AEM as a Cloud Service and Adobe InDesign Server

Towards InDesign Services: Connecting AEM as a Cloud Service to Adobe InDesign Server

By Published On: September 28, 2020

We may be one of the first companies ever to connect the new “Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service” (AEMaaCS) to Adobe InDesign Server. Here is a basic example:

This video demonstrates how you can combine AEMaaCS with our Silicon Designer technology (based on Adobe InDesign Server) to let users easily create template-based documents and images through a highly customizable user interface.

Bridging two Adobe technologies

This is just one of many possible solutions, given that we expose the entirety of InDesign Server’s wonderful extensibility to Adobe’s state-of-the-art Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution. Our new integration allows for any type of InDesign Server application. These range from database publishing, to document editing, to workflow automation (using the new AEMaaCS as a powerful back end), to managing workflow and document/content storage.

We’ve delivered similar integrations with previous versions of AEM (even as far back as the days of Day CQ 5.3), yet the latest AEM is brutally cloud-centric, and poses unique challenges. InDesign Server is a very mature product whose roots extend to a time before servers, let alone cloud. While I’m sure there is a cloud future for IDS, it is not here yet: our company, Silicon Publishing, has built “wrapper” technology to cloud-enable the unrivaled document generation capability of this product.

Adobe Experience Manager, re-invented for true cloud scalability

We watched as Adobe engineers in the AEM group embraced “serverless” before anyone else had heard of the term, so we were expecting something of a bold move forward with AEM. And here it is!

Yet when we started working with the new, radically different flavor of AEM, we weren’t really sure how well things would go. This had much in common with our previous integrations, but a few things were profoundly different.

Solving the integration challenges of serverless architecture

The primary challenge was that InDesign Server is not available in the same cloud as AEM, given the new AEM architecture. Beyond that, the cloud version of AEM requires adherence to a number of modern design patterns, some of which are just taking shape.

AEM as a Cloud Service integrated with Adobe InDesign Server

AEM as a Cloud Service integrated with Adobe InDesign Server

The solution, which we now believe we’ve validated, is to extend AEMaaCS, talking with InDesign Server in its own distinct cloud (this currently will reside in Adobe Managed Services). We have a functional integration that works great as a prototype, and we’re working out the details to ensure an architecture compliant with Adobe’s new guidelines for interfacing with AEMaaCS.

A major evolution from early DAM/IDS integration

It really is a joy to play with this new technology from Adobe, and we’re grateful to them for exposing us to this early on, and assisting in extending it.

We are also deeply appreciative of our resident wizard Dorian Smiley, along with Adam Twede and Iudex Technologies, for their brilliant work in assimilating this new (and still-evolving) platform to support an interface with InDesign Server.

In our 20 years with InDesign, and 10+ years with AEM, there have often been blockers to doing things the “pure cloud” way, resulting in less-than-perfect solutions. Impracticalities based on bandwidth and processing power, failures of web standards, and the idiosyncrasies of proprietary technologies as well as effective “cloud-based content management” have required intense work and have too often meant limiting functionality in order to remain pragmatic.

Yet technology moves forward, and we move with it. In our brief experience with AEM as a Cloud Service, we’re optimistic that the core Adobe platform is moving in the right direction.

Next steps

Are you using InDesign and considering AEM as a Cloud Service? We’re happy to meet to discuss the best way to support your InDesign assets in the cloud.

Learn more about our partnership with Adobe.

We are a global web to print and automation partner for Adobe products.