Take a quick look at iBooks Author, the new tool from Apple that lets you create textbooks for the iPad. You can design and layout pages like in iWork Pages. You can also add special elements like photo galleries, quizzes, 3D objects and interactive images.
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode, let’s take a quick look at iBooks Author. So iBooks Author is the new free tool from Apple that allows you to create textbooks that can then be read using the iBooks app on the iPad. Let’s go and take a look at how it works. So when you run iBooks Author, it starts you off by choosing a template. And you’ve got a bunch of basic templates here. The first one called Basic and the others are slight variations on that. So you can explore those, but for now let’s choose the basic template and create a new document with it. So if you’re familiar with Pages, you should recognize all this stuff. You’ve got your pages here on the left, and you can easily add new ones, like that. And they come from different templates here, so you can add, say, a new page of different columns or a blank page to start with. You can also add elements like text boxes, shapes, tables, and charts, just like in Pages. So you always start off with some blank pages here. You’ve got the first page of a chapter, and the first page of the first section there, and then the first plain text page. You can change the template that is used for any of these. So I can change this to a three-column layout. And you can add a page, as well, of any type. So let’s add like a blank one here. And you can switch between them pretty easily, clicking there. You have all the different elements inside of a page, so for instance, here I’ve got this element here. I can select it. I can go to the inspector, here. Let me bring that out. And I can say, just like in Pages, adjust the text by using the inspector. So, let’s center it for instance. I can select say this image here and I can adjust its frame. And you can do all the basic things you could do in Pages. This is all pretty much the same how you edit a document. A lot happens by drag and drop. So, for instance, if I were to bring up the Media inspector here, which should be familiar to you from other applications, I can drag and drop a different photo into this spot, here. And then I can zoom in on it and edit it, just as before. And then you can drag in other photos, too, and just add them to the document, like that. And then adjust and even change the wrapping, as you could from before, like for instance, having it not cause the wrap. And you can arrange it in, say, send it to back, underneath the text, like that. So there’s a lot you can do. It’s basically the same as other iWork applications. Now you have all these special widgets that you can create. So widgets, like for instance the Gallery widget here, I’ll just add a gallery, and I can bring up the Media inspector, drag a bunch of photos into to. So let me just drag three photos in here and close that. And now I can see that I’ve got three dots here at the bottom, representing the three photos and the inspector here, I can flip between them. I can add one using these buttons here as well. Or I can change the layout in various ways, get rid of different things. So all sorts of different stuff that you can do to create a gallery. You can also have it show thumbnails here at the bottom, so you could easily flip between them. Another type of widget is the Review widget, which allows you to set up a little quiz. So you can change the question, change answers, add new questions here, so you can have question one of one, question two of two. You can add different types of things, for instance a multiple choice that has to do with several images. Or you could have even say a drag and drop type of quiz. So this allows you to basically set a picture here and then set multiple targets in a picture. And then you have your answers there and you have to drag and drop them into place. Lots of other types of widgets, for instance you can add just a video there. You can drag an entire Keynote presentation in. An interactive image is kind of interesting, because you could basically drag in a picture. And after you drag in the picture, you can then set different spots on it, so for instance here’s the default view and you might have some labels there. And then you can go to this first view and this first view gets closer on this spot here and you can change the text that appears there. The second one gets closer to this spot and you can change the text there. So you can basically take a tour of what’s in an image or map or diagram or anything using this widget. Of course another widget that’s going to be popular is the 3D widget here and if you have a 3D model that’s the correct format…I’ve got a sample one right here. You can just drag and drop it in and then you could say set it to free rotate or auto-rotate. Lots of different things you could do here with the model and change its layout, just you can with other widgets. And then the last widget is a HTML widget, which is basically the same type of thing that you would use on the dashboards. You have to be a programmer to be able to create these special dashboard widgets to go in there. But they do allow for more interactivity, calling out to the web for more data, things like that. So it takes a programmer to be able to create one of these, but in the future we may see some that are available that you can add to your textbooks. Now, while you’re creating your textbook, you can preview this. All those interactive elements and everything, you can preview on your iPad. All you need to do is hook up your iPad, run iBooks, and of course you have to have the new iBooks 2. And then you can go to Preview and it will actually create a quick version of the book and instantly open it up there on your iPad. You can flip through it. You can also preview only the current selection, just the thing that you’re working on, which will be handy when you the book gets to be pretty large. Another important feature is the glossary. You can quickly create a glossary here by going through your text. You have to have your real text, not the sample text. And then you can select any term that you want. So for instance, I’ve got the term iPhone right here. Now let’s go to View and bring up the Glossary Toolbar, which makes it very easy. It shows you what you have highlighted here and then you can click Add term and it adds it to the glossary. Now when I click on the Glossary here on the left, you can see that there’s the term and I can then type in my own definition for it. I can then have that linked from that specific instance of the term or every one in the book, so it’s very handy. And in addition to that, you also, of course, have a Table of Contents, which you build automatically based on the chapter and sections that you create. And also Intro Media. You can actually put a video at the beginning of your book. And then people will get kind of get this introduction. It could be something like a message from the author, it could be something professionally produced, whatever, to bring them into the book. When you’re done with the book, you would go to either Share or Export, and you can create the iBook’s format. Now the iBook’s format you can freely distribute yourself to say your students if you’re a teacher. You can also create a PDF, so a lot of interactive elements won’t of course work. But you can distribute it in other ways. People can read it on their own computers, for instance. Another thing that you could do is, then also to submit it to the iBookstore. So you click on this link and you have to set up an account and everything with Apple, like you would if you were an app developer. And then you could publish your books to the iBookstore and actually charge for them. So there’s a quick overview of iBooks Author. Of course remember, it is for textbooks. So it’s tempting to go and try and use this for all sorts of other things, but in fact Pages handles most other things, like creating regular books, creating brochures, all sorts of different layouts and designs, just fine. This is really geared toward school textbooks, whether it’s at the elementary, high school, or college level. So give it a try. It is free to download on the Mac App Store. Just search for it there and play around with it. Til next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.”