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Quick and Easy Custom “Books” for PocketBible Using BookBuilder

Posted on: April 28th, 2008 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

I get the best ideas from customers. I’m corresponding with one now who is lamenting how hard it is to use BookBuilder to bring a text file into PocketBible. That gave me an idea to just tell you how to do it. It’s pretty easy.

Let’s just take the text of my blog posting from April 21 and turn it into a Laridian book. Laridian books are HTML files with some added tags. They all look like this:

<html><head>
<!– meta tags go here –>
</head><body>
<!– your book goes here–>
</body></html>

The meta tag section comes right out of the documentation. Here are the meta tags for a dictionary, which we’ll modify to make our book:

<html><head>
<meta name=”pb_title” content=”Tyndale Bible Dictionary”>
<meta name=”pb_abbrev” content=”TBD”>
<meta name=”pb_copyright” content=”Copyright &copy; 2001 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.”>
<meta name=”pb_publisher” content=”Laridian Electronic Publishing”>
<meta name=”pb_city” content=”Cedar Rapids, IA”>
<meta name=”pb_date” content=”2004″>
<meta name=”pb_pubid” content=”101″>
<meta name=”pb_bookid” content=”35″>
<meta name=”pb_editionid” content=”1″>
<meta name=”pb_revisionid” content=”1″>
<meta name=”pb_synctype” content=”word”>
</head><body>
<!– your book goes here–>
</body></html>

We’ll change a bit of the text in the meta tags to make it make sense for our blog article. We end up with this:

<html><head>
<meta name=”pb_title” content=”April 21 Blog Article”>
<meta name=”pb_abbrev” content=”BLOG”>
<meta name=”pb_copyright” content=”Copyright &copy; 2008 by Craig Rairdin. All rights reserved.”>
<meta name=”pb_publisher” content=”Laridian Electronic Publishing”>
<meta name=”pb_city” content=”Cedar Rapids, IA”>
<meta name=”pb_date” content=”2008″>
<meta name=”pb_pubid” content=”9999″>
<meta name=”pb_bookid” content=”1″>
<meta name=”pb_editionid” content=”1″>
<meta name=”pb_revisionid” content=”1″>
</head><body>
<!– your book goes here–>
</body></html>

In addition to changing the text of the copyright message etc. I also changed the Publisher ID (pb_pubid) just because it doesn’t matter and I didn’t want it the same as the Tyndale Dictionary from which the example was lifted. I set the pb_bookid meta tag to 1, and I would change that for every book I create. And I removed the final pb_synctype tag, because that’s what tells PocketBible this is a dictionary, but my file isn’t a dictionary.

I have to add at least one heading so I have something in the table of contents for the book. So I put that on the top of the text of the blog article. I paste in the text of the blog article and add <p> tags at the start of each line to indicate new paragraphs.

Text in bold is text I modified in some way just so you can see how little I changed from either the sample meta tags or the text of my article.

<html><head>
<meta name=”pb_title” content=”April 21 Blog Article“>
<meta name=”pb_abbrev” content=”BLOG“>
<meta name=”pb_copyright” content=”Copyright &copy; 2008 by Craig Rairdin. All rights reserved.”>
<meta name=”pb_publisher” content=”Laridian Electronic Publishing”>
<meta name=”pb_city” content=”Cedar Rapids, IA”>
<meta name=”pb_date” content=”2008“>
<meta name=”pb_pubid” content=”9999“>
<meta name=”pb_bookid” content=”1“>
<meta name=”pb_editionid” content=”1″>
<meta name=”pb_revisionid” content=”1″>
</head><body>
<h1 pb_toc=visible>On the Problems of Designing User-Friendly Software for PDAs and Smart Phones</h1>
<p>A comment from one of our PocketBible 4 beta testers got me thinking about the nature of what we do and what users complain about. I’ve expressed this with respect to the iPhone but I haven’t put it into a larger context that might help people understand what software designers are up against when we implement a solution, regardless of the platform. These issues are especially true of the mobile device market but the same ideas apply to the desktop and other general-purpose computing platforms.
<p>If you start from the beginning, you find a user with a problem. It might be: “How do I take my contact database with me?” or “How can I work on my spreadsheets on the train?” or “How can I browse the Web when I’m away from my computer?”. Hardware companies like Sony, Apple, HP, and HTC get together with software companies like Microsoft and whatever Palm is calling itself today and come up with a device and operating system software that address those problems. In the course of doing so, they create a way for third parties (that’s us) to create software for their new device/OS platform.
<p>By the time we consumer software companies (independent software vendors or ISVs) get our hands on these products, we’re no longer solving the original customer problem. Instead, we’re programming for a device, and the device is solving the problem. When we program for a device we have certain limitations imposed by the hardware and software. The screen is only so big. There may or may not be a keyboard. There may or may not be much memory. There may or may not be good internet connectivity. The tools provided by the OS software developer may not be very powerful. There are a host of these limitations, and we have no control over them. It is the sandbox in which we have to play if we’re going to play at all.
<p>etc…..
</body></html>

That’s all there is to it. If you can master cut and paste and typing <p> you can create books out of text files. If you know a little HTML you can add bold, italics, underlines, and even tables and lists.

5 Responses

  1. Dave Donaldson says:

    For us dedicated Palm users who would like more books (I’ll save commenting on the lack of new palm material for later)… I guess I’ll have to create myself…is will these tips work on the palm book- builder? I know the HTML looks the same but are there any large differents then have to create a pdb file?

  2. Should work fine for Palm.

    We just announced a half dozen new books for Palm on Tuesday.

    There’s a boatload more coming hopefully by the end of the month.

    If you tag anything for Palm that you think we might be interested in distributing, let us know. If it’s public domain that’s the easiest. If it’s copyrighted we’d have to get a license but that’s usually doable.

  3. Bookman says:

    Bought Bookbuilder Pro a while back and only just started to test it out.
    A couple of things to note.

    1. Unknown tokens

    I cut a sample thread from this Blog as text and followed the instructions. However, once Bookbuilder Pro started to process the htm file, I kept getting this unknown token error message. I think the sample thread I used was

    “April 21, 2008
    On the Problems of Designing User-Friendly Software for PDAs and Smart Phones”
    http://blog.laridian.com/

    Initially I thought it was some hidden characters that was causing this problem and despite pasting into Windows Notepad, Metapad.exe and even Textpad etc and using utilities to attempt to clear out any non ASCII characters, I kept getting the same unknown token problem.

    After several hours of frustration, I decided to try some other webpage from another website using a simple cut and paste, I did not get a repeat of the problem.

    So if anyone is reading this Blog and tried to cut and paste on this blog, you may have better luck trying webpages from elsewhere.

    I think I still have the error log file in my harddisk if anyone is interested

    2. Does BookBuilder Pro support command line commands

    This will certainly make it easier for us to run the files through BookBuilder Pro as we progressively build the htm file instead of entering the file name in the dialog box each time we want to process the file to make sure there are no errors.

  4. I’m not sure how you copied the particular blog article. I did a quick drag and drop through the text into TextPad and found lots of character values greater than 127.

    If you go to the article: http://blog.laridian.com/?p=104 and right click and select “View Source” to see the raw HTML, you’ll see lots of character entities in the 8000-range. Those are the problem. (Actually, it might work if you run it with the character entities in place. What won’t work is if you do the quick cut and paste like I did so you get the actual characters instead of the character entities.)

    BookBuilder does not support command line arguments, but a future release of BookBuilder will allow you to build without restarting. That is you’ll be able to select Browse and pick another file and press GO again.

  5. Bookman says:

    After looking around for a freeware text editor that would let me easily discover the unknown tokens, I found one that will let you see them as a small black block.

    Once you delete these “black blocks” and save the text file, you effectively get rid of the unknown token problem. At least that has been my limited experience so far.

    Ideally, if I could find a similar utility with a commandline, that would be even better so that I can tell it to search and replace these characters (which in the case I tested were actually ” in some unknown encoding)with ASCII equivalent characters.

    Maybe someone else can suggest such a utility.

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