BookSmart

Next Release of BookSmart: Some Suggestions Part I

In two parts as I exceeded the message limit.

Having spotted in a recent post the comment by Blurb’s Kathy Nadertscher that the next release of BookSmart is being worked on I though now might be a good time to submit my suggestions for improvements, so here goes…..

  • Text 
     1.  The ability to choose a default font, size and characteristics (e.g. colour,
          bold or italic) for the entire book rather than having to change each time
          you add a new page.

      2.  The ability to change my mind and change those characteristics throughout
           the book rather than going to every text box on every page do a select all
          and change them individually is a real pain in the ….

      3. Justified text to both left and right borders

       4.  Superscripts to make foot notes/end notes look better.

  • Improvements in zoom level, I seem to spend all my time fiddling with the
         slider to get the zoom level back where I want it. This is VERY frustrating. So what specifically?...

             1.  In Edit mode a button to zoom to a single page filling the frame

             2.  A button to have two facing pages fill the frame.

             3.  After editing text, which has to (auto) zoom sometimes so you can
                  see what you are doing, when you click back on the page, return to
                  the previous zoom level.

             4. When you leave Preview mode go back to the last zoom setting you
                 had used in Edit.

  • In Preview mode have an option to go into full screen mode, to fully fill the display/screen, with the use of the arrow buttons to navigate. I find the bigger    the better when previewing.
  • An option to print dustjackets locally. Firstly to make it easier to preview. Secondly so I can print a replacement copy when one gets torn as you don’t offer that service. To do that the cover (not asking for this in a book preview print) would need to be without the For Proof watermark, I don’t think that would result in any loss of income to you.
  • When importing a duplicate image provide an option to add with a revised name (as you do now) or to replace the existing image with automatic replacement in the page(s) using it. If you re-edit a photo and want to re-import it the workflow is very messy at the moment.
  • Matching photos on the pages to thumbnails when you have hundreds of photos is hard, especially as you have renamed them all!  Matching those to your original files ain’t easy either. So…

          1.  In the Imported Images frame, to be able to click on an image and find
             out what pages it is used in.

          2.  When you click on a photo on a page, have the thumbnail in the Imported 
               Images frame highlighted. Then you can get the original file name by
              double clicking that.

.........Tony

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 1:53am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

Part II

  • The dividing line between Page Templates and Imported Images should remember where it was left last time BookSmart was used. With the latest release it always reverts to showing zero templates and maximum photos. Every time I start BookSmart I have to drag it down.
  • To be able to create your own page templates and import those into BookSmart. That could also lead to a "market" for templates either shared freely amongst BookSMart users or even to be sold.
  • Fix the problem where a local proof print only fills about a quarter of the printed page. First time I printed it was fine, but from then on the image is just  (roughly) a quarter of the printed page. There have been a number of posts where other people have had the same problem. If you are worried about local printing being used instead of paying to to produce books make the For Proof watermark bigger and bolder.
  • Printing locally seems to print only 15 pages, meaning I can’t set a print of the book  going and go to bed.
  • The  Photo Page Templates.
        1.  In general these are O.K., but a bit limited, but I do find that the space for
               a caption on most of them is unduly limited really only leaving room for a
              single line, even when there is lots of blank space below the caption
              container. These could be extended downwards leaving the editor (i.e.
             me!) to decide whether I want one line or two. You shouldn’t make that
            choice for me.

          2.  Some consistency in size of image containers. Easier to give you
              examples of what I consider carelessly designed templates via an e-mail
              attachmment, but to take just one example in the 13"x11" page templates
              there are two with an image container full height and right up to the gutter
             with text boxes to the side. One image is 2246×3263 the other page is
            2250×3263 why aren’t they the same width? If I switch a page from tthe
            second to the first to get a bit more text on the page, the proportions of the 
            container have changed and I have to recrop my photo.

        3.  The full bleed page template: a variant of this that would allow you to
             superimpose a page number on the photo would be useful.

        4.  I’m happy creating my own pages in Photoshop (though it is even better
             when I don’t have to) but for others who do not have PS or equivalent the
            ability to adjustthe size and placement of image containers by draggin the
            corners or dragging thhem around the page with the mouse would be a
            boon. Probably cut my use of PS down quite a bit as well

Other suggestions folks?

...........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 1:54am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

Sorry about the formatting, I have yet to crack this when I cut and paste…it looked O,K. in the text box you use to type your message.

So, I’ll add a suggested change to Web Features…

  • crack this problem!

..........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 1:58am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

Hi Tony;

THANK YOU for putting up this comprehensive review… Well done…

As you know, I’m still running an older release, and had a TODO to install the latest release next week, now that I have finished my last book, and before I start on my next…, but with your commentary above, I’m not at all sure that I will now…

Anyhow; a couple of additions, or riders…

- Text handling; I have frequently promoted the use of a "Personal Profiles" menu item. I think that would take care of a lot of your commentary about text handling…

- Zooming controls; Would be nice to have a drop-down input box, so a user could input a value between say 1% & 200%, rather than rely on the (difficult to control) zoom-slider…

- Matching images / file names; Would be better if Blurb simply used the original file-name on import, rather than the impossibly long name they give the file now. (Even better – just link to the original file… would save huge amounts of resource!)Failing that, a means of tying the two files together. We can always find the original file-name & path, but trying to identify which Blurb image name is used is impossible in a large book…

- Templates; I would like to see some "standard" templates available across ALL book sizes, such as the 2 and 3 image, portrait and landscape, full bleed options. E.g. both a 2 and 3 image landscape full bleed is available in a 10×8 portrait (!) book, but not in the larger 13×11 landscape where it would be REALLY handy…

That’s all I can think of for now…

Cheers;

Lee

Posted by
lkb-28
May 20, 2008 3:12am PDT
Permalink
lkb-28
 

I’ve had fewer problems since I upgraded to 1.9.5 so I’m happy I did so. The only new problem is that blasted one of the divide between the templates and the images.

I can now paste from Word without problems which is a big improvement *that’s where most of my research material was).

Have you still got the install files for the version you are using? If so hang on to them so you can revert and download the latest version and give it a try for your next book.

......Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 3:20am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

I forgot one….

Spellcheck Dictionary –

  • I’d quite like an English Dictionary (rather than American) I’m getting tired of it complaining about words such as Colour, Metre and almost everything that ends in …ise. That would probably suit your Canadian users as well, well at least those who haven’t been corrupted by the American language :-)
  •  I suspect others might like French or Dutch, etc.
  • Plus ability to add words to a personal Custom Dictionary, particularly useful for place names.

.........Tony

 

Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 9:41am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 
  • Let me make my own tepmplates.  If not….
  • Headers and footers on all templates.  I can hide them if I don’t want them, but if they aren’t there I can’t do a thing about it.
  • A "universal" template with full page bleed, full page text, headers and footers.  Please, I need this as a last resort when none of your templates suit!
  • More caption boxes, especially on full bleeds and the two-page spread. I’m making a book of panoramas, and NONE of the templates with inside-edge bleed have under-picture captions.  Please, this and the above request and I am a much happier person!
  • numeric zoom control in addition to the slider
  • How about the ability to work on discrete chapters, and the ability to drag and drop entire chapters.  A chapter title page could have a horizontal arrow in the page-slider area.  Click on it to expand the chapter, click again to contract  Instead of showing 200+ pages in that slider it could show a dozen chapters.  When all chapters are contracted you could drag and rearrange them much as you do with individual pages now.
  • CSS-like ability to create style definitions for text
  • automatic selection of high-contrast header/footer text color.  if I change an individual page background from white to black the header/footer should change from black to white.
  • When adding pictures from My Computer, I want it to be able to monitor a directory and automatically add photos as the directory contents change.
Posted by
tailwinds
May 20, 2008 12:31pm PDT
Permalink
tailwinds
 

Good set of ideas tailwinds, but I especially like your chapter proposals – that would get my vote!

Thanks for contributing.

......Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
May 20, 2008 1:59pm PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

Hello Blurb customers and forum participants,

Wonderful review and suggestion! Nice thoughts, Tony.

I would think, and would love to see something – that is VERY useful tool – especially in InDesign – pro printers use this pretty neat tool known as “The Printers’ Marks” to put in “Crop Marks or Bleed Marks”. This give Printers a better idea how the output looks like – just to make sure all images and content ARE inside the crop mark or bleed mark.

That useful thing is for cut off, to cut the edges of pages to be cut off with huge paper cutter equipment. Ouch, yes.

So, I’d love to see something like that in Blurb BookSmart. When to preview the “Work In Process” of images and content, it would be nice if Blurb software engineers to include this tool to be given the option to include this tool (either to be checked or NOT to be checked).

That said, under consideration, I would think that ITSELF helps to reduce some problem during printing workflow process. Not only that, but this also give Blurb customers and bookmakers a better idea on “how” the “WIP” Booksmart should look like – shortly before finalize the book project.

I think it is a “win – win” situation for every Blurb customers, Blurb’s sub contracted printers and Blurb team. I don’t know if that is doable, attainable and workable.

But I suggest the Blurb software engineer team to consider this as an software enhancement.

Thanks!
Cheers,
Brian
[A passionate Blurb customer]

Posted by
brianbonitz
May 20, 2008 7:02pm PDT
Permalink
brianbonitz
 

Another that I have suggested in the past, but appropriate to add here;

Please ADD to the "Personal Preferences" menu facility (or otherwise within the main menus) the ability to import a "custom background". This would allow for example an opaque full-bleed image to be utilised as a BG…

This might then extend to custom ornaments as well… (although I don’t use them…)

Lee

Posted by
lkb-28
May 21, 2008 1:24am PDT
Permalink
lkb-28
 

Howdy,

This is pretty thorough—thanks all for taking the time to brainstorm and post your thoughts.

Your ideas will be read by Blurb’s "deciders" and I for one hope most of these can be implemented in a future edition of BookSmart.

Cheers!
Jeremy

Posted by
jbates
May 21, 2008 10:06am PDT
Permalink
jbates
 

A couple more thoughts….

1.   Have the ability to link multiple image boxes in facing frames to a single photo.  That way you effectively change the shape of the image window, making two page spreads much, much easier.  You can also have some fun effects with non-adjacent image boxes showing seperate regions of the same image.

 2.  Have the ability to put checks or marks or some kind of icons on the page slider.  I’d love to have a green check when I’m totally satisfied with a page and done editing it, and other sliders to show when I need to make image edits or text edits or some such.

2A.  Have the ability to lock a page when you are finished editing it.  Then a green check can pop up on the page slider, per my idea above.

 

Posted by
tailwinds
May 22, 2008 7:15pm PDT
Permalink
tailwinds
 

All good suggestions.  I’d add numbering templates so that they can be "remembered" for this or the next book.  Some of them look pretty much alike in those little icons and choosing the wrong one is easy to do. 

It would be very helpful to have the ones used in the current book moved to the top in a "recent" list like is the case with backgrounds.  Same goes for fonts.  For gosh sake put the fonts used in the current book at the top of the list like MS Word does! 

Many thanks,

Ed  

 

 

Posted by
edmertz
May 27, 2008 4:34pm PDT
Permalink
edmertz
 

Separate background colors on a cover ..?

Posted by
remid0d0s0
May 27, 2008 5:46pm PDT
Permalink
remid0d0s0
 

Full bleed image with a large, unformatted text box over it. Please oh please. This seems like the easiest format in the world to create (and they already have it for image/text with margins, just not full bleed for some reason). When creating illustrated books where you don’t want margins, but you also need to write the text spaced around the underlying drawings, this is essential.

Posted by
rgoslins
May 27, 2008 7:57pm PDT
Permalink
rgoslins
 

Definitely agree with some of the above suggestions, especially full bleed image with full size text box, and fully justified text which I read was coming, thanks. And please do sort out the zoom issues!  Make your own formats would be brilliant of course. One feature I would like would be the option to have text which is over an image to be in a box with a plain background, preferably smart so it only gives a background to the text used rather than the whole text box! I like to put text over images but occasionally the image has nowhere suitable to place it as is too busy, so a small inset box would be ideal.

My first time posting and have been a Blurbarian for less than a week, but already a total addict! Can’t wait for my first book to arrive next week :)

Posted by
AnnetteJones
Jul 11, 2008 1:06am PDT
Permalink
AnnetteJones
 

Thanks for contrubting Annette, hopefully bringing this back to the top of the list will encourage other new members to contribute.

........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Jul 11, 2008 1:34am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

My typing gets worse…. contributing!

.......Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Jul 11, 2008 1:35am PDT
Permalink
tfrankland
 

I would like to add to this list

 1. SPEED it up. Using lots if images is sooo slow. I’d rather wait when I add images, so it caches, makes thumbs, but have the software run faster

2.  Ability to convert an image in the book to be Black & White

3. MORE TEMPLATES/LAYOUTS. The layouts there simply don’t have enough variation, or leave lots of empty space. Sometimes, I just have images, and don’t need text, but there is no way to stretch the image boxes. Having ability to add custom ones, or have more layouts! Maybe order them in groups 1 image, 2 image, 3 image, etc… that way, they won’t overwhelm the space.

4. Make images respect sorting. If I hide used images, then show them, they’re added back to the end, in MANUAL sort. (if this is for performance, then fine)

5. Make this thing run faster (did I mention that? :)

6. Allow to vary the size of thumbnails.

7. Allow resize of book. If I selected a 11×13 book, is there really no way for me to switch and scale it to 8×10 ? Would be nice

8. More borders: I’d like stamp borders, or plaroid ones for Travel Books. With some kind of post office stamps in the background, things like that. Or allow images to be at an angle instead of always vertical (goes back to layouts)

9. Ability to export the book to PDF to send to friends/family for review

 

Victor

Posted by
vmv890
Jul 24, 2008 8:14pm PDT
Permalink
vmv890
 

Hi Victor,

Those are great suggestions (particularly the ability to make custom templates and have Polaroid frames – that would be so much nicer than trying to make them in PS on my own).

Just so you know, it IS already possible to export your book to PDF for others to review. Just use the Print function inside BookSmart and have it print to whatever PDF printer/driver you have.  I have used DeskPDF with good luck, and many people report good results with CutePDF.  The file will then save wherever you want on your computer for easy emailing, etc.

Keep in mind, this function sometimes takes quite a while to complete, depending on the size and photo-intensiveness of your book (I don’t think "intensiveness" is a word but oh well.)  Some other forum posters suggest setting the process running before you go to bed or work.

Hope this helps fulfill at least one of your wishes.

Teri

Posted by
hooloovoos
Jul 25, 2008 6:59am PDT
Permalink
hooloovoos
 

Hey, Teri.

 Yes, I did try to print to PDF driver. It didn’t work. I was using PDFCreator, so maybe that was the problem. I printed to a Postscrip File using a PS Printer. Then converted the file to PDF. Finale PDF was only 30 megs. Postscript file was 1.8 gigs. I just thought that printing could be optimized and scaled correctly if program supported PDF. It could automatically scale images/pages down before printing and avoid printing detail that isn’t necessary.

 Just and idea. I am sure they’re busy adding all the features. Software looks good, just nees major tweaking and feature addition. 

Thanks for the help though

 Victor

Posted by
vmv890
Jul 26, 2008 2:11pm PDT
Permalink
vmv890
 

Great ideas, everyone!  My highest vote is for fully justified text.  That feature still irritates me.  I like nice, even edges.

Posted by
Fight2Fly
Jul 28, 2008 10:01pm PDT
Permalink
Fight2Fly
 

I just made and published my first book. Of course, I am thrilled but while working on it there were things I wished I had available so I decided to look at these forums to see if maybe I just did not know how to do it. But no, seems others have the same frustrations.

I particularly would like the option to resize picture & text boxes and move them, add or delete. The zooming was a real frustration – esp. going back and forth from Edit/Preview.

One thing no one mentioned but was problem to me was I would get a color I wanted for a background and then try a bunch of others. All too soon the one I liked was replaced in the recent items and unless I wrote down the RGB I could not duplicate it. At least maybe you could have a place for "my favorites" in the project – for colors, patterns…and have them (the colors) available in text choices too. Or maybe have an eyedropper tool.

This is probably not the place to post this but after working a couple hours I began to experience frequent crashes which I could not determine were tied to any particular function. I reported them all and never lost any work…but always scarey. I quit and restarted the computer which seemed to help but I did not work as long after doing that. 

Thanks for listening…

Emily

Posted by
cactusump
Aug 9, 2008 8:49pm PDT
Permalink
cactusump