Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Presentations

Adobe has just released a preview of a new web service called Presentations. This is a tool that lets you create and edit Powerpoint-style presentations with just an Adobe ID (free), a web browser and the Adobe Flash Player. Presentations is all about creating presentations collaboratively. The nature of presentations is that often they are often authored and reviewed by a group. Presentations makes it easy to give others access to a presentation as either a viewer or co-author.

Currently in a "preview release," the program is already pretty full-featured. It does much of what PowerPoint does, and does some things better. When a presentation is complete, it can be web-shared with others, or saved as an Acrobat PDF file and used for off-line presentations.

Noticeably missing, as of this writing, are support for transitions and animation. You are also limited to using the fonts provided in the application, there is no access to fonts on your system. You can't import or export to/from PowerPoint format.

For more, see Ali Hangaloglu's blog and Rufus Deuchler's blog,or the blog.

(If you haven't yet tried, you need to check it out. It's a free service that gives you 5 gb of free storage space, makes it easy to share your stored files with others, allows you to share your screen with others and hold web meetings, and lets you collaborate on documents with the Buzzword word processor.)

See also Sliderocket, Preezo and Google Docs Presentations.

Friday, May 22, 2009

How to tell if a font can't be embedded

Some TrueType and OpenType fonts cannot be embedded in a PDF or EPS file, due to restrictions dictated by the font designer. Though such fonts are few and far between, you may encounter this sometime. If you use one of these fonts, and try to create a PDF via InDesign's File > Export, you will see the dialog below.

If you want to check if a font you're using has font embedding restrictions in place, choose Type > Find Font, select the font in question, and click the More Info button. If anything other than "Normal" is displayed next to "Restrictions", then be careful when using the font.

You can also choose File > Package (CS4) or File > Preflight (CS3), choose Fonts in the Package dialog box, and see if any of the fonts you are using display a Yes in the Protected column. Warning: this method is less reliable in CS3 than in CS4. The Type > Find Font method seems to display accurate results in both CS3 and CS4.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A new way to read the news

I have worked with a variety of newspaper clients over the years, so I've been watching with great interest as newspapers struggle to find a business model that works in this time of rapid economic and technological change.

The New York Times just released a really cool application called Times Reader 2.0. You've got to try this. It's an application that allows you to read the each day's edition of the New York Times with print-like typography and layout features, either on- or off-line. You can read front page stories and a few other items at no cost to get a feel for how Times Reader works. A subscription is required to read the full content of the paper.

I'm really impressed by the thought that went into the user experience by the New York Times. The interface is clean and obvious, the layout dynamically adapts to different window sizes, the typography is excellent and navigation is easy.

A few notes about the technology behind the product: Times Reader is an Adobe AIR application, which is what makes it cross-platform and able to work off-line. Adobe Flex was used for the code, and the amazing typography and dynamic paragraph composition is provided compliments of an underlying Adobe technology called the Text Layout Framework (TLF). TLF is the result of Adobe incorporating much of the composition and typography technology from products such as InDesign and making it available to Flex programmers. There are several interesting articles about the design and technology behind Times Reader in Issue 04 of Adobe's online publication Inspire.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Illustrator transform bug and workaround

I was building a bar chart by hand in Illustrator today (not using Illustrator's charting feature), and I ran across a bug in that I thought I'd give you a heads-up about. The bug affects both CS3 and CS4 (I haven't tested older versions). I drew tiny horizontal "tic marks" on the vertical axis of the chart, and later needed to extend a few of the tic marks all the way across the chart. When I tried to do so, the left edge of the tic marks kept on moving to the right, even though I was dragging the right edge of the tic marks with the Free Transform tool.

The bug affects both CS3 and CS4 (I haven't tested older versions). To see the bug for yourself:

1. Create a new document, 8.5 x 11 inches.

2. Make sure you're viewing the page at Fit All in Window view.

3. Draw a horizontal line 15 pts long or less near the left edge of the page. (The bug seems to only affect lines shorter than 16 points).

4. Use the Free Transform tool to drag the right edge of the line all the way over towards the right edge of the page.

5. The left edge of the line is supposed to stay in place, and the line should just stretch to the right. But instead, the left edge of the line moves to the right if you pull the right edge far enough.

There are three workarounds:

Zoom in, to any magnification, before you drag with the Free Transform tool, or use the Direct Selection tool to grab the right-most end point of the line and drag it to the right or use the Scale tool instead of the Free Transform tool.

So there you have it. I've filed a bug report with Adobe.