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Old 10-15-2004, 08:30 PM   #1
hacker
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Happy Birthday Plucker!

http://www.plkr.org/news/47

Can you belive Plucker is 6 years old today
? Its come a long way from that little hobbyist project from Mark Lillywhite in Australia to a project adopted by thousands of users, dozens of companies, and hundreds of other projects around the world!

Plucker 0.01 was pretty rough, but it worked! It only handled text, and it required sed and awk to work properly. There was no GUI or "desktop" components. It only worked on Linux and Unix. The early versions of Plucker didn't have a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but what it did, it did well. There were probably less than 5 users of Plucker 0.01 total back in late 1998/early 1999, worldwide, and I was one of them (as was Mike Nordström and Alexander Wagner). This is what it looked like back in 1998:

A LOT of work has been put into Plucker over the last 6 years, by dozens upon dozens of contributors. Plucker now works on EVERY platform including Windows, OSX, Linux, FreeBSD, OS/2, Amiga and others, through the use of various tools provided and contributed by other community people.

For those who are on a platform that cannot run the native Plucker tools, or who are behind a restrictive corporate firewall, or other reaons... Plucker even works over email!

There are graphical desktop applications that can create Plucker content for you, quite a few commercial applications that produce Plucker content.

The Palm-side application has gone from English-only in the beginning, to German, French, and onward through the years to a total of 16 current translations in 2004!

Plucker has even been ported to the Windows PocketPC platform, so even Windows users can continue to use it on their Microsoft Windows-based handheld PDA. Dozens of interesting projects use Plucker as their base handheld distribution format, including hospitals, educational institutions, and publishing companies. Many ebooks are beginning to be released exclusively in Plucker format, and many more are coming.

We know of at least 2-dozen commercial companies utilizing Plucker in their products or internal company. Many doctors, students, and other professionals use Plucker to keep read-made information on-hand (pun intended) when they need it.

Here is what Plucker looks like today. What a long way we've come... and we're not done yet! Lots of new features are planned for Plucker 2.0. Come join us!

Happy Anniversary Plucker!

(You can read more about the history of Plucker on our website)

Last edited by hacker; 10-16-2004 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 10-16-2004, 12:51 AM   #2
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I will join you, if plucker ever makes it to PocketPC (Vade Mecum just doesn't cut it... )

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Old 10-16-2004, 07:54 AM   #3
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Plucker became a truly outstanding product!
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Old 10-19-2004, 12:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hacker
Many ebooks are beginning to be released exclusively in Plucker format, and many more are coming.
Hacker, is that truly what you want? Weren't you one of those who were always advocating open-formats such as xhtml, txt, or openreader?
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Hacker, is that truly what you want? Weren't you one of those who were always advocating open-formats such as xhtml, txt, or openreader?
The decision by other ebook publishers to release their works, or the works of their authors in Plucker format isn't something we can control.

But what makes you think that Plucker's format is any less open than HTML or text? Its fully documented and open for anyone to use and enhance. OpenReader, for example, proposes that it will include standards, but it is still in development, and doesn't exist yet.

Plucker's format exists today, and can be used today.

I'm all for using what works and includes standards, but we can't exactly use and embrace something that doesn't exist yet.
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hacker
But what makes you think that Plucker's format is any less open than HTML or text?
Plucker format is open, but not easily converted to another format. At least to my knowledge, there is no way for the normal user to convert a Plucker e-book to another format. Thus he or she would be confined to using Plucker.
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:23 PM   #7
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Plucker has always provided tools to turn a Plucker document back into HTML. Granted the HTML it produces isn't the "original" HTML (thats impossible to create), but it is the same exact HTML that you would see in the Plucker document when converted. Perhaps you should use those (assuming the ebook isn't protected with an OwnerID set in the Plucker document, of course).

How do I take a TomeRaider and convert it to another format? What about OEB? What about OpenReader? MobiPocket? What about other formats? You can't. (I've got some tools that convert some of these, but it isn't publically distributed).

Plucker's rich format supports a lot more than XHTML or text formats can. With the features proposed for Plucker 2.0, that is even extended further. The format is open, and can be turned back into HTML if you wish.

Use whatever works for your needs. For many, that happens to be Plucker. For other authors and companies, other formats suit their needs.

Last edited by hacker; 10-19-2004 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hacker
How do I take a TomeRaider and convert it to another format? What about OEB? What about OpenReader? MobiPocket? What about other formats? You can't. (I've got some tools that convert some of these, but it isn't publically distributed).
I didn't mean to say that other proprietary formats were any better than Plucker's. I just prefer to have documents in a well-known format such as xhtml which can then be converted to anybody's liking.
Quote:
Use whatever works for your needs. For many, that happens to be Plucker. For others, other formats suit their needs.
Please don't wrong take me wrong -- I appreciate your contribution to Plucker and everything.

Cheers!
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Old 10-19-2004, 03:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
I didn't mean to say that other proprietary formats were any better than Plucker's. I just prefer to have documents in a well-known format such as xhtml which can then be converted to anybody's liking.
So take the tools provided with Plucker, and convert the Plucker .pdb back to HTML, and use that as a base.
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Old 10-19-2004, 03:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hacker
So take the tools provided with Plucker, and convert the Plucker .pdb back to HTML, and use that as a base.
Ok, but what advantage does that give me? If I had the original as (x)html, I could always choose the format to convert it into, for instance Plucker.

But using your method, I would have to first translate the Plucker file back into (x)html, and then reconvert it again. Plus, as you said earlier, the transformed (x)html file wouldn't be identical to the original.

Sorry, I just fail to see the advantage of supplying e-books in Plucker format as to supplying them in (x)html.
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Old 10-19-2004, 04:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Ok, but what advantage does that give me? If I had the original as (x)html, I could always choose the format to convert it into, for instance Plucker.
Now you're just not making any sense. First you said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Plucker format is open, but not easily converted to another format. At least to my knowledge, there is no way for the normal user to convert a Plucker e-book to another format.
To which I responded with some options to convert an existing Plucker document back to HTML.

Then you said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
But using your method, I would have to first translate the Plucker file back into (x)html, and then reconvert it again. Plus, as you said earlier, the transformed (x)html file wouldn't be identical to the original.
This is correct. When you convert an HTML, RSS, PDF, etc. resource to Plucker format, much of the unnecessary items are stripped (for example, font faces, sizes, inline css classes, comments, and other items). When you convert from Plucker back to HTML, you aren't going to get any of that back, because none of that was preserved in making the Plucker document (obviously).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Sorry, I just fail to see the advantage of supplying e-books in Plucker format as to supplying them in (x)html.
And I agree. If the publisher wants to supply their books in XHTML, they are free to do so, with all of the downsides of validation, authentication, size constraints, and portability that the choice of using XHTML as a base format brings.

If you want to change the minds of those publishers, I'd start with them.
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Old 10-19-2004, 06:05 PM   #12
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Plucker's format is nowhere near as versatile or as rich as XHTML. For instance, it has no notion of a <ul> or <ol>-style; you have to hardcode the bullets or numbers in the document itself. Nested lists are problematic as well, as you have to insert hardcoded horizontal margins to make them appear indented. The problem here is that margins in Plucker format are specified in pixels, meaning that you get different results with different resolutions and/or different font sizes, causing text and list bullets/numbers not to line up properly. Anyway, this is how JPluck handles nested lists. The Python parser does not indent nested lists at all. Instead, it uses different list bullet symbols to distinguish between different list levels. This makes hierarchical lists difficult to read, to say the least.

Plucker has a simple presentational format that is geared towards rendering documents quickly on handheld devices. There's nothing wrong with that, since that is what Plucker is meant to do. Remember that it has been around for years when Palm OS 2.0 was the latest-and-greatest.
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Old 10-19-2004, 11:36 PM   #13
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I'd just like to say Happy Freakin' Birthday to Plucker. I use it every single day (with the Sunrise parser) and would have to say that it is by far my favorite program on my Palm. When I was looking at switching to PPC, it was Plucker that I would miss. Thanks for all your work, hacker. Ya'll have done a great job and it's appreciated. And thanks for your support of open source.

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Old 10-29-2004, 01:13 PM   #14
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Lots of new features are planned for Plucker 2.0. Come join us!
Is there somewhere we can read about or preview the upcoming new 2.0 features? And when is the release anticipated?
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