WGBH Creates Award-Winning iPad App with Adobe DPS, MEI Training

Press release from the issuing company

Managing Editor Inc. (MEI) today announced that Boston-based WGBH has purchased the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite™ along with specialized training services from MEI, the leading Adobe DPS reseller worldwide.

WGBH is using Adobe DPS, the preeminent solution for Adobe InDesign®-based tablet publishing, to produce the iPad edition of Explore!, the organization’s monthly magazine for members and public media’s first program guide designed especially for tablets. The groundbreaking first iPad issues of Explore! earned the app the award for “Best Publication” at The Ad Club’s NON-Event last week.

Serving Boston and New England with seven television services and three radio stations, WGBH is also the Public Broadcasting Service’s single largest provider of television and Web content, as well as an NPR/PRI radio broadcaster and producer. It creates such public TV favorites as “Nova,” “Masterpiece,” “Frontline,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Curious George,” “Arthur” and “The Victory Garden” in its Boston-area studios, and develops educational multimedia and specialized technologies for people with disabilities as well.

For years, WGBH has provided its members with a magazine featuring television and radio listings, broadcast highlights and more. In addition to delivering live, up-to-the minute schedule information for WGBH’s programming, the Explore! app builds on the print guide’s content with exclusive videos, interactive feature stories and behind-the-scenes extras.

The Explore! team began researching a tablet-publishing solution in late 2010. The print product and its online replication had only basic, flat layouts with few opportunities for interactivity, and the group was looking to expand, especially considering the wealth of PBS- and producer-provided promotional and marketing video at its disposal.

“We have always produced a great print guide, and we were ready to take the next step with our videos and other multimedia content,” said Steve Baker, senior director of creative projects at WGBH. “We had been looking for a new, innovative way to promote all of our assets. When the iPad came along, it seemed like a perfect platform.”

Baker said Adobe DPS was an especially attractive solution since Explore! magazine’s designers were already proficient with InDesign; using the same software with extra features for creating tablet content made the most sense.

“We looked at other tools, but I just wasn’t sold that they rendered issues as well as DPS and that they had a strong business backbone like Adobe,” he said. “Tablet publishing is such a new area, we really wanted to work with someone we could trust and count on.”

Baker and his designers started working with Adobe DPS during the software’s beta-testing period. They used the system to build a small test publication and, after honing the app’s layouts and interactive content, started showing it internally. Once they felt confident with Adobe DPS, WGBH approved funding for a larger-scale iPad project and purchased a full Enterprise-level system with an advanced training package from MEI.

“The training went very well,” Baker said. “It was interesting to see all of the software’s functionality work together beyond what we had tested on our own.”

WGBH released its first full issue of Explore! to the iTunes App Store in December 2011. This “soft launch” built on the print version by including video and dynamic program listings. The January 2012 issue boasts much more exclusive interactive content and specialized features including additional video, audio and photo galleries.

“People are very excited to use Explore! on their iPads,” Baker said. “Program guides haven’t changed much over the years. Our audience is happy that we’re adapting to the modern viewer’s needs.”

And the Explore! app isn’t only impressing WGBH’s members. It recently won the “Best Publication” category at The Ad Club’s NON-Event, an awards show celebrating New England-area non-profits and their creative work. Baker said that since there was no award specifically for iPad or tablet content, he took a chance submitting the app for “Best Publication” — and he’s especially happy with the results.

“I was glad, not only that we won, but that they were open to what must have been their first-ever iPad publication entry,” he said.

Explore! WGBH Member Guide is available now in the iTunes App Store. Visit http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/explore!-wgbh-member-guide/id482675800?mt=8 to download the free app.


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