Submitted by Victor Cardoso WoodWing Product Evangelist, on 22 February 2011
Apple’s iPad continues to alter the face of the digital landscape, now with more hardware manufacturers coming on board to challenge the tablet device’s dominance. There’s the HP Touchpad, the Motorola Xoom, and the Samsung Galaxy, just to name a few. Lost amidst the excitement of these new introductions are some of the technical details, a primary one being that many of these tablets feature different resolutions/aspect ratios. For consumers, the details of screen real estate don’t amount to much; for developers and content publishers, however, this can be a nightmare.
A Growing Problem
To illustrate the issue, let’s look at it a little more closely. Most devices coming onto the market are falling into two camps: a 4:3 aspect ratio (the iPad) and a 16:9 aspect ratio (Android devices). This is analogous to the difference between standard definition TV and modern hi-definition TV.
When watching a standard definition program on your HD TV, you’ll get black bars on either side of the screen, because the content can’t scale proportionally to fill the space. If you watch an HD program on a standard definition TV, you get black bars on the top and bottom. We’ve come to accept this unfortunate situation as a fact of life when watching video, but it hardly represents a usable solution for publishers who want to take full advantage of the screen real estate and publish to multiple tablet platforms.
WoodWing foresaw this problem and came up with a solution called Artboards, a feature that allows designers to easily create content for multiple devices/screen resolutions.
An Artboard is basically a window that’s laid on top of an existing InDesign page. It corresponds to the screen resolution/aspect ratio of a particular device and lets the designer see what part of the page is viewable by that device. A designer could use this to create a “safe-zone” on the page that fits all devices they are working on.
But beyond the convenient window metaphor that Artboards provide, there’s an additional feature: the ability to assign content on a page to specific devices. This is great if you think about the challenges that some device sizes bring about. For example: does 11-pt type translate as effectively on a 7.4-inch device vs a 9.7-inch device? Early tests on a Samsung Galaxy Tab versus an iPad suggest that there can be some significant design hurdles. With Artboards, however, if a designer wants to target a text frame with larger type for the smaller device, then it’s as simple as clicking a checkbox.
WoodWing has additional information on whiteboards available in a whitepaper and a short demonstration on our YouTube channel. With Artboards, WoodWing continues to innovate in the area of digital publishing, and our customers get the benefit of our hard work.