Creating Mobile Applications with InDesign CS6

“There’s an app for that.”

Most of us have heard Apple’s popular catchphrase before, and with over 1 million apps, it’s obvious there is a huge interest in this type of technology. I’ve heard so many people say, “I have a great idea for an app” but creating an application is not so easy. It can be quite costly to design and develop an iOS application. However, with the release of InDesign CS6 in 2012, designers now have the ability to create an application without the help of a developer.

In the latest version of InDesign, Adobe included the ability to create applications with the help of their Digital Publishing Suite program. Adobe DPS prepares and builds the application. With these two programs, designers can create and develop applications without any code; therefore, eliminating the need for a developer and reducing the overall cost. With the new digital publishing feature, designers can create apps for the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire/Nook and Android tablets, through the use of interactive PDF’s created with InDesign.

With the release of InDesign CS6, designers have the ability to create an application without the help of a developer, which can be exciting to some designers but frightening to others. As with any argument, there are two sides. One can argue that owning the entire application is beneficial to their productivity since they don’t have to explain the application’s functionality to a developer. Designers could also argue that owning the entire application process can give them added experience in areas of application creation which they are typically not involved in. However, other designers could argue that owning the entire application is unfavorable because they would be solely responsible for all aspects of the application. Instead of just designing the application and imagining how the functionality will work, the designer now has to implement the functionality; thus, creating twice as much work for the designer.

Personally, I do not prefer owning the entire design process. I believe the collaboration of ideas often create the best solution. Individuals who are open to others’ suggestions can often benefit from team collaboration. Let’s be honest; we, as individuals, do not know everything. For example, a designer could be creating a beautiful application but the developer has a great suggestion on how to add to the user experience. If the designer were solely responsible for the entire application process, they wouldn’t have been able to benefit from the developer’s suggestion. Also, I think the owning entire process is extremely time-consuming. It seems as though productivity can be decreased when designers are in full control of the entire application, simply because this is not something we are not typically involved with. 

I would recommend using the digital publishing feature in InDesign for small, simple and cost-effective applications. However, if you are working on a large, heavily involved project, I wouldn’t suggest this solution due to setbacks such as static content and large file sizes. Although this is a great solution for creating simple applications, I’m curious to see if other variations of this solution will make an impact in the future of application design and development.


Written by Kathryn

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