Extending Adobe Express

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Adobe Express, Adobe InDesign, Adobe InDesign Server, Adobe MAX

I am here in Los Angeles at the 2023 Adobe MAX conference, excited to show our recent work. We have spent the past three and a half months using Express extensibility features to develop two integrations, using the two SDKs available in the new Express product:

  • One of these, the Box Connector for Adobe Express, is available right now for all Express users. It was built using the Add-ons SDK.
  • The other, an integration between Express and our Silicon Designer product, was a custom development effort in collaboration with one of our favorite clients, Friesens. It was built with the Embed SDK.

As I’ve said earlier, I consider extensibility to be the life blood of serious software applications. We have built this company primarily by extending InDesign, which sets the gold standard for extensibility. See my explanation of its incredible power here.

As Adobe Express has evolved into a powerful editing platform (essentially Adobe’s answer to Canva), we see it as a powerful tool that really complements the capabilities of InDesign. After deciding to embrace this more image-centric (as opposed to document-centric) authoring tool, we were pleasantly surprised that like InDesign, it is extremely well exposed to automation.

Box Connector for Adobe Express

The add-on that we built, Box Connector for Adobe Express, is very simple, but offers a very powerful capability. It lets you work with assets stored in Box, directly from Adobe Express.

We have partnered with Box for over 10 years, and we use Box internally for our own assets. The Box Content Cloud shines as one of the premiere storage platforms on the planet, and we’ve connected it to InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects… and now to Adobe Express. Express is a cloud-based editor, so it’s only natural that it should interface with best-of-breed cloud storage.

Adobe Express embedded in Silicon Designer

While Express Add-ons let you extend the capabilities of the product, the Embed SDK lets you add Adobe Express to your existing application. Our client Friesens serves the school yearbook market, helping schools create yearbooks by leveraging the power of Adobe InDesign through a browser-based interface.

Adobe Express provides a wealth of features for image manipulation, text effects, generative AI image creation, among other amazing capabilities, many of which are available through the free version of the product.

How cool for a student making their yearbook page to start from a Silicon Designer document, then edit or add a graphic or text frame modified or created in Express? Today, this is a reality for Friesens’ customers, thanks to our collaboration that integrates these two awesome Adobe products. We collaborated with Friesens to create their DesignIt yearbook application, based on Silicon Designer technology. We integrated Express using the Embed SDK:

Express and InDesign really complement each other: InDesign is document-centric, with pagination a central feature, while Express is more focused on single-page documents, or images. The output from an Express editing session is most often analogous to a Photoshop or Illustrator document, something you would link to or embed from InDesign.

With this integration, Friesens is offering their customers the state of the art in online editing, combining the greatest cloud-based document editor, Silicon Designer, with the greatest cloud-based image editor, Adobe Express.

The Future: Pushing the Boundaries

Is this all we want to do with Express extensibility? By no means. After spending two decades extending InDesign, we have hundreds of things that we want to do with Express, and with the combination of InDesign and Express. Yet it will take time for Adobe to move this product forward, both in terms of features and extensibility, and we will take our time to find the right capabilities to best enable creative workflows. We are thankful to have clients like Friesens that share insights into the needs/aspirations of young creators using these tools, and we look forward to empowering authors around the world with these powerful (and beautifully extensible) Adobe technologies.

If you’re attending the Adobe MAX conference, you can come visit us in booth 0329.


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Edit InDesign Documents Online.

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Data-Driven Document Publishing.

Silicon Connector:
Digital Asset Management Meets Creative Cloud.

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Adobe InDesign Server Solutions.

Print Reddy:
Bringing High-Quality Print to Adobe Express.

Box Express Connector:
Access the Box Content Cloud from Adobe Express.

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