Sign in or register
for additional privileges

C2C Digital Magazine (Spring / Summer 2015)

Colleague 2 Colleague, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Adobe Slate Opens New Horizons for Creative Storytelling on the iPad

By Mary L. Hammel, Kansas State University

Adobe, long-known for bringing creativity apps to the masses, debuted a free, easy-to-use storytelling app for the iPad this spring. It has become an instant hit with educators, small businesses and nonprofits, photographers, and writers, mainly because of its simplicity and elegance.

The Adobe Slate app is almost like magic. You don’t have to know anything about web design or code to create a stunning multimedia website. Adobe Slate helps content creators build beautiful visual stories (technically web pages) on their iPads that can be shared and viewed on any computer or device. It comes with eleven built-in magazine-style design themes, various photo arrangement compositions, and the ability to add text. You can also add email or website links to direct viewers to other content.

Its possible uses are unlimited – newsletters, event invitations, reviews and reports, travel stories, poetry and creative writing, portfolios and photo essays, and visual handouts, to name but a few. How you choose to use the app will be up to you, but the ease of creating your Slate “story” is what makes the app so popular.

Getting Started

The free Adobe Slate iPad app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (Slate is only available for the iPad). In order to use Slate, you will need a free Adobe ID to login. A subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud is not necessary.

The user interface is simple – two tabs at the top of the screen let you Explore or show you your Projects. Before you start, you might want to check out some of the sample stories that others have created. Tap the + Create a New Story to start your story. Your basic options are available at the top right – a magic wand icon that lets you choose a story theme; a right-facing rectangle icon for previewing your story; and a share icon for publishing and sharing your story.

Adding Content

You will be prompted to Add a Title first, then a photo. A selection menu will slide out from the right with your photo options. You can use the built-in search for Creative Commons (CC) licensed images (under Find Photos). Any CC image that you use will be automatically credited at the end of your page. Of course, you can also use your own images – from your iPad photos; from the iPad camera; from your Creative Cloud account if you have one; from a synced Lightroom collection; or from a linked Dropbox account. Audio and video import are not supported, only still images.*

If you use Creative Commons images, you will see a round white i icon at the bottom right of the screen. Tapping the dot will show you the photo credit information. An adjacent round icon with a target lets you drag a white dot with your finger to determine the photo’s focal point. After you have determined the focal point, the title can be repositioned by tapping and holding the text and dragging it to your preferred quadrant of the screen.

From there, you are prompted to Scroll to start writing your Slate. As you drag your finger up, a menu appears prompting you to choose what type of content to insert. Your choices are always the same wherever you see the + (plus) icon – photo, text, link, photo grid, or glideshow. You select what order you wish your content to be presented in. The plus icons will always be available so you can go back and insert content anywhere.

Text can be inserted via the built-in keyboard, voice (using the built-in microphone on the keyboard, and only if you are in a wireless environment), or by cutting-and-pasting from another app. The text is automatically formatted as paragraph-style, but you can select text and apply h1, h2, pullquote, ordered and unordered list, bold and italic tags.

If you have selected a photo, it will automatically appear as inline, but if you tap on the image, you can change its appearance to fill screen, window, or full width via the photo option menu that pops up. You can also replace or delete the photo, and add a caption.

Slate works well with a variety of aspect ratios, in both landscape and portrait modes. In order to have a consistent look for various device sizes up to desktop computers, Adobe recommends that your long edge dimension be about 2560 pixels, with a minimum of about 1280 pixels.

Email or web address link buttons can be added to your story. You will be prompted for the button text and the url. For website links, you must have the full http:// address. To create an email link, you must use a mailto address, for example “mailto://”. The double forward slash must be there for it to work.

Photo grids allow you to add a group of photos together. Slate arranges these in the order that you select them, but you can tap on individual photos and then tap again on white arrows that appear at the top to adjust their position in the grid. Round star icons can be tapped to promote an image to larger status within the grid, or you can tap the round trashcan icons to delete images from the grid.

Creating a glideshow involves selecting photos that Slate will fade and dissolve into one another while transparent boxes that you can load with photos, text or links “glide” on top of them. First you select your photos, then add your specific content within the transparent boxes that overlap each image. Slate adds the motion effects behind the scenes, so you don’t have to know any code to make that happen.

Previewing, Publishing and Sharing

When you are finished adding your story content, tap the right-facing rectangle icon at the top of the screen to go into Preview mode. Scroll through your story to see how everything will look and feel. When you are done previewing, tap the Close button at top left. You are now back in editing mode. When you are satisfied with your story, you are ready to Publish it.

Your story can be published publicly or privately. When you publish, you are creating a link to your Slate story page. Published Slate stories are viewable by anyone who has shared or received the link, anyone with access to social media sites that you have shared to, and possibly to anyone viewing the Adobe Slate Explore feed if you have made your story public.

To publish your story, tap the share icon at top right screen. Here you will find various options to make your story link Public or Private, choose a story category (from education to events to travel, among others), add author name and photo, edit the credits, and select which modes you wish to use for sharing.

If you have made your story public, you are giving consent for your story to be showcased on Adobe’s website or Explore feed. If you have kept your story private, only the people who have the link can view it, and it will not be discoverable through a search engine. You can change from public to private and vice versa at any time. If you do switch modes, you will need to republish.

You can make edits and republish your story at any time. The key here is that you will need to republish for the changes to be effective when sharing. The link to your project will remain the same. Story links will only change if you Duplicate the project and publish it as a separate project.

You always have the ability to Unpublish a story after it has been published.

And if you remove Adobe Slate from your iPad, anything you have previously published is still available. You will need to download the Slate app again, then go to the Settings app, scroll down to Adobe Slate on the left side, and enable “Allow Download of Published Slates.” When you reopen the Adobe Slate app and login with your Adobe ID, your projects should show up in your Projects list, where you can tap on the […] icon and select Download.

Sharing can be done via Facebook, Twitter, email, text message, copying the story link to the clipboard, or copying the embed code to the clipboard. The Copy Embed Code option lets you paste the embed info into the html code on any web page or blog. When you click on your Slate story, it will open within the same browser tab. If you would like the story to open in a new tab, you can modify the code’s < a > tag target attribute to target=”_blank”.

View Counts and Appreciate Stats are available next to the thumbnail view of your projects within the Slate app. These are the only analytics available for Slate at this time.

Free Story Hosting by Adobe

Slate stories are hosted for free by Adobe with no ads. You do not need the Adobe Slate app to view your stories – they are available via your story link on any web browser. Adobe uses responsive web design that adapts to any phone, tablet, or computer.

Adobe Slate in Education

Adobe Slate looks promising as a content creation tool for almost any profession, but the possibilities for integrating the app in educational settings is especially exciting. Faculty in the College of Education at Kansas State University started implementing Slate as a classroom presentation tool for use in their undergraduate teacher preparation program recently.

If you will be using Slate as a presentation tool on your iPad, you can easily make the display full screen. First, open the story link in Safari on the iPad, then tap the Share symbol and choose Add to Home Screen. An icon will appear on your iPad screen with a direct link to your story. Now, when you tap the icon, your story will appear with no browser header.

Adobe Education Exchange: Slate Site

The Adobe Education Exchange has a Slate site with tutorials and classroom resources, available at

*Adobe Voice is a related iPad storytelling app with a common user interface and user experience that uses audio, animation, and photos.

Prose and Rhyme

Sample Slate story by the author: Prose and Rhyme: My Mother's Journal of Personal Songs

About the Author

Mary L. Hammel is Associate Director of the Catalyst Technology and Media Services Center, College of Education, Kansas State University. 
Comment on this page

Discussion of "Adobe Slate Opens New Horizons for Creative Storytelling on the iPad"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Cover, page 3 of 21 Next page on path