How to Export INDD Files to SWF Files With Interactions

Interactive versions of page layouts give your work added dimensions as online presentation material.
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Transforming static page layouts into interactive documents enables one design to serve multiple purposes. Because Adobe Systems integrates its graphics software so one application can export files compatible with other programs in its suite of creative products, its flagship page layout application includes interactive features that can produce Flash SWF files. You can take advantage of a long list of InDesign export options that customize how much of your file you export and how you set up the interactive result.

1 Output File Formats

Adobe InDesign supports two Flash file formats for export from native INDD files. SWF supports use on websites and on some mobile devices. You can add links, sound, animation, movies, interactive controls and page-to-page transitions directly within Adobe InDesign and export your work in SWF format, ready for online posting. InDesign also can export in Flash Professional's FLA file format. FLA files won't work interactively on your website, but you can incorporate additional effects and advanced features into your document within Flash Professional, exporting your SWF file from there instead of from InDesign.

2 SWF Export Options

When you export SWF files from Adobe InDesign, you can fine tune your output so it represents exactly the portions of your layout that you need for online use. Select specific pages out of a longer INDD document and resize their output dimensions. To support transitions that animate the reader's movement from page to page, set the exported document to use the color currently assigned as "Paper" in the Swatches panel as the background color for SWF pages. You can set and reset the Paper swatch to produce versions of a document with varying backgrounds for separate sections of a website. Compress images on export to reduce file size, rasterize pages and specify output resolution. You also can control the frame rate at which animations play back. Many of these options also apply when you choose FLA file export.

3 Page Transitions

You can apply standardized page transitions when you export to Flash, or apply different transitions to different parts of your Adobe InDesign document and preserve these individual treatments when you prepare SWF or FLA files. InDesign supports fades, styles that look like the opening blades of a window blind, dissolves, wipes, zooms, splits, interactive page curls and other options that work well for slide-show styled online material. To evaluate the individual transitions, open the Page Transitions panel and place your pointing-device cursor over an entry in the list of choices.

4 Control Devices

Along with page-to-page transitions, Adobe InDesign supports the addition of interactive buttons that support rollover effects, play sound and video files, add navigation features to move within a SWF document or load a website, trigger animations and change zoom levels. You can use InDesign's tools to draw your buttons or turn objects in your layout into interactive devices. In this manner, a graphic element that appears on every page -- for example, your logo -- could serve as a button that moves to the next page.

5 Color Considerations

The Flash file formats work in RGB color. If you want to create interactive Flash versions of Adobe InDesign layouts you built for print output, the process color photos and graphics in your INDD file must convert to RGB equivalents on export. Although transitions from CMYK to RGB typically show less of a color shift than conversions in the other direction do, you may want to create and link your InDesign file to RGB versions of select graphics to present brighter, more saturated colors than CMYK's more-restricted color gamut can support. This consideration can be especially important if your document includes spot color graphics that use orange or cobalt blue shades, which fare poorly in CMYK versions.

6 Version Information

Information in this article applies to Adobe InDesign CS6 and Adobe InDesign CC. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.