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Old 01-11-2014, 04:50 PM   #1
CuriousJay
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Thoughts on optimizing Calibre to be kid-friendly?

I love, love, love Calibre and don't find the default UI to be problematic at all.

I would, however, like to set up a very simple ebook management system on my daughter's computer that would allow her to browse books and add/remove them from her Kindle Paperwhite.

There is a ton of powerful functionality in Calibre she doesn't need. I'm not worried about her ruining anything, mind you, as she's a little techie at heart and very responsible (so if I say "hey don't mess with this and this because it'll make a huge headache for both of us and mess up your library" she'll understand and comply).

I'm more interested in making it as visually appealing/simple for her to use as the main goal is to showcase the books in a kid-friendly covers-out kind of way.

Besides the obvious things like switching to Cover Grid Mode when browsing the library, are there other things you'd suggest to make the experience more streamlined? Other than adding a few buttons to the toolbar, I've never mucked around with the UI and would appreciate any expertise you have to share.

(By the way, if the best solution is "Don't use Calibre, it's way overpowered for the needs of an elementary school child with a Kindle; use this simple app X instead" I'm totally open to that too!)
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:18 PM   #2
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In Preferences, walk through all the Interface options (top row of icons) and modify where you think that is useful. E.g. you can remove all buttons from the toolbar and all options from the context menus that your daughter won't need. Etc.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:29 PM   #3
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The content server is an option (and Parents can invoke filters of what is accessible)
A very simple interface using the web browser on the device (It is listed under "Experimental" on a K4NT )

You can delete books on the Kindle directly. No program needed.

All is needed is Wifi to your calibre-server
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zetmolm View Post
In Preferences, walk through all the Interface options (top row of icons) and modify where you think that is useful. E.g. you can remove all buttons from the toolbar and all options from the context menus that your daughter won't need. Etc.
Interesting; I didn't realize you could edit the context menus too, that makes the right click-to-add much more useful.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theducks View Post
The content server is an option (and Parents can invoke filters of what is accessible)
A very simple interface using the web browser on the device (It is listed under "Experimental" on a K4NT )

You can delete books on the Kindle directly. No program needed.

All is needed is Wifi to your calibre-server
Hmmm I hadn't even though of having her access the content server from the kindle itself. I ruled out the content server entirely by thinking she'd need to download (and then sideload) the items from her PC. The from-the-browser option would be very streamlined.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousJay View Post
Hmmm I hadn't even though of having her access the content server from the kindle itself. I ruled out the content server entirely by thinking she'd need to download (and then sideload) the items from her PC. The from-the-browser option would be very streamlined.
If her device is the Kindle 3, one potential roadblock with the content server is that the Kindle browser is clunky. Small screen. I found it awkward to use to navigate.

Edit: You can also set up a different library for her. Or even an entirely different calibre configuration folder tailored for her, if you can do a little scripting.

Last edited by unboggling; 01-11-2014 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
If her device is the Kindle 3, one potential roadblock with the content server is that the Kindle browser is clunky. Small screen. I found it awkward to use to navigate.

Edit: You can also set up a different library for her. Or even an entirely different calibre configuration folder tailored for her, if you can do a little scripting.
She has a Kindle Paperwhite, but I think I might still go the on-her-computer route just because she's a kid and colorful and interesting covers is a big part of selecting a book.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousJay View Post
...I would, however, like to set up a very simple ebook management system on my daughter's computer that would allow her to browse books and add/remove them from her Kindle Paperwhite.
Oops, missed that earlier, sorry. She has her own computer, so she has her own calibre installation with its own configuration folder. So no need for scripting, just set up that installation of calibre on her computer as she'd like it. Your installation on your computer would be entirely different/independent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousJay View Post
She has a Kindle Paperwhite, but I think I might still go the on-her-computer route just because she's a kid and colorful and interesting covers is a big part of selecting a book.
The browser on Paperwhite may be better than on Kindle 3, don't know. Yeah, colorful stuff and settings to mess with in her calibre on her computer. Sounds fun even to me (despite being out of elementary school awhile).

Edit: Another colorful option you could implement is Column Coloring, to make text different colors in specified columns for different kinds of books.

And larger font size.

Edit2: Also I think using calibre would be a great educational/learning experience for a child.

Last edited by unboggling; 01-11-2014 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 01-23-2014, 02:12 PM   #9
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Smile Colourful Calibre

To make things more interesting you could colour code books by genre and add icons to columns.

I use icons to tell which books are on whose reader when they are not plugged in, which books to upload next, which books have been read and if the book is an audiobook (not stored in Calibre but referenced in the database).

Books in a series are one colour, one off books another. The possibilities are endless and your daughter could choose which icons/colours to use.

Part of my library is shown in the attachment as an example. Hope this gives you a few ideas.

Cheers
Deddajay
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zetmolm View Post
In Preferences, walk through all the Interface options (top row of icons) and modify where you think that is useful. E.g. you can remove all buttons from the toolbar and all options from the context menus that your daughter won't need. Etc.
As a variation of this, you could install the Favourites Menu plugin.

Put the options your daughter will use most on the main toolbar, then move the more advanced and less commonly used options to the Favourites menu. For example, you might keep only Add Books, Edit Metadata, Convert books, and Send to Device on the main toolbar, while putting Edit Book, Open Containing Folder, and Save to Disk on the Favourites menu.

Just make sure you keep Configure Calibre accessible somewhere.
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deddajay View Post
To make things more interesting you could colour code books by genre and add icons to columns.

I use icons to tell which books are on whose reader when they are not plugged in, which books to upload next, which books have been read and if the book is an audiobook (not stored in Calibre but referenced in the database).

Books in a series are one colour, one off books another. The possibilities are endless and your daughter could choose which icons/colours to use.

Part of my library is shown in the attachment as an example. Hope this gives you a few ideas.

Cheers
Deddajay
I love your icon idea and the color idea that both you and unboggling suggested.

Would you mind telling me more about how you implemented it? I didn't even realize Calibre supported this whole icon / color coding bit.

Also, did I read that correctly... you have custom icons that indicate which books are on which reader from your household even when the reader isn't plugged in? So I could set this up on my main Calibre install to indicate which books are on my kindle and which are on my wife's?
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by fidvo View Post
As a variation of this, you could install the Favourites Menu plugin.

Put the options your daughter will use most on the main toolbar, then move the more advanced and less commonly used options to the Favourites menu. For example, you might keep only Add Books, Edit Metadata, Convert books, and Send to Device on the main toolbar, while putting Edit Book, Open Containing Folder, and Save to Disk on the Favourites menu.

Just make sure you keep Configure Calibre accessible somewhere.
This is also a clever suggestion, thanks!
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:21 PM   #13
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I think the most important part is to fill the library with book the kid(s) really wants to read.

And perhaps have a good backup system so you can encourage the kids to experiment freely.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:37 PM   #14
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Arrow Colourful Calibre Colour and Icon Rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousJay View Post
I love your icon idea and the color idea that both you and unboggling suggested.

Would you mind telling me more about how you implemented it? I didn't even realize Calibre supported this whole icon / color coding bit.

Also, did I read that correctly... you have custom icons that indicate which books are on which reader from your household even when the reader isn't plugged in? So I could set this up on my main Calibre install to indicate which books are on my kindle and which are on my wife's?
It's probably easier to explain the colour rules I set up by the screen prints attached, but essentially you go to Preferences, Look and Feel and then the tab for column colouring. You then add a rule for your preferences. You can mix and match columns, rows, titles etc to suit.

For the icons, go to the column icons tab and again add rule. It's best to sort out some appropriate icons before you start so you know where to find them. There are a lot of icon editing programs knocking around so you can adapt them as required. I found an icon of an ereader and coloured mine blue and mother-in-law's red. To make this work you also need to set up custom columns in preferences. Mine are HJ and JJ and the columns are set as in the screen print. In the Book Details tab you need to check the custom column names so that they appear in the custom metadata tab. My checkmarks are r for read, u for next upload and y if it is on the reader. Depending on which checkmark is used, the icon will change. Red and blue arrows are for the next upload, blue and red dots are for read and the ereader icon indicates it is on the reader. You can either enter the appropriate checkmark in the custom metadata or from the main screen by double clicking the column. It is easier to enter the ereader icon when the reader is plugged in as you don't have to rely on memory. Mother-in-law just has to remember to tell me which books she's read

For my audiobooks I add an empty book and as there is no format, the loudspeaker icon is the default.

Hope this helps.

Have fun.

Deddajay
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