Thursday, February 2, 2012

Test of Author iBooks

Kind of mixture between Pages (€ 15.99), Keynote (€ 15.99), and iWeb, Author iBooks) is a new application designed to create books electronic interactive WYSIWYG. Is it as easy to use as Apple claims? Does it really create rich, interactive books? If it is powerful, but free, there is something to hide? The response in our test! Case study: creating a "history of Apple"

With OS X Lion: first steps and iOS 5: first steps, we had the opportunity to lay out several digital books. To do this, we used conventional tools: writing XHTML code in an editor, assembled in Sigil, with ePub Validation Check and Book Proofer, submission to iTunes Producer.

The set is extremely effective, but is far from accessible to everyone (HTML, CSS, subtleties of ePub, Mobi and others) and is rather long and painful (validation on multiple devices, no visibility into the approval process Apple difficulty of updating the works). The end result is functional, but far from folichon: text, images, and layout than conventionally. The Author iBooks have therefore tested in a state of productivity, as if we had launched book project, a Apple's story which has four chapters and thirty illustrated pages - but using all the capabilities of the software to enrich the book test (within the limits of good taste and comfort). The result is a 33 MB file that you can download (not to mention it is placed under the Creative Commons by-nc).

And it is clear that Apple has a very well designed tool: kind of doped Pages is a real small desktop publishing software significantly facilitates the creation and layout of an eBook. If the creation of an e-book was far closer to creating a website or an application, the Author iBooks closer to the traditional chain of print, positioning may be more affordable.

It can import a document from Microsoft Word to the inevitable, or at least use Pages in iBook Author (IBA). Any sections and subsections will be converted detected depending on the model, accelerating all the process. Nothing does not drag and drop a simple TXT or RTF: iBA important content flat (without recognition of sections). One can also work directly iBA an author: it is incredibly similar to Pages, except that it appears to have a new engine fully compatible with OS X Lion (no slow-down when the automatic backup) and very light and fast - you said 12 Pages?

But IBA has been designed to enrich the text: you can either drag and drop your media (they will be inserted with a fixed layout without interaction), or use the full half-dozen "widgets" provided by Apple:
  •     Gallery to insert a block containing several images ... in the form of a gallery;
  •     Multimedia data, to insert a block containing a video;
  •     Review, to insert a block containing a quiz (MCQ type of revisions) with or without images;
  •     Keynote, to insert a Keynote presentation;
  •     Interactive image, to transform an image into an interactive area with bubbles of text as stories;
  •     3D objects to insert Collada;
  •     HTML to add Dashcode projects.
The first three widgets do not require detailed explanation: just know how to use the Inspector now has a tab setting of widgets, to manipulate them in all their complexity (titles, legends, investments and customization of the appearance). The following, for against, require some clarifications. With iBA, Apple Keynote away somewhat to make it a tool for creating interactive presentation modules. The presentation of the range Apple II, page 14 of our book, for example, comes from Keynote: each "page" is a slide; the breadcrumb is created by selecting each point of each slide as a link to the right slide. The creation of a very rich content in pure WYSIWYG is somewhat tedious, but much simpler than any programmatic approach - Keynote with great potential for interaction, for those who want to take the trouble to explore it. The widget 'Image interactive "is interesting for several reasons: it takes a concept of interaction (time line on which points up key) that is reminiscent ... Adobe Flash. The management of legends through the Inspector is still sometimes difficult; it is not scalable at will. You will find an example page 9.Il must finally take stock of the widget "HTML": do not think he can paste the code as iWeb in his time, or even drag an HTML file. No, to insert a YouTube video into a beast iBook, you will go ... Dashcode. This widget does in fact nothing but a Dashcode project properly trained (so you can create it by hand if your heart tells you), with the advantage that can be recycled as a Dashboard widget widget iBook (provided he does not access the file system, and without assurance that it works, cf. our widget page ii), but also the disadvantage of the cumbersome infinite process. While Dashcode was included in its version 3.x to become a tool for creating webapps for iOS, it is nevertheless a poor IDE to create complex projects with complex JavaScript files. We wish good luck to all of those who want to create complex animations with anything other than Keynote for IBA.

iBA recognizes little more input formats: impossible to provide a video MOV (video pages 24 and 31 were converted to M4V, YouTube integration is complicated by the widget HTML), an SVG image (while all resources provided by Apple are vector prelude to an iPad Retina), or even an animated GIF to stop only common examples.

Faced with these shortcomings, other qualities "save" IBA. Interface first, generally excellent: the left sidebar can display different types of pages and thumbnails of the said pages, while the content is right, overcome by all the tools, controls are grouped as context for used in the Inspector. Support for accessibility then: Inspector allows precisely associating with each element or nearly comments for VoiceOver. Finally, its flexibility: a basic model provided by Apple, our booklet example was carried out in five hours, a time otherwise spent primarily to look for resources rather than to manipulate the graphics software. For a result that would have been impossible to obtain with conventional tools for creating ePub.

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