Liquid Layouts were an idea ahead of their time. They let you create “rules” governing how the items on your InDesign pages would scale and change position if the InDesign page were to change size.
This liquid ability was no doubt the InDesign team’s solution to a problem that was on its way: the mass availability of smartphones and tablets of various screen sizes, and the need to create digital content for these new devices.
The Liquid Layout feature pre-dated what would be the web’s solution to this problem: CSS Media Queries.
There’s a motto in investing, “being early is the same as being wrong.” Here, the InDesign team’s efforts were early, and Liquid Layout Rules do not map well to CSS Media Queries.
Banners & ads (when HTML5 is not needed or supported)
Social media images (e.g., for Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin timelines)
Thus far, the best way for a creative to create an animated GIF was to
Open Adobe Animate
Create animations using tweens
Export as video
Open the video in Photoshop (because Animate doesn’t do a great job with the colors)
Export as a GIF using the Save for Web dialog
That process is okay if you’re fairly comfortable with both Animate and Photoshop, but it’s a bit convoluted even then (created the tweened animations, especially).
I recently opened Adobe Animate, which was formerly Flash Professional, to create an animated GIF. Even though I lived in Flash Pro for years, it still took me a half hour to create a simple 125 x 125 pixel ad.
Don’t get me wrong, Animate is great if you want fine control of your animation, but sometimes that’s overkill.
Why use InDesign?
In comparison, InDesign’s animation tools are superbly easy: simply apply a motion preset (adjust if needed). No keyframes, no timeline.
If you just need some simple fades and fly-ins this InDesign workflow is ideal.
The main limitation: There hadn’t been a way to export InDesign’s animation as animated GIFs, but now there is.
How to Create an Animated GIF using InDesign
Here’s a quick outline of the steps.
Create a new file in InDesign. in5 v3.5.1 comes with a convenient Social Media Image document preset.
Add a Motion Preset via the Animation panel (Window > Interactive > Animation). Adjust and repeat with other items if desired.
(Optional) Adjust the sequencing of multiple animations using the Timing panel (Window > Interactive > Timing).
Export using in5 (in5 > Easy Export Wizard).
Open the exported content in Google Chrome and use the in5 Animated GIF Maker extension to record and save your GIF.
You can now share the file via email or via social network updates.