LiveCode for e-book production

Sivakatirswami katir at
Mon Jan 31 15:50:30 EST 2011

  I know LiveCode, being so powerful, can handle complex projects 
involving lots of logic and structures, but is it suitable / practical 
to use it for e-book production?
> Saludos,
> Javier Miranda V.

Like Jim said and Colin implied, "It depends on what you mean by eBook. "

We are deep into eBooks here.  Probably more than you want to know here, 
but here goes anyway:

What LiveCode can do or not do for you in the production process depends 
both on your source content and target channels.

If you are "man in the middle" with a client shoving you MSWord docs, 
images and files and they want to deliver to:

1) ePub for iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions
2) .mobi for Kindle or .epub for Nook

then you might find your best tools are to create the book in Adobe 
indesign and then outsource the job to a company in India that 
specializes in creating the above formats (for incredibly low prices, 
e.g. 75 cents a page) Atritex in Chennai. (amazing team there) The above 
formats are .xhtml files with some metadata files + CSS  that all 
conform to a relatively dumbed down html mark up but very precise.

(see our first offerings here: all free:

LiveCode is really not the platform for creating ePub (mobi, nook) 
because the html-text of fields is very limited. And to code all the 
tools for that in LiveCode when InDesign does it for you automatically 
(more or less) would be a bit insane.

That said, I use LiveCode for decades to drive in house publishing 
production processes. e.g. for eBook i have a widget that can upzip the 
epub, get an index of the files and pass off the launching to BBEdit, 
save the .xhtml files, then launch them for preview in Safari (which let 
's you see pretty much everything you will on the iPad except for page 
i.e. Livecode is just acting as a file manager and GUI for work flows 
and not really doing anything at all  for the "product."

I was going to develop this even more, but then, thanks to someone here 
on this list pointing out about getting artwork done on eLance, we  
found this incredible company in Chennai and outsourced the work to 
them... via eLance

I'm sooooo glad, because getting in the trenches with epub format felt 
like horrible neanderthal regression to html circa 1998.

see latest releases here:

Atritex turned and entire issue of Hinduism Today magazine into an ebook 
in less than a week!  We got back to them with a few refinement requests 
and we had a finished product in under 3 weeks for less thatn $2.00 a 
page... and here our team of 6 had been sweating out days and days of 
learning curve learning how to dumb down complex publications to ebook 
formats, going nuts over minute details of getting CSS to just deliver a 
proper margin underneath and image on the iPad, "Oh Gawd Please!"  
really, you don't want to go there if you don't have to... It was 
painful but now we outsource it.

But frankly, even though we are focused now on moving *all* of our print 
content in to the above epub formats, as a matter of course, so to speak 
on our road map, all indications from early deployment are that while 
you will always have a segment of people who just like to sit back and 
"read stuff" in their old comfortable chair with  a Kindle or at 
breakfast with their iPad, the next generation really does not consume 
information like that any more, even if you stick a SomeCoolNovel.epub 
in their face in the iBook store, they necessarily won't go for it. Over 
40 maybe... still like to read walls of type... And don't think they are 
not smart and don't think "they don't read any more." both are 
stereotypes that miss the truth, it's just that "walls of words." (Pages 
and pages of type with occasional images) are no longer very magnetic 
for many of them.


If you are not man in the middle and are also the "creative" you could 
certainly create  marvelous interactive LiveCode  stacks, which would 
include enough reading material and some kind of "pagination" model that 
fit the old paradigm just enough for you to still call it a "book"  and 
deploy it as an application and then just label it "eBook" ... the young 
generation (freshmen at college thru two-five years out from graduation) 
won't care what you call it.

You can check out my still popular:

(made in 2002, still runs!)

get the stack if you want here:

go stack url 

If I added a little sound and video to that thing it would be suddenly "hot"

But, it would not be accepted in iBooks or other eBook channels that 
require the epub or mobi standard for content.

So, are these things  really an "eBooks" or an "applications" with lots 
of information and type?

So, even though we *are* going to get all publications dumbed down to 
*.xhtml-epub... internally we probably will be moving in the other 
direction, right  now we are already taking edu KeyNotes, segmenting 
these and putting up on YouTube.

I've been waiting for 2 years! for the RevWeb Plug in.. and then we can 
leverage this new model for content delivery... but I don't think we can 
call them eBooks.  And, not to forget. even today, people are 
downloading my few standalone stacks  some made nearly 10 years ago for 
delivery off line to kids classes (via PC and projectors) if we get a 
revWeb plug in for browsers on Android and/or we can deliver standalone 
apps to the new wave of tablets,

Much of whether we can do much in this direction (for those not really 
focused on iOS) depends if LiveCode gets their web-multi-media end of 
the product up enough, soon enough. They are 2-5 years behind the rest 
of the digital world in this arena. And "iOS Fever" is only delaying it 
even more....e.g. a a smart young newbie with the chops for coding, 
buying this product for creative content delivery, will be shocked to 
discover he cannot even play multiple sounds simultaneously. (oops, 
don't get me going again -- on the multi-media issues...)

But I still keep hoping. Meanwhile for production-business tools 
LiveCode is the best.

Aum Shanti,

Kauai's Hindu Monastery

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