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Issue 8.4


Thoughts from the Publisher

Building for the Future

Issue: 8.4 (May/June 2010)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Author Bio: When RBD publisher Marc Zeedar was a kid he used to create magazines just for fun. Now he's doing it for a living! You may contact him at editor@RBDeveloper.com.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,547
Starting Page Number: 5
Article Number: 8400
Related Link(s): None

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The iPad is Here

As a publisher, I am naturally extremely interested in Apple's iPad. I pre-ordered one. (Funny story: I actually ended up with two, as I was told my pre-order wouldn't arrive on time, so I stood in line at the Apple Store on April 3rd and bought a second one. When I got home, the UPS truck was in my driveway with my "unscheduled" delivery! But I didn't even have to return the extra: my uncle bought it off me!)

I am delighted to report that the iPad is everything I imagined and hoped. The battery life is phenomenal and I'm finding I'm preferring the iPad over my laptop for all sorts of tasks. It's just more fun and convenient.

As for reading on the iPad, I've been doing a lot of that. The hardware "rotation lock" switch on the side is extremely helpful, as I like to read in portrait mode but lying on my side on the sofa or bed. I've experienced no trouble with eye strain (but of course I stare at LCD screens all day anyway). I also think criticizing the iPad's weight is silly: even a paperback gets heavy after a while and all my life I've read with books propped on something; iPad is no different there.

Reading technical books on the iPad is terrific. For one, you can add bookmarks and annotations (depending on the reading software), and most apps lets you search. You can zoom in on diagrams and graphics. It's also easy to jump away to look things up on the Internet (I have a Wikipedia app on my iPad that is really convenient). The best thing of all about reading programming books on the iPad versus your computer is that it's a separate device: you can prop it up next to you while you work on the computer and follow along with the tutorials.

RBD on iPad

I have good news and not-so-good news. The not-so-good is that the EPUB format is proving a challenge to support. Every reader interprets it differently. I have written a conversion tool (in REALbasic, of course) and it works, but there are issues, especially with Apple's iBooks app (which, at present, is the only way to read EPUBs on iPad as Stanza for iPad has not been released). However, now that my iPad is here, I anticipate getting this worked out in time for the next issue. (I will, of course, go back and convert old issues to EPUB as well.) Unfortunately, I am realizing that EPUB has some inherent drawbacks. It will never look as nice as a real formatted page like I get with PDF, as just like with HTML, I have no control over how it is rendered by the reader software.

The good news is that the PDF edition of RBD looks wonderful on the iPad. All your existing issues should transfer over just fine (see my review of iPad PDF readers on page 10). At full-screen size, type is readable, though petite: I am considering a redesign of the PDF edition to make the publication more readable on iPad (larger fonts and fewer columns so you don't have zoom in and get lost on the page). I'm not sure if that will happen in time for the next issue or not: I want to take my time and do extensive testing. The PDF format also needs to work for our print editions (both on-demand and year-end annual), so it's a tricky problem.

Those of you who don't have iPads or don't plan on buying one, don't worry: the changes I am anticipating will make RBD better for everyone. The EPUB format works on almost all ereader hardware and computers, so we'll all benefit.

As always, if you have feedback or suggestions regarding this, or if you'd like to help beta-test the RBD EPUB format, please let me know!

In This Issue

It's a really packed issue this time. I finish my Dropwords game, Jens chips in with a fascinating article on object collisions, Christian shows how to calculate your hourly rate and how to use his MBS Update Kit, and JC Cruz explains about hashes. Enjoy!

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