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Old 07-19-2008, 04:29 PM   #61
DMcCunney
New York Editor
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Posts: 5,175
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Device: Palm TX, Azpen A727 tablet, Fujitsu Lifebook p2110 w/ FBReader
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utahcowboy View Post
Yes I have thought this through, and yes my device does read plain text, and to my knowledge, there are not many ebooks that don't read plain text. And I would even go further by saying that if someone bought an ebook that did not support plain text then that person wasted their money considering that plain text is such a universal and widely used format.
It's a little more complicated than that, especially if you have an iPhone.

Yes, just about everything supports plain text. But there's plain text and plain text.

For instance, a plain text file is supposed to contain only 7 bit ASCII characters, and have each line terminated by an end-of-line character. Now we start having fun. Under Unix, the EOL character is the Line Feed -- ASCII 11. Under Mac OS, the EOL character is the Carriage Return -- ASCII 13. Under MD-DOS/Windows, it's both. The EOL marker is a CRLF combination.

Now take that text file and put it on your mobile device. Which line ending convention does it use, and what does your device do with it?

My device is a Palm OS PDA. The default standard plain text file is the Palm "doc" file. It's a plain text file that has been put into Palm Database format (because only Palm Database files can be in memory on a Palm OS device), and compressed to save space in memory (because the format was deigned back when a Palm OS device might have two whole megabytes of memory, and expansion card support didn't exist).

My text files come from DOS/Windows, as do PG's, and use CRLF as the EOL character. Making doc files of them is trivial, but I found out when doing it that they look awful on the PDA, because the available doc viewers all treat the CR part of CRLF as a "hard return". Text doesn't reflow as expected, and becomes annoying to read. I have to explicitly save the text files using Unix line endings in an editor that knows how to do that before converting to a doc file to get a file I can read without annoyance.

And plain text files mean you lose formatting, text attributes, fonts, images, and hyperlinks. That may be acceptable for some PD text, but probably not for all.

And last but not least, how do you get the text file onto your device? If you have an iPod, the current answer seems to be "download from the iTunes store".

Personally, my preferred method is to download the HTML version form PG if there is one, and convert it for the Plucker offline HTML viewer for Palm OS. Plucker gives me formatting, text attributes, images, hyperlinks, and (under OS5) custom fonts. Conversion takes 30 seconds to a minute using utilities I have installed. I then drop them in the appropriate location on my expansion card where Plucker will see them, and off I go.
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