Tips and Tricks

Build my own book templates

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font><font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">I see that the current version does not support building your own templates and the usual solution is to use a 3<sup>rd</sup> party design package and then import a JPG. I like the standard blurb templates and only need to make minor changes to get what I want.</font><font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font>

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">As a software developer I can see that the Blurb books are stored in XML format which allows me to see all the templates and how they work. So I expect it should not be much trouble for me to add my own templates to the system. My only concern is when I send in my book to be published is if the Blurb printer software going to complain when it sees my templates.</font>

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font>

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">Anybody managed to add their own templates to the system?</font>

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font> Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
MartinRobert
Sep 29, 2007 6:43pm PDT
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MartinRobert
 

i want to be able to edit / create my own templates with a drag and drop concept (instead of code). 

Posted by
nsa107
Oct 4, 2007 8:47pm PDT
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nsa107
 

There shouldn’t be a problem … the BookSmart “book” is converted to PDF before uploading I understand, (given the open source components they used to build BookSmart it’d be most likely) so there would be no “verification” of the template XML after uploading as it no longer exists… the RIP at the printer would just use the PDF’s postscript ….

Posted by
vargus
Oct 4, 2007 9:34pm PDT
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vargus
 

If blurb does convert the book into a PDF on my computer before sending it off, there should be no problem with making my own templates. So I will try to build a small test book and get it printed to see if it works. Let you know how it goes. Thanks

 

 

Posted by
MartinRobert
Oct 5, 2007 3:01pm PDT
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MartinRobert
 

I think you should try making new page templates first off …. it pretty easy … making a whole book might be a bit more tricky … and you’d have to conform to Blurbs standard book sizes ….

Posted by
vargus
Oct 6, 2007 5:32pm PDT
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vargus
 

No worries, it seems to work OK. I can modify existing templates as well as create new ones. I can add them to the menus and they appear in the selection of templates. You have to get it 100% correct or you will crash BookSmart, but it does give you a good error dump to show where the problem is if you stuff it up. 

They display correctly in the Edit Book mode as well as the Preview Book mode. I have published the new templates and they downloaded to blurb OK. But I have not printed the book,  so will not know if they really work until I try that. I will work out exactly what templates I want to create before I try that one.

 

 

Posted by
MartinRobert
Oct 9, 2007 4:53am PDT
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MartinRobert
 

MartinRobert,

Is there a way to share your templetes w/ others?  That would be very cool to have some additional templetes to choose from! I like the templetes for the most part but having a few specific ones would be nice.

I’m thinking like having a full bleed image and then having an image or 2 over top in a box.

Thanks for considering … 

Scott 

Posted by
huckster
Oct 9, 2007 12:11pm PDT
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huckster
 

You guys probably know this already, but I thought I’d throw it out there. According to our EULA Blurb cannot support editing of book files through anything other than the BookSmart client. While some manual editing of the XML files may work correctly, it is more likely that doing so will result in your book being corrupted or not printed correctly. So, bottom line, we just don’t support tweaked book files.

– Kathy 

 

Posted by
kathybad
Oct 9, 2007 5:22pm PDT
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kathybad
 

Hi Kathy,

First I find your software and service is excellent and I want to continue to use this great product. When I started to create a book I had a look at about 8 websites that offer this service. Most had fixed templates but some allowed total free format. I felt that the total free format ones were not as good as yours and I knew they would be a lot of work to make them look as good as Blurb. I also noticed that the BookSmart software was based on XML, so I could most likely create my own templates. That nailed the decision to go with your service.

I also realise that you can not be held responsible if I make changes to my templates including a corrupted book printout, corrupted data file, etc. It is totally my own fault and I don’t expect to get any help when I have been playing around with the system. I also realise that when you release a new version of BookSmart it will overwrite my new templates and I will have to add them again.

I also assume that you don’t really mind me playing around with the templates, as you still get to print my books. It’s a bit similar to doing the design work in inDesign and then importing a JPG or PDF. But if you have a major issue with it, then I won’t proceed with my changes.

Hopefully in the future you will add new templates so I won’t have to make these changes. A fully visual template builder would be excellent and I hope it is on your development schedule. In the mean time a few new templates would be of great help.

For example I am building a 13×11 book and I like the 12 picture (4×3) square layout. There is a lot of white space at the bottom of this template that would be perfect for a text box to describe the photos. So I have added a text box in my version of this template. Hopefully you will modify this template for a future version, so everyone can enjoy it.

Thanks

Martin

Posted by
MartinRobert
Oct 10, 2007 1:29am PDT
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MartinRobert
 

Hi Scott

The design of BookSmart does not allow easy sharing of templates. Only way I could do it would be to modify your BOOK file if you have started the book or send you a new template file, which would be overwritten when you upgrade to version 1.9. A full bleed with images over the top is on my todo list. If blurb is not too worried about this type of thing then I could do something for you.

Martin

 

Posted by
MartinRobert
Oct 10, 2007 1:41am PDT
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MartinRobert
 

Martin,

Would you be willing to share what you’ve discovered about the templates? I’ve started poking around in the xml files a bit, and while they seem to be fairly simple, there also seems to be a few things I’m missing, like mapping some of the Ids to human-readable names.

At the very least I’d like to be able to just tweak some of the templates a little bit to set my own default fonts, etc. If a few people start sharing info, we can probably figure it all out much faster (plus maybe Blurb will get the idea that we’d like to be able to tweak templates and add it to the program).

Thanks.

Colin 

Posted by
colin_young
Oct 20, 2007 9:08am PDT
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colin_young
 

Hi Colin,

I won’t publish anything in the form as its likely that someone inexperienced using such information could corrupt their entire book. Send me an email and will see what I can do Martin320 at gmail com

Regards,

 Martin

Posted by
MartinRobert
Oct 21, 2007 4:47am PDT
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MartinRobert
 

I just wanted to say thank you for posting about the XML file.  I found it and think I might do some minor modifications too.

Posted by
lostinjapan
Jan 5, 2008 9:54am PDT
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lostinjapan
 

If you have a good image editor, like Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements, you can make a full bleed page sized file & put your pics & text exactly where you want them.

I did most of my 11X13" book that way.  Some views at www.FrankCizek.com 

Posted by
PhotosGuy
Jan 13, 2008 9:53pm PDT
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PhotosGuy
 

Hi, I’m new and not very smart regarding stuff like this.  So my questions may be very remedial. Is it possible to make some of your pages in Photoshop and then import them into BookSmart without re-writing code?  I bite my nails just downloading the free software…re-writing code could quite possibly give me a heartattack.  I just wanted to make my own background…with orchids that matched my wedding theme…but make the rest in Booksmart.  I like the way you can view the book in progress at the bottom of the Booksmart page.  But I’m not sure if I can combine the two.  I’ve already started making all my pages in Photoshop but it would be easier if I could just add a couple of personal designs plus the background "template" and do most of it in Booksmart.  Plus, I too am worried about how it will look printed if I do the whole book outside of Booksmart.  Thanks for any advise.

Posted by
msaloha68
Apr 13, 2008 3:28pm PDT
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msaloha68
 

Yes you can design and prepare the pages outside of BookSmart and import them. If you go to Search The FAQs (if you are not sure how to find that look at the right hand side of this window, near the top, and you’ll see that under the Help heading) There you will see, 4th from the top, one called Can I Impoert My Own Designs INto BookSmart?  No need to write any code, you can just use Photoshop.

With Photoshop you create each page separately then import them, so it is easy to mix amd match with pages created in BookSmart and pages created in Photoshop.

What you can’t currently do is create your own templates, or create your own backgrounds for use in a BookSmart template. For a particular page you either do it all in BookSMart or all in Photoshop.

If you follow the instructions in the FAQ above, especially with regard to the page size and resolution(dpi), your book will look amazing! Even if I say so myself, the trial book I did looked amazing :-)

If you have any doubts, when you’ve done the first 20 pages upload the book and publish that. Without spending too much money you’ll see how the book is turning out, you’ll see if there are any general adjustments you need to make to colour, brightness or contrast and it will give your confidence a boost. There is no need to do that though, most people are more than happy at the way their books turn out.

You’ll find a FAQ on most things you want to do. Have a read of those and also  use the Search option on the forums, chances are that somebody has already asked your question and an answer will already be sitting there for you.

.........Tony

 

Posted by
tfrankland
Apr 14, 2008 12:15am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Has anyone printed a book with custom templates successfully?

It sounds like it would work fine. Especially if the PDF format is true, which is very likely. Having the print-ready book in PDF format means they can use various industry standard print method, and even outsource to a different backend vendor as necessary.

While it is relatively simple for a programming-orieted person to add custom templates, there are a number of things to be watched for, and as MartinRobert said, Blurb would constantly overwrite your templates with each revision. Not to mention crash Blurb when you make mistakes. Sharing them isn’t very feasible, again except for the more technically oriented. You never know when two sources are going to produce conflicting IDs.

I would like Blurb to consider putting their user community to work for them. A submission process of templates, complete with alternates would be interesting.  Blurb could publish them only after some basic graphic review. Havingdrag and drop templates to repeat and re-use a design is preferable to designing them in Photoshop for me. Especially since you often repeat a format multiple times in a book.

Posted by
royalef
Apr 14, 2008 5:53am PDT
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royalef
 

Thank you Tony, we did as you suggested and it worked great.  Just a note for first timers.  When we created our page in Photoshop we put it on a transparent background that way when we added it to Booksmart we were able to use the same background color we were using for the rest of the Booksmart pages.  The page will appear to be greyish in the edit view but if you view it in preview it looks correct.   We also have chosen to do a smaller test book.  That way we can work out the questionable font sizes, matching colors, photo quality, hand drawn art pieces, etc that we’d like to add to our bigger book.  That was a great suggestion…again, thanks.

 

Posted by
msaloha68
Apr 20, 2008 3:30pm PDT
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msaloha68