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Old 12-17-2008, 02:29 PM   #16
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By the way, I'm very surprised at how long it takes Sony and Adobe to remove these kinks. After all, the software is not that complicated and the algorithms have been available for ages. It makes me wonder at the commitment these companies have when it comes to the PRS...
Well, I don't think this is a Reader-specific problem -- the desktop version of AdobeDE also doesn't do fully-justified text. I'm holding out hope that they're trying to do it "right" -- do fully dynamic hyphenation using language-specific hyphenation engines and a standards-compliant way of specifying hyphenation points for troublesome words. That is much, much harder, and AFAIK doesn't exist in any present system for displaying reflowable content.
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Old 12-17-2008, 02:47 PM   #17
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Had a look at that. Now that is one ugly layout!
well, it surprised me at first too, but actually i got used it really quickly. i don't think it's ugly.

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Originally Posted by llasram View Post
Well, I don't think this is a Reader-specific problem -- the desktop version of AdobeDE also doesn't do fully-justified text. I'm holding out hope that they're trying to do it "right" -- do fully dynamic hyphenation using language-specific hyphenation engines and a standards-compliant way of specifying hyphenation points for troublesome words. That is much, much harder, and AFAIK doesn't exist in any present system for displaying reflowable content.
now, if they can manage that, i think i wouldn't mind justified reflowable text ! that would be pretty impressive. and, as you say, very very hard to do.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:28 PM   #18
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If that's a true representation of the printed pages, I'd demand my money back if I bought it. Ragged right, truncated descenders, missing punctuation and weird spacing on the quote marks. A really bad bit of typesetting.


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by the way, the recent Penguin paper editions of Wodehouse's books are printed "ragged right". it's a bit surprising at first glance but i quickly got used to it. you can see this here if you click on "look inside".
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:40 PM   #19
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If that's a true representation of the printed pages, I'd demand my money back if I bought it. Ragged right, truncated descenders, missing punctuation and weird spacing on the quote marks. A really bad bit of typesetting.
i think that's just a bad scan. i bought 2 of those wodehouse books in the london airport ; looking at my editions in person they *are* aligned to the left with a ragged right, which is why i linked to them in the first place, of course. however, all ascenders and descenders are intact, i see no "weird spacing" anywhere, and the type is perfectly clean and nice.

we are used to seeing justified text in print books, and so some people have come to associate this convention with "good" or "correct" typesetting.

i disagree. it is *one* style of typesetting, but not the only one, or the best one, and certainly not indicated in every circumstance.

in fact, justified text is technically more difficult to read, particularly on longer lines, as the eye has no landmarks to help it keep its place as it scans back and forth across the page. and if it is used on short lines or on a text containing a lot of very long words it can give very bad results with large gaps in the line and "rivers" of white space. this is often the case with auto-justified reflowable text, thus my personal preference for left-alignement instead for ebooks.

justified text is a convention of the (printed) book... but so is paper. i'm pretty sure it's been demonstrated to all of us that paper is not the only or the best way to read.
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:47 PM   #20
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But, nonetheless, full justification is pretty much "universal" for printed books. It is completely unacceptable not to have this in what is claimed to be a "standard" for eBooks. It's a pretty poor standard if it doesn't provide it!
It doesn't have a single thing to do with the format: you can display fully justified book with language specific hyphenation in Stanza just fine.

Once again, it's very important to avoid mixing issues related to the reading system (Digital Editions) with issues linked to the format.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:25 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
in fact, justified text is technically more difficult to read, particularly on longer lines, as the eye has no landmarks to help it keep its place as it scans back and forth across the page. and if it is used on short lines or on a text containing a lot of very long words it can give very bad results with large gaps in the line and "rivers" of white space. this is often the case with auto-justified reflowable text, thus my personal preference for left-alignement instead for ebooks.
I find justified text more beatiful and easy to the eyes, and makes paragraphs a lot clearer.

But there is well-justified text and bad-justified text. Well-justified text does not use the simplistic "fill this line as much as you can, then expand spaces and break" algorithm, it instead tries to find the break points in the whole paragraph that will result in the most uniform distribution of text among the lines, ideally it would use hyphenation when needed and, of course, it doesn't have very long lines (around 66 characters is considered right). Something like TeX does. Bad-justified text is just the opposite, and sometimes left-aligned is better than bad-justified, I agree there, but well-justified is better than both.

In sum, the option should be there, in the reader software.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:27 AM   #22
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I find justified text more beatiful and easy to the eyes, and makes paragraphs a lot clearer.

But there is well-justified text and bad-justified text. Well-justified text does not use the simplistic "fill this line as much as you can, then expand spaces and break" algorithm, it instead tries to find the break points in the whole paragraph that will result in the most uniform distribution of text among the lines, ideally it would use hyphenation when needed and, of course, it doesn't have very long lines (around 66 characters is considered right). Something like TeX does. Bad-justified text is just the opposite, and sometimes left-aligned is better than bad-justified, I agree there, but well-justified is better than both.
very well said. i am not positive i prefer even well-justified text *always*, but the difference between well-justified and badly-justified text is huge !! and badly justified text is just painful to look at.
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In sum, the option should be there, in the reader software.
yes, i quite agree.
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:11 AM   #23
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very well said. i am not positive i prefer even well-justified text *always*
Have you had a look at the PDF books I have uploaded? They are made with TeX, which has a quite good algorithm. Do you think you would prefer left-aligned text there?

Well, left-aligned text is usually preferable with very short lines, as in magazines or newspapers with narrow columns, where finding appropriate break points is very hard/impossible. So at the end I guess it depends on the font size you have in your reader (I like a smallish font myself).
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:21 AM   #24
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very well said. i am not positive i prefer even well-justified text *always*, but the difference between well-justified and badly-justified text is huge !! and badly justified text is just painful to look at.
Did you find the justification on the CyBook to be bad, Zelda?
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:14 AM   #25
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Have you had a look at the PDF books I have uploaded? They are made with TeX, which has a quite good algorithm. Do you think you would prefer left-aligned text there?
i took a look at your pdf of Les Trois Mousquetaires just now (i haven't looked at them before, as i usually avoid pdf format). i agree, that gives quite a good result. however it's a pdf ; that's rather a special case, as the book creator has much more control there than a typical reflowable text. looking at that pdf i am seeing it just as you made it ; i looked at it on my computer, so the text is fixed and does not reflow. that to me is a different case, and as i said before pdf is the only format in which justification can really be managed, but... i don't think pdf is really an ebook format.

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Well, left-aligned text is usually preferable with very short lines, as in magazines or newspapers with narrow columns, where finding appropriate break points is very hard/impossible. So at the end I guess it depends on the font size you have in your reader (I like a smallish font myself).
yes that is a very big factor. i like a medium font, not too small, as i like to read in bed before going to sleep, with not over-bright light and without my glasses.
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Did you find the justification on the CyBook to be bad, Zelda?
here is a photo of a book on the cybook with justified text.

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it demonstrates the irregular gaps and "rivers" of white space which i have been talking about. i didn't look particularly hard to find it ; it is the 2nd page of that book, using the font-size i find comfortable to use (i didn't modify it just for the photo, in other words). it's pretty egregious, i'm sure you'll agree. it's exactly why i don't like automatic justification on reflowable texts. even with hyphenation i'm not sure it would necessarily give a better result ; i've seen some texts with 3 or more hyphens in a row, and that is just as bad. here i clearly prefer left alignement.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:47 AM   #26
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I generally read with a much smaller font size, at which full justification works a lot better. You're right - at that font size, left justification is better. Nice to give the user the choice, of course!
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:07 AM   #27
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I agree with Jellby that TeX does an excellent job with very strict rules and support for both kerning and hyphenation if you enable the right stuff.
You even need to change a few settings otherwise the rules are too strict for a 6" document...
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:12 AM   #28
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that to me is a different case, and as i said before pdf is the only format in which justification can really be managed, but... i don't think pdf is really an ebook format.
My point is, a similar algorithm used for creating the PDF could be used by the readers to reflow text. So, as I said elsewhere, the problem with justification is not justification per se, but the often too simplistic algorithms implemented.
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:17 AM   #29
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I generally read with a much smaller font size, at which full justification works a lot better. You're right - at that font size, left justification is better. Nice to give the user the choice, of course!
I read with the fourth smallest size and you get a lot of disturbing white spaces at this size also.
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:18 AM   #30
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My point is, a similar algorithm used for creating the PDF could be used by the readers to reflow text. So, as I said elsewhere, the problem with justification is not justification per se, but the often too simplistic algorithms implemented.
oh, i completely agree !! i am not against justification, i am against (overly simplistic, badly done...) automatic justification. i make a very strong distinction between good justification and bad justification. but, for the moment, all of the displays of justified reflowable text that i have seen have been very unsatisfactory (=bad justification : see photo above). therefore, in these circumstances, i prefer left-aligned.

i do think that in the end it should be a choice left to the user.

however i also think that perhaps it's important to stop considering justification the only valid way of presenting text, and consider instead that it is one option of several, equally valid.
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