Twixl in the Classroom

Creating Native Content for Mobile Apps

Twixl Publisher is in the classroom this semester at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The content creation tool for mobile publishing is allowing students to design native content for mobile-apps.

Amara Aguilar is associate professor of professional practice in digital journalism at USC Annenberg. Her expertise includes: digital journalism, emerging media, mobile storytelling, information and communication technologies, news apps and the changing news industry. Having developed and teaching courses such as journalism for mobile and emerging platforms, and interactive media design for publishing, Amara is an expert on content creation and consumption trends.

Amara sat down to discuss how Twixl Publisher is helping the to the next generation of content creators think mobile-first, with a course focused on mobile app creation.

What are you teaching students in terms of content creation?

At USC Annenberg, our philosophy is human-centered storytelling, and presenting story-centered content based on a user-first approach. We are empowering content creators by providing the skills and tools necessary to successfully connect with audiences.

How did you select Twixl, and how are you using it in the classroom?

Twixl was selected because it is an amazing industry standard tool. It provides a mobile mindset for photographs, writing, designing and the user experience. What is nice about Twixl, is that you have the flexibility to create a mobile app with or without coding. Many of my students have coding knowledge. So it is appealing to them, to have the option to apply that knowledge to mobile app building. They really like working with Twixl and are enjoying seeing their work on a mobile platform.  It is a great tool for teams with diverse skillsets.  Everyone can contribute, and create a well-designed app, whether they can code or not.

The course is focused on designing for a native mobile app experience.  It’s a valuable skillset and so relevant today as more people access content through their phones. People know if they are viewing content on a non-native platform, and it often leads to a negative user experience, which can hurt your brand. Content creators need to design native user experiences across platforms.
This class is focused on mobile apps, but content creators need to be focused on the user experience of each platform. The right software is vital to empowering content creators, so they can build user centered experiences across channels. It is also important that software keeps evolving as content consumption changes. Twixl and Adobe are leading the way as industry standard technology.

What makes designing for mobile unique?

It’s a more personal experience, with a focus on visuals and engagement measured in tapping through the content.  Snapchat Discover is a great example of maximizing the use of visuals in a mobile space.

IHS Markit Benefits from K4 Upgrade and Custom Development

The Challenge

IHS Markit™, a world leader in critical information, based in London, had a problem. Their system had become outdated and needed an upgrade. At the same time, IHS Markit needed to consider its very sophisticated PHP scripting that exported vjoon K4 content to the CMS. The entire server infrastructure needed to be replaced with modern systems. Client workstations needed to be renewed, and the Adobe applications needed to be updated to the Creative Cloud. Plus, they had to continue to manage and output multiple publications, including daily and weekly newsletters.

Beyond the need for updates, the hardware running the K4 server had become older and increasingly unreliable. Personnel changes over the years had created a knowledge gap for how to properly maintain the aging systems. The company determined that their CMS also needed to be replaced. That project was undertaken in conjunction with the K4 system upgrade.

The K4 Solution

What had started out as a K4 upgrade expanded into a top-to-bottom system replacement. This included server installation efforts with the IT group, scripting development, close project management coordination with IHS Markit managers, coordination with the CMS development group, and user training on the new system.

Rather than updating the PHP scripting that drove the CMS export process, which would have taken months for IHS Markit developers to replace the old code, MEI made use of the advanced features available through K4 XML Exporter. No user guide or documentation describing the old code was available, so MEI examined the PHP to determine the export functionality. MEI replaced that functionality with XSLT and additional scripting, while enhancing the export process using K4 metadata and ImageMagick export options. (ImageMagick is bundled with the K4 system and provides robust options for image processing and conversion.) As a function of the enhanced export process, MEI programmed ImageMagick to convert print image file types—TIF, JPG, EPS, AI—to web-ready JPG images.

The Results

When completed, the new export process allowed IHS Markit staff to manage their entire web export process directly through K4 using the K4 Query panel. They no longer needed to rely on the external PHP processes that involved multiple external windows and functions. MEI not only replicated, but streamlined multiple aspects of the export process. Users could now size images for web export using K4 metadata settings. InDesign tables, which were being manually converted to images prior to export, could now be exported directly to HTML by converting InDesign styles to XML tags and then to HTML. Significant time was saved, and effort eliminated, in the MEI scripting upgrade. New HTML elements were added as well, providing enhanced output options for the IHS Markit web group. Finally, the export was configured to directly target the updated IHS Markit web CMS. The solution provides a fully automated migration and conversion of content from print to web.

IHS Markit is now benefitting from users working with up-to-date applications and the latest version of K4 running on powerful new servers. Robust backup and data protection strategies ensure that IHS Markit systems remain available and users able to perform their work without issue. The enhancements to their export process also allowed IHS Markit staff to save significant time and effort in their daily work.

Hudson Projects Rocks a New Sales Enablement App for Sound United

Sound United is on a mission to bring joy to the world through sound. To help deliver their message, they needed an interactive sales enablement app that their sales team could use to guide visitors through a diverse array of unique audio brands, including the likes of Denon, Polk, Marantz and Definitive Technology. They turned to Hudson Projects, a top-notch design and marketing firm, to produce the high-quality tablet app, which the sales team used last month at the Consumer Technology Association Conference in Las Vegas.

Hudson Projects relied on the app experts at MEI, along with the Twixl Publisher app platform,  to handle the technical execution, so that they could remain focused on designing an engaging brand experience for their client, Sound United.

“MEI and Twixl were key ingredients that enabled us to deliver the art and branding experience we wanted to achieve without having to sweat the technical. It was a great collaboration that allowed us to focus on doing what we do best – the design – and leave the technical challenge to our partners.”

— Michael Laddey, Hudson Projects

In the end, Sound United was able to turn to Hudson Projects to deliver a stellar app within a short timeline, while holding up to the high-quality standards of the brand. And during the process, Hudson Projects was able to remain focused on the creative work they do so well, by leaving the technical challenges to MEI and Twixl Publisher.

MEI Releases Page Director ALS and AdForce Version 5.9

Managing Editor® Inc. (MEI) has released the latest version of its award-winning Page Director® Series: ALS, AdForce® and ALS for Magazines. Version 5.9 supports macOS® High Sierra and is compatible with Adobe® Creative Cloud® 2018 version of InDesign® when paired with the newly released Ad Import, Fido, and Split & Folio Plug-ins for CC 2018.

ALS lets you manage issue planning and ad layout for any publication. In just moments, you can have a fully paginated, accurate ad dummy that can be opened in Adobe InDesign. ALS for Magazines is built specifically for magazine planning and production. AdForce is the cost-effective, easy-to-use solution for small to mid-size publications. For more information on the Page Director Series, please visit the MEI software  page.

About MEI

Managing Editor Inc. (MEI), developers of TruEdit, helps publishers and creative teams maximize production performance through digital technology. MEI specializes in integrated digital publishing solutions that improve collaboration, automate content creation for multi-channel workflows, and manage digital experiences. MEI’s offerings range from ad layout software to enterprise asset and workflow management.

Over 3,000 customers in 53 countries count on MEI for publishing and workflow, digital production, creative services, custom development, system integration, and training and support.


For Additional Information
Courtney Feild, MEI Marketing Manager