Making A Book For The iPad Using iBooks Author Widgets

iBooks Author Widgets are what make books for the iPad stand out above those made for the Kindle and the Nook.

One of the coolest aspects about iBooks Author—probably the point that actually gives it the most opportunity and life—are widgets. There are seven primary widgets that come built in the program. We will talk about each of them and some options for making the pieces that go in each category in today’s post.

Gallery—The gallery widget in iBooks Author is for posting multiple photos. When you add photos, the gallery stores each of them in one interactive box and when you tap on the box, it pops open. One also can scroll through the photos loaded in the built-in option and see them without going full screen.  (In a minute you’ll read about iBook-Widgets.com from Belgium. Their developer, Niels, added an additional feature we’ve used in 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, where one can also embed a hot spot and even a picture-in-picture feature in a gallery.  Both have their places. We even used Niels’ gallery to create an interactive chart of the different periods of Maya history. Very cool.

ReviewThe product comes with a built-in review function.  We’ve not really had the chance to explore it, but know that there are also third-party widgets that offer a wider variety of options in this area.

Interactive Image—This option allows one to place a photo in iBooks Author and then set a zoom with a blow up bubble that offers cutline/caption content about what one is viewing. This can be a great tool if say you were doing an iBook on the recent Mars landing “crime scene” as they’re nicknaming the photo. You could start with the wide image, but if you wanted to see more of curiosity, you can set it to zoom into that area of the picture, see caption information and then zoom back out and then over to the parachute, for instance. Very cool feature.

HTML—This is the tool to help plug in third-party widgets into you iBook. Whether it’s an image coming in from Tumult’s Hype,
iBook-Widgets.com or ClassWidgets.com, this is where they go to get placed within your iBook.

Media—This is the widget that allows one to add videos. There’s a whole post coming on what all that entails, but suffice it to say, this is what allows one to embed them into an iBook.

Keynote—We’ve not used this function yet, but know it’s there. Keynote projects can be added to an iBook, though we also know if we were to do some things in Keynote, we’d also use the .mov export, which would require some additional steps that will be mentioned in the upcoming video post in this series.

3-D—If you want people to stand around with your iBook and just keep rubbing their fingers over the screen in a trance-like state, here’s the widget for you.  More is coming in a separate post tomorrow on 3-D images and the tools to make them happen. You CANNOT use these and put them in a Nook or a Kindle, and it is in this regard, that an iBook blows anything in the ePub or print format away.  In the 2012 iBook we’re including four 3-D images. More about that tomorrow….

Third-Party Widget Vendors

Separate posts will be coming on each of these three vendors.  Each has done some really amazing things to prepare the technology that can be used in iBooks and they each really deserve their own mention.

Tumult’s HypeThis creates animations that are good for iBooks and HTML 5. We’ve even perfected a process to embed audio into iBooks and will be using it on some amazing children’s books that are just around the corner.  Hype only works on a Mac, but then, so does iBooks Author. It’s about $50 to buy a full license for the program, but they do give you 30 days by the calendar to decide if you want to invest. Their customer service is very good and their support forums are very helpful.  We’ve enjoyed interactions with them and they have even thanked us for the video demo on how to add audio to an iBook.

ClassWidgets.comThis was the first site recommended to us for use of timeline imagery.  We used it to create a slider widget for the 2012 iBook that features the different languages spoken in ancient Mesoamerica.  We also used it to take what took two print pages in a traditional textbook and turn it into a 1/2 of a page image that blows up and shows some 20 different frames and images that could not have been done in a book.  They also have some new things in the works. You’ll want to put this site in your bookmarks.

iBook-Widgets.comWe signed up for this site before it launched and formed a relationship with Niels, the site’s creator.  What a cool guy in the heart of Belgium.  He also has developed a slider timeline, which works just as well or better than the ClassWidgets.com slider. He’s also perfected that gallery widget with PIP that we mentioned above. He also has, like ClassWidgets.com, a widget to embed YouTube.com videos in an iBook, and created the coolest widget I’ve seen yet on doing algebraic math formulas and being able to see the plots change in real time on the iPad.

The widgets creation field is only going to expand as the adoption of iBooks expands.  We’ve already got some great tools to work with and the promise that they’re going to get even better over time.  We’ve had numerous discussions with Niels about things he’s working on and he keeps telling us they’re already on the list.  A great and exciting place in which to be…..

Coming Monday, Aug. 13, 3-D.

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