Archives for posts with tag: ereaders

We have explored how the longest name in the world in an ebook about world records did (or did not) wrap on ereaders. Then we explored how a soft-hyphenation character entity could be used to make the word wrap.

This post follows up with how that same character entity can throw a wrench into the works … because, after all, this wouldn’t be ebook production without a solution immediately causing a problem!

Rick Gordon asked me if the soft-hyphenation character entity broke the dictionary and search functions in ereaders. I inserted the entity into the first instance of the word “language” in the introduction:

The word language with a soft-hyphenation character entity

And here are the results:

THE ENTITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
Ereader Engine Dictionary Works Search Works
Adobe RMSDK
Adobe Digital Editions v2.0 n/a YES
Nook Color NO NO
Kindles (EPUB pushed through KP)
Kindle iPad App YES YES
Kindle Mac Desktop App YES YES
Kindle Fire HD YES YES
Kindle Paperwhite YES YES
Kindle mobi (in KP) n/a n/a
Kobos
Kobo Eink: Aura YES YES
Kobo App for Android NO NO
Kobo App for iPad NO n/a
Web-based Ereaders
EPUBReader in Firefox YES YES
Readium in Chrome YES YES
iBooks NO YES

Does the soft hyphenation character entity work on ereaders? Yes.

Does the entity work with the dictionary function? Depends. Sadly, NookColor and iBooks don’t play nice. iBooks? Wow! Kindles FTW.

Does the entity work with the search function? Depends. That’s fine except for NookColor. This may or may not be a problem for you, depending on your consumer base and/or your ability to predict the future.

Takeaway

If you are producing an ebook intended only for Amazon, you are in luck … as of June 2013.

If you are producing an ebook intended for iBooks, Kobo, or Nook … well, you may or may not care. Use at your discretion.

I think I’ve exhausted this investigation into soft hyphens in ebooks. I thank all for their input.

On that note, does anybody know an iBooks developer to whom I can send these results?

Screenshots
As always, click to make ’em larger.
Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders
Kindles
Kobos
Web-based Ereaders

Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders

Nook Color

dictionary_NookColor

Kindles

Kindle iPad App

dictionary_Kindle_iPad

Kindle Mac Desktop App

dictionary_Kindle_Mac

Kindle Fire HD

dictionary_Kindle_Fire_yes

Kindle Paperwhite

dictionary_Kindle_Paperwhite

Kobos

Thank you Laura Brady for the screenshots.

Kobo Eink: Aura

dictionary_Kobo_eInk

Kobo App for Android

dictionary_Kobo_Android

Kobo App for iPad

dictionary_Kobo_iOS

Web-based Ereaders

EPUBReader in Firefox

dictionary_Firefox_EPUBReader

Readium in Chrome

dictionary_Chrome_Readium

iBooks

dictionary_iBooks_no

So Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585, Senior, was giving us trouble last week. During the QA review for the ebook version of The Book of Word Records the longest name in the world quickly became our longest e-problem in the world. (Did you know he was a typesetter? I don’t know whether to scorn him or admire him.) Last week I posted screenshots of how his name rendered on ereaders. The name is so long that it is essentially one paragraph of unbroken letters. If you know ebooks, you know that the inconsistent rendering of hyphenation is a problem. In this case some ereaders didn’t render hyphens, some rendered hyphens for the last few lines only, and only two ereaders (actually, ereader apps for the iPad) rendered hyphens correctly at the end of every line.

The solution is to manually insert soft hyphens into the name (thank you India and Nick). Let’s end the suspense. Here are the before and after results:

HYPHENATION RENDERING IN LONGEST NAME IN THE WORLD (EPUB2)
Ereader Engine Hyphenation
WITHOUT soft hyphens
Hyphenation
WITH soft hyphens
Adobe RMSDK
Adobe Digital Editions v2.0 last line only all lines
Nook Color last few lines only all lines
Kindles (EPUB pushed through KP)
Kindle iPad App all lines all lines
Kindle Mac Desktop App no lines all lines
Kindle Fire HD no lines all lines, see screenshot
Kindle Paperwhite no lines all lines
Kindle mobi (in KP) no lines no lines
Kobos
Kobo Eink: Aura last few lines only all lines
Kobo App for Android no lines all lines, see screenshot
Kobo App for iPad all lines all lines
Web-based Ereaders
EPUBReader in Firefox word doesn’t wrap all lines
Readium in Chrome word doesn’t wrap all lines
iBooks word doesn’t wrap all lines

But now I had to figure out where to insert the soft hyphens. The first thing I did, for kicks, was to insert a soft hyphen after every letter in the name. This yielded the exact results I expected: it crashed ADE. (Yeah, ADE ain’t all that but usually if something crashes ADE, it will crash ereader devices.) I briefly considered going to my copy chief but then I thought I’d try a little sleuthing myself before my problem became her problem. I went to Wikipedia, copied Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585‘s name, and pasted it into Dreamweaver.

Wikipedia entry

Wikipedia entry pasted into Dreamweaver

Hyphens appeared in (what looks to me) appropriate places in the name! So I manually replaced each hyphen with a soft hyphen and ended up with 76 soft hyphens (down from the 589 soft hyphens after each letter).

Here’s the paragraph ready for prime time in Dreamweaver:

Dreamweaver with ­ inserted

And here’s the paragraph in a variety of ereaders:
Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders
Kindles
Kobos
Web-based Ereaders

Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders

Adobe Digital Editions v2.0

Adobe Digital Editions v2.0

Nook Color

Nook Color

Kindles

Kindle iPad App

Kindle iPad App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Fire HD

Note the space automatically inserted before the soft hyphens

Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle mobi (Kindle Previewer)

Kindle mobi (Kindle Previewer)

Kobos

Thank you Laura Brady for the screenshots.

Kobo Eink: Aura

Kobo Eink

Kobo App for Android

Note the space automatically inserted before the soft hyphens

Kobo App for Android

Kobo App for iPad

Kobo App for iPad

Web-based Ereaders

EPUBReader in Firefox

EPUBReader in Firefox

Readium in Chrome

Readium in Chrome

iBooks

iBooks

Takeaway

So if you ever find yourself needing to split a record-breaking word give soft hyphens a try. One caveat: these are EPUB2 files and this soft hyphen is a named character entity, as Jorge reminds us:

Name_Twitter_AFTER

Is this solution future-proof and will it work in EPUB3? It remains to be seen.

UPDATE LATER IN THE DAY: Rick tells us that there is indeed a numeric character entity for the soft hyphenation character (remember that named character entities are not allowed in EPUB3):

Good advice

And I’m encouraged to put these into action by John:

More good advice

I put the numeric character entity to the test:

Name_ENTITY

… and the results in the table above are still sound. Sometimes it takes a village! I’m encouraged by this testing and, although this is a manual one-at-a-time process, this feels like one itty bitty step towards better ebook typography. Please let me know if you have additional devices you would like to see added to the table.

If you want to learn more about the history of soft hyphenation for the web then you’ll want to read this very thorough account. I found this paragraph particularly illuminating:

Conceivably, people want fast solutions to their problems. When we see the problems which arise from Web browsers using no hyphenation, we pay attention to the worst cases and wish we could solve at least them, and solve them now. The simple idea of giving an explicit hyphenation hint suggests itself. Several popular text processing programs allow you to enter “hidden hyphenation hints” that are normally invisible. This is probably how people started thinking that there must be a character for the purpose, and when one looks at the ISO Latin 1 specification, what else could one use but soft hyphen?

No, this solves nothing. But at it least sheds light on why browser hyphenation is such an issue.

Finally, on a lighter note, you can listen to Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585’s name pronounced here:

A print designer called me over to her desk this week during an ebook review in Adobe Digital Editions to show me something I had never seen before.

That’s always a good start to the workday, right?

ADE v1.7

PRINT DESIGNER: “There are some crazy long words that drag on across 2 pages in some places.”
ME: “… . Let me think on that a bit!”

The first thing I do in these situations is to take it to Twitter:

Help!

Then I thought of the first thing I should have asked her.

ME: “What version of ADE are you using?”
PRINT DESIGNER: “Looks like v1.7.”
ME: “Oh! Okay, update to v2.0. I’ll send you the link. Adobe doesn’t push updates for ADE.”
(I go get another cup of coffee while she installs v2.0.)
PRINT DESIGNER: “Problem solved!”

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. (For the small amount of our readers who may be using ADE v1.7 … well, I draw the line at optimizing our ebooks for out-of-date ereaders.) Knowing how ereaders mess with my head render content inconsistently, the day ahead included some testing. I’ve compiled these screenshots for your viewing pleasure and for the advancement of humankind.

Here’s the paragraph in question:

Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffvoralternwarengewissenhaftschaferswessenschafewarenwohlgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvonangreifendurchihrraubgierigfeindewelchevoralternzwolftausendjahresvorandieerscheinenwanderersteerdemenschderraumschiffgebrauchlichtalsseinursprungvonkraftgestartseinlangefahrthinzwischensternartigraumaufdersuchenachdiesternwelchegehabtbewohnbarplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinderneurassevonverstandigmenschlichkeitkonntefortplanzenundsicherfreuenanlebenslanglichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvonandererintelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum, Senior.

Here’s the paragraph in Dreamweaver:

Markup (Dreamweaver)

Markup (Dreamweaver)

(updated to include the css)

css

And here’s the paragraph in a variety of ereaders:
Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders
Kindles
Kobos
Web-based Ereaders

Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders = passable

Adobe Digital Editions v2.0

ADE v2.0

Nook Color

Nook Color

Kindles = passable

Kindle iPad App

Kindle iPad App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Fire HD

Name_Kindle_Fire

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle mobi (Kindle Previewer)

Kindle mobi

There’s some ereaders I’ve skipped (sorry Kobo!). Laura Brady kindly testing this paragraph for Kobo:

Kobos = passable

Kobo Eink: Aura

Kobo Eink

Kobo App for Android

Kobo App for Android

Kobo App for the iPad

Kobo App for the iPad

I deem all these passable because I didn’t have to do anything special to the long word to make it wrap and, in some cases, hyphens were even included (small victories!). Clearly, Kindle App for the iPad and Kobo App for the iPad are the winners. The word breaks with appropriately-placed hyphens. Who woulda thunk it?

Web-based Ereaders =
I expected more from you!

EPUBReader in Firefox

EPUBReader in Firefox

Readium in Chrome

Readium in Chrome

iBooks

iBooks

Web-based ereaders are simply allowing the word to wander off the page into oblivion.

The thing about this testing is that it’s interesting and valuable, but loading ebooks onto ereaders and compiling screen shots takes a long problem and makes it even longer. Anybody have tips to alleviate that process?

boy, that escalated quickly

Several Twitter friends recommended hyphenation solutions. I’ll be tackling that next.

UPDATE 11.19.12 | Just came across this Wall Street Journal post called A Bookman’s Guide to E-Book Readers via the Digital Book World newsletter. It’s another view “from the other side of the fence.” As the author so rightly points out, most readers don’t want to clutter their minds with specs. “All a bibliophile really wants to know is how a device compares with ink and paper.”

• • •

Nate over at The Digital Reader has rounded up ereader Black Friday Deals for 2012. This is a good time of year to not only consider gift-giving and personal ereader plans, but also to take stock of your professional ereader line-up and see if there’s any gaps to fill.

QA’ing on ereaders is so important, but unfortunately can be a huge part of any professional ebook-developer’s budget. The ideal stable of ereaders for QA would include:

  • Tablets from every major vendor, including HD versions:
    • Amazon / Kindle Fire
    • Apple / iBooks on iPad
    • B&N / Nook Tablet
    • Google / Nexus 7
    • Kobo / Vox
    • Sony / Sony Tablet
  • eink readers from every major vendor:
    • Amazon (both older Mobi7 Kindles and the newer kf8 Kindle Paperwhite and Touch)
    • B&N / Nook Touch
    • Kobo / Kobo Touch
    • Sony / PRS series

And don’t forget ereader apps as well. Here’s an overview … if you’re up for it (coffee may help).

In a pinch, previewing on Kindle Previewer will work for Amazon; previewing on Safari will work for Apple; and previewing on ADE will work for B&N. But ideally we’re QA’ing on every device … if we have all the time and money in the world! So many of us try to find the happy medium between time and budget and the majority of the type of content that suits our publishing programs or clients.

On this subject … will you share what ereader you’re using these days for personal use (and the pros and cons) or which one you plan on getting, for personal or professional use or both? Every once in a while it’s good to get perspective from the other side of the fence.

As for myself, I’m this.close to getting an iPad3 for myself. The only thing that is holding me back is that I already have a MacBook Pro and an iPhone and, between those two, I’m pretty much covered. But it would be nice to have something in-between the “big” laptop and “small” iPhone. But is “nice” a good enough reason to blow my own digital budget for the year?

To end on a high note … here’s proof that dreams do come true. Here’s a tweet of mine from around this time last year (in 2011):

Santa heard my wish! Check out:

What’s interesting, to me, is that this post started out as a heads up for those of us considering buying ereaders this holiday season but (de?)evolved into an overview of QA issues. Is it possible for an ebook developer to have fun reading ebooks and turn off that part of their brain? … probably not. But let’s try to have fun anyways! What good is getting to work on ebooks if we can’t enjoy ebooks?