Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Sun May 13 17:44:11 EDT 2018

R.H. wrote:

 >  Thank you, Richard, for your enlightening discussion on the ePub
 > format and that we should start thinking that direction.
 >  > Given PDF's role as a delivery vehicle, it's most commonly an
 >  > extra step added to the end of a publishing process.
 >  >
 >  > Have you asked that data provider if they have the data available
 >  > in the format it was in before they went to that extra final step
 >  > to convert it to PDF?
 > Sure, but it is rarely possible to receive such lists in table format
 > (PDF) or in any other format unless specially authorized and getting
 > in contact with developers. So, more often than less, all that is
 > available are PDF's when it comes to the corporate world. As long as
 > there is a structure in the PDF documents helping to identify for
 > example columns and rows, paragraphs, and chapters, it can still be
 > part of a workflow. Otherwise, pull your hairs. )

But even then, depending on the internal structure of the PDF there's no 
guarantee it can be reliably converted to a delimited text file that 
matches the arrangement seen in the PDF.

That's a struggle I know all too well:  data providers have technical 
teams providing data per specs written by non-technical people who never 
actually work with the data themselves.  The result adds extra steps 
which increase costs, slow delivery, increase file size, increase 
bandwidth usage along with that, and complicate consumption for the 

I've seen that operational pattern with many things, not just PDF.

And the same business owners who issue these directives keep wondering 
why they're not getting enough ROI from their IT teams... ;)

 > Then, fully accepting your logic, would it not be conceivable that
 > LiveCode would support a native production of ePub documents?

LiveCode the platform? Yes indeed.  We in the community can do this with 
what we have now.

LiveCode the company?  They've already given us the raw materials, in 
all editions including Community:  we have a Zip external, and a web 
browser widget.  All that remains is pulling the requisite files out of 
the Zip archive to a temp folder, a modest tweak to file refs in some 
cases, and deciding how the app will present the contents of the TOC file.

Sooner or later (likely sooner) someone will write a library to make 
that even easier.

I don't need either EPub or PDF in my own apps at the moment, but I can 
see a use for EPub on the horizon for one of them.  If no one else 
shares a useful library sooner I'll release mine dual-licensed with a 
GPL version when I get to it.

 > And also convert it to printable formats?

Postel's Law prevents me from doing that, just as many of my apps read 
comma-delimited files but I've never in 25 years written comma-delimited 
output for a client or customer, always tab-delimited.  A man's gotta 
stand for something in this world. :)

Insane purism aside, I can see a use for that for others, and if the 
browser widget supports printing then it should be easy enough to use 
the existing PDF Print external for that.

 > We would currently have to instruct receivers of such documents to
 > install an ePub reader (if browsers do not yet support it) -- the
 > Adobe Reader is freely installed on almost every system and printing
 > is part of the printing process when printing to PDF as a standard.

Yes, consumer tooling still currently favors the less useful format. 
That's begun changing, and I would expect every major browser to be able 
to handle EPub natively within a couple years at most.

 > Using LESS paper, saving trees (which would otherwise be cut to burn
 > them as fuel?), but I still can not really get away with some paper
 > and still like to read books that give a tactile feeling and paper
 > that is on your "desktop" to consult. Old books even have a "smell",
 > a history, a tradition. Right? Mimic that through an electronic
 > device?

The Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin is the old book smell turned 
up to eleven.  I will remember the moment of entering that room as long 
as I live.

Literature is a great use for trees. We often re-read books, and share 
them with friends.  Durable, usable, and they outlast any existing means 
of electronic data storage by orders of magnitude.

Technical books are a less favorable case, as they often become obsolete 
within a few years.

Corporate quarterly reports are often skimmed once and discarded, a poor 
use of trees.

Tabular data targeting consumption by other machine processes is an 
insane use of trees.

And yet so many orgs are still partying like it's 1989.

Caller: What's your fax number?
Me:     I can't receive faxes because of where I am.
Caller: Where are you?
Me:     2018.


  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com                http://www.FourthWorld.com

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