SmallNews 2.2 is available for download. The main new feature in this release is a new way of selecting which PDF formats are created. Instead of a whole load of tick boxes, you now select the versions you want to create, and specify a prefix for the output filename of each.
The date is appended onto each filename. Obviously, each format should have a different prefix, or they will get overwritten.
There are 5 PDF formats available:
- Print (A4 page) – 1 columns (this is a new option)
- Print (A4 page) – 3 columns (the previous default)
- iPhone / iPod Touch
- 6″ ebook reader (e.g. Kindle, Sony Reader)
It is now also much easier for me to add new PDF formats to the list, so if you have a particular request, let me know.
For any of the PDF versions to be created, you must have Prince XML installed (as before).
This version also includes a major overhaul to the way site-specific handlers work. There isn’t much to see at the moment, but this will make it a lot easier to add new handlers – this with be the focus of the next release.
A few minor changes to the handlers have been made:
- Removed handler for The Times (as it has gone behind a paywall)
- Added a handler for the new BBC News design (news and sport feeds from the BBC are now handled differently, as they have different formats)
Finally, there is a new “Test selected” button on the Feeds page which enables the feed selected from the list to be tested independently. This is like the test option on the Settings page, but removes the need for cutting and pasting the feed. This is useful in checking how well a particular feed is handled, without running through the entire creation process.
Despite it’s dominance of the US eBook market, I’ve always been rather cool towards the Amazon Kindle. Several reasons for this:
- Amazon never did a “proper” international launch – you had to order direct from the US, which seemed bizarre given the size of Amazon’s operations in UK and Europe. There was also no UK/European book store.
- I felt it was too much of a closed platform, only capable of reading books from Amazon in their own format, whereas other readers had much better format capability (this has improved over time though). There was also that fiasco with books being deleted from users’ devices without their approval.
- I always thought they were rather ugly – much less attractive than the Sony Reader.
- It always felt a bit too expensive.
The recent launch of the new model has gone a long way to addressing many of my reservations. The new model is significantly cheaper, sold direct from the UK, with an new UK store imminent. And the addition of Wifi support means there appears to be a simple and free way of getting “personal documents” onto the Kindle. So it seems to me that a SmallNews PDF ought to work quite well as a “personal document”. So I think I’m going to buy one, and add a feature to SmallNews that allows the created PDF to be emailed to specified address. It’s my understanding that this is the easiest way to get a PDF to a Kindle without plugging it in to your computer – email it to your @free.kindle.com address.
It will be September before I get a Kindle to test it on, so I’ll release an update then.
UPDATE: I notice that the new UK Kindle book store is now open, somewhat ahead of schedule. But I’m appalled at how small the price difference between paperback books and eBooks is – typically about just 40p, which is less than the cost of the (free) postage. However, a part of this is the (equally surprising) fact that you have to pay VAT on eBooks, but not printed books. Where is the sense in that?