I am designing e-books for iPad & Android tablets. The problem is I have very little options to add animated effects to my e-book when doing it on InDesign (which is a must for me, as the e-books I'm designing are based on paper books/magazines that were previously designed for printing).

I am looking for one of the following solutions:

  • Adobe InDesign HTML 5 plugin, that I could use to add (almost) any HTML 5 code snippet to my project and then export the whole project to HTML 5
  • a web application, that would allow me to upload my InDesign project, add HTML 5 effects/snippets and then export the e-book in a HTML 5 format

I would appreciate any recommendations/links.


Given the track record of software 'spitting out HTML' I'd be wary of anything that could claim to do the above.

Note that HTML5, by itself, doesn't make an app. It'd still have to be compiled into an app (ignoring the ability to run local web sites--which I assume isn't what you are talking about).

As such, you likely need to get this all into PhoneGap at some point so the HTML5 can be compiled.

Before doing any of that, though, I'd take a look at Apple's new eBook authoring software:


Which was designed specifically for creating interactive eBooks.


After reading more of your comments, I think what you are really looking for is a way to create a self contained HTML 5 app. There are two ways to handle that:

1) create a web site with a manifest file and implement local storage. That allows a user to download your site and store it locally on their device.

2) Use phonegap to create an App from your HTML5.

Option 1 is slick, but rarely used for a number of reasons...the big ones is that people don't really know you can do that and it makes it hard to create a paywall.

Option 2 is not too hard, though I don't think InDesign will help in any way. You basically just build your HTML5 site as you see fit (animations would be CSS or Canvas) and then compile it into apps for each platform.

The reason I mentioned iBook Author is that it's an authoring tool, akin to InDesign. So that's a solution coming at it from the authoring standpoint more than it is on the distribution end.

  • technically, those are ibooks, and are probably proprietary (might not be compatible with android). e-book is a pretty generic term
    – horatio
    Feb 1 '12 at 20:21
  • an iBook is an ePub.
    – DA01
    Feb 1 '12 at 20:29
  • of course but not all epubs are ibooks.
    – horatio
    Feb 1 '12 at 21:38
  • Ability to run local website would do the thing for me at this point (I don't need connection with Internet, and even if needed, I could program it later n HTML 5). Yes, PhoneGap is an option but I need to have HTML 5 input first. Apple's iBooks Author would be a perfect answer for my problems but AFAIK it can create books for iPad only. In my case I need to cover Android devices too.
    – syntagma
    Feb 1 '12 at 22:39
  • Moreover, I should be more precise: I am looking for solution to create interactive books rather than ebooks.
    – syntagma
    Feb 1 '12 at 22:40

There's a big red flag in your question: "export the e-book in HTML5 format".

There is no such thing as an "HTML5 ebook" at the moment. ePub 3.0 is coming, and is essentially HTML5/CSS3 (such as they are) under the hood, but the currently supported ePub and mobi standards are a subset of HTML and CSS2. If you plan to create ebooks, you really must get familiar with the standards and supported features (different among Nook, Kindle, iPad and others).

InDesign does generate HTML, albeit somewhat rudimentary. But if you want an ePub, why not go ahead and create an ePub, rather than taking the extra steps? As of InDesign CS5.5 the ePub export capability is excellent, requiring minimal tweaking and plenty of customization. Amazon has a Kindle plug-in that will allow you to create Kindle (mobi) versions, although you can also convert ePub to mobi easily enough. Be aware that Kindle is a more primitive format than ePub. Anne-Marie Concepcion has three excellent titles on Lynda.com on ePub from InDesign (CS4, CS5 and CS5.5), Liz Castro's book and website are terrific resources, and there's the new ePub Secrets blog devoted to the subject.

Apple has (again) gone proprietary by jumping the gun with the iBook version of ePub, so what works in an iBook won't necessarily work except on iThings, and won't necessarily be compliant with ePub 3.0 standards (they aren't right now). I recommend staying well away from that (especially the new authoring tool, which has a draconian license agreement) if you plan broad market for your ebooks.

There is no "add HTML arbitrary code" functionality in InDesign, even using a plug-in. Such a thing doesn't exist in the DOM, so even with a plug-in there'd basically be nowhere to put it.

  • Yes, that was my mistake. I want to make interactive books (I used "ebook" as a general term). Meaning I would like to add many effects (animations) that I can't add in InDesign and then generate HTML 5 to create book apps on iPad/Android tablets. It can even be a HTML 5 website that I could encapsulate in iPad, though the best solution would allow me to use things like accelerometer (I believe I could do this using PhoneGap). Thanks for comprehensive explanation on ebooks/ePub format though.
    – syntagma
    Feb 1 '12 at 22:36
  • Ah, that radically changes things. You should consider DPS, in that case, which allows creating apps out of ID, with animations, video, etc., etc., or an ID > swf > HTML 5 > Air workflow. Feb 1 '12 at 22:47
  • While true, there's no need to worry about 'draconian proprietary licenses'. That would apply to that particular format, but certainly not prevent you from releasing other formats. (Also, no one likes the AppStore licensing and 'cut' Apple gets...yet we all love the marketshare and, in that light, it's a pretty good deal). Also note that a lot of 'proprietary Apple stuff' has been a boon to us HTML 5 folks (CSS transitions being a huge one).
    – DA01
    Feb 1 '12 at 23:36
  • The EULA for the new authoring tool basically says you'd not be allowed to sell anything created with it except through Apple. Seriously. If you give it away, you can "sell" it anywhere, but if you charge, Apple has exclusive rights. That qualifies as draconian, imo. Imagine Adobe or Quark saying anything created with InDesign or Xpress can only be sold through them. Feb 2 '12 at 1:26
  • I'd say it's not atypical of how lots of retailers operate. The software is clearly designed to produce a file for that particular distribution channel. That doesn't restrict you from using other tools for other distribution channels, though. Again, publishers HATE the idea of giving apple a 30% cut. At the same time, if you want to target marketshare, publishers LOVE Apple.
    – DA01
    Feb 2 '12 at 21:49

Things have developed since this post. You might try in5 (http://ajarproductions.com/), a plug-in that promises to do most of what you want.

  • 1
    Hello Daniel and welcome. Can you please go into more detail about how this plugin solves the needs of the OP and more description of how it works? May 14 '16 at 13:26

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