5 steps how to convert InDesign designs into iOS Single Apps – as many as you need!

Since Adobe has shut down their DPS (Digital Publishing Suite) SE for Creative Cloud users, InDesign users are looking for an alternative on how to create designs in InDesign and convert them to an iOS app. At a reasonable price.

Problem: Reoccurring costs of App Publishing Services

There are many “App Publishing Services” that allow InDesign users to use InDesign to create designs, overlay interactivity, and then export the design into an app.

The problem with most (all?) “App Publishing Services” is: cost. Have a look at the costs of an arbitrary app publishing service (screenshot) that allows publishing from InDesign.

It’s not important which app publishing service this is, notable is that to create unlimited “single-issue apps” it will cost you $850. Per year. Every year.

Sure, this Service can do more than iOS Publishing. But what if you just need that?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pay $399 ONCE and create as many iOS apps as you like?

QuarkXPress 2017 offers such a service: iOS publishing for single apps is and doesn’t even require a log-on or any other kind of service. All you need is an Apple developer account ($99 per year).

Five steps to use QuarkXPress 2017 to publish Single Apps for iOS
(though you are using InDesign)

  1. Get an Apple developer account.
    There is no way around it, if you want to publish to Apple’s App Store. Apple requires you to have that, regardless which tool you use to create iOS apps.
  2. Copy InDesign elements to a digital layout in QuarkXPress as editable objects.
    QuarkXPress 2017 can convert PDF to native QuarkXPress objects. That can be a PDF created with MS Excel or Adobe InDesign.
    Even easier, QuarkXPress can also convert InDesign objects to editable, native QuarkXPress objects using the clipboard. So create a Digital layout in QuarkXPress and then just copy & paste objects (or a page) from InDesign to QuarkXPress.

    And then in QuarkXPress you can continue to edit objects copied from InDesign, e.g. change the text or the font size of a text box.
  3. Enrich the layout with interactive elements (optional)
    If you want to add interactivity to your former InDesign objects, just use the “HTML5” palette in QuarkXPress and add interactivity (some people call them enrichments). That can be a slideshow, an animation, a video, a sound, a button and so on.
    Of course, if you prefer, you can also leave your layout static, however then the chances are higher that Apple might reject your app.
  4. Create the necessary meta data and other files
    For submission to the App Store, you need to create and specify some meta data like splash screen, add some certificates that Apple’s portal gives you and so on. So first head over to developer.apple.com, create the profiles and certificates Apple requires, create some good looking splash screens etc.
  5. Export as iOS (out of QuarkXPress)
    Export a Single iOS App using the “Export As iOS App” menu in QuarkXPress. QuarkXPress will ask you to specify the meta data created in step 4. Then – after a while – QuarkXPress will show two apps on your Desktop, a test app (to test on your iOS device) and a production app (which you can submit to Apple). Both have your content (that came from InDesign and was enriched in QuarkXPress) baked-in.

Bonus: Publish to HTML5 as well!

And of course you can additionally create a web app (app-like behavior), which is 100% HTML5-based and runs in all modern browsers without need of a plug-in. QuarkXPress calls this HTML5 Publication:

As an HTML5 Publication is based on the same technology for content, static and interactive content will look the same as in your iOS app. And of course you could also make the HTML5 Publication responsive.

Creating an HTML5 Publication will not cost you anything extra, all you need is a webserver to host your HTML5 Publication.

What will it cost me? (as an InDesign user)

Good news for InDesign users are that you can upgrade to QuarkXPress from InDesign CS/CC (and CorelDraw, Lightroom, Photoshop and many others).

So to use QuarkXPress 2017 to convert your InDesign layouts into an app, will cost you:

QuarkXPress 2017 Competitive Upgrade: $399 (one-time fee)
Apple Developer Account for App Store submission: $99 (per year)


Start creating unlimited iOS apps:

So, InDesign users, upgrade to QuarkXPress 2017 now and start creating iOS apps: