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-   -   Manual downloads - please don't use PDF! (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=25303)

gizmomelb 31 August 2006 02:57

Manual downloads - please don't use PDF!
 
Hi all,

I thought I'd jump in early (as there are only 100 manuals so far on HOL) with a request to please NOT use the PDF format to archive the manuals and suggest using the Comic Book Reader (CBR or CBZ) format instead.


PDF bad! :mad

PDF is a proprietry format and can change at any time, which means that someone will then need to reverse engineer the new format and code a new (Amiga) viewer.

Also from what I've read (I've never used the program btw) APDF is a little bit flaky and there are incompatibilities with Windows and Mac PDF viewers. You also need a fairly beefy Amiga to run APDF.


CBR good! :agree

The Comic Book Reader 'format' is an open format which basically is a set of sequentially numbered images (PNG, GIF or JPG) which are in either a flat folder or a .zip, .rar, .tar or .ace compressed file.

The benefit of this is that virtually every computer system can display GIF, JPEG or PNG images and there is a PKZIP archiver for almost every system too.

The Comic Book Reader is a standard graphics viewer, but what it tries to do it automatically 'move' around the image you're viewing from left to right, top to bottom. It moves each time when you press the spacebar or mouse button.

ie: if you have an image 1024x768 and you only have a 640x512 desktop, it'll show the top left of the image, click, then the top right, click, then move down and show the left hand side, click, then the bottom. So it doesn't resize or compress the image (so then you couldn't read the text), it moves the screen around the image so you can see it all (sort of like reading a comic book where you 'read' each panel).

True, a CBR viewer would have to be written for the Amiga, but there are a number of open source CBR viewers, not to mention that there are already lots of JPG & GIF viewers for the Amiga, as well as PKZIP support. There is the possibility of a CBR viewer for the Amiga even supporting down to a basic A500 with Kickstart 1.2/1.3 - so then EVERY Amiga owner can download and read the manuals.

Don't have enough memory to view the full archived .CBR file on your A500? Easy, PKUNZIP the file so you have the individually numbered and named files to floppy or HDD, then run the CBR viewer and it'll work fine.


A good freeware (Windows) CBR viewer can be found here (closed unfortunately):
http://www.geocities.com/davidayton/CDisplay

More info on the CBR format, as well as links to open source viewers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDisplay

There is a free (Windows) utility to create CBR files (for the lazy) here:
http://www.techknight.com/software-comicshrink.php

Otherwise you just RAR or ZIP archive a directory of (sequentially named) image files and rename it to .CBR


So how about it? Comments and thoughts most welcome.

Unknown_K 31 August 2006 04:10

Never heard of CBR, PDF is well know and free

Adderly 31 August 2006 04:25

Quote:

Originally Posted by gizmomelb
PDF bad! :mad

PDF is a proprietry format and can change at any time, which means that someone will then need to reverse engineer the new format and code a new (Amiga) viewer.

Not so, at least not true for PDF V1.4!
PDF is used for document management and recommended as a file format for long-term preservation by ISO/Ansi etc. For Iso-Standard please see: http://www.iso.org/iso/en/CatalogueD...list=PROGRAMME

I would say PDF is ok if you make sure you build only pdf's with version 1.4 or below...

Ultron 31 August 2006 04:44

I agree. PDF is horrible.

Cbr is definately the best way to go.

For those who don't konw, CBR is pretty much Jpgs (or Pngs, it doesn't matter), zipped or rared together in numbered pages.

CDisplay (although other apps read it) is a lot faster and less bloated, the scrolling is a lot better too.

You can also re-extract all the images a lot easier too.

Galaxy 31 August 2006 05:01

PDF is horrible I agree, but not accessible to the bulk of our audience. I can't see us changing this.

gizmomelb 31 August 2006 05:04

why convert JPG, PNG or GIF images to PDF when you can already view them natively?

You can't easily extract images from a PDF, nor can you replace a low quality (or missing page) back into a PDF unless you have the original files.

for example: the Australian Commodore and Amiga Review magazine scans on http://www.deadwoodinc.net/amigan/acar/ - the ones in purple with the missing pages. Say someone scans in the missing pages, they cannot easily insert the new scans into the original document so there is a 100% complete scan of the magazine.

With .CBR you rename the file to .RAR (or .ZIP) and just add the missing pages, rename the file back to .CBR and you're done.

EDIT: also .CBR would be easier to display pages from the manual on HOL, as the server can just rename the .CBR to .ZIP, unpack it and the user can view the full image directly.

GALAXY: you've confused me sorry - not accessible to the bulk of the audience, but it won't change? surely this is a reason for change then? so that more of the audience can view the images from the manuals (either download or online?) with their Amigas?

In the short term Amiga users would have to unZIP the files and view the GIFs/JPGs using their favourite image viewer, until if/when someone ports a CBR viewer to make it an easier process.

I'm not trying to ruffle anyone's feathers, just trying to present an option which seems better from the points of easier viewing on Amiga, Unix, Mac and Windows (even without a CBR viewer - just unpack and use any image viewer program or a WWW browser); as well as being easier to update images (better quality source image, or higher DPI scan) and less work for a WWW server back end to display images from the document (not to mention it's FREE).

adolescent 31 August 2006 05:48

PDF is fine. I can read a PDF on everything from my Amiga to my Zaurus. Why go with something more obscure, and have to install yet more software on my system to support it?

Codetapper 31 August 2006 08:28

If the original scans are all JPEGs anyway, why not just zip up the JPEGs into a zip file? The PDF version would never be better quality than the original scans, you can still reinsert/update dodgy pages and if you just want to look at a particular page, you extract that page and view it.

RCK 31 August 2006 09:09

The only advantage for PDF is to have perfect text quality + lower disk space for the pages recorded with a character font. (OCR)

Galaxy 31 August 2006 09:40

Quote:

Originally Posted by gizmomelb
GALAXY: you've confused me sorry - not accessible to the bulk of the audience, but it won't change? surely this is a reason for change then? so that more of the audience can view the images from the manuals (either download or online?) with their Amigas?

Fact is that your average user knows what a pdf is and how to deal with it. CBR is unknown to them in the same way that djvu is. Personally I hate pdfs, but that is what most internet users seem to love, and is a defacto standard of sorts.

Quote:

Originally Posted by codetapper
If the original scans are all JPEGs anyway, why not just zip up the JPEGs into a zip file? The PDF version would never be better quality than the original scans, you can still reinsert/update dodgy pages and if you just want to look at a particular page, you extract that page and view it.

If we did this it would make more sense to just upload the files in the same way as any other images in hol (kind of like we did for some already eg. Art of Chess) but on a separate manual tab or something like that.

Marcuz 31 August 2006 10:29

Quote:

Originally Posted by RCK
The only advantage for PDF is to have perfect text quality + lower disk space for the pages recorded with a character font. (OCR)

exactly.
but in this case the manuals are not been retyped, so while PDF is a must in online publishing etc, cbr/cbz here is a very interesting possibility. i use it abitually since a couple of years and it's good.
but it would need in this case to review and eventually reset a kind of standard for the scan, so to have manageable filesizes and good enough quality, as the compression of rar and zip algorithms on already compressed jpg/png/gifs is very little.

gizmomelb 31 August 2006 12:41

Quote:

Originally Posted by Codetapper
If the original scans are all JPEGs anyway, why not just zip up the JPEGs into a zip file? The PDF version would never be better quality than the original scans, you can still reinsert/update dodgy pages and if you just want to look at a particular page, you extract that page and view it.

That's one of the point I'm trying to get across - the CDisplay users can download the .ZIP file, rename it to .CBZ and then view it WITHOUT needing to unpack it, and those without CDisplay can unpack it and use whatever graphics program they want to view the images.

The whole point of the CBR is not for compression of the GIF or JPG images - it's simply to group a heap of images together in 1 file, then have them being able to be viewed easily and quickly without having to unpack them and using only 1 key/mouse press to step through the entire image collection.

I highly recommend that if you're interested and you run Windows to download the freeware CDisplay program (1.1MB download) then go visit the following website for a free golden age comic to download and see why I recommend this format and view for ease of use. (yes, the comic is crap, but it's the only free LEGAL .CBR I could find online). If you use CDisplay, just press the space bar and you'll see how the program automatically pans across images wider or taller than the screen resolution.

http://goldenagecomics.co.uk/index.php?dlid=92


I was looking around on Aminet and it's a real pity that there was never a source code release for PPshow or Viewtek (essentially the same as CDisplay but it doesn't handle archived images) or FastJPEG_1.10.lha.



PDF has a wide acceptance factor on the web - especially for DRM protection of documents and easy text searching of OCR'ed documents (though the OCR process occurs at the original TIFF scanned images, then the text and images are combined to make the PDF file), but personally I hate having the 120MB bug and bloatware that is Acrobat 7 reader on my Windows PC as well as not having the ability to easily extract images or text from a PDF I have downloaded (Ghostscript can unpack the PDF back to TIFFs but there always seems to be a massive loss in image quality).

I guess EAB could always give the user the option of the format to download - either download the .ZIP (and mention about CDisplay) or have the server convert the JPGs to PDF on the fly and let the user download that (our servers at work automatically OCR and PDF any image files uploaded to them - so I'm guessing there's a service doing that, I'll see if I can find out what it is)

gizmomelb 31 August 2006 13:11

Quote:

Originally Posted by marco pedrana
exactly.
but in this case the manuals are not been retyped, so while PDF is a must in online publishing etc, cbr/cbz here is a very interesting possibility. i use it abitually since a couple of years and it's good.
but it would need in this case to review and eventually reset a kind of standard for the scan, so to have manageable filesizes and good enough quality, as the compression of rar and zip algorithms on already compressed jpg/png/gifs is very little.

The HOL FAQ already recommends box/manual scans of 300dpi and 15% compression for JPEG images - which may be a bit excessive (an A4 page at 300dpi ends up being around 3500x2500 pixels in size).

I've just done some very quick tests with the Space Quest IV manual I scanned the other night - the original scan was a 300dpi PNG (average size 16MB per page) so I tried a resample at 100dpi and no change to resolution - looks very nice but still quite big file sizes.

I then tried resample at 100dpi and 50% resolution and getting better - the entire ZIP (which I renamed .CBR ;) to view it easier) came out to 11MB and crystal clear.

Even the resample at 100dpi and 33% original resolution is very clear to read, and it's only a 5MB archive (maybe I'll up it or link it here for people to look at).

BTW: PDF viewer works similar to CDisplay, in that you just press the spacebar and it automatically jumps to the next bit of picture, but what I like about CBR most of all is that the images are still easily accessible if pages are missing etc. it makes it easier for many people to collaborate on scanning and submitting images (and if you want to OCR or watermark the images then you still can).

EDIT: download my test file from here
it's 4.95MB and you can rename it .CBR and it'll display fine with CDisplay. Be warned the images are direct off my scanner, they haven't been cleaned or cropped yet.

gizmomelb 31 August 2006 13:30

Sorry for the message spamming, but I think I need to clarify something - I'm not asking that all the manuals on HOL AREN'T available as PDF, I'm just trying to point out a 'better' way to archive and distribute the submitted scanned manuals.

As Galaxy said for 'Art of Chess' - maybe have the .ZIP file (and just let users be aware that they can rename the .ZIP to .CBR and use CDisplay or similar to view it - without the need to install Acrobat Reader etc.) AND .PDF available for download? But the .PDF could be converted by the server from the .ZIP archive, so you're not doubling up on storage space etc.

Duke 31 August 2006 18:22

Here is a CBZ version of the Fears manual. It was created from the same source files that the PDF on HOL was created from.

Using CBZ on the HOL would probably mean daily questions about how to open it (most people ignore the FAQ), but either PDF or CBZ is fine by me.

MacTO 01 September 2006 15:59

It looks like a better way of doing things, particularly since I am not a fan of PDF, but the logistics from the perspective of the end user makes it a non-starter. (No matter how simple these files are to use, most people won't read the instructions.)

Marcuz 01 September 2006 16:57

Quote:

Originally Posted by MacTO
(No matter how simple these files are to use, most people won't read the instructions.)

i don't know, that should be maybe of no consequence. if one wants badly to catch his goal, he should go the lenght needed. and if he ask repeatedly for help, at some point, after the inevitable stress of the helpers, the information would be spread enough not to require particular help anymore.

Ultron 01 September 2006 21:03

I agree the onus here is clearly on the user that wants to access to information, to take a simple step to access it. Fer christ's sake, it's not like we're Microsoft+Intel here, making the world safer for Dumb & Dumber.

gizmomelb 02 September 2006 05:42

I'm missing the point of why people won't be able to read the files.

Offer the image file collection as .ZIP download but point out bodly somewhere on screen that if you rename it to .CBR and download the CDisplay (for IBM, hopefully a native Amiga alternative will surface as well) pogram then you don't need to unpack it.

So the end users aren't downloading a file with a .CBR extension, they're downloading a .ZIP (which they can unpack and view the images, or they can run CDisplay and view the images).

The downloads may be slightly bigger than a (downsized) PDF version, but the images can be edited/replaced easier in the future. Why lock yourself into a proprietry document format which you have no control over?

Ultron 02 September 2006 06:07

Pretty much. People can even use ACDsee or whatever image viewing software to view the images, if that's their fancy. Without even unzipping, even. Heck, even windows comes with out of the box inside zip file viewing these days.


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