Those of you who have been using the authoring tools regularly may have noticed some changes lately. We have been working very hard to improve the usability of the authoring interface as well as add a couple of new features to help create even more amazing books!
And here they are!:
1. Layer Control – Our most popular request by far. You can now control what layer your images are on simply by touching the green arrows next to the image name.
2. Fix off-canvas images from blocking controls – As many of you know, one of the great features Interactive Touch provides is the ability to have images and animations start and end off screen. This is great for creating background effects like moving clouds, as well as having characters enter and leave the scene. Unfortunately, for a while these images would block the controls on the authoring tool making it difficult to edit other images. We have this fixed now!
3. Screen shot management – We ask you to upload screenshots so that they appear in the app and the online store, but did a poor job of making it easy for you to see what you’ve done. We added a new user interface that lets you add, edit, and delete screen shot images for your book. You can access this from the book description page, by clicking the gear icon next to your book title in the authoring tool.
4. Asset replacement – This is another big improvement. Many times when working on the tool you will come up with a great sequence of actions and animations, only to later decide that you want to make a slight change to one of the images. This would require you to reset all of the actions and sometimes redo the entire page. Just click the image name to bring up the action menu, and tap the edit icon (the one with the pencil). This will allow you to upload a new image but maintain all of the actions associated with the old one.
5. Asset duplication – Along with replacing an image, you can also create another copy of the same image right in the authoring tool. This can come in handy when you go back to a page you were working on before and want to add more effects and don’t want to waste time searching for the original image again.
6. Animation labels – Now when you upload a new animation, you can add a custom label for it. This makes it much easier to keep track of what you are doing when tying other actions to the animation.
7. iPhone conversions – The conversion to iPhone process is a necessary evil to make sure that books look good on both devices. The iPhone and iPad have different aspect ratios, and we always maintained that rather than forcing authors and illustrators to stretch their background images or add letterboxes, we would give you a choice. We also wanted to add the ability to create different experiences on iPhone and iPad by doing a separate version for each. This process was a bit clunky and we noticed most people just went in and either stretched their backgrounds or added letter box, so we’ve streamlined this process and added an option to do this for you automatically. When you click the “Phone Version” link, a dialog will pop up asking which you would like to do for your book. Bonus, you only have to select this once and we will always maintain the proper version for you.
Whew, almost there!
8. Page action titles – We added titles to the page level actions (these are actions that trigger automatically at some interval after the page is loaded) to make editing easier. Instead of a list of “play, play, play, play” under the page action menu, you will now see exactly what each action triggers, making it easier to adjust your page.
9. Page-level preview – Now when you click the preview button the interface sends you straight to that page in the preview engine. A huge time saver if you are working on a big book with a slow connection.
10. Coloring book preview – The coloring book process was always a bit of a mystery to our authors, so we added a preview function to show how it will look in your book. You won’t be able to color, but at least you will see what the coloring book icon looks like, where it is placed, and what your black and white coloring book image looks like.
And last but not least…
11. “On-snap” for draggable images – This is a bit of a game changer and we will be showing off its capabilities with a few new titles in the next couple of weeks. The idea here is that you can now specify where a draggable image should be dragged to, AND launch new actions based on the final placement. So you can imagine creating a puzzle where your reader drags a piece of clothing onto a doll, and when it is released in the right position (we built in some leeway to account for baby fingers) an animation or a sound effect can play.
When you upload an image and make it draggable, you will see a “link” icon over the image. When you highlight the image to edit it, simply drag it to where you would like it to end up and click the “link” icon. Now when the user drags this near that location and let’s go, it will “snap” into place. Great for dress up pages! Then, if you would like to associate an action with this, you can highlight that image and go to the action menu just like you would normally. Now there will be an option to make the action play “on touch” or “on snap”. This promises to be a really fun feature and we can’t wait to see what you come up with!
We have another batch of updates planned before the end of the year, including some improvements to the ones listed here. As always, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what else you would like to see!