Using BookSmart Autoflow

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Autoflow is one of my favorite features in BookSmart. I both love and hate it for its power and quirks.

You can find Autoflow in the content panel, by the Get Pictures icon or start Autoflow from the New Book Wizard.

autoflow Using BookSmart Autoflow

autoflow2 Using BookSmart Autoflow

Every time I make a book, I use Autoflow for a few reasons:

Autoflow gets a book started quickly
Photos are flowed across pages so no manual drag and drop into layouts needed. I get an immediate sense of the size of my book. Since autoflow runs quickly and Undo is enabled, I can experiment with different layouts until I get the basic book outline I like.

Autoflow inspires creativity
Often times I’ll autoflow my photos, then spend more time gathering content that I want for the book. I easily see what’s missing or redundant. Autoflow makes me think differently about what photos to position together.

Autoflow creates beautiful spreads
Seeing photos automatically added to the book results in serendipitous layouts. Every spread isn’t creative brilliance, but Autoflow positions photos together that I never would have paired up, and they work! Before clicking Autoflow, change the Page View to thumbnails, then you can see your entire book building itself at-a-glance.

Autoflow isn’t perfect – but I still love it for what it is! Here are a few tips based on my experience making books with autoflow.

Organize your photos in iPhoto albums, Flickr sets or Picasa Web albums first
The BookSmart content panel has sorting and filtering, but relies on indexing and grouping capabilities of Flickr, iPhoto, Picasa Web albums, or your primary photo-management tools. Images are flowed in the order they appear in BookSmart’s content panel. Once your photos are organized, filter by the set or album, then click Autoflow and your story will unfold before your eyes.

Create pages and select layouts before running Autoflow
When flowing images, Autoflow creates new pages based on the book’s default layout. If you want to control the layout during Autoflow, create a page, select the layout, then duplicate the page enough times so autoflow doesn’t have to create your pages. This isn’t an exact science, so make your best guess based on number of photos and the selected layout. For example, 30 photos, two photos per page, create 15 pages, then run autoflow.

Run Autoflow 2 or 3 times instead of doing it all at once
My largest autoflow was with about 1,000 photos from my Flickr account, resulting in My Flickr Book: Photos from 2003 to 2006. The Clash release significantly improved BookSmart’s performance while autoflowing a large number of photos. With that said, I still recommend selecting a fewer number of photos, and running autoflow a few times to achieve the same result. This is beneficial for a few reasons:

  1. You can see immediate results, and make adjustments to the order of your photos or page layouts before running a larger batch.
  2. You can create chapters based on sets or albums. Creating chapters from sets or albums is still manual (in the future, perhaps autoflow will automatically insert a chapter page with your set or album name). Until that time, create the chapter page, then start autoflow on the next page. Repeat for your next chapter.

Re-position photos after autoflow
Autoflow automatically positions photos within containers, but doesn’t change the selected container based on the photo’s orientation. Once the autoflow is completed, review each page to ensure that you are happy with how BookSmart has positioned the photos in the containers.

Try and try again
Sometimes the results may not be what you expect. In that case, jot it down, and send it to our suggestion box. I encourage you to experiment with Autoflow to see how it can enhance your workflow.

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