Adobe Slate for iPad makes telling stories with photos much easier

Adobe’s consumer iPad apps got off to a rough start with Adobe Voice , the company’s software for assembling photo/graphic slideshows with voiceovers that get saved as movies. It received a lot of complaints from users initially because of limited output options, which Adobe subsequently rectified. It’s now joined by a sibling app, Adobe Slate, which serves a similar purpose — quickly generating a narrative for anyone with nice photos to share. It’s fun, fast and easy to use for creating whizzy, scalable Web pages that can be viewed in any browser.

Like Voice, Slate is completely free — it’s not a Creative Cloud app. You do need to register an Adobe ID, though, and put up with the “Made with Slate,” “Get Slate” and Adobe hosting. This is in keeping with Adobe’s desire to attract users in education, nonprofits, small businesses and other demographics that can’t afford or don’t want the complexity of the company’s Creative Cloud ecosystem.

How it works

“Show” works better than “tell.” Here’s a version of my review, built using Slate.

You start by tapping the big “Create a New Story” text, and you’re presented with a cover page. You’re prompted to add a title, a subtitle and a photo, and the icons at the top of the screen can take you back to your project list (as well as the ability to browser public projects), show theme choices, or preview.

At any time you can select from among 11 theme choices, which control fonts, colors and layout. Projects are designed to be scalable across devices, from phone to desktop display. Each theme includes six text-styling options to choose from. Each toggles between the style and the body text with a tap.

(Geek aside: Slate generates standard CSS in linked stylesheets that reside on Adobe’s servers. The styles are a basic set of CSS styles linked to HTML tags: default paragraph, H1, H2, lists and blockquote.)

For now, they’re locked: you can’t change anything within a theme. On one hand, changing things could result in a domino effect of ugly badness. But I don’t think being able to make the caption font a little bigger would end the world.

Photos can come from a variety of sources: your iPad , the camera, Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Dropbox or via a search through Creative Commons-licensed images from across the Web. If you do the latter, the app pulls in the attribution info, which appears as an “i” icon atop the photo. Other cloud-storage options, such as Google, are on the roadmap, but Adobe is really waiting to see what people ask for.