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Old 12-07-2015, 05:19 AM   #1
Jim Chapman
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Freda Ebook Reader now available as a Windows 10 Universal App

Turnipsoft's venerable ebook reader, Freda (store link), is now available in a new Windows Universal version, for Windows 10 desktop, tablet and mobile. In addition to new 'Universal' UI styling, the new version also offers high-performance graphics features, and supports synchronisation of your reading position across Windows 10 devices.

The application is a free download, supported by on-screen advertising - with an option to pay to remove advertising.

Screenshots:
.

Freda has been available since 2009 when it was launched on Windows Mobile, and has provided an efficient and customisable system for reading ebooks in ePub, FB2 and TXT format on Windows Phone 7, 7.5, 8 and 8.1, and on Windows 8 and 8.1. The app's features include:
  • Customisable controls, fonts and colours
  • Highlighting, bookmarks and annotations
  • Integration with on-line catalogs - Feedbooks, Smashwords, Gutenberg ...
  • Connection to your Microsoft OneDrive and DropBox accounts for downloading book files
  • Linkage to your Calibre book library
  • Opening books from websites and email attachments, and from files anywhere on your device
  • Synchronisation of your reading position across all the devices you are using
  • The OpenDyslexic font and a range of dyslexic-friendly settings, for use by readers who are affected by dyslexia

The updated app takes full advantage of Direct2D graphics, allowing book pages to be rendered extremely rapidly (hold down the 'down-arrow' key on your PC, and you will see more than twenty pages flickering past each second, as Freda progresses through the book). Of course, you can also navigate though the book using any of: cross-reference links, bookmarks, table of contents, and a simple 'go to page' feature.

The new synchronisation feature means that if you're reading the same book on your tablet and on your phone, you can leave off reading on one device, and pick up on another device, without having to hunt round and find what page you had got to. Freda synchronises between devices using lightweight files stored in a special 'Freda' folder on your OneDrive. A backup/restore function also exists, and allows the selective transfer of Freda's settings, bookmarks and library information between your various Windows devices.

For further details, take a look at the manual , and if you have any questions or ideas about the app, I (jim@turnipsoft.co.uk) would be glad to hear from you.

Last edited by Jim Chapman; 12-07-2015 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 12-08-2015, 05:46 PM   #2
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Thanks, Jim! I just bought an unlocked Windows Phone for $30 and have been looking for reading apps to play with. I got the paid version of Freda, have set up Dropbox and OneDrive and am exploring reading options. Looks good!

I'll also be installing it on my Windows laptop and a Kangaroo PC that I just bought.

This is my first experience with Windows mobile, and I like it. I'm looking forward to the v10 update. I hope Microsoft enjoys enough success to continue with the platform.

I find I need to fiddle with the system button tray (or whatever it is called) more than perhaps necessary. For example, if it is displaying, and I bring up 'quick settings' (or whatever it is called), the buttons shown at the bottom are partially obscured, and I have to hide it to see everything (I get that reading mode assumes it has full screen and users should be motivated to hide the tray). However if I go to 'advanced settings' from 'quick settings' with system tray hidden, there is no way to navigate back to reading mode without revealing the system tray so that I can tap the Back button on there, and then I need to swipe again to hide the tray again so it isn't on top of things. I would suggest adding another 'action button' next to 'undo' to close that advanced settings UI and go directly back to reading mode. This is on Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2.

It could be argued that reading mode should be responsive to whether the tray is hidden or not and redraw in response in the available viewport, so people would not have to hide it to see reading progress or whatever, but that's probably 'expensive' as it requires reflowing everything. I'm not sure I'd vote for that. I don't know if Windows Phone 8.1 lets apps auto-hide the button tray as on Android. That would be better, I think.

Last edited by tomsem; 12-09-2015 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:42 AM   #3
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It could be argued that reading mode should be responsive to whether the tray is hidden or not and redraw in response in the available viewport, so people would not have to hide it to see reading progress or whatever, but that's probably 'expensive' as it requires reflowing everything. I'm not sure I'd vote for that. I don't know if Windows Phone 8.1 lets apps auto-hide the button tray as on Android. That would be better, I think.
Yes, I never did quite get to the bottom of how to deal with the 'pop-up button' tray in Windows Phone 8.1. One difficulty is that, as far as WP8.1 is concerned, Freda is actually a 'legacy' app (it was built for WP8, and it runs on WP8.1 in a kind of compatibility mode called, for no very good reason, 'Silverlight').
On Windows 10 Mobile, it seems to do the right thing automatically, but I will continue tweaking it to see if I can explicitly offer the user the choice between 'button tray acts as an opaque overlay' and 'button tray occupies some of the viewport and triggers a reflow'; this is an area where I think different users will want different behaviours.

Last edited by Jim Chapman; 12-09-2015 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:37 PM   #4
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Yes, I never did quite get to the bottom of how to deal with the 'pop-up button' tray in Windows Phone 8.1. One difficulty is that, as far as WP8.1 is concerned, Freda is actually a 'legacy' app (it was built for WP8, and it runs on WP8.1 in a kind of compatibility mode called, for no very good reason, 'Silverlight').
On Windows 10 Mobile, it seems to do the right thing automatically, but I will continue tweaking it to see if I can explicitly offer the user the choice between 'button tray acts as an opaque overlay' and 'button tray occupies some of the viewport and triggers a reflow'; this is an area where I think different users will want different behaviours.
At least some devices (including my Lumia 640) will shortly get updated to Windows 10 for Phone. So I take it the issue will be resolved that way for me. Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:48 PM   #5
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Jim: In e-book files I make, I use a blank line as a section break. However, Freda seems to remove those so there's no way to tell where one section ends and the next begins. Is there any way to make it preserve those blank lines?

Also, is there any way to make it use truetype fonts I've added to Windows? I've added TT font files of Bookerly and Ember, but they don't show up in Freda.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:57 AM   #6
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Jim: In e-book files I make, I use a blank line as a section break. However, Freda seems to remove those so there's no way to tell where one section ends and the next begins. Is there any way to make it preserve those blank lines?

Also, is there any way to make it use truetype fonts I've added to Windows? I've added TT font files of Bookerly and Ember, but they don't show up in Freda.
There's an option "Remove blank lines" somewhere in the settings. I turned those off (same problem as you had).

Fonts I've no idea, as I don't have a Windows 10 tablet/pc, only a Windows 10 phone.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:31 PM   #7
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There's an option "Remove blank lines" somewhere in the settings. I turned those off (same problem as you had).
I've added a fix to the next version of Freda (expect the update to be published in a couple of weeks) so that a paragraph consisting only of   will result in a vertical blank space. That should resolve this problem.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:59 PM   #8
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If you've added fonts to Windows, they should show up in the font list in Settings. I have not added any fonts to the Windows 10 system I have at hand, but all of those in the system Fonts folder also appear to be in Freda's font list, plus LiveSymbol and OpenDyslexic, which appear at the end of the list and I assume are 'owned' by Freda.

The only difference for w10m is that apparently users cannot add their own fonts.
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