive Magazines

| Product News

Adobe introduced its digital publishing platform for InDesign CS5 on Tuesday for creating digital versions of magazines for the iPad and other electronic devices. Adobe’s digital publishing platform and digital viewer software were used to create the just released iPad version of Wired Magazine.

The new tools let publishers include 360 degree interactive images, embedded videos and slideshows, support for including ads in publications, and more.

In addition to iPad support, the digital publishing platform supports authoring for smartphones and other tablet devices.

The tools aren’t publicly available yet, but Adobe plans to release them through its Adobe Labs Web site in the near future.

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14 Comments Leave Your Own

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

And what we have here is another “platform”. Wired and other pubs will never have to write a line of Objective or any other C to get their magazine apps out every month. The publishers are still dependent on Adobe to keep this publishing platform up to date with all future changes to iPhone OS. That’s exactly the thing that Jobs and Gruber have both railed against, and that the fanbots have parroted endlessly.

I’d like Nemo’s take on this, now that the things I knew about this are more publicly known. Adobe is challenging Apple. Adobe is saying that Flash may be a minor casualty on one particular platform, but the “write once, deploy many” model is too compelling for Apple to make any dent in.

Apple has its back to the wall now with preliminary anti-trust inquiries. I’m not a fan of anti-trust law by any stretch (even against a smug jerk like Steve Jobs), but it’s a reality here. Does Apple let this go and feed the narrative of it acting anti-competitively with the Flash platform? Or does Apple react to this and feed the narrative of it being anti-competitive with its whole iPhone OS platform?

Nemo

Dear Bosco:  As I have said repeatedly, it is my opinion that Section 3.3.1 permits third party tools that are up to date with the iPhone OS, that is, the tools that fully support the published APIs in the iPhone OS.  If Adobe’s new publishing platform does that, then, cetris paribus, I think that it would comply with Section 3.3.1 and would be consistent with Mr. Jobs and Apple’s wishes and requirements as set forth in Section 3.3.1.  Therefore, it seems to me that, provided Adobe’s new publishing platform is up to date with the iPhone OS’s published APIs and remains so, Adobe’s publishing platform is not challenging Apple’s Section 3.3.1 but is complying with Section 3.3.1 in Apple’s SDK developers’ agreement.

And since, in my opinion, Section 3.3.1 does not violate antitrust law, Apple’s back isn’t against any wall.  What appears to have happened is that Apple promulgated new Section 3.3.1, and Adobe has complied with Section 3.3.1 in its new publishing tools.  Thus, Apple hasn’t let go of anything, based on what is publicly known.  Apple has simply issued a licit requirements, as set forth in Section 3.3.1, for the use of tools for coding for the iPhone OS, and Adobe has complied.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Your opinion doesn’t really matter Nemo, because as 3.3.1 is written, it most certainly does not “permit” third party API layers.

3.3.1 ? Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

These applications that would presumably be “written” with InDesign are simply written atop a compatibility layer, much as Flash applications are written. Code equals data. Data equals code. That’s the fact that Apple cannot escape. Apple can be as arbitrary as it likes, and will have to be even more arbitrary to conclude that the InDesign based solution is OK while Flash apps are not.

The biggest problem of all is trying to interpret 3.3.1 as a matter of law or even contract. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s just an excuse for Apple to deny an app at its whim. Sometimes, the developer agreement doesn’t have quite the excuse Apple needs, and so it has to resort to the totally arbitrary. Like today, as Ted pointed on on Twitter.

Nemo

Bosco:  Your more restrictive reading of Section 3.3.1 is certainly a plausible interpretation of new Section 3.3.1.  And until Apple issues a definitive view, we won’t know the answer.  My more expansive but equally plausible reading of Section 3.3.1 is based on the idea that, if third party tools don’t limit the ability of a coder to write code for the iPhone OS that fully exploits the features and capabilities of the iPhone OS any more than code written in Objective-C, C++, or C—whether or not that code can be translated to run on other platforms—then those third party tools would comply with Section 3.3.1, just as code in Objective-C, C, and/or C++ complies with Section 3.3.1, provided that the third party tools themselves eschew the use of any proprietary languages and/or standards and are developed with and use open standards.

I am eager to get Apple’s answer on which of these two interpretations of Section 3.3.1 is Apple’s official interpretation.

Nemo

Bosco:  I amend my last post as follows:

“Bosco:  Your more restrictive reading of Section 3.3.1 is certainly a plausible interpretation of new Section 3.3.1.  And until Apple issues a definitive view, we won’t know the answer.  My more expansive but equally plausible reading of Section 3.3.1 is based on the idea that, if third party tools don’t limit the ability of a coder to write code for the iPhone OS that fully exploits the features and capabilities of the iPhone OS any more than code written in Objective-C, C++, or C—whether or not that code can be translated to run on other platforms—then those third party tools would comply with Section 3.3.1, just as code in Objective-C, C, and/or C++ complies with Section 3.3.1, provided that the third party tools themselves eschew the use of any proprietary languages and/or standards, except as provided by Section 3.3.1, and are developed with and use the standards prescribed by new Section 3.3.1.

I am eager to get Apple’s answer on which of these two interpretations of Section 3.3.1 is Apple’s official interpretation.”

Ethan

I am eager to get Apple?s answer on which of these two interpretations of Section 3.3.1 is Apple?s official interpretation.

Sadly, we won’t ever get an answer. Just Apple allowing this app and not allowing that app without ever giving concrete answers. Conveniently they don’t HAVE to explain anything in regards to approval. They can simply tell a developer their app was denied because it’s Wednesday.

My guess is that, if mags begin to make money on the iPad, Apple will rollout the iMag store at some point and outlaw any other magazine platform.  Then explain to everyone how the objC written platform that Adobe built was badly coded so they are protecting our delicate eyes.

dmuzzy

As someone who does not code, I have a question.

Adobe InDesign is primarily designed to layout, arrange, and design content that will be ultimately exported to another format (postscript and PDF primarily). Therefore, I am wondering if it is possible to create an app that follows the letter of section 3.3.1, but designed to pull in the exported InDesign files.

Something similar to the way that Reader or Preview applications view the exported .pdf files created in Adobe InDesign. This assumes that Adobe would need to create a new filetype that the app would read.

Of course, it might just be a .pdf file with more interactive functionality built in. InDesign can already incorporate multimedia and export interactive PDF files.

Anyway, just a thought. Curious what those in the know think.

Ethan

“And what we have here is another ?platform?.”

That is the key. Apple wants everyone to hav objC programmers on staff who constantly update apps with the latest features the OS offers. Reality is that many who are not selling the software but really the content the software displays want to make the investment in the software last as long as possible and generate the biggest ROI.  They’ll also seek out frameworks that cut the down the programming or remove it completely. We’ll see more and more of these frameworks within ObjC developed that allow more and more apps to be produced that will look to the latest release of the framework and NOT the underlying OS.

I suspect we will see another framework built by NBC and TW to deliver their content the way they want to generate the most $$$. I won’t be surprised if Adobe is involved in offering the tooling as well for that.

Not everyone wants to have on staff or contract a programmer to get their content out there.

Ethan

Apple Blindsides More AppStore Developers

This is a perfect example. I can see Steve Jobs saying in a year. We don’t want apps that create a secondary platform for magazines. You need use our new xCode tools for our new iMag Store - sorry Wired. We want a cut of every mag an iPad and iPhone user looks at and we can do that best by forcing you into one of our stores.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Adobe InDesign is primarily designed to layout, arrange, and design content that will be ultimately exported to another format (postscript and PDF primarily). Therefore, I am wondering if it is possible to create an app that follows the letter of section 3.3.1, but designed to pull in the exported InDesign files.

It’s probably less an issue of 3.3.1, and more an issue of Apple not wanting the “cookie cutter” or “business card” or “factory” apps, which they announced with a “purge” in February.

Look, Ethan has this totally nailed. Apple will approve whatever they want to approve for whatever reason they feel like it. They make a mockery of “agreements” and even basic rule systems by spelling some of the reasons they might reject you as specific points in a click-thru license agreement.

We’ve had a year of it. Any developer at this point should know what they’re getting into by developing for the platform. Your app might be OK now, but it might not be OK later. You have no recourse and will probably get no satisfaction from pointing out the obvious in public when Apple eventually purges your app for whatever stupid reason it conjures. If you as a customer become dependent on an app for your entertainment or, gods forbid, your economic survival, understand that your favorite app can be pulled and never updated again because someone got Steve Jobs the wrong brand of water.

I think it’s a near certainty that anyone who invests in this crap will be bitten somehow in the next year. Say I’m over the top now (or have been for awhile), but when you get bit, don’t say you didn’t see it coming.

Nemo

Bosco:  Your rabid anti-Apple bias rears its ugly head with you last post.  The iPhone has well over 200,000 apps.  If Apple were as arbitrary and irrational in its approval process as you contend, there would be utter chaos among developer for the iPhone OS, great dissatisfaction with developing for the iPhone OS, and abandonment of the iPhone OS.  But of course your rant is nothing more than scurrilous nonsense, as is demonstrated by the fact that developers are flocking to the iPhone OS.  See http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/25441/. 

Apple has imposed reasonable regulation on how to develop apps for the iPhone OS to improve the quality of apps, develop competition for development tools and for apps, prevent Adobe or anyone else from once again being in the position to block innovation on the iPhone OS by declining to support its features, move the development of apps to the type of tools that provide for better performance of mobile apps and the devices that they run on. 

So either get on board the train before it leaves the station or get left behind, because developers as a group have voted and are voting with their apps, and that vote is resoundingly and overwhelmingly in the iPhone OS’s favor.

Ethan

Sigh, and if you read the full release:

“Developers generally develop for multiple platforms and are increasingly developing for more. Respondents currently developed for 2.4 separate platforms, a number that will increase to 3.4 over the next 12 months.”

So sure 53% develop for iPhone OS, but they average developing for 2.4 platforms. What it really shows is most developers get that they can’t dump all their eggs into the iDevice basket. They could be the next “My Frame” developer who falls out of Apple favor. Apple makes that VERY difficult and as the competition solidifies I think devs will look to platforms that allow code reuse to cut costs.

The other thing I noticed is they list the percentage for iPhone (53%) but not the others. I’d like to know the actual number for Android who has really only had phones on the market for a little under a year. That would be useful to get a sense of momentum - is it 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 46%?

dmuzzy

At this early stage of the game, I don’t think I would put much weight on momentum.

Apple has built a road in the previously inhospitable, nearly impassable terrain of consumer smartphone application development. Just because Android has driven up on the paved highway that Apple built doesn’t mean that they have achieved anything of significance.

Of course, with time and miss-steps, Apple could very well cede the landscape to them, but it’s hard to say whether Google can navigate into the unknown without Apple showing (giving) them the path.

Time will tell.

ps. sorry for all the lame metaphors. smile

burrito

take a look at the D8 interview with jobs..

he seems to take issue with flash as a platform more than he does with adobe itself.. i basically got from the interview that he thinks flash sucks balls (which i do agree with, and have thought long before i was an apple fan). if this new interactive publishing platform is successful & solid, it will be interesting to see what apple does. it will definitely indicate as to whether or not they’re anti-adobe or simply anti-flash.

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