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Showing posts from September, 2013

Apps with and without iOS 7 bugs

- Updated 21 Oct 2013 -

It's hard to resist upgrading to iOS 7, especially when you want to try your best to keep up with all the new apps and design trends happening in mobile, but sometimes it's good to show some reserve and not be caught out. With this in mind I've researched a short list of apps that I'd rather not live without.
Apps still suffering bugs Comments on iTunes indicate that GoodReader would benefit from a second round of bug fixes for iOS 7 following their recent update (Sep 16, 2013).
iOS 7 ready apps A new version of Procreate has been released to fix bugs. Kodiak for PHP and Kodiak for JavaScript have no reported bugs according to their developer and Textastic got in early and put their house in order well before iOS 7 was released, as did TouchDrawDoInk has confirmed (via Twitter) no current bugs have been reported or found.

iDesign has received iOS 7 bug fixes to backup and save functions.

Update: having now updated an iPad 3 to iOS 7, I've fo…

Why don't scrolling eBook UIs work?

Why don't scrolling eBook UIs work? At the moment there's a choice to be made when reading eBooks on tablet devices like the iPad - either you choose a book page type interface or a scrolling one like a web page.

It comes as a mystery to many why reading a book chapter as a scrolling page is any different than a blogpost or a newspaper article, which are both often more comfortable to read in a non-paginated way than attempts to paginate them.

The answer is related to length and the type of content. An article or post is often something you skim through and is short. Scrolling is ideal for this. However, as soon as we try reading a book chapter things become trickier. To read the equivalent of ten or twenty printed pages is not the same as reading what might have been less than half a printed page.
To understand this, let's look at what happens when we read a printed book: (1) there is a void at the top and bottom of each page where it begins and ends
(2) the position of …

Use cases for browser-based ebook reading

Twitter has both a browser-based mobile web app and native mobile apps. The native ones work better. Why then do the browser-based ones exist? I suggest a few reasons people might use them here:

1. because they haven't yet installed the apps and wish to use the site without doing so
2. they've arrived by a search on Google and just flick through a few tweets before deciding whether or not to launch the native app and continue for longer
3. they want to have a tab open for twitter but quickly tab to other sites to save time

For similar reasons I think it is important that publishers (and others) develop browser-based ebook reading platforms alongside native ones. I outline some of these reasons here:

1. people might land on the book via a web search and want to start reading online, make a few notes (e.g. for later syncing) before making a download (and/or purchase)
2. they might be searching multiple books from multiple publishers with multiple different browser-based readers …

The development of #jsonbook

What you are seeing in this video is a paragraph being clicked and an editable space for user comments on that chapter opening. If a citation is clicked then a list of references cited in the paragraph opens, if a note referent is clicked the notes referred to in the paragraph open.

All of this is dynamic and doesn't require additional markup to the XML. Citations are auto-detected by their text format - (author, date: pages) - and notes will similarly be identified (in the final versions of the code) using a combination of regular expressions and walking through XML nodes with PHP and/or JavaScript.

It is still in the early stages of development (mainly in PHP/jQuery, iOS will be second), but there is steady progress being made with the json-book project, more details of which you can find on GitHub - be sure to also read the Wiki.

The implementation isn't set in stone, it's an example of one possible way of parsing the JSON, and is an organic first-pass at finding an in…

Installing PDFlib in MAMP OS X

In this example, I'm going to outline the instructions for installing PDFlib 8 on a MAMP system running PHP 5.2.17. You'll have to make the logical adjustments to the folder names if you've a different setup.
First of all stop the MAMP servers then do the following: (1) download the correct version of PDFLib for your system and programming language: http://www.pdflib.com/en/download/pdflib-family/pdflib-8/
(2) double-click the downloaded .dmg file to unpack
(3) create a folder called pdflib inside your MAMP htdocs folder
(4) drag the entire contents of the opened .dmg file here
(5) navigate in Finder to Applications/MAMP/htdocs/pdflib/bind/php/php-520
(6) keep the Finder window in point (5) open
(7) open the php.ini file contained in Applications/MAMP/bin/php/php5.2.17/conf
(8) find the line that begins extension_dir and reads something like this:

    ; Directory in which the loadable extensions (modules) reside.
    extension_dir = "/Applications/MAMP/bin/php/php5.2…

json-book - notes and references example

An early (and incomplete) example of what is made possible using JSON and a scripting language like PHP.

Using a separation of style and content there's no need to repeat html mark-up (and jQuery) for each book or chapter, making it lighter and more flexible than creating each book in HTML/CSS/JavaScript and much more reusable. Not to mention easier to add all the bells and whistles you want without changing the content (data).

This future approach to producing books will save time and enable editors to refocus on the content rather than hacking the content to work in each different ereader, because every book will be updated programmatically each time the parsers are improved and adapted for each format. This means that you will no longer have multiple book content files that each need to be updated separately.

It will be possible, via this method, to package books in EPUB and Kindle formats, as well as to deliver and parse in Android and iOS with a single JSON file. Developers …