Animation can add a dynamic and engaging element to your designs, but can animation be used in PDFs? Unfortunately, the short answer is no. While it may seem like a convenient option, using animation in PDFs can be problematic due to inconsistent support across different applications, the death of the Flash Player, and the fact that PDF was never built to support animation (e.g., animation from InDesign, or formats like animated GIFs)…all of which can cause playback issues and visual holes in your documents.
In the past, PDFs were primarily opened with Adobe software, which included the Flash Player bundled right inside it. This allowed for some use of animation in PDFs through the use of Flash Player content (though only by embedding SWFs, not using InDesign’s native Animation panel). However, with the demise of Flash, this option is no longer available. So, what are the alternatives?
The answer is HTML5. This browser-native format is capable of replicating the capabilities of Flash and it does not require coding to create content visually in InDesign and export it to multiple HTML-based formats. In this article, we will explore three formats that support animation: fixed layout ePub, Publish Online, and in5 (InDesign to HTML5). All three formats support animation that you can easily create with InDesign’s native Animation panel.
When working with multimedia in design projects, it’s natural to want to include video content in your PDFs. However, it’s important to understand that the use of video in PDFs can be problematic in a number of ways and may not provide the consistent support and playback that you desire.
The article is written as a parallel to Adobe’s article on Creating Accessible PDFs, so that you can compare the steps required to set up accessibility for both PDF and in5, and to get a sense of the accessibility of the output.
For the purposes of this article, I will assume that you’re not interested in InDesign’s native HTML export, because it does not support layout the way a PDF does. In contrast, in5 exports HTML while maintaining your InDesign layout.
in5 is a 3rd-party InDesign plugin that can create accessible, interactive HTML output (without any coding on your part).
Both the PDF export and in5 can produce 508 compliant output from InDesign, but there are some key difference detailed in the article below.