Monday, March 16, 2009

Buzzword features ePUB export

More about collaboration and Adobe. A Twitter alert from Paul Norton links to an Adobe blog. It turns out that Buzzword can now export ePUB, the format for Adobe Digital Editions, the Sony Reader and Stanza for the iPhone.

So first thing to say is that this is fantastic. The eBook is now getting real. "Desktop Publishing" had a limitation that the professionals had design tools quite a bit better than highstreet software. The display in a Sony Reader is not much better than a 1930s paperback, really just a galley of text. Some graphics are possible but they are not the point. So Buzzword seems a good way to create for this environment. It is all some form of html at every stage, as far as I can tell.

Infogrid Pacific have a method for creating ePUB from Open Office. You have to start with their template. I have not compared both yet but I guess the Open Office approach would cope with headings that created a contents for the ePUB. Buzzword is just a section at a time as far as I can discover. But things change and at least there is now a choice of desktop or cloud methods. No ePUB export in Google docs yet that I have found.

Another thing to say is that Adobe seems increasingly strange. The Acrobat dialogue through official websites has almost no discussion on the XML future of PDF as in Mars or XMLPDF. The ePUB format has a lot more publicity, mostly from other companies and small blogs, interested in XML and open standards. A cloud publishing solution for ePUB is worth a bit of promotion, you might think. There seems to be the PDF products that presumably still bring in some income but are not being developed, the Flash future that is heavily promoted, and ePUB that gets a small mention in a blog.

By the way, the Mars Inspector works fine with ePUB as well as XMLPDF. I tried it again to look at the ePUB exported from Buzzword. However it failed to load as apparently it required a previous version of AIR. So I downloaded it again. Same file. What I needed to do was to uninstall it, download a later version of AIR, reinstall the XML zipfile inspector, then it was ok. So Adobe has forced me to download another copy of AIR although what I wanted was working earlier anyway. Most of the time what I want is flat pages of text. Could it be more complicated?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Adobe collaboration, what is going on?

I am wondering what is going on with Adobe and collaboration. Recently Andrew Tribute suggested in Printweek that upgrades would slow down as more people found that open source had the same functionality as previous software from Microsoft and Adobe. Thinking about upgrading Acrobat for example it seems that the recent versions have been mostly about promoting Flash and online services that turn out to be an extra cost. Collaboration around the flat document may have reached the end of the road as far as new features are concerned.

Meanwhile there are many free services built around flat documents. Scribd works well. They do use Flash but it seems they actually like flat documents. Google sticks with a text style design. Docs can now create PDf and display PDF in a browser window. Adobe are also working on Buzzword and it now exports ePUB. Currently this is a free service and it may turn out like Google Docs, with a charge for higher volumes in organisations.

Meanwhile on Adobe Labs the Flash Collaboration Service is available to developers for free. It includes file sharing, webcam, chat etc. Eventually there could be a subscription involved. So Adobe may move to the clouds and have a different business model.

So why upgrade with Acrobat? Most of what is new in the box could be the advert for the subscription to something else.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Amazon boosts iPhone as eBook

This drupa2008 blog continues mostly about global events. The IPEX2002 blog is mostly about the UK including responses to what happens in other places. This may get muddled but it seems a reasonable way to continue.

Today the Observer includes a comment by John Naughton on the Amazon offer of Kindle equivalent software for the iPhone. He links to the blog by Quentin Stafford-Fraser where there is a photo of the screen. Stafford-Fraser observes that "This could prove expensive".

I have put a comment on about Stanza and ePUB and the advantages of public domain and Feedbooks for ePUB from blogs. It turns out that he already uses Stanza but as he is married to a novelist has a balanced view on copyright.

I wrote on the ipex2002 blog about how I thought that ePUB would extend the use of Open Source Software beyond production of hard copy. Andrew Tribute has noticed that many sites in the print industry are not upgrading with Adobe and Microsoft products. Open source can now compare for most functions. I think there is more potential for similar developments with online publishing. Amazon on iPhone has a wider consequence.