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Old 04-28-2013, 01:43 AM   #1
Jessica Lares
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TxtPub - Text to ePub converter

Someone brought up the other day that they wanted to know a good way to convert PDFs to ePubs without any hassle. And well, I saw this posted on a forum I go on yesterday before a mod yanked it, afterwards I researched it a little further and contacted the developer and he gave me a copy to review.

Anyway, I think this would be a perfect solution to the PDF problem as long as they're not too complex. I'm finding it brilliant for converting some long-form writing too. You can do all the formatting in something like Notepad/TextEdit then import it with iTunes' File Sharing, or you can write it with your favorite iPad editor that can output txt files and send it straight to TxtPub and it converts it to ePub right at the spot.

You can then open it with, **cough** Marvin **cough**, the ebook reader of your choice. Or it spits out a ePub file that you can grab from the file sharing.

For now it just does plain text and turns the enter/return to paragraphs, but I've asked for Markdown support which will make formatting very easy to do.

Here's a screenshot of an article I tested it with. It has a nice library and lets you do collections/shelves too. The reader is decent if you're not too fussy about customization, has the basic black/white, white/black, sepia, and brightness settings:


Here's the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/txtp...627764905?mt=8

I think it's worth the $1.99 price tag for what it does.
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:27 PM   #2
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I might be missing something, but why not just read the text file? What does converting it to ePub buy you?
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:59 PM   #3
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I think it would buy you a lot of formatting that you cannot get from a text file. That might not matter to some folks, but certainly will to others, like myself. Many text files are difficult on the eyes. Plus not all eReaders or eReading apps support text files, and even when they do they don't always render very well.

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Old 04-28-2013, 06:08 PM   #4
Jessica Lares
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswinden View Post
I think it would buy you a lot of formatting that you cannot get from a text file. That might not matter to some folks, but certainly will to others, like myself. Many text files are difficult on the eyes. Plus not all eReaders or eReading apps support text files, and even when they do they don't always render very well.
This exactly. Plain text is universal, I see it a lot when I download WordPress plugins as most developers distribute them with quick guides/manuals. I also use it for quick HTML editing when I'm too lazy to open Dreamweaver or have to look at a XML file. It's lightweight compared to a PDF, and better than forcing someone to have to deal with finding the correct version of Word just to open the file.

Otherwise it's pretty useless. You can set up your editor to use the font you want, and what size, but that's just for editing purposes. It's not something most of us would sit there and read for hours. And yeah, most eReaders aren't made to deal with it.

A lot of people here talk about Calibre, which is another reason why I pointed this out. This, along with Markdown (which I'm getting them to add) would be so much easier than having to install another app and learning how to use it.

If you don't know what Markdown is, it's basically an easier way to format a document. It's a lot easier to edit compared to HTML, and still keeps it universal.

i'll give you an example:

This is the beginning of a book...

Quote:
Here's your chapter title
Your chapter subheading

The date of the entry (so I guess it's a memoir)

Your first paragraph, introduction of the scene, blah.
This is how you format it with the Markdown syntax:

Quote:
Here's your chapter title
=============
### Your chapter subheading

**The date of the entry (so I guess it's a memoir)**

Your first paragraph, introduction of the scene, blah.
If you just have a line of text with no formatting, it just assumes it's a paragraph.

This is the output after adding the Markdown syntax (an illustration anyway, we don't have heading tags here on the forums):

Quote:
Here's your chapter title
Your chapter subheading

The date of the entry (so I guess it's a memoir)

Your first paragraph, introduction of the scene, blah.
And you can do that just in Notepad/TextEdit. Some iPad text editors even support Markdown output, so even better. There are some split screen editors on all platforms that will show you a live preview of the output too.

So I'm really hoping they can add the feature to it soon. I think it's already brilliant how easy it is to just open Safari, copy an article, save the text, and convert it, then open it in whatever. But the formatting options are going to be awesome.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:08 PM   #5
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Gosh, convert the TXT to EPUB in Calibre, which can be done in a few seconds, and you don't need any specialized software -- you can just continue using your favourite e-reader.

Well, at least that's how I've been doing it for years, and I'm not gonna desert my favourite e-reader for sure, because of inferior TXT files.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
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Of course you can do this with Calibre, but it's nice not having to worry about carrying an actual computer around and having an option when you come across something with horrible formatting while you're sitting at the park.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:22 PM   #7
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Sorry, I'd rather read something else in the park, in superior reading software, and then sacrifice those 15 seconds when I get back home, to convert properly in Calibre. But that may just be me.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I think it would buy you a lot of formatting that you cannot get from a text file. That might not matter to some folks, but certainly will to others, like myself. Many text files are difficult on the eyes. Plus not all eReaders or eReading apps support text files, and even when they do they don't always render very well.
If you are going to manually add formatting, sure.
If you are just converting a text file to an ePub, you aren't doing anything that a reading app couldn't do itself when reading the text file.
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by murraypaul View Post
If you are going to manually add formatting, sure.
If you are just converting a text file to an ePub, you aren't doing anything that a reading app couldn't do itself when reading the text file.
I haven't tried reading a text file in an eReader or eReading app for a few years, but the last time I did it was not uncommon to see broken lines, paragraphs that ran together, and other trashy output that would have looked better in Notepad or TextEdit but just. It all depends on the quality of the text file, the encoding, and the app's ability to render text files, but they usually looked like pooh to me.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
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I haven't tried reading a text file in an eReader or eReading app for a few years, but the last time I did it was not uncommon to see broken lines, paragraphs that ran together, and other trashy output that would have looked better in Notepad or TextEdit but just. It all depends on the quality of the text file, the encoding, and the app's ability to render text files, but they usually looked like pooh to me.
And that is a problem with the source data, not the format.
Converting it to ePub won't magically make it better.
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:26 PM   #11
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And that is a problem with the source data, not the format.
Converting it to ePub won't magically make it better.
BS, not all rendering engines are equal. I've seen plenty of text files that look okay in some apps and like total crap in others.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:02 PM   #12
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BS, not all rendering engines are equal. I've seen plenty of text files that look okay in some apps and like total crap in others.
Two different things:
a) Crap content is crap content, regardless of the wrapper. Text or ePub, makes no difference.
b) A good rendering engine can render a nice text file, just as it can render a nice ePub file. If you aren't manually adding any formatting, there is nothing that converting it to ePub gives you that reading the text file in that nice reading app would give you.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:41 PM   #13
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Two different things:
a) Crap content is crap content, regardless of the wrapper. Text or ePub, makes no difference.
b) A good rendering engine can render a nice text file, just as it can render a nice ePub file. If you aren't manually adding any formatting, there is nothing that converting it to ePub gives you that reading the text file in that nice reading app would give you.
There is one possibility for improvement. I do not know if this app provides this but txt files are often line oriented with a CR/LF at the end of each line while ePub is paragraph oriented with all of the lines fitted to the width of the screen. Some conversion applications can ignore CR/LF sequences and depend either on a blank line between paragraphs or an indent of the first line in a new paragraph. If this app can do this it can turn a text file into a readable document for eBook readers.

There are also some coded conventions used by Project Gutenberg to encode italics, bold, breaks in txt etc. into a txt file. If this converter can recognize those conventions it can also be useful in converting books.

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Old 04-29-2013, 08:54 PM   #14
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There is one possibility for improvement. I do not know if this app provides this but txt files are often line oriented with a CR/LF at the end of each line while ePub is paragraph oriented with all of the lines fitted to the width of the screen. Some conversion applications can ignore CR/LF sequences and depend either on a blank line between paragraphs or an indent of the first line in a new paragraph. If this app can do this it can turn a text file into a readable document for eBook readers.

There are also some coded conventions used by Project Gutenberg to encode italics, bold, breaks in txt etc. into a txt file. If this converter can recognize those conventions it can also be useful in converting books.
My point is that a reading app could do exactly the same tweaks on the fly, there really isn't any need to convert to a intermediate file.
However, this clearly isn't an important enough point to warrant all these posts, so I shall stop

Last edited by murraypaul; 04-29-2013 at 08:56 PM.
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