Internet Archive Un-kills OPDS!

Oh Happy Days!

For whatever reason, the Internet Archive has resumed serving OPDS on their catalog endpoint. Reader Feeder continues to work for that very important entry.

Everyone may resume their downloading…

Meanwhile, we are working on a Windows Universal Platform edition of Reader Feeder. If you are using Windows 10, stay tuned here, and on Windows Store.

Reader Feeder Update

We are pushing this one out-the-door soon, and it was a wild ride!

To recap, Reader Feeder is a tool for downloading e-books.  It has a special feature: extract the audio file links embedded in Librivox‘s audio book EPUB files for you to download and listen to.

Good, Bad, Ugly

The good news is you have full access to the “chapter” markers embedded in the MP4 files from Librivox and others.  Big thanks to our open-source project IsoSax for making this possible!

The (not-so) bad news is we built in audio playback, providing the transport controls for seeking to “chapters”.  The detours associated with this, and storing publicly-accessible media files on-device, caused some undue delays in release.

Latest Android

We made an effort this time to use features from newer versions of Android.  In particular, the we completely rewrote the HTTP stack, because Google deprecated that part of the system .  The rewrite also ties into the system better, for usage reporting etc.

Google also changed access to external storage and run-time permissions.  On newer devices, RF asks you to enable this, so you can save downloaded content and access it from your other apps (Media Player, e-book Reader).

Permissions are minimal:  Internet, Wake Lock, and Write External Storage.

Coming Soon!

Watch the event calendar for the release announcement, so you can start enjoying the tons of free audio books on The Internet Archive!

Status Update

Yet another status update!

The updates to Feed Farmer kind of stalled out, so we are just going to go with the current set of features.  The rendering improvements are the most-important, along with the Sliding Drawer navigation pane.

We have a minor update for Dictator also staged up.  This update fixes an error in Dutch strings, and adds a feature to cancel TTS via volume keys (if they are enabled).

Finally, we have an important update for Darts Scorecard:  multi-level undo!  This is probably the most-requested feature, and now it is coming!  It’s almost done.  It is accessed from the Action Bar menu, and it brings up a dialog window with a list of all the turns in it.  Just pick the one you want to unwind to, and voila!

Watch the Home page sidebar for more information.

New Theme

We have finally changed the theme!  This opens a period of theme experimentation, so it may change again without notice.

Feed Farmer Update

We are still adding some features, plus the whole detour with Dictator.

Playback

We are adding rudimentary playback capability directly in the app.  This gives you the ability to preview audio, and even conduct some listening while you read through feed items.

Currently only foreground playback is supported; we are deferring to your favorite Media Player app for background playback.

Nav Drawer

You can access your downloaded podcasts in the navigation drawer, via the Playlist item.  You start playback by selecting one of the items in the list.

While audio is playing, you get a corresponding UI at the top of the navigation drawer.  This displays title, progress, and a Play/Pause button.

New Styling

We have yet again changed the color scheme for rendered HTML; this time using more-saturated colors.

The overall text sizes are a little larger, and we have extensively overhauled the CSS rules to ensure everything word-wraps as much as possible.  This was a major cause of “zoomed out” syndrome, where failure to word-wrap would make extremely “long” lines, and the web view zoomed to fit.

Another cause of zoom-out was unconstrained image sizes; we have CSS in place to control that as well.

There are also CSS media queries in place to provide little style tweaks when you are on a larger screen or in landscape orientation.

New Setting

We are adding a new setting to Keep Screen On while you are in “content” screens, like Item List Browser and URL Browser.  There’s nothing more annoying than reading along, then suddenly the screen goes off!

Feed Farmer Update

Things are moving right along on the latest update of Feed Farmer, our feed reader and podcast downloader for Android.

Drawer

The navigation drawer interface is working out beautifully!  We are now including links back to your Power Search results, for immediate recall.

Rendering

As the Android web view has evolved, so has the way it renders the HTML Feed Farmer generates for your feed items, search results, etc.  On newer versions of Android, the rendering experience is sometimes less-than-ideal, especially for “wide” content containing large images, unbroken text, etc.  This is inconvenient, because you must zoom in to make the text readable.

We have enhanced the CSS on our generated markup, so now this is mostly alleviated, and we are keeping generated content within the initial device width.

Web View

We have made some adjustments to the web view; in particular, we have turned on the built-in Zoom controls.  For some reason this was never enabled, apologies!

For feed item viewer, we have also turned off Wide Layout and Overview modes, to discourage auto-zooming generated content.

Processing

Most of the “work” happens after the feed XML file is downloaded via the Android Download Manager.  This is where the “items” are parsed out and the HTML generated for each one.

One error case is when the feed URL no longer references the desired content, for example the feed has been terminated.  In this case HTML error content is the usual response, so Feed Farmer doesn’t recognize it as any XML format it knows, so it generates a “cannot detect document type” error.

We are enhancing the processing to use this error as a signal to disable the feed, and add an Error Report to that feed.  You would need to follow up on that and determine whether that URL is still a valid feed, and remove it if not.  The Check Feed command in the Feed Editor will tell you the content type returned by the server for the feed URL.

Feed Farmer Update

Feed Farmer Update

We want to go over upcoming enhancements to Feed Farmer, our feed-reader/podcast-downloader for Android.

User Interface

Time for another re-vamp of the user interface!

The tabs are gone!  You get that vertical space back.  Now there is a Sliding Drawer navigation pane.  Swipe in from the left-hand side, right-hand if you are in RTL land.

The new navigation pattern starts with the “root” level of items you can access.  Selecting an item shows its “contained” items in the main screen.  From there, it works the same as previous: select an item, and it comes up in the appropriate fragment.

The exciting part is Feed Farmer will provide new things as “items”

  • latest items from all feeds
  • podcasts ready-to-play (added to media player)
  • podcasts not downloaded yet
  • bookmark list
  • error reports (feeds don’t all last forever)
  • discovery links

The discovery in particular hopefully moves to a more-accessible location in the UI.

Error Reports

There was some deficiency in the error reporting.  The system notifications did not include any error information.  We also added more information to the item text in the Activity Log and the feed’s Error Report item.

More from XMC

You could say we are obsessed with this app right now, and you’d be right!

Until the previous release, XMC was not that great, and we are working hard to improve it, and add access to EWS features you don’t get in other apps.

Let’s review what you get in XMC:

  • contacts and calendars sync
  • folder search
  • user availability
  • user social status in your Contacts app
  • reminders (EWS v15)
  • and now…

And now is Out-of-Office (OOF) settings management.  Upcoming version has a screen for you to manage these settings; see Outlook’s documentation for details.  OOF is an auto-reply feature for your inbox.  OOF is available in all versions of EWS.

Also moved to the Options menu are the View Log tabs; these are now menu items which launch a new fragment to display the selected log.  This reduces number of tabs on main screen to 3.

XMC Update

Things are moving right along!

Autodiscover is working, except for a couple edge cases.  We now track the exchange version in the account settings; you must run the “Test” command before adding the account.  Missing version detection will default to Exchange 2007 SP1 and cut you off from features like Reminders (see below).

Reminders are working.  This is an Exchange 2013 only feature.

The main screen is enhanced to show reminders, and now shows the calendar items (from the EWS availability response, not the calendar provider) for all the calendars being tracked.  This is the only place you can see “private” (i.e. limited data because of permissions) events, which are not saved to calendars due to not having any unique “id” (again not given because of permissions).

The main screen now has a log page for the Timer Service.  The Timer Service runs on the quarter-hour, and performs time-sensitive tasks, like downloading and displaying notifications, and downloading and updating availability data in the Contacts Provider.

The main screen now has menu items for forcing Calendar and Contact sync, and Settings.

The main screen defaults to your “first” account, and displays the account name as the app subtitle.

There is now a setting to delete old events during Calendar sync.

Overall this is a greatly enhanced update!

XMC Update

When the install count hits zero, it’s a good time to regroup and rebuild.

That’s what we are doing with eXchange My Contacts, the Exchange Web Service (EWS) Contact and Calendar sync provider for Android.

Most-critical is supporting the Autodiscover process, and….done!  It’s now easier than ever to get connected, and we now support connecting to Office 365, Exchange Online, etc.

Next up is adding support for (Exchange 2013 only) Reminders and Reminder Actions snooze and dismiss.

We are also adding more information to the main set of screens, and adding direct force-sync commands to the Action Bar.