Tag Archives: Publishing

iPad Journal: Transitioning from InDesign to Pages

Anytime I’ve written about my transition to iPad for more of my work I always note that one of the few reasons I have for returning to the Mac for client work is InDesign. While the company that makes Affinity Photo also has a publishing app in the works that is intended to replace InDesign it is likely a ways off for the Mac and even further away for the iPad. But there is hope to be found in Apple’s Pages app and with a recent update to the app I’ve been giving more thought to how I might transition more of my InDesign work in that direction. Can Pages handle it?

Yes. Yes it can. Sometimes.

On the Mac side of things I’ve been using InDesign and Pages since they were released. In that time I’ve used InDesign for the projects where I felt Pages was lacking in some way. For example, I’ve worked with two different community newspapers and newspaper layout isn’t something I would ever do with Pages. Actually, I believe I did one issue using Pages and it worked out okay but I felt more comfortable with InDesign for that kind of work. Also, any project in which a client wants more than a printable pdf, specifically when they want an InDesign file well, obviously, that’s the app I use. I’d say my use of each app was about 50/50. Though I generally used InDesign for larger more complicated documents I found Pages worked very well for flyers, posters and smaller newsletters as well as Annual Reports. In 2014 I helped a friend publish her first book and that was done with Pages and turned out very well.

For years both of those apps matured until 2010 when the iPad was introduced by Apple. They also introduced a version for the iPad and then a couple years later rebuilt Pages on both its platforms, Mac and iOS, to be much closer in compatibility. It was a step forward for the iOS version but a big step backward for the Mac version which lost many features. In my own workflow I resorted to keeping the older version of Pages around as it still worked fine though it was no longer being updated. Users howled and Apple responded by gradually re-adding many of those features but it has taken time. It took a few years but the result is that we now have Pages on Mac and iPad which is near feature parity and which has been re-built into something much closer (in features) to the original Mac version of Pages. In many ways it is much improved as it has new features such as real-time collaboration and a web version that works on Windows via iCloud.

What’s still lacking in the iOS version of Pages? Sadly, there are a few important things. Creating and editing styles is not an option. I can apply a style but I cannot edit a pre-existing style. To do that I have to be on a Mac. If I’ve created a document and decide to change the page orientation after the fact I’ll need a Mac. If I want to create a document using a custom page size or change a document to a custom page size I’ll need a Mac. These are some pretty basic and foundational features and should not be missing from the iOS version. This is especially true give than Apple markets their “Pro” iPads as computers powerful enough to replace traditional computers. That said, Apple is consistently updating the app with new and important features. For example, the most recent update released in the summer of 2017, reintroduced a feature which had been removed in the above mentioned redesign of the app: linked text boxes. This is a feature that is an absolute necessity for many multi-page documents.

Where is Pages for iOS lacking in comparison to InDesign. For starters, the above mentioned ability to create and edit styles. InDesign has many advanced typography features lacking in Pages. Just one example: You can’t change the character spacing (though this does work on the Mac version of Pages). There’s no work space (usually called a pasteboard) around a Pages document for temporarily placing things while working. Want to reorder pages by their thumbnails? Nope The header or footer of a Pages document are the only places you can add page numbers and it’s all or nothing. Not much in the way of customization. If I’m doing a cover page or a table of contents I don’t want those pages to have a header with a page number. For small documents, say, a 6 page newsletter, it’s not a huge burden do create my own headers with page numbers added manually. Most of the documents I do are less than 10 pages but it’s worth mentioning the limitation.

Even with these limitations Pages on the the large 12.9″ screen of the iPad Pro is very powerful and a pleasure to use. It has a few features that do not exist on InDesign. For example, charts which are almost always a part of any annual report. I can do a table in InDesign but it’s far easier to do in Pages. Of course, adding objects and flowing text around them is something InDesign does but Pages does it so fluidly. Also, the styling options for objects in Pages, while a bit more limited also seem more powerful and are easier to apply. Perhaps the best way of summarizing the difference is that working with Pages means fewer features by comparison to InDesign but what it does do, Pages does very well and with little friction. A last point: when I consider the features I need for a newsletter or annual report job, Pages almost always has what I need.

So, to summarize, InDesign is, without a doubt, a far more powerful application than Apple’s Pages. It is a truly “Pro” application… for the Mac. It is not available for the iPad. But if my end product is to be a newsletter or annual report, either of these apps will allow me to produce a visually attractive, well designed document. Were I to set out to create a similar design using each app, for the sake of comparison, it is very likely that they would, in most cases, be indistinguishable from one another. Put another way, were I to send you 10 pdfs of the usual sort of newsletter or annual report that I’ve produced and ask you to determine which of the two apps was used, you would probably not be able to.

Pages is obviously not the most powerful or the best page layout tool for designing multi-page documents on the Mac. But on the iPad, as far as I am aware, it is the best option and it’s one which I’ve used many times with great results. I’ll keep InDesign around for the projects that require it but going forward if I can do a job on Pages I will.

iPad Journal: Creating with iMovie

I don’t use the iPad and iMovie for professional work. My iMovie creations are all for fun, personal projects that I generally share with friends and family. But I will say that over the years I’ve created quite a few videos on Macs, iPads and even iPhones using everything from iMovie to Final Cut Pro. My earliest video projects were done with the very first versions of iMovie back around 2000. I advanced to Final Cut Pro which I used for a couple of years but have not used since sometime around 2003 when I used it for a documentary I did about community projects in Memphis. Since then everything has been done using iMovie on the Mac and most recently, iMovie on the iPad. All of that to simply say that while I’m not a pro or expert I have logged hundreds of hours editing many projects using quite a few computing devices and quite a few versions of two editing apps.

A great benefit of iMovie on iPad is ease of use. Adding media, editing or moving clips in the timeline and most other tasks are very easy to learn and perform.

A great benefit of iMovie on iPad is ease of use. Adding media, editing or moving clips in the timeline and most other tasks are very easy to learn and perform.

When I first tried iMovie on the iPad using my iPad 3 I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I used the iPad to record and then iMovie to edit a quick little mini-documentary about my permaculture homestead. As it turns out that video has gotten more views than any other I’ve put on YouTube, almost 89,000 as of this writing. Not too bad for 30 minutes of work and far more views than my 90 minute Memphis documentary ever got! And as I recall it was only the third or fourth time I’d opened the app which is to say, it was very easy to use. Certainly that is in part because I was familiar with the concept of a timeline, transitions, fades, titling, etc. But I think it is also true that Apple has done a great job creating something fairly easy to use. In fact, I’d say that with iMovie for iOS, especially on the iPad, Apple has achieved the perfect balance of ease of use and power. It’s the sort of app that anyone with an interest in making a “movie” and willingness to put forth just a bit of effort, is likely to enjoy and benefit from.

In the five years since I started using iMovie on iPad I’ve put together quite a few videos, the most recent of which was a mini-documentary about my grandmother. It consisted of a couple hours of interview footage shot with an iPhone interspersed with scanned photos. The final result was an hour long and something the entire extended family watched over the holidays. While the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids all enjoyed it I think it was my granny that enjoyed it most. She talked about it for days. I think she enjoyed seeing her family get to know her better as they watched it. I know I certainly got to know her better as a result of making it.

In the end, the iPad is at it’s best when it enables us to create because it’s often in such creation that we build bridges between ourselves and others. Whether it is a silly or informative post on YouTube or a video shared at a family gathering, iMovie is an excellent example of an app that enables such creation.