Archive for January, 2010

Thoughts on reading, the iPad, and other electronic book platforms

January 31st, 2010

A few days ago, I posted a blog entry on my initial impressions of Apple’s iPad tablet device. I explicitly did not go into the reading implications as I wanted to save those thoughts for this post. I have a lot to talk about, so thank you for your patience reading this.

First of all, let me address the iPad from the Codex perspective. Overall, I think that the device is a net win for Codex given Apple’s adoption of ePub as the publishing format. In short, this means that content that you create in Codex should be accessible via iBooks (assuming a way to push unencrypted ePub files to the device). Instead of focusing on a native Codex viewer for the iPad, I can instead focus on making your book metadata as accessible as possible within the new iBooks application. (I’m kicking myself for not adopting and trademarking that name years ago.)

In terms of reading content acquired from the Apple online book store, Codex should be able to read the metadata and catalog any Apple-ePub files that you can transfer from your device to other platforms. Assuming that Apple has implemented their DRM in the same general manner as others (metadata is in the clear, images and book text are encrypted), iBook files will have the same level of accessibility as files purchased on the Nook or through Sony’s online bookstore.

While I am not initially prioritizing the creation of viewer for Codex-generated content on the iPad, there may be some potential for a portable editor. Since I have a full plate working on the desktop application, I am waiting until I have an iPad before making the decision to port Codex to the platform as an editor. However, I will keep the iPad in mind as I continue the Codex UI development so that I can minimize the differences between the desktop and mobile interface. Since the iPad sports a 1024×768 display, the only major deviations that I will tolerate are differences between the input methods (touch vs. keyboard & mouse).

Those are all the thoughts that I have now that directly pertain to Codex and the iPad. If you’re interested in my more general thoughts about what the iPad means for the electronic reading ecosystem, please continue onward.

10 initial impressions of the new Apple tablet

January 28th, 2010

In light of the release of the new Apple tablet device, I wanted to share a few thoughts and initial impressions. These thoughts are focused on the device as a whole – I’ll be posting more on Apple’s foray into the electronic book world later. Disclaimer: I am an AAPL shareholder and I plan to purchase at least one of these devices for research and development work when they become available.

Read more…

Codex Updates: Barcode Scanning & Quickfill

January 27th, 2010

Since the most common e-mail complaints that I received about Books dealt with barcode scanning and quickfill, I thought that a post on the current state of these topics in Codex would be helpful.

Read more for updates and screenshots.

Codex UI updates & preview

January 11th, 2010

Lest I give anyone the wrong impression, Codex work has been progressing steadily, if a bit quietly. My last blog post on the topic described a user-interface scheme, which since I’ve abandoned in favor of a concept that simply works better than what I had in mind a month ago. No one ever said that software design wasn’t messy. :-)

The UI design that I’m previewing below addresses several issues that continue to plague the current Books interface:

  1. Data availability. In the current version of Books, metadata is spread among several windows and tabs, making it difficult to review an entire record easily. The canonical metadata is in the details view, while the more readable overview (in the main window) only shows a small subset of the available data.
  2. Printability. Printing out record data is more of a priority for users than I acknowledged in Books 3. The new UI drastically simplifies and improves the printability of book information.
  3. Portability & scalability. When I created Books 3, I had no plans to target any platforms other than the Mac. Since that time, we’ve witnessed an explosion of fully-capable computing platforms that no longer fit the desktop mold. This new UI will be initially implemented on the Mac, but I have plans to port it to other platforms once the Mac app is released.

Please note that the following interface is intended for dealing with single records at a time. At a later date, I’ll be happy to share details about the interface that displays information across records (record browsers).

For screenshots and descriptions of the new interface, please read on.

Audacious Software does Qt/Symbian

January 11th, 2010

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard on a Symbian project for Northwestern University’s medical school. I’ve written a blog post describing the work at the official Symbian weblog.

A few thoughts:

1. I’ve really enjoyed developing using Qt on the S60 platform. I’m looking forward to finding new work on that platform.

2. The distributed IPC mechanism that I’ve built on top of XMPP is a technique that I originally implemented using Shion’s remote command interface. Because of this project, I haven’t recently had the time to bring some of the lessons learned back to Shion, but I’m looking forward to doing so when my calendar clears a bit.

3. This project is also an evolution of the context-aware computing work that I did in graduate school. I’m looking forward to bring Pennyworth officially under the Audacious Software banner once I clear up a few things with my former collaborators at the university.

I’d like to reiterate that Audacious Software is very interested in doing more internal and client work in the Symbian mobile space. If you have a potential project that this company might be able to help out with, please let me know.