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Old 06-17-2008, 11:54 AM   #1
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In Praise of RTF

I don't know about other eBooks, but Sony seem to have done a good job in implementing RTF on their reader. Especially since there seems to be no good documentation, it is easy to think of RTF as a format of last resort. Or even worse, a low-class common denominator format that will at least "try" to render documents you may already have.

But I have discovered that the margins, tabs, and line wrapping features allow me to easily do things that appear difficult, if not impossible, with other commonly used (more sophisticated) LRF tools. Besides the files are much smaller and quicker to load. As a pleasant surprise, RTF software in the reader also handles S, M, and L font sizes and page rotation very well.

For some of the things that are routinely difficult or ugly - i.e. rendering poems or oddball line positioning - RTF may be the best readily available tool.

I think we should elevate our perception of RTF from an "also ran" to a primary tool. It should at least be considered from time to time as the situation may warrant.

IMHO
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:01 PM   #2
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I use RTF as my format of choice, followed by HTLM. Since you're using RTF on the SONY reader, (I use the 1st gen CYbook (w/big LCD screen)), I have the following questions.

Does it read RTF easily without conversion?

Does it handle imbedded picture files?

Are there quirks to reading RTF that would require changes to the RTF embedded code. (I keep a good hex editor for such purposes.)

I have been a CYbook man, but depending on the answers, I might become a Sony owner.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TedPark View Post
Besides the files are much smaller and quicker to load. As a pleasant surprise, RTF software in the reader also handles S, M, and L font sizes and page rotation very well.

That's odd. I've always found an RTF file of a novel is much bigger than the LRF conversion.
I prefer to do the conversions so that I can include pictures, aTOC and hyperlinked footnotes.

But if RTF works for you, then go for it.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:59 PM   #4
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You are absolutely right. I have been persuading people to use rtf files for Reader for ages. Some formating options (like left justification) are only available in rtf file. I also think that a built-in, heavily hinted and optimized sans-serif font is the best choice for reading. This font is used if you set your rtf file font to Arial or Helvetica.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:18 PM   #5
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Yes RTF does look good on the SONY (supported natively as well). The Sony Connect Software also does a good job converting Word Docs to RTF files. The limitation RTF files have is that they don't support images or links.

RTF is essentially well formated text.


What I have resorted to for my own documents is to use OpenOffice as an HTML editor and use calibe to turn it to LRF. OpenOffice is an excellent word process as well as an HTML editor.

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Old 06-17-2008, 02:09 PM   #6
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RTF is my first choice also. It looks as good as html, but takes up less space on my reader. I don't need to know the whys, just figured it out by experimentation.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by =X= View Post
Yes RTF does look good on the SONY (supported natively as well). The Sony Connect Software also does a good job converting Word Docs to RTF files. The limitation RTF files have is that they don't support images or links.
=X=

RTF proper does allow bitmap images. So I am assuming that the Sony reader RTF reading software does not handle bitmaps. I neither want or need links, so that is no loss. Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:26 PM   #8
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It's hard to quote exactly from your comments to address several issues and questions addressed in multiple posts. So let me just make some points:

1. RTF is NOT a panacea and I'm not suggesting that it replace LRF in any place where LRF works OK. But I think it is easy to get locked into "LRF for everything" and not consider other formats where they would work better. For instance, see my two posts:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24922

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25092

I like this formatting (personal taste perhaps) and doing this with RTF is fairly easy.

2. I have read innumerable complaints from book creators and book readers that certain things (poems especially) just come out awful in LRF. Consider my new post:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25142

This is easily the best looking poem I have seen on my Sony Reader. There are no other tools known to me that allow me to do this.

3. I am not generally suggesting "converting" from other structured formats to RTF. I think that would be painful and probably counterproductive. But for creating new documents (see my first two threads listed above), it could be the easiest for a lot of things. And if you have "plain text" downloaded from Gutenberg or copied off a web page, then pasting that text into MS-Word and working with it may be easier than other tools you have available. That is what I did with the Keats poem.

4. Agree that RTF does not support links and other things that are important for a lot of documents.

5. I'm pretty new to book making, so I don't know all the things RTF will or will not let me do. I'm learning as I go along. Pretty much everything I know is wrapped up in the examples I mentioned.

6. Converting FROM somthing else TO RTF may cause the RTF file to be relatively big. Like HTML, RTF has the option of having lots of "hidden" secondary stuff in the file. I've had pretty good luck in the size being small when creating content, as mentioned above. Furthermore, if you know what you are doing, you can edit the RTF with a text editor such as Notepad and eliminate a lot of this fluff.

My bottom line is that after trying to get other tools to do some formatting I wanted to do, I found it hard or impossible. RTF allowed me to achieve the results I wanted. So at least for me - RTF is no longer a second class citizen, but a viable first-tier tool that should be considered as one embarks on each book making project.

Last edited by TedPark; 06-17-2008 at 08:32 PM. Reason: Just added #6
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Old 06-17-2008, 09:32 PM   #9
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Here's an example of peotry in LRF (created with html2lrf) http://down.4dots.com/5029/wasteland.lrf
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:55 PM   #10
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I think for me the biggest issue is that it is extremely difficult to hand write RTF compared to HTML (and its derivatives) so you are dependent on GUI tools to handle the RTF files. If you want to edit all of your documents in MS Word, Open Office or some similar program that is fine, but when something goes wrong it will be much harder to look into the source of the document to see what is really happening and try to correct it.
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:59 PM   #11
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The big limitations of RTF on the Sony are lack of hyperlinks, lack of picture support, and no table of contents. Those are all pretty significant for books of any real size.

For a "quick read" of fiction from start to end then I agree, it's OK.
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Old 06-18-2008, 02:16 PM   #12
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Here's an example of peotry in LRF (created with html2lrf) http://down.4dots.com/5029/wasteland.lrf
Yup - good stuff. But I still don't know how to create my Hyperion (with line numbers) any way but via RTF.
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Old 06-18-2008, 02:18 PM   #13
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I think for me the biggest issue is that it is extremely difficult to hand write RTF compared to HTML (and its derivatives) so you are dependent on GUI tools to handle the RTF files. If you want to edit all of your documents in MS Word, Open Office or some similar program that is fine, but when something goes wrong it will be much harder to look into the source of the document to see what is really happening and try to correct it.
Indeed!
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Old 06-18-2008, 02:22 PM   #14
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The big limitations of RTF on the Sony are lack of hyperlinks, lack of picture support, and no table of contents. Those are all pretty significant for books of any real size.

For a "quick read" of fiction from start to end then I agree, it's OK.
I agree totally. I'm not sure I would use it even for a "quick read". My only point is that for SOME things RTF may be the BEST tool available. It is not necessarily the wicked stepchild for everything.
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Old 06-18-2008, 02:23 PM   #15
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I think for me the biggest issue is that it is extremely difficult to hand write RTF compared to HTML (and its derivatives) so you are dependent on GUI tools to handle the RTF files. If you want to edit all of your documents in MS Word, Open Office or some similar program that is fine, but when something goes wrong it will be much harder to look into the source of the document to see what is really happening and try to correct it.
That's why I have a good hex file editor. But I'm an old mainframer, used to twiddling bits.
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