Archive for July 18, 2010

Online publishing

It’s been a while since I’ve had free time to make any progress with my pet project.  e2publish is an AIR application for creating online magazines.  I’ve written it for amateur enthusiasts.  Not professional writers or publishing houses.  Although I think that old-school publishing establishments need to be aware that technology is going to change EVERYTHING.  Especially in terms of the contribution and “fan” content that will be created and manipulated by the consumers.  In the old days, magazines may as well have been carved in stone, as there was no way for the reader to interact with it (apart from a few “letters to the editor”).  So I see the role of publishing houses as changing (at least the role of those that survive the shake-up).  As they develop technological solutions to nurture and harness creative and dynamic “fan” participation.

Just as web 2.0 applications enable anyone to “write” to the internet, rather than passively just consume and read its content.  The vision of e2publish was to allow people to make their own electronic magazines.

Users can network and collaborate with each other, and share draft articles to their members of their team.  It has a powerful editor with capabilities for styling and arranging text and pictures, powerful text-wrapping, and stylising the look of pages.  Once published, the magazines can be accessed and read using the “reader” application, e2world.

In fact this project is so “all-encompassing” that I was a fool to embark on it in my own time, with no funding.  And now that I’m getting close to a prototype that gets close to part of my vision, I’m really not sure how to popularise it or commercialise it.  Any suggestions welcome.  But first of all, I’m looking for beta-testers who can help me put this prototype through its paces, and help me to improve the experience.

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I’m going to describe the publication process in detail.  (This time, I’m not going to talk about the powerful TLF-based document editing part, because I’ve done quite enough of that in previous blog posts.)

The AIR applications can be downloaded from

If you haven’t been following this project, you’ll find the e2publish tutorial videos helpful.  Just click on the HELP drop-down menu.

In e2publish, if you click on the first icon in the toolbar “e:”, this will take you to the author discussion pages.  There are many categories to choose from, and this will be the place where enthusiasts might network, and recruit like-minded enthusiasts to collaborate on a magazine together.

The team would appoint an “editor”.  This is the person with a few more options and capabilities at their disposal that other team members don’t have.  The editor can create a magazine (Publish->Settings…) then click on the big “new magazine” button (you can’t miss it).

After completing the form, nothing is published or visible to the “readers” at this stage.  All we’ve done is created a group, and the editor can bring in new users to join this group.  (editor options…->invite user).

Members of the group can discuss or share e2publish documents amongst themselves.  There’s a “Magazine article pool” in which you can collect articles that you intend to appear in the next issue.

Finally, when you’ve written all the articles, you can publish the next issue of the magazine.  (A magazine can have many issues, maybe monthly, or quarterly, etc.).  (editor options…->publish magazine).

The publish form allows you to sort the articles into the order you wish them to appear.  Or decide which ones not to include.  You can write a description and upload a thumbnail to represent the issue.

Finally, you click “publish now” when you’re confident that you wish to go public with your magazine.

Now your magazine is public, and it can be viewed in e2world.

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e2world is the first prototype of the “reader” application.  It’s not perfect, it’s not refined, it’s not optimised.  (The application could easily be a fraction of its current file size).

But I’ve used this prototype to play around with some user interface ideas, like the page curl effect when you turn a page, and the variation on a radial menu when you click on a page.  Let me know what you think about these.

When you first start e2world, it displays all of the currently available magazine articles.  I haven’t yet wired up a voting scheme (how many stars do you award a magazine), or the ability to subscribe.  That will come later.

Click on a magazine description to download it.  Viewing a magazine, you just click to bring up the “radial menu”.  The menu allows you to navigate between articles, pages, back to the list of magazines (home), or a chat page for users to discuss the current article that you’re reading.

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You can download the prototype applications from

Please, please, let me know what you think.  Any bug reports or suggestions, let me know.  If anyone would like to become an official beta-tester just leave a message.


July 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

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