View Full Version : How does Plucker (free) compare to iSilo (commercial)?


Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:53 PM
Some of you may ask why to pay money for an offline browser if there is a free solution available. Indeed, Plucker is a candidate to be taken serious in the Palm world. But how does it compare to iSilo, which is in the eyes of many, including myself, the currently best available offline browser & reader for the Palm?

Instead of just giving a subjective account I've tried to spend a little bit more time with both programs and to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

So here we go...

Feel free to post your comments :p

PS: This is my first review. If you find anything wrong with it, please contact me. We all make mistakes, right?

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:53 PM
Testing Environment:
Software:
Plucker Desktop (http://desktop.plkr.org/) V1.2.0.4 Build Feb 12 2003 -- Install Size: 23,210 Kb (includes Python parser)
Plucker Viewer (http://hires.plkr.org/) Hi-Res V1.1.3 Feb 22 2003 -- Install Size: 179 Kb + 73 Kb (SysZLib V1.1.4-1)
iSiloX (http://www.isilox.com/) V3.3 Final --Install Size: 2,323 Kb
iSilo (http://www.isilo.com/) iSilo V3.3 Final --Install Size: 350 Kb
Windows XP

Hardware:
Sony Clie PEG-N760C OS 4.1 33MHz overclocked to 45MHz
Toshiba S5100-201 Notebook, 1.6GHz, 512Mb Ram, 256kBit DSL Internet

Not tested: Hires+ (320x480), Silkscreen Support, OS 5 Support

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:54 PM
Test 1: Small Channel, Low Graphics
CNN: http://wireless.cnn.com/avantgo/cnn/index.html

Plucker: Link-Depth: 3
Image Settings: Include Image (1000s of colors), thumbnail for images > 320x320
Other Settings: ZLIB
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\Plucker
Conversion Time: insignificant
File Size: 84,994 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/CNN Pluck.pdb">here</a>)iSiloX:
Link-Depth: 2
Image Settings: Include Image (16-bit 64K colors), Compress
Other Settings: Process table formatting
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\iSilo
Conversion Time: insignificant
File Size: 47,382 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/CNN iSilo.pdb">here</a>)Observations:
There is a bug in the current Plucker Desktop Parser. As apparent from the Log (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/CNN Pluck.log">here</a>), Plucker downloaded and saved each page twice here. This explains why the resulting file is almost twice as big as the converted iSiloX file. If I reduce the Link-Depth for Plucker to 2, it would not download the pages twice anymore, but the “<< Main” link in the header of each CNN article would link to an unresolved URL.

Note that for Plucker Link-Depth always starts at 1 (=retrieve starting page only), whereas for iSiloX Link-Depth starts at 0.

In both cases, conversion time was below 10 seconds.

Screenshots:
CNN Home iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen03.png

CNN Home Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen02.png

CNN Article iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen06.png

CNN Article Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen07.png

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:56 PM
Test 2: Big Channel, Low Graphics
Ananova News: http://pda.ananova.com/

Plucker: Link-Depth: 4
Image Settings: Include Image (1000s of colors), thumbnail for images > 320x320
Other Settings: ZLIB
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\Plucker
Conversion Time: 11:52 mins
File Size: 1,079,628 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/Ananova Pluck.pdb">here</a>)iSiloX: Link-Depth: 3
Image Settings: Include Image (16-bit 64K colors), Compress
Other Settings: Process table formatting
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\iSilo
Conversion Time: 6:20 mins
File Size: 921,997 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/CNN iSilo.pdb">here</a>)Observations:
Hyperlinks = Killer. The more links it has to parse, the slower Plucker Desktop becomes.

In this test, about 900 links were parsed. Plucker Desktop needed almost twice as long as iSiloX to finish the conversion. Plucker’s resulting file size is ~17% bigger than iSiloX’s.

Screenshots:
Ananova Home iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen09.png

Ananova Home Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen08.png

Ananova Article iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen13.png

Ananova Article Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen12.png

Ananova Sport Results iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen10.png

Ananova Sport Results Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen11.png

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:56 PM
Test 3: Big Channel, Medium Graphics
Slate: http://slate.msn.com/Apps/MySlate/action/read.aspx?action=read&ids=toc

Plucker: Link-Depth: 1
Image Settings: Include Image (1000s of colors), thumbnail for images > 240x240
Other Settings: ZLIB
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\Plucker
Conversion Time: 1:41 mins
File Size: 985,994 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/Slate Pluck.pdb">here</a>)iSiloX: Link-Depth: 3
Image Settings: Include Image (16-bit 64K colors), Resize 240x240, Compress
Other Settings: Process table formatting
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\iSilo
Conversion Time: 1:03 mins
File Size: 1,522,466 Bytes (get file <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/Slate iSilo.pdb">here</a>)Observation:
Misleading compression results.
At the first look it appears that in Test 3, Plucker’s compression is superior to iSiloX. But this is not the case. What happens underneath the surface is that Plucker reduces the quality of the images, which makes them look dithered after the conversion.

See <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen00.png" target="_blank">here</a> and compare <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen01.png" target="_blank">here</a> to iSiloX. If I reduce the image quality in iSiloX accordingly (256 colors), the converted iSiloX file size is actually reduced to 721,078 Bytes; ~26% smaller than Plucker!

Note that there is unfortunately no apparent switch available in Plucker Desktop to disable it from reducing image quality. See next paragraph why that is so.

60Kb Image Limit.
Plucker limits the size of an uncompressed image to less than 60Kb (to be more precise: 60,000Bytes). The major problem in Plucker therefore is that the resolution is severely limited for 8bpp (256 colors) and 16bpp (65536 colors) images.

You can calculate the max image resolution for a given color depth with the following formula:

imageWidth * imageHeight = 60000 / pixelDepth

According to this formula, for 2bpp (4 shades of gray), the size is limited to 489x489 pixels
for 4bpp (16 shades of gray), the size is limited to 346x346 pixels
for 8bpp (256 colors), the size is limited to 244x244 pixels
for 16bpp (65536 colors), the size is limited to 173x173 pixelsClick <a href="http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen04.png" target="_blank">here</a> for a visual representation.

In other words, with the current implementation (Plucker developers are still trying to find a new way to display images), Plucker is not able to display a single colored (be it 256 or 65536 colors) image that fills the entire screen on a regular hi-res Sony Clie (like when you want to read comics/cartoons). What Plucker does instead is try to reduce the image size (either by reducing resolution or by reducing color depth).

Document Fragmentation:
Plucker automatically breaks a document into 32Kb parts.

This is due to Palm OS’s memory handling and how Plucker deals with it. In the current Palm OS (4.x) implementation, a record or resource can be no larger than the largest memory chunk, which is 64Kb (or slightly less). Furthermore, there can be no more than 64Kb records in a record database. And as if this limit is not enough, Plucker uses API calls that reference records and resources by index, a method that further reduces the number of accessible records or resources to 32,768.

Implication: Documents larger than 32Kb are broken into 32Kb chunks. What you get is a not-so-nice "click here for the next part" link at the bottom of each document chunk.

Some people may disagree with me and argue that the jump from the bottom of one 32Kb page to the top of the next 32Kb page is not a big deal. However, there is another drawback arising from this limitation: it makes the percentage figure meaningless. Of what interest is it to me that I am at 70% percent of the *current* 32Kb segment, if I don’t know how much that is in terms of the *total* document!

Like magic, iSilo “seems” to break these limits, and I have no clue how (maybe by rewriting some Palm OS structures?). Neither does iSilo split a document into segments, nor does it have any apparent limitation on the document size (e.g., I have a 17Mb tutorial and iSilo reads it just like any other document).

Slow Search:
Plucker’s search algorithm doesn't win a prize for speed. Probably part of the reason for its slowness is the document segmentation mentioned earlier.

I ran the following test: From the top (home) of the Slate document, I searched for the keyword “salmonella” (wonderful, isn’t it?) which appears only once at the very end of the document. And here are my findings:

Plucker: (setting: unchecked case-sensitive, find in all pages) 82 secs + 13 secs (for refreshing the page and marking the found keyword)
(setting: checked case-sensitive, find in all pages) 51 secs + 13 secs (for refreshing the page and marking the found keyword)iSilo:
(setting: unchecked case-sensitive, entire document) 21 secs
(setting: checked case-sensitive, entire document) 12 secsiSilo’s search algorithm is about 4x faster than the one used by Plucker.

Scrolling
"Drag" scrolling is not anywhere near as smooth as that found on iSilo.

Ever since using iSilo, I’ve found the following the most convenient region options: [1] 15% Screen Up
[2] 35% Drag
[3] 35% Drag
[4] 15% Screen DownPlucker also allows for a 4-part region setting. However, neither is it possible to define the size of each region, nor is it possible to use the 4-part region setting together with the dragging mode.

Scrolling is slow in Plucker. You can “see” how Plucker refreshes the screen each time you scroll to a new page, whereas iSilo seems smooth and instantaneous.

Related to scrolling is the auto-scrolling feature that both programs offer. With Plucker, auto-scrolling cannot keep up with normal reading speed unless scroll speed is set to more pixels. But at that point, the text becomes too jumpy to be read without getting a headache. iSilo’s auto-scrolling is pleasantly smooth, and scroll speed can easily be configured with the jog dial (adjustable in 20 increments).

Refresh Time
The Plucker version of Slate is 985,994 Bytes. That means the Plucker View splits it up into 31 pages or sections (32Kb each). Every time you "click here for the next part", there is a load time of 10-15 seconds until you can actually begin to read and scroll down on that one 32Kb part of Slate. If you take this x 31, you get a total waiting time of 5-8 minutes for the entire Slate document.

Compare this to iSilo, where the Slate document is presented in one single part without any refresh times.

Note: Slate uses Unicode, specifically UTF-8 encoding. Neither iSilo nor Plucker support it.

Screenshots:
Slate Home iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen29.png

Slate Home Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen26.png

Slate "click here for the next part" Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen27.png

Slate Image iSilo:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen01.png

Slate Image Plucker:
http://www.turcic.com/forums/supplements/isilo-plucker/screen00.png

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:57 PM
Test 4: Medium Channel, Low Graphics, Table Formatting

Bloomberg ToGo: **Removed** (on request by Bloomberg)

Plucker: Link-Depth: 5
Image Settings: Include Image (1000s of colors), thumbnail for images > 320x320
Other Settings: ZLIB
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\Plucker
Conversion Time: 2:15 mins
File Size: 180,013 BytesiSiloX:
Link-Depth: 4
Image Settings: Include Image (16-bit 64K colors), Resize 240x240, Compress
Other Settings: Process table formatting
Target: PALM\PROGRAMS\iSilo
Conversion Time: 0:52 mins
File Size: 186,540 BytesObservations:
No Table Support.
Plucker doesn’t support tables yet. The Plucker developer team is working on it.

Some people argue not only that tables (multi-column) are unnecessary, but also that tables make reading web pages on the PDA more difficult and inconvenient (in case the table is too big to be displayed in 320x320 and would thus need left-right scrolling).

Personally I consider this a weak argument.

First, many tables are *not* too big to be displayed nicely on the full 320x320 screen. One example is the Bloomberg Channel.

Second, tables are not only used to display wide charts or schedules. They are also used for layout purposes. Plucker breaks that layout by not supporting tables.

Btw: iSilo has the option to disable tables (display options->tables->single-column). Because iSilo still interprets the html attributes inside the table tags, the resulting output is closer to the source than with Plucker.

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 03:57 PM
Test Results
iSilo

positive: ability to copy&paste text (word, screen, page, document)
global search in all documents and channels
instantaneous display and scrolling
perl regex for defining include/exclude pattern
community available (shameless self-advertisement) :D
theoretically unlimited document size
support for any image size with any color depth
very stablenegative:
commercial ($17.95)
database format undocumented
only available in English
doesn't handle forms
doesn't handle java-scripts
doesn't support non-html yet common tags like pods://avantgo/back
no build-in scheduler (implemented since 3.35b1)
no Internet Explorer integration (implemented since 3.35b1)
no Unicode (specifically UTF-8 encoding) support
no multi-threaded download of webpagesPlucker

positive: free
open-source (GPL)
database format open and documented
multi-language available
ability to select line/paragraph spacing (You will see the importance of line spacing for easy reading.)
ability to copy text (but only export to memopad)
build-in scheduler
perl regex for defining include/exclude pattern
bugs discussion available (http://bugs.plkr.org)
mailing list available (http://lists.rubberchicken.org/pipermail/plucker-list/)
date column in document list
includes ad websites exclusion list
strike-through feature: shows which links have already been visitednegative: documents > 32Kb are fragmented into 32Kb parts (where you get the "click for next page" link at the bottom of each part)
uncompressed images can only be <60Kb
no table support (in latest CVS: table support, rudimentary due to limited 60Kb space)
auto-scrolling cannot keep up with normal reading speed unless scroll speed is set to more pixels, at which point the text becomes too jumpy
slow screen updates
slow scroll bar response time
search text algorithm slow
change in font causes page to reparse and restart from the top again
applications lose focus when Plucker updates channels (also in scheduling mode)
only single URL include pattern
high ram memory consumption while downloading (Plucker Desktop)
font support is incomplete for OS5 machines such as Sony NX, NZ, TG, Tungsten
doesn't do double-density fonts (someone with OS 5 confirm please)
doesn't handle cookies (allowing, disabling, manual setting)
doesn't handle forms
doesn't handle java-scripts
doesn't support non-html yet common tags like pods://avantgo/back
no Pocket PC version available
indentation for bulleted/numbered lists is wrong, the text is not properly aligned
no Internet Explorer integration
no Unicode (specifically UTF-8 encoding) support
no multi-threaded download of webpages

Alexander Turcic
03-31-2003, 04:07 PM
empty space for possible add-ons

Unregistered
04-01-2003, 08:48 PM
Please check:

http://jpluck.sourceforge.net/

and update all your parsing tests to include it. This Java parser uses the Plucker viewer.

Unregistered
04-02-2003, 02:52 AM
JPluck, which is an alternative to the Plucker parser, offers some important features that iSiloX does not have:

- Multi-threaded downloading
- XSLT transformation of web pages
- Dedicated HotSync conduit (Windows-only)

With XSLT transformation pages can be reformatted on-the-fly to make them more suitable for PDA display. A particularly good example is The Register, which you can find in the Showcase.

The conduit converts sites during HotSync, providing near AvantGo-like functionality. With iSiloX you have to convert the sites first then run HotSync to get the PDBs on the device. This is a lengthier process, especially on a serial or IR connection.

http://jpluck.sourceforge.net/

Alexander Turcic
04-02-2003, 03:08 AM
The reason I did not include JPluck in this first review (notice, it is my first - and I am willing to write addons!), is because of David's comment here (http://www.turcic.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=1405#post1405).

Alex

BasilC
04-02-2003, 06:19 PM
Wow, an impressive bit of work, Alexander, and not much doubt about which app wins the prize at the moment. My transition has been first HandStory, then Plucker, and only recently iSilo, which I now use most of all. I think both Plucker and iSilo outstrip HandStory for the sort of uses you've been discussing here, but HandStory also has various other tricks up its sleeve (eg images as single files, but also various things that I haven't tried but are described in the HandStory online manual.

What's good is that we have a three-way competition (four ways if you count MobiPocket, which I probably wouldn't count) which seems to be spurring on improvements. And JPlucker looks promising.

radleyp
04-03-2003, 04:00 PM
I just installed JPluck, to see what it was like. I didn't find out, since the conduit does not work. It does not work, as I saw, because the path it uses to find the conversion profile is incorrect. I have no idea how to correct this, and I am not prepared to start playing with dos command lines. Has anyone else had this problem? RadleyP

Unregistered
04-05-2003, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by radleyp
I just installed JPluck, to see what it was like. I didn't find out, since the conduit does not work. It does not work, as I saw, because the path it uses to find the conversion profile is incorrect. I have no idea how to correct this, and I am not prepared to start playing with dos command lines. Has anyone else had this problem? RadleyP

Make sure you create a conversion profile in JPluck X first. Then select the profile in the conduit configuration dialog.

radleyp
04-08-2003, 10:29 AM
I set a profile. Where is the conduit configuration file? In HotSync? If so, I can't open it, because it is looking for the data in the wrong place. For the moment, I am going to forget about it. I don't need more unnecessary things to do. This is something the conduit should do by itself. RadleyP

Laurens
04-13-2003, 11:28 AM
(OK, I'm going to shamelessly plug my Plucker-related project in this thread.)

BlogPluck converts web logs in RSS format to Plucker documents.

http://jpluck.sourceforge.net/blogpluck/

BlogPluck is a Java Web Start application and can be downloaded, installed and run with just one click.

iSilo users might want to run Plucker just to read blogs, and keep iSilo for regular web sites.

wumpi
04-13-2003, 12:33 PM
Laurens, really nice tool!!

gghose
06-11-2003, 07:18 PM
I was surprised at the difference in file size for a large text only HTML file (a book). The original file was 1.6 M - the plucker version 406 K, and the isilo version 309 K! Plus with isilo there aren't a lot of annoying interruptions to reload the successive parts of the book: there is just one document!

Given my OS (Linux) I was leaning towards Plucker but isilo just seems so superior (and isiloxc works just fine under Linux).

dgoeg
06-12-2003, 01:31 PM
Very nice review, Alexander.

...although I already made my decision. :)

Alexander Turcic
06-12-2003, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by dgoeg
Very nice review, Alexander.

...although I already made my decision. :) Heh, I hope some Plucker fan will update my review soon since the Plucker developer team didn't sleep :)

Alex

Zire
06-12-2003, 11:12 PM
Hey All,

I have used plucker, handstory, Avantgo, and Isilo. Isilo is my choice. I know that it is not free but it is a small price to pay for what it gives us Mac users. I couldn't figure out how to convert documents for Plucker using a mac. Handstory is too bulky I don't even know if they have a mac client. Avantgo stopped supporting macs and I was staying with the old palm desktop because of it and not upgrading to 4.0 because it would freeze my mac when Avantgo tried to load. The new palm desktop is so much better I like the vcard format cause now I can put contacts in my ipod. Isilo is just great. I read my books on it. The files are much smaller then doc files. The fact that you can convert websites to view on it is great. The addition of all of the readily converted websites thanks to Alexander is the best thing since sliced bread. I didn't miss out on any of the old Avantgo channels that I had. I currently have Cool Quiz, Joke A Day, Accu Weather, Dilbert (Couldn't do it with Avantgo), Mac Observer, MSNBC, Palm Infocenter and Voyeurweb (Couldn't get that with Avantgo). Also I have a full color palm and I like the fact that I am not limited to 256 colors as I was with Avantgo.

Isilo rules!!!

TadW
07-12-2003, 04:59 AM
Hiho,

looks like the Plucker guys have updated their comparison matrix and now also include iSilo.

http://www.plkr.org/a-vs-p.html

Interestingly, a lot of times they compare a "will-be" version of Plucker (which still contains a log of bugs from what I read at http://bugs.plkr.org/view_all_bug_page.php) to Avantgo and iSilo, and not a "is" version.

Also they fail to compare the useability between the products. So instead of just counting up how many fonts which app supports, they should have also mentioned how fast the screen is refreshed, how smooth scrolling works, how fast a document is loaded, etc.

I keep an up-to-date cvs version of Plucker on my Tungsten, only to see how it evolves. But currently I see absolute no reason why I should switch from my rock-stable iSilo to a not-so-stable Plucker.

brahamt
07-12-2003, 07:56 AM
Very nice review Alexander.

For me, I rarely change things when I have something that works. I just like the generally silky smooth way iSilo works. It is nice however, to read really in-depth reviews of other products.

Thanks for the information.

bobengle2
08-20-2003, 09:55 PM
I have also used Avantgo, plucker/jpluck, Handstory, Mobipocket, and keep coming back to iSilo. There are things that I don't like about all of them on my clie, but now that iSilo has made it easier to do scheduled conversions, it stands as my reader of choice. But..... There are a few features I'd like to see iSilo add to the viewer. A few small changes would really put iSilo over the top. For instance the ability to show the date and read/unread status in the document list view. A little color would be nice there , also.(no, I'm not counting the new blue scrollbar in ver.4!)

madmaxmedia
01-23-2004, 03:06 PM
The only real advantage Plucker has for me is the nice anti-aliased font support in the newest version. ISilo has decent font support now, but not nearly as pretty. On the surface this is not important, but with document readers you are looking at the letters all day. Nice-looking fonts just improve the overall user experience.

Now that there are some font utilities for OS 5 and a great font coverter program (palmfontconv), hopefully 1 of the utilities will support anti-aliased fonts. I would then use a nice font systemwide, so obviously iSilo would then look good too.

I am also "married" to iSilo as I have a large library of documents, so changing is not so practical for me.

Thanks for the review!

rhubarb
03-12-2004, 07:31 AM
Sorry for the bad language in this post. I just want to ****ing test something.
I was very impressed by Alexander's review of plucker vs isilo, but was totally distracted and frustrated for the first 10 minutes trying to work out what the **** the word p****r was meant to be.
At first I thought it was plucker as in python plucker. But it didn't make any bloody sense. I thought maybe it was some proprietary term so he couldn't use it. It looked more likely to be p****r but then why the *s.

Then I worked it out, it is p****r but the word **** is blanked out.
Actually I'm not sure how much of this ****ing post is going to be asterisked out by some ****head censorship system. (Once again I apologize for my foul ****ing **** of a gutter mouth - all in the interest of testing).
So let me restate: I think it must be the word P-A-R-S-E-R with the word A-R-S-E automatically censored out.

Great, here's a whole forum about parsing web pages for reading on the palm and we can't say p****r.
I mean, I fully appreciate that the offensive bloody bastards of ****ing buggery swear words I have been using deserve to be censored. But P-A-R-S-E-R?! Please.
****holes
Assholes
****heads

Once again, terriby, terribly sorry to anyone offended by anything that managed to slip through the asterisk-nazi algorithm.

hacker
03-12-2004, 03:24 PM
As a long-time user, contributor, and supporter of Plucker, I liked the review, however... it is very misleading in many places.

For one, Plucker Desktop is not Plucker. Spaghetti Sauce is not Spaghetti.

The dithering down of images happens because of a Palm limitation, not a Plucker limitation. It is also activated in Plucker Desktop, not Plucker itself (the viewer). I regularly have ENORMOUS images in Plucker, on my Palm, consisting of thousands of colors, with full-size alternate versions, without any "pixelated" dithering. I don't use Plucker Desktop, however, to create them. Nor do I use JPluck.

The 32k boundary is also a Palm limitation, not a Plucker limitation. We can get around it (and we have, if you try any of the last few stable release versions) with the stitching of pages together into one stream.

There were a few other misnomers in the review, which I will probably comment on later, but Plucker far supercedes iSilo in features and capabilities, but that is a given. Where we fall slightly behind, is in the sort of things that Palm devices and Palmsource forbid us from supporting (DIA is one example, we can't add support for the virtual graffiti area on Tungsten T3 devices, because the license to implement the code hooks specifically forbids use in any Free Software project).

We have full VFS support, advanced search, multiple documents that can be put in different categories, sorted, bookmarks, autoscroll, export to memo, dictionary word lookup, preferences, keyboard/graffiti handling, annotation, transliteration, advanced table handling (such as multiple images in a table cell), and a slew of other features that aren't present or available in iSilo. Additionally, we are free, and our doucment format is open and available to anyone wishing to contribute to supporting or improving it.

Many commercial companies have moved over to using Plucker over iSilo for this reason. They can't risk the "one-developer" path, and having no access to the source code, means they are stuck in a bottle. With Plucker, they have the flexibility to do whatever they wish with it (as long as they adhere to the license of course; we've nailed companies in the past who have violated that license).

But then again, we're not competing with iSilo, and they certainly aren't competing with us.

hacker
03-12-2004, 03:27 PM
Now that there are some font utilities for OS 5 and a great font coverter program (palmfontconv), hopefully 1 of the utilities will support anti-aliased fonts. I would then use a nice font systemwide, so obviously iSilo would then look good too.

Take a look at the author of palmfontconv (http://palmfontconv.sf.net). He's one of the contributing authors of Plucker.

hacker
03-12-2004, 03:37 PM
Interestingly, a lot of times they compare a "will-be" version of Plucker (which still contains a log of bugs from what I read at http://bugs.plkr.org/view_all_bug_page.php) to Avantgo and iSilo, and not a "is" version.

Are you referring to Bluetooth support? The hooks are there to build it, and it works fine, if you compile the support in for it (my private snapshots contain it), but no releases are made with Bluetooth support.

That is the only feature listed on the comparison (http://plkr.org/a-vs-p.html) that is a "future" (actually "non-deployed" is more accurate) option. The rest are up-to-date.

We support quite a lot more options for images (pan, zoom, scale, dither), MANY more language translations of the viewer (currently 17 different languages), HTML mailto tags to launch a selected Mail app from a link, Gestures, virtual silkscreen, clients for Palm, WinCE, PocketPC, and Linux PDAs, at least 8 document convertors support Plucker directly including an email-only interface, more font selections including custom user-supplied anti-aliased fonts. iSilo has none of these features, and we are also 100k smaller on average, than iSilo.

Trust me, we're way ahead in features and usability than iSilo.

But currently I see absolute no reason why I should switch from my rock-stable iSilo to a not-so-stable Plucker.

Bugs don't fix themselves, so I hope you reported these "not-so-stable" problems you're having, so we can take a look and see if they are really bugs and fix them.

radleyp
03-12-2004, 03:43 PM
Talk about "misleading", Hacker! Your 6th paragraph mentions all these features that are supposedly present in Plucker but not in iSilo. In fact, with the exception of "annotation" and "transliteration" (not sure about that one, since I don't know what you mean, are you talking about spelling non-latin alphabets in Latin?) they are all in iSilo, along with many other features. I have found Plucker and JPlucker to be unsatisfactory: I never could get the latter to work right, and as a reader iSilo is much better, with its really smooth scrolling and its large choice of fonts. I would love to use the Plucker you are describing, but I have not found it. Philippe Radley



As a long-time user, contributor, and supporter of Plucker, I liked the review, however... it is very misleading in many places.

For one, Plucker Desktop is not Plucker. Spaghetti Sauce is not Spaghetti.

The dithering down of images happens because of a Palm limitation, not a Plucker limitation. It is also activated in Plucker Desktop, not Plucker itself (the viewer). I regularly have ENORMOUS images in Plucker, on my Palm, consisting of thousands of colors, with full-size alternate versions, without any "pixelated" dithering. I don't use Plucker Desktop, however, to create them. Nor do I use JPluck.

The 32k boundary is also a Palm limitation, not a Plucker limitation. We can get around it (and we have, if you try any of the last few stable release versions) with the stitching of pages together into one stream.

There were a few other misnomers in the review, which I will probably comment on later, but Plucker far supercedes iSilo in features and capabilities, but that is a given. Where we fall slightly behind, is in the sort of things that Palm devices and Palmsource forbid us from supporting (DIA is one example, we can't add support for the virtual graffiti area on Tungsten T3 devices, because the license to implement the code hooks specifically forbids use in any Free Software project).

We have full VFS support, advanced search, multiple documents that can be put in different categories, sorted, bookmarks, autoscroll, export to memo, dictionary word lookup, preferences, keyboard/graffiti handling, annotation, transliteration, advanced table handling (such as multiple images in a table cell), and a slew of other features that aren't present or available in iSilo. Additionally, we are free, and our doucment format is open and available to anyone wishing to contribute to supporting or improving it.

Many commercial companies have moved over to using Plucker over iSilo for this reason. They can't risk the "one-developer" path, and having no access to the source code, means they are stuck in a bottle. With Plucker, they have the flexibility to do whatever they wish with it (as long as they adhere to the license of course; we've nailed companies in the past who have violated that license).

But then again, we're not competing with iSilo, and they certainly aren't competing with us.

hacker
03-12-2004, 03:54 PM
documents > 32Kb are fragmented into 32Kb parts (where you get the "click for next page" link at the bottom of each part)

They are now seamed together, if you configure it as such. Fixed.

uncompressed images can only be <60Kb

A Palm limitation, which can be worked around in various ways. Fixed.

no table support (in latest CVS: table support, rudimentary due to limited 60Kb space)

What version were you testing? Tables have been supported for at least the last 3 releases of Plucker.

auto-scrolling cannot keep up with normal reading speed unless scroll speed is set to more pixels, at which point the text becomes too jumpy

Again, what version did you try? Users report a HUGE increase in speed of the scrolling over previous versions. Try one of the latest stable or unstable releases.


slow screen updates
slow scroll bar response time
search text algorithm slow


Ditto, see above.

change in font causes page to rep**** and restart from the top again

Fixed.

applications lose focus when Plucker updates channels (also in scheduling mode)

I have no idea what this means. Palm can only run one application at a time, so I'm not sure how it can "lose focus".

only single URL include pattern

What does this mean? You can include any number of URLs you wish, or exclude any number of URLs you wish, verbosely, or via a regex, or other methods. Always have, always will.

high ram memory consumption while downloading (Plucker Desktop)

It probably keeps the pages cached in memory. My perl version strips non-visible elements from the content and packs them into a binary in the array, while parsing, to reduce the memory footprint required to manage the pages.

font support is incomplete for OS5 machines such as Sony NX, NZ, TG, Tungsten

This sounds like a Palm bug. We support whatever fonts they provide, and include our own high-resolution fonts as well.

doesn't do double-density fonts (someone with OS 5 confirm please)

What does this mean?

doesn't handle cookies (allowing, disabling, manual setting)

This sounds like a p****r problem, not a Plucker problem. Use a p****r that supports cookies. There are at least a dozen that support Plucker as an output file format.

doesn't handle forms

There is some discussion about how to implement this, but so far, we haven't received any patches from people interested in making it work.

doesn't handle java-scripts

Javascript, as you know, must be executed to be interpreted. It isn't "p****d" like HTML. Adding a javascript-rendering engine to the p****r or the viewer is wasteful and unnecessary. Don't plan on this ever being in Plucker.

doesn't support non-html yet common tags like pods://avantgo/back

We support industry-standard HTML and text constructs, per the requisite RFC. Show me where the 'pods://' protocol is documented in an RFC, and we will consider adding it.

no Pocket PC version available

You mean besides Vade Mecum (http://vade-mecum.sourceforge.net/), the PocketPC version of Plucker?

indentation for bulleted/numbered lists is wrong, the text is not properly aligned

This may be fixed, but I haven't tested it. Try 1.6.2 or 1.7 or one of the hourly snapshots and find out. If it isn't, please report it in the bugtracker, so we can track and fix it.

no Internet Explorer integration

There are at least 3 third-party utils that let you right-click in IE and select "Send to Plucker" or similar options. There is also a Mozilla extension that does something similar.

no Unicode (specifically UTF-8 encoding) support

Plucker supports UTF-8, and has for quite some time now. Perhaps your p****r is the problem?

no multi-threaded download of webpages

Also a p****r problem. I can pull roughly 1,000 webpages in about 4 minutes with my Perl p****r. I know the Java version can do the same in about 8-9 minutes. I haven't benchmarked the Python one though. It definately is grabbing the content in parallel.

(Incidentally, your forum software is neutering 'p-a-r-s-e-r' with asterisks. You might want to whitelist that word)

hacker
03-12-2004, 04:05 PM
Your 6th paragraph mentions all these features that are supposedly present in Plucker but not in iSilo. In fact, with the exception of "annotation" and "transliteration" (not sure about that one, since I don't know what you mean, are you talking about spelling non-latin alphabets in Latin?) they are all in iSilo, along with many other features.

Funny, last time I tried iSilo, I don't recall seeing it categorizing the same content in multiple places. I don't recall seeing it supporting Gestures, or dictionary lookup, or many other things I mentioned. If it does, feel free to send me a list, with screenshots, and I'll update the comparison page to reflect these recent additions that iSilo has made.

I have found Plucker and JPlucker to be unsatisfactory: I never could get the latter to work right, and as a reader iSilo is much better, with its really smooth scrolling and its large choice of fonts.

I'm not sure what "JPlucker" is, I've never heard of it. If you mean "JPluck", that is simply a GUI for creating Plucker content. It was written by someone in the community, and isn't part of "Plucker" itself. Plucker ships with the viewer, and the Python distiller. Anything else is ancillary. You're comparing the viewer itself (Plucker) with the tool used to create content for the viewer (JPluck). I'm not sure what you found "unsatisfactory" between the two of them, so feel free to enlighten us.

I would love to use the Plucker you are describing, but I have not found it.

Funny, hundreds of users would tend to disagree.. but I digress. You might want to try using a version of Plucker that is more current. It sounds like you're using quite an old version, because we've solved many of the issues you've mentioned here, months and months ago.

Anyway, use whatever works. If you prefer iSilo, use that. If you want more features, a faster, more-capable reader, use Plucker. If you don't like the GUI (JPluck), pick one of the other dozen or so methods to create content. You aren't limited to just one.

radleyp
03-12-2004, 04:47 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by "gestures." Dictionary lookup is done by highlighting, copying and opening the dictionary. Multiple categorization is supported in the latest iSilo.

I am using Plucker 1.6.2 (and I wish you would stop issuing silly "corrections" as you did with Alexander too - we both know the difference between desktop and pda versions, and you know what "JPluck-ER" means). I have a lot of trouble doing conversions with Plucker (must I add 'Desktop" or is it clear that that is what I mean?).

Plucker is a group effort, all parts of which should work together. It makes no difference to me who developped JPluck, it came as part of a Plucker package. How else do you think I got it?

I understand that the program is free, and I appreciate your efforts and those of the other developers. But as a computer novice talking to one as knowledgeable as you, I look for (and expect) help. I hope you understand that. I use what works for me, and iSilo does. Philippe Radley

hacker
03-12-2004, 06:12 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by "gestures."
Gestures, as in using graffiti strokes for navigation through the document itself.

Dictionary lookup is done by highlighting, copying and opening the dictionary.
Ok, so it isn't as seamless as it is in Plucker. In Plucker, you highlight the word, and tap Lookup, and it launches the dictionary and looks up the word. Exiting the dictionary returns you to Plucker. In our case, the AbsoltueWord people run their app in "registered" mode, if they find that it was launched via Plucker.

Multiple categorization is supported in the latest iSilo.
That must be new. I didn't think you could have the same exact content, multiple times, with the same names, in different categories, with iSilo.

I am using Plucker 1.6.2 (and I wish you would stop issuing silly "corrections" as you did with Alexander too - we both know the difference between desktop and pda versions, and you know what "JPluck-ER" means).
No, actually it isn't. It isn't a "silly" correction at all. We don't ship JPluck. It is a completely separate, independant project, which just happens to include our viewer in the installer. JPluck is being moved to a proprietary model anyway, and the author is making his own viewer (proprietary also), largely because he wanted features that we didn't think were worthy of supporting in Plucker.

I have a lot of trouble doing conversions with Plucker (must I add 'Desktop" or is it clear that that is what I mean?).
Yes, you absolutely must. Plucker Desktop is very different from JPluck, which is very different from pler, which is very different from FlingIt, which is very different from Sitescooper, which is very different from my own perl distiller code. They all output Plucker documents, but they all use very different languages and methods to do it.

If you have trouble doing conversions with one, don't blame Plucker, try a different tool. Knowing which tool you're using is important, because each one has its own positives and negatives.

Plucker is a group effort, all parts of which should work together. It makes no difference to me who developped JPluck, it came as part of a Plucker package. How else do you think I got it?
See above. JPluck is not part of Plucker. It is not developed by anybody who develops Plucker. It is an independant, "third-party" package that produces Plucker documents as its current output format. Now that the development of JPluck is stopped, the author is moving onto his own proprietary viewer and desktop components.

I hope you understand that. I use what works for me, and iSilo does.
As I said previously... use whatever works, just don't mislead people into believing things which can't be backed up with facts. If iSilo works for you, great, continue using it. I could care less what people use. I'm just trying to correct the misconceptions and untruths about the project I contribute a significant amount of my time supporting.

We're getting a lot of work now, custom work, from companies and businesses that used to use iSilo for their products, but are now moving to Plucker, because it is openly available, with source code, and is developed by a fast-moving team of people distributed across the globe. If one of us happens to get hit by a bus, the project still moves forward.

What happens if the iSilo author gets hit by a bus?

ignatz
03-13-2004, 09:44 AM
There is way too much attitude here and everyone needs to tone it down. It's plain that this whole forum is focussed on iSilo and will tend to lean that way. However, I think that Alexander's initial review was open to correction, and he was looking to create discussion. There's no sense in escalating into a flame war. I use iSilo (mainly because I found it first), but I'm very interested in Plucker because I like to support open source projects. (And free is nice too.) Hacker, I don't think the initial review meant any disrespect toward your hard work, but simply reflected Alexanders empirical experience. I hope that everyone can relax a bit and bring it back to a more friendly discussion. Even a spirited debate is fine, but does every app vs. app discussion have to degenerate into sniping? I think that a healthy discussion of the merits of these two powerful pieces of software could be extremely useful to the community.

Hacker, I have to say that it is not at all clear on the plkr.org site that JPluck is separate from the rest of the plucker project. It looks like just one other component. Also, is the perl p****r available yet or is it still in production? I can't find it anywhere. I really like that Plucker is available on bittorrent, my favorite file trading utility.

And everyone else, just tone it down a notch, please?

Ignatz

Laurens
03-13-2004, 04:01 PM
JPluck is being moved to a proprietary model anyway


JPluck is NOT being moved to a proprietary model. This is a *completely* false statement. The source is there for others to pick up. Also, I'm not using any JPluck code in my new project.


and the author is making his own viewer (proprietary also), largely because he wanted features that we didn't think were worthy of supporting in Plucker.


I have *never* proposed any features to the Plucker dev team. Another *completely* false statement. Actually, I helped Adam McDaniel in developing multi-images last spring. (Back then, JPluck was the only p****r that supported multi-images.) Features not "worthy of supporting in Plucker"? What is wrong with you??? :angry:

I'm developing my own viewer because I think there is plenty of room for improvement in PDA web viewer/reading software. You'll understand when you see it in action (in a few months). My decision has absolutely *nothing* to do with Plucker. I'm simply starting my own business and the new viewer will be one of the products in my portfolio.

The viewer will be commercial and closed-source, that is true, but the desktop and server tools will be open-source. Also, the viewer will support HTML, XML and GIF/JPEG/PNG directly. There's nothing proprietary about those formats.

radleyp
03-14-2004, 02:08 PM
I installed the new Plucker (1.6.2) and it's a fine reader. I must tell you, however, that I can't find the dictionary lookup or how to get other than the pre-packaged fonts to work. (Is that in 1.7?) I tried to read a cyrillic text and could not.

Permit me, please, one comment. I think this product is distributed in an offputting way: when I install a reader with a converter, I want the two to work seamlessly. I am not a computer person and I will not start hunting for other converters, especially if there is no manual or other material to tell me what to look for and where.

You should know that I bought a T3, after using a Sony 615 for two years, mainly because of the larger screen. That I cannot use that with Plucker, whatever the reason, is a real downer.

Thanks again for your comments. Philippe Radley

Gestures, as in using graffiti strokes for navigation through the document itself.


Ok, so it isn't as seamless as it is in Plucker. In Plucker, you highlight the word, and tap Lookup, and it launches the dictionary and looks up the word. Exiting the dictionary returns you to Plucker. In our case, the AbsoltueWord people run their app in "registered" mode, if they find that it was launched via Plucker.


That must be new. I didn't think you could have the same exact content, multiple times, with the same names, in different categories, with iSilo.


No, actually it isn't. It isn't a "silly" correction at all. We don't ship JPluck. It is a completely separate, independant project, which just happens to include our viewer in the installer. JPluck is being moved to a proprietary model anyway, and the author is making his own viewer (proprietary also), largely because he wanted features that we didn't think were worthy of supporting in Plucker.


Yes, you absolutely must. Plucker Desktop is very different from JPluck, which is very different from pler, which is very different from FlingIt, which is very different from Sitescooper, which is very different from my own perl distiller code. They all output Plucker documents, but they all use very different languages and methods to do it.

If you have trouble doing conversions with one, don't blame Plucker, try a different tool. Knowing which tool you're using is important, because each one has its own positives and negatives.


See above. JPluck is not part of Plucker. It is not developed by anybody who develops Plucker. It is an independant, "third-party" package that produces Plucker documents as its current output format. Now that the development of JPluck is stopped, the author is moving onto his own proprietary viewer and desktop components.


As I said previously... use whatever works, just don't mislead people into believing things which can't be backed up with facts. If iSilo works for you, great, continue using it. I could care less what people use. I'm just trying to correct the misconceptions and untruths about the project I contribute a significant amount of my time supporting.

We're getting a lot of work now, custom work, from companies and businesses that used to use iSilo for their products, but are now moving to Plucker, because it is openly available, with source code, and is developed by a fast-moving team of people distributed across the globe. If one of us happens to get hit by a bus, the project still moves forward.

What happens if the iSilo author gets hit by a bus?

radleyp
03-15-2004, 10:38 AM
I just went to the Plucker home page and learned that the dictionary lookup works with Road Lingua, which I do not own. With the iSilo copy and paste I can look up words in any of the four dictionary programs that I do own. So while it requires one more click, the iSilo lookup method is more versatile and powerful. Philippe Radley

I installed the new Plucker (1.6.2) and it's a fine reader. I must tell you, however, that I can't find the dictionary lookup or how to get other than the pre-packaged fonts to work. (Is that in 1.7?) I tried to read a cyrillic text and could not.

Permit me, please, one comment. I think this product is distributed in an offputting way: when I install a reader with a converter, I want the two to work seamlessly. I am not a computer person and I will not start hunting for other converters, especially if there is no manual or other material to tell me what to look for and where.

You should know that I bought a T3, after using a Sony 615 for two years, mainly because of the larger screen. That I cannot use that with Plucker, whatever the reason, is a real downer.

Thanks again for your comments. Philippe Radley

Alexander Turcic
03-16-2004, 04:08 PM
Sorry for the bad language in this post...So let me restate: I think it must be the word P-A-R-S-E-R with the word A-R-S-E automatically censored out.Oups. I just recently implemented censorship of "offending" words. Sorry for this 'parser'-thing, of course, the word 'parser' should be allowed here :)

Alex

Alexander Turcic
03-16-2004, 04:19 PM
Ignatz is right, the purpose of the review was not to disqualify Plucker, but to start making a comparison of two similar software products.

Hacker, please note that my review was done exactly one year ago, and, as mentioned in the review, the versions being reviewed were Plucker Desktop V1.2.0.4 (Build Feb 12 2003) and Plucker Viewer (Hi-Res V1.1.3 Feb 22 2003). I am happy that you are pointing out the dramatic improvements of Plucker since then, and am more than willing to write a follow-up of the initial review.

radleyp
06-11-2004, 04:01 PM
If I'm wrong, best to face it.

Last week I downloaded and installed the new Plucker viewer 1.8 and the desktop converter 1.6. I am not only impressed, I must admit that I find it superior to iSilo, over and above the fact that it is free. Let me cite just three elements, and suggest that all of you here try it out.

1. It has the best font rendition I have yet seen on a PDA screen. I use both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets and the letters are as black as those on a printed page. And there is a font conversion tool.

2. The dictionary lookup is excellent. You can go directly to RoadLingua (which I do not own) or just tap on a word - that puts it in the clipboard - and then open up a dictionary that picks up what's in the clipboard.

3. You can set the scheduling to repeat at set intervals, so that every time you hotsync, Plucker converts (this is equivalent to the AvantGo conduit).

Additionally, I find that images are rendered brighter and more in depth. I highly recommend it. Philippe Radley

ignatz
06-17-2004, 11:53 PM
This review was convincing enough for me to go back and review Plucker again. I'm not crazy about the direction that iSilo has taken with it's new release, so it seemed like a good time. I've only begun, but I'm pretty pleased.

Radley is right, the fonts are spectacular. This in itself is nearly enough reason for me to switch over, as I've been dying for good serif fonts on iSilo, but nothing comes through well. I have not seen such sweet fonts on any application that I use in the Palm. Now I'm eager to try to convert some of my own. There is a small price to pay in refresh time as you go from page to page, but it's well worth it.
The "Pluck This" plugin for Firefox (already updated for the 0.9 version and also available for Mozilla) is great. With iSilo I had to carry a link over into IE to use the iSilo "clipper". The drawback of Pluck This is that JPluckX has to be running. Not a big deal, but one more step.
Configuration between the two appears very similar. I haven't liked the new organization of iSilo's categories. Plucker does allow multiple categories for plucks, which is great.

I have more testing to do and I'll report back. Looks like we have a contender.

Alexander Turcic
06-18-2004, 04:28 AM
Perhaps it is time to write an update to my initial (1-1/2 years old) review...

ignatz
06-22-2004, 04:31 PM
UPDATE: I am very happy with the new Plucker. It has become my preferred reader. Haven't found a downside yet...

Alexander Turcic
06-23-2004, 02:35 AM
You make me very curious. I haven't had time to check the latest Plucker yet, but from your comments it sounds as if I was indeed missing something!

ignatz
06-23-2004, 06:48 AM
Have a look at the font display. This is a conversion of Adobe's Brioso Pro and includes the italic and bold versions of the font. It's really spectacular. I tried converting 5 or 6 fonts to iSilo to get a good serif font and wound up having to go with Times New Roman because most lost comfortable legibility (at least at the sizes I was using). Not that there's anything wrong with Times, mind you! But it's so mundane... Being a reader geek I prefer a refined typeface. (Do you ever pick up a new book, flip it open, see the typeface and get that much more excited about reading it? There are a handful of fonts that do that to me.) I haven't seen a bad conversion yet into the Plucker format and I've done a few of the Adobe fonts for experimentation (though to be fair I had to play with the sizing a bit).

http://www.mechanolatry.com/images/misc/pluckerfont.jpg

Obviously there's more to plucker than the typeface, but I find that it is really comparable to iSilo in all other avenues. There's still a few pros and cons. Perhaps I'll need to write a review shortly. To me, the font makes a big difference, so it weighs more than it might for others...

cbarnett
06-23-2004, 08:29 PM
That looks very nice! I don't use my Clie much any more, and looking at shots like that makes me nostalgiv for the clear, crisp display of the T615C. Cleartype on my ipaq 1930 is nice, but doesn't hold a candle to the display above, IMHO.

It does have other plusses however...like a 200MHz processor (very nice when viewing Repligo documents) and I can run my old NES, SNES and DOS games on it <EG>

Craig.

PS - Back on topic, there is a Plucker compatible viewer for the PPC called Vade Mecum, but it's been sitting on v0.3a for quite a long time now... <sigh>

Hmm, Maybe I _should_ wipe the dust-bunnies off my Clie and try the new Plucker out!

pruss
11-22-2004, 11:43 PM
I just went to the Plucker home page and learned that the dictionary lookup works with Road Lingua, which I do not own. With the iSilo copy and paste I can look up words in any of the four dictionary programs that I do own. So while it requires one more click, the iSilo lookup method is more versatile and powerful. Philippe Radley

The current 1.8 Plucker supports a bunch of dictionaries, including a custom setting for new dictionaries, and also supports tap-on-word-to-copy-to-clipboard if memory serves me.