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Old 07-28-2013, 06:29 AM   #1
AlexBell
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Android innocent needs help

The background to this post is that I design ebooks, and like to make sure that they can be read on as many readers as possible. I know nothing about Android, and can't find anything in the Wiki.

A beta reader has tested an ebook I recently designed whose XHTML files validate to W3C standards, and the ePub itself validates with EPUB-Checker. It works as expected on my Sony PRS T1, Kobo Touch, and iPad2/iBooks. But on his Sony S tablet using Android there are some instances in which there are extra blank pages after full screen images.

- Is there any android software (preferably free) that I can use on my Windows 7 computer to test my ebook myself, and find out how to fix this problem, and detect any other problems with my ebooks and android?

- Do Android readers generally read valid ePubs correctly?
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Old 07-28-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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Alex, there are many programs for reading epubs on android. The primary ones that I know of are Moon+, Mantano, FB Reader, Cool Reader, and Aldiko. I've tried them all, and all render epubs fine. Have seen no issues with any of them.

One of the key differences between these readers is how much of the formatting instructions in the css they will pick up. I've found Mantano does this most extensively. Some of the other readers purposely ignore many of the css instructions. Regardless of this, as I said, I have seen no problems with epub rendering with any of these reading programs.

As for running android apps on your PC, here's something you may want to look into:

http://www.bluestacks.com/index.html

Have never used it myself, but I assume once you have it installed, you just load the program APK (android app file). You can find many android APK files via a google search.

Hope this helps. You should ask your beta tester what reading program he was using. Could it have been an obscure one?

--Pat
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Old 07-28-2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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Thanks, Pat. That's just the kind of help I need. He said he 'Checked with Sony Reader app v 3.2.1', so I'll check that out.

I've had a quick look at Bluestack, and it seems at first glance to be for playing games. I'll look into it in more detail.
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Old 07-28-2013, 08:16 PM   #4
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I'd say the first line of defense is run your epub through Adobe Digital Editions software (free) on your desktop. I've found that if a book works well there, it will usually do fine on the major epub reader devices (Sony, Kobo, Nook) and *ALSO* on their Android apps, as well as the Overdrive app.

The next three Android apps that generally do a good job of rendering CSS are Aldiko, Mantano and Bluefire Reader. So if your book looks good in ADE, it should look OK with these apps.

Moon+, FB Reader, Cool Reader and some others do not pick up all the CSS and as a result, books may look a bit wonky. They'll be readable usually, but won't look *as published*. There's not much you can do to control that though, as the reader will use the app they prefer to read with.

Pat's idea of asking your beta tester which app he used is a good one, because at least you can rule out the possibility he used an app that does not have good CSS support.
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Old 07-28-2013, 08:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
Thanks, Pat. That's just the kind of help I need. He said he 'Checked with Sony Reader app v 3.2.1', so I'll check that out.

I've had a quick look at Bluestack, and it seems at first glance to be for playing games. I'll look into it in more detail.
You might ask him if he has any other reading apps installed and whether he can run it through those and report back. It could be just the one app that is rendering things a bit differently.
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:57 AM   #6
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Thanks, Graycyn

The ebook looks fine in ADE on my Windows 7 computer.

Do I understand you to say that the Bluefire Reader for the iPad is an android reader? If so, I could test my ebooks on that. They work perfectly well with iBooks.
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Old 07-29-2013, 06:10 AM   #7
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Alex, the versions of Bluefire for iOS and android are different, and if your epub works on the iOS one, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work on the android version.

The Sony reader app for android is not a widely used app. It could very well be that it is simply not rendering the epub correctly. Can you have your beta tester load up at least 3 of the popular android reader apps on his device? They are free and available through the Google Play store. Not sure what device he has, but almost all android phones/tablets have access to Google Play. I would suggest he load up at least Mantano, Aldiko and Cool Reader. If your epub reads correctly on those apps + ADE on your PC, then I would say the problem is with the Sony reader app.

What Graycyn said seems like good advice -- if it works in ADE, it should work in most of the android reading apps.

I believe the bluestacks application is for all android apps, not just games.

--Pat
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:59 AM   #8
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Alex, I might be worth your time to have a browse through the Sigil forum on this site. I remember a few threads that addressed the problem you are having - they tended to be css problems in the publication.

While an epub will pass validation it does not mean that there are no small discrepancies in it that may be picked up by individual readers.

What you are seeing may be caused by the image size description or a spare tag after it that causes the reader to give a blank page.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:26 AM   #9
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Calibre installs a windows epub reader. It updates the epub after to save reading progress.
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:30 PM   #10
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Thanks, Graycyn

The ebook looks fine in ADE on my Windows 7 computer.

Do I understand you to say that the Bluefire Reader for the iPad is an android reader? If so, I could test my ebooks on that. They work perfectly well with iBooks.
Yes, there is an Android version of Bluefire and also a version for iPad. I'd assume that testing in Bluefire on an iPad would probably give you a decent idea of how the same book would perform on the Android version.

If the book is working well with ADE, you are on the right track and should be mostly good to go for the Android apps that render CSS well.
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:42 PM   #11
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Alex, the versions of Bluefire for iOS and android are different, and if your epub works on the iOS one, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work on the android version.

The Sony reader app for android is not a widely used app. It could very well be that it is simply not rendering the epub correctly. Can you have your beta tester load up at least 3 of the popular android reader apps on his device? They are free and available through the Google Play store. Not sure what device he has, but almost all android phones/tablets have access to Google Play. I would suggest he load up at least Mantano, Aldiko and Cool Reader. If your epub reads correctly on those apps + ADE on your PC, then I would say the problem is with the Sony reader app.

What Graycyn said seems like good advice -- if it works in ADE, it should work in most of the android reading apps.

I believe the bluestacks application is for all android apps, not just games.

--Pat
Didn't know that about Bluefire, I do know that it seems to do fine with my validated and ADE tested books in the Android version, but I don't have any iDevice to test on sadly.

I would agree that the Sony app is not that widely used and there is a good chance it is just rendering something a little differently and your book is fine. If, as Pat says, it works with Mantano and Aldiko, I think you are golden. It's worth seeing how the book does in Cool Reader, in case of any complex formatting that might break without perfect css rendering.

I encountered one issue with Aldiko, if you need some paragraphs to not indent, they must be assigned a class. Something like h3 + p {text-indent: 0;} did not work for me with Aldiko, though it was fine in ADE and Mantano.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:34 AM   #12
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Thanks to you all. It looks as though the problem may be that I embedded full screen (600px*800px) images in their own div, but not in a separate file. The beta reader kindly revised the ePub and put the full screen images in their own file, and says that fixed the problem. I must remember that validation is necessary, but not sufficient.

And thanks for the information about Blue Stack; I'll see if I can get it on my computer and test it.

I really appreciate your interest and help to an android ignoramus.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:50 PM   #13
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So glad you figured out the issue! I wouldn't have thought of that, since I do my full-screen images as their own file in an svg wrapper. Just shows though how some apps can accept things fine while another may have a rendering issue with the exact same code. Validation is a good thing, but it can't beat doing testing.

I about went nuts myself trying to figure out why Aldiko wanted to indent a lot of stuff I had set to not indent, then I did a Google search and guess what, the answer was here on MobileRead, and a known issue with Aldiko, LOL!
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