David Hicks about Adobe DPS

What is really important when you choosing a publishing tool is advice from an expert. David Hicks will tell us why choose Adobe DPS and give us really good advice.

N.Tsech 2014-07-25 at 21.56.00David Hicks is a Digital Publishing Design Consultant, based in London UK, and has been influential in digital magazines across London publishers for the last four years. He launched the UK’s first iPad magazine, T3, and now consults across a variety of brands, publishers and design agencies on digital editions, design and best practice using Adobe DPS.

How long have you been working with DPS?

Long story…I started working in digital publishing in May 2010, at Future in London, working on the launch for T3 using the Woodwing tools.

After a couple of years using their software, we decided to move over to Adobe DPS on the strength of the software, the support from Adobe, the roadmap, and the skillset within the team. So three years or thereabouts. I’ve designed DPS editions on iPad & iPhone for so many titles, Classic Rock, T3, Cosmo, Rima Design, to name a few, plus I’ve trained (and hopefully inspired!) some of the UK’s biggest magazine teams how to use DPS and make it work for them.

Pros and Cons of Adobe DPS?

Adobe DPS has many pros – the ease of use, existing skill set within publishing, flexibility, the fact that a single InDesign user can publish an app for relatively low cost on a Creative Cloud subscription is great. I like the tools, the fact that a designer can create, build and publish an app, and see fairly detailed analytics with a short amount of training is fantastic – all without any html or javascript skills. Its also a very handy solution for small businesses who want to build apps with editorial and video content – without the expense of using a development agency.

The downside with Adobe DPS and many other solutions, is that you’re limited to a washing line appearance of the content, and there’s no search function, and sharing / social is also limited at the moment. What if I wanted to share a picture or some text – its not that easy to do in DPS. I’m sure its on Adobe’s road map – and I am also sure that download sizes and more integration of HTML is coming. There’s so much that the iPad and iPhone can do – I am sure we’ll see improvements to DPS features in the coming months. I would also add that you need to be very handy with InDesign scripts if you want to speed up production – and that’s not an easy job for some design teams across publishing.

The main question.  Who is Adobe’s target audience?(huge publishing houses or corporations or small agencies)?

It would be unfair to say that DPS only works for large publishers. Anyone can buy a DPS Pro license for a few thousand dollars, including downloads, and this gives you the opportunity to publish your own magazines into an app and make money from it. That applies to individuals, agencies, brands, corporate and publishers. And if you asked a development agency to provide you with a similar proposition, with as robust an app as DPS, you’d pay far more. I’ve seen designers use DPS for their portfolio apps, law firms use DPS for reporting, and many brands have created great things using DPS – Adidas, Audi and Renault, for example. I’ve also seen the largest publishers and newspapers use it to great effect, so DPS works for everyone,
as I see it.

What should publishers take into account when they’re choosing the tool?

As with any app development, get expert advice at the start. Make sure everyone understands how to use it from their perspective. Also consider the analytics package – it really can inform how to make your content work harder and be more effective. Also don’t just settle for the basic app – invest in a storefront, special editions, and provide some free content to show how it works. Also think about editions – iPad, iPhone, Android – what’s the most effective and efficient way of getting three or four different-sized editions out the door. There’s also the extra editorial content to consider, and Adobe DPS integrates well with Edge Animate, Video, Audio, html and jquery – there’s a lot to take in – so number one on the list is use experts to provide training and insight into best practice, and number two is to find the time to practice and learn new tricks.

What do you like most about DPS?

Its instant – you can design a page with interactive areas, video, image sequences, galleries, and test it directly from InDesign onto your device, then you can send your content up to the cloud in seconds, and publish the content into an app within a few minutes. What’s not to like?

DPS also doesn’t require me to know ANY code. It helps to understand HTML, CSS and JQuery – but I don’t need to write a line, and never have had to. The next step for me is to see where things are going and try to help publishers get there. DPS is well placed for that considering that nearly all publishers use InDesign already.

Having said all that, there are other fantastic software platforms I could mention – PugPig, Future Folio, Padify, GoMobile, App studio, and so on, but the one I’ve chosen to learn for now, is Adobe DPS. Maybe one day I’ll try something else… who knows?!

What do you dislike about it?

It would be great if Adobe could focus on improving the production tools – Folio Builder and Folio Producer. They are still a little clunky and can make for a painful experience when you have several editions to publish. I have so many improvements I could make… perhaps I’ll tell you about them another time.

Your DPS advice?

Watch the Adobe TV tutorials on DPS. Try out techniques and learn from mistakes! Don’t be afraid to get on the forums and ask for advice. Don’t follow the print magazine design despite the layouts are all in InDesign. Create whatever you want – and whatever you think the reader wants to see. And keep download sizes under 100MB if you can. That can be a challenge on a 200-page magazine with embedded video and audio!!

To all those who need some help with their DPS projects, I’m available in the UK for DPS training and insight – please get in touch or visit www.hicksdigital.com for more information. There are also plenty of meet ups in London for DPS users so please do get in touch and come along.

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