Test drive PubCoder 3

PubCoder beta 3
06/07/2017
By Angelo Scicolone posted in Tech

With PubCoder 3.0, we decided to take a step back and use what we learned in the last 3 years to redesign the software from the ground up: of course we added many new features, but we also took some bold choices that led to drastically change some of the existing features, simplifying and hiding complexity where necessary. And we wrapped it all in a new, polished, flat user interface.

We're still working on it, but we are so excited about this little revolution in our software that we wanted to share it with you earlier. So we decided to release a beta version of PubCoder 3 for Mac today. Windows users must have a little more patience, but if you use a Mac, go get it and give us some feedback. The following is a summary of the changes we made.

Goodbye workspaces. Introducing renditions.

One the of the killer-features that chracterized PubCoder from the first release is the ability to handle multiple versions of your digital contents in one single project file, allowing to include several layouts and localization. This allowed to easily create different versions of your ebook or multi-language applications optimized for both tablets and smartphone.
The downside was that sometimes you were forced to manage many different workspaces even if you didn’t want different versions of your content, only to export for different formats, e.g. iOS or Android, because the workspace was tied to an export format.

So we decided to fix this by unlinking the export format from workspaces. So now you can have one single rendition and use it to export your project as an iOS App, an Android App and an EPUB 3, where you previously needed three different workspaces to do this. Of course you can still create as many different renditions as you like to manage different localizations or layouts, but it’s your choice, not a requirement anymore.

When creating a new project, you are not forced to choose an output format anymore. Instead, you can export your project at any time in any format using the export popup at the top-left of your project window: there you can choose your output format, page range and export destination, such as a file, an app on your computer, an app store, your Wi-Fi network, a simulator or a specific device (basing on the chosen format).

PubReader and XPUB

PubCoder 3 introduces XPUB, our open format for digital publications. It fully supports interactivity and multiple renditions and localizations. XPUB files can be read on any iOS or Android device using our PubReader app, available for free on App Store and Google Play. Why we’re doing this? Why adding a new format and building a new reader? We’re doing this for two reasons:

  • Live Preview your projects: PubCoder automatically finds any smartphone or tablet running PubReader on the same Wi-Fi network, and you can send a preview of your work to your mobile device with a click. No need to build an app to test it on your devices; and since PubReader uses the same reader technology that PubCoder uses to build native iOS and Android apps, you can be sure that the result in PubReader will be the same as in your final app
  • Easily distribute your contents for free: you can export your XPUB publication and share it with your friends, customers or collegues via e-mail or using your favorite online file sharing service - like DropBox or Google Drive. XPUB+PubReader is the best option to distribute digital contents for free: no need to signup for developer, app store or book store accounts, no submissions, no hassle. And, last but not least, you don’t have the compatibility issues that you face when reading your EPUB on different reader apps and platforms. In a word, we’ve been waiting enough for the perfect interactive EPUB3 fixed layout reader app on Android: you can use PubReader today instead.

Improved Text and Typography

PubCoder finally introduces on-stage text editing, probably our #1 feature request -cheers here-. This means that double-clicking does not open the text editor in a new window, instead you can edit your text and see the result right on your layout.

To improve typrography consistency on any platform, we bundled collection of serif, sans-serif and monospace fonts, and changed our default font to Lato. This will fix layout problems arising from text appearing in Helvetica on iOS, Arial on Windows, Droid or Roboto on Android.
Our fonts collection also includes OpenDyslexic, a typeface with optimal legibility for people affected by dyslexia.

Finally, we added box and project-level settings for text fonts, size and colors, making it easier to change typography settings for your entire layout.

Other new features

  • Improved Code Editor. We are so proud of our new code editor that we decided to put a new button to open it, right in the middle of our project window toolbar. Based on the widely adopted Ace, our code editor features syntax highlighting for HTML, XML, Javascript and CSS, powerful find/replace with regular expressions, automatic code reindent, matching parentheses highlighting, hidden characters display, text drag and drop, line wrapping, code folding, multiple cursors and selections, live syntax check for JavaScript and CSS and much more.
  • More Creative Commons images at your fingertips. Beside the ability to download creative commons icons from The Noun Project, we used Google’s Open Images database to allow you to browse thousands of creative commons photos too, using machine learning technology to search for objects inside those images. And if you still need more, we also partnered with Unsplash to allow searching their great catalog of free quality photos. This means that with a few click you can search for the right photo and place it on your layout without ever leaving PubCoder!
  • More Image Compression Options. PubCoder 3 allows you to select quality for rendered JPEG images, allowing you to choose the best compromise between image quality and file size. But we went even further giving you the option to even compress PNG images using Google Zopfli lossless compression algorithm
  • App-friendlier. The process of exporting native iOS and Android apps has been improved in many ways: you can now test apps without the need of messing with app identifiers, provisioning profiles and keystores; and when it’s time to submit your app, PubCoder will help by filtering installed Signing Identities and Provisioning Profiles and checking that all metadata is OK, finally prompting you to upload your file to the stores with Application Loader or Google Play Developer Console
  • 64-BIT. PubCoder is now a 64-BIT app. It means that it can take full advantage of all the RAM memory on your computer and it is ready for future, 64-BIT-only operating systems
  • And the list goes on: new Insert Menu, project inspector, drop area for inspectors, improved interactivity panel, Tap and drag events, embedded videos from YouTube and Vimeo, EpubCheck 4.0.2 support and much more
Angelo Scicolone

Angelo is responsible for the development of PubCoder’s authoring application and platform design. He started coding since he was 9, at 17 he sold his first shareware Mac products on the web and on cd-roms worldwide. While graduating in Computer Science, he co-founded Emerasoft, where he developed applications for desktop publishing and publishing systems for Mac and Windows. He also wrote several articles and software reviews for the Italian IT-magazine Applicando. Since 2007 he has been working on custom development projects and desktop/mobile applications (Mac/Win/iOS/Web). One of these projects led to Pubcoder.

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