Monday, September 29, 2014

calibre cover designs

Bored of all your default covers looking like this:



Since calibre 2.4,  released on 25 September 2014, calibre has added a selection of different cover designs with customizable fonts, font sizes and color schemes. Here are the set of default covers:


There are 4 color scheme choices, namely: grass, silver, earth and water as you can see in the above picture from top to bottom. There are also 4 style choices, namely: banner, cross, half and half and blocks, from left to right in the above picture.

But that is not all. The color schemes can be customized to taste as can the fonts!

Customizing the color schemes:

Select the book whose cover you want to design and click on the "Edit metadata" button in the main toolbar. A new window opens. In the cover section of the window you see:


If you click on the "Generate cover" button, one of the covers in  the showcase shown in the second picture will be randomly generated. If you click on it again another one will take its place. However if you  long-click (hold down the left mouse button) the "Generate cover" button you will see the option "Customize the styles and colors of the generated cover". Now you can click on that option and you will see a new window:


As you can see there are the 4 previously mentioned color schemes available by default. Now to create a custom color scheme click on "New color scheme". Then the following window opens:


The default name of this new color scheme will be "#My Color Scheme" but you can change it. To change the colors click on the color you want to change and the following window opens:


Now you can choose what color you want. You can change all the colors one by one. I have replaced all 4 colors in the previous scheme with a set of whites and pinks as you see below:


Now if you click OK you will see:


Now you see at the top of the list is the new color scheme i have created. If you don't like it you can remove it by clicking the "Remove color scheme" button. I am going to save these settings for future use by checking the relevant box before clicking OK.

Customizing the Fonts:

You can change the fonts too. To do that click on the Fonts and Sizes tab in the above window. Then you will see:



To change the title font click on the "Choose font family" button next to the "Title font family" entry. In the following I have changed the "Title font family" to "Purisa" and as you can see in the preview window below the font of the title has changed to Purisa.


Similarly you can change the title font size. Below I have changed the title font size from 120 pixels as chosen in the above picture to 160 pixels.


As you can see in the preview window above the title automatically spreads over 2 lines to accommodate the new font size. Similarly you can change the footer font family and size to change the font family and size of the author. I have changed the footer font family to Purisa:



Customizing the text:

You can also change what you see for the footer name or how the title is presented by going to the "Text" tab. When you click on the "Text" tab you see:


You can click on the change the template buttons to customize the Title, footer and subtitle information appearing on the cover.

Below is a showcase of the covers in different styles with our new color scheme and fonts:


This post gives you the basics but there is a lot to play around with particularly in modifying the templates. Hope you have fun with this new feature.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Announcing calibre 2.0

It has been about a year from our last big release, so it is time for another one. calibre 2.0 was released today.

Since calibre 1.0 most of the development has focused on the e-book editor. calibre aspires to be the one stop solution to all your ebook needs. That is what we say on our home page.

Until  calibre 1.0,   development mostly focused on the needs of e-book users. Sigil on the other hand, catered to ebook creators. But once the active development of Sigil came to an end, it was important to develop an ebook editor as well and that is what we have been doing for most of the last year.  I made a detailed post about calibre's ebook editor when it was first released. Since then more functionality has been added to it which I will briefly discuss here. A video outlining the key features of the editor is available here.

There have been some cool new features for e-book users as well. I will report some of the highlights in this post.

For a comprehensive list of new features since 1.0 click here.

First there is some good news for OS X users:
Calibre 2.0 released today has support for Android phones and tablets on OS X, calibre should now detect and connect to them, just as it already does on windows and linux.



Improvements to the editor:

The following is a list of improvements to the editor since my last blog post on the subject. For an introduction to the editor click here.
  • Spell Check:
  • The calibre book editor has built in spell check since version 1.33. You can install new dictionaries via Preferences->Editor->Manage spelling dictionaries. It comes with builtin dictionaries for English and Spanish. You can add OpenOffice dictionaries (in .oxt format). The tool checks spellings in all HTML/OPF/NCX files in the book, taking into account any language declarations in the book, so that it will work correctly on multi-lingual books as well.

    Live spell checking in the code view was implemented in version 1.37. Spelling errors are highlighted in the code view for convenient correction as you type. This can be turned off via Preferences->Editor.
    The spell check icon in the toolbar of the editor is

  • Special character insertion:
    Since calibre 1.19, you can insert characters that are difficult to type by using the Edit->Insert special character tool or click the "insert special character" icon in the toolbar, which looks like this:






    This shows you all unicode characters, simply click on the character you want to type. If you hold Ctrl while clicking, the window will close itself after inserting the selected character. This tool can be used to insert special characters into the main text or into any other area of the user interface, such as the Search and replace tool.

    Because there are a lot of characters, you can define your own Favorite characters, that will be shown first. Simply right click on a character to mark it as favorite. You can also right click on a character in favorites to remove it from favorites.

    You can also directly type in special characters using the keyboard or by by using HTML named entities. For details click here.


  • Add in-context help for HTML and CSS:
    Now, you can right click on any HTML/OPF/NCX tag name or CSS property and the editor will open some help for that item in your browse. For example if you right-click on the font family CSS property you will see:




    Now if you click on the first entry "Show help for: font-family" it will open this page in a browser. The same would happen if you right clicked on an HTML tag in an HTML file.

  • Support for third party plugins to extend the editors functionality:
    Since version 1.46 the editor supports plugins that can be used to extend its functionality. Documentation of the plugin API and an example plugin are here.

Improvements to the cover grid:

Since version 1.47, user defined emblems (icons) can be displayed next to covers in the cover grid mode. This is similar to the column icons feature introduced in version 0.9.17 discussed in this post.

You can have your own custom icons displayed next to covers in the cover grid, based on simple rules you create.  To create these rules go to Preferences->Cover Grid and click the Emblems tab on the left and you see the following window:



Now suppose you want to insert a rule that all books by the author P. G. Wodehouse appear with an icon "W" next to them then, click on the "Add Rule" button in the above window and insert the following rule:

To add the image just click on "Add new image" and select the image stored in your files.

Now click "OK" on the bottom right corner of the "rule " window and then click "Apply". Here is what you will see in the cover grid view:


As you see in the above picture books by Wodehouse, like "P smith Journalist" and "Right Ho, Jeeves" have a picture of "W" on the left of the book cover. You can change the location of the custom icon by going to preferences -> Look and Feel -> Cover grid. At the bottom of this window you will see



Here you can choose the size of the icon in pixels and you can have the icons located at the bottom, top, right or left of the book cover. You can also have multiple icons per book. In the following example I have added a rule that books tagged as humor or satire have a smiley face icon. I have also moved the icons to the top instead of keeping them at the left. Then this is what I see:



In the above picture the books by Wodehouse, which I have also tagged as humor have both icons of "W" and the smiley face on top. The book "Press Cuttings", is not by Wodehouse, but  is tagged as a satire has only the smiley face icon. The location of the icon/s is not on the left as shown for the books by Wodehouse two pictures ago but on top.

Also as you can see I have used the smiley face icon for multiple tags, i.e, humor and satire. You can do this by separating the different tags by a comma when adding the rule.


Miscellaneous new features:

  • Since version 1.25, calibre can read and write XMP metadata from PDF files. This means that all metadata that you can create in calibre, including custom columns, can be stored in the PDF files. It is also useful when importing PDF files created by some academic publishers, that sometimes have good XMP metadata, such as DOI identifiers, tags and so on.

  • Since version 1.24 the builtin viewer in calibre supports touch screens on Windows tablets. You can tap or swipe to turn pages. Swipe up or down to jump between sections. Swipe and hold to flip through pages rapidly and pinch to zoom in and out.


Hope you enjoy all the features calibre 2.0 offers :)



Saturday, December 21, 2013

calibre's ebook editor

calibre has been an excellent ebook managing and viewing software for sometime now. But we intend to live up to our slogan, making calibre the "one stop solution to all your ebook needs". To this end we have recently (since calibre 1.15) added ebook editing capabilities for ebooks in EPUB and AZW3 formats. The editor interface was made more user friendly in calibre 1.16. To avail of the features described below you will need calibre 1.16 or a newer version.

To make a few small changes like highlighting, changing font colors, using bold or italics fonts, inserting images and underlining requires almost no knowledge of HTML coding. There are GUI buttons that insert the code for you when you click on them. calibre makes these things as simple as button pushing.

In spite of the top layer of simplicity, the editor is very powerful. Those of you who know HTML coding can do a lot more. This blog post is directed towards rather lay users and will explain how to do a few simple but very useful things in detail.


To edit an EPUB or AZW3 format ebook in calibre just select the ebook in the main calibre window and right click. As you can see in the picture below many options appear:




Click on "Edit book" (the second option from the bottom). A new window opens. It looks like



As it says on the center of the window "Double click on a file on the left to start editing it".

The ebook I am going to use as an example is a recipe book made using the "Recipe Reader" plugin in calibre. For more details about the plugin you can also check out the plugin's mobileread page. With the holidays coming up you may find this category of plugins useful. I like to make notes on recipes I have used for future reference and calibre's ebook editing feature allows me to do just that as I will demonstrate.

If you double click on the first file listed in the left column called titlepage.xhtml.You see the following:




The right column now shows the cover/title page and the middle column shows the HTML code for it. The right column is a live preview. That means that very time you make any changes to the HTML code in the middle column, the effect on the ebook itself will be visible in the right column. Don't be intimidated by the HTML code. calibre makes dealing with it really easy. If you still feeling nervous, note that the very first button in the toolbar in the middle column is an undo button. Also none of the changes you make will be saved till you explicitly tell calibre to save them by clicking the save icon


in the top toolbar.  Still feeling nervous, the first time you use this editor make a copy of the book in calibre and work on the copy.

Now getting down to the action. Let us start with editing some simple text. The following is a picture of the toolbar in the center column.

From left to right the buttons are "Insert image", "Bold", "Italics", "Strike through", "Subscript", "Superscript", "Font color" and "Background color".

Lets start with a demonstration of using the font color button. For this purpose I have selected the third file in the left column:


Now say you want to add a note in red next to "1 egg" in the first line of the ebook on the right. How do you go about finding it in the HTML code. Simple, click on "Search" to the left of "Help" in the topmost toolbar in the window. A number of options show up and I click the first one called "Find/Replace" and you see:


As you can see a "Find" section shows up at the bottom of the middle column. Enter the word "egg" to find the relevant part of the HTML code. If egg happens to appear in few different places in the recipe you could be more specific and enter "1 egg" for example. Now let us will add a little note in red. Put the cursor next to egg and click the font color button and choose the red color. Some additional code appears. Without changing the position of the cursor enter the text you want. This is what it looks like:


The live preview on the right shows what the changes you made will look like in the ebook.
To change the color of already existing text just select the text in the HTML code and click the font color button and choose the color. Similarly to make some text into bold just select it and click the bold button.


On doing so, as you can see from the picture above, the text in the HTML code as well as in the ebook are converted in to bold format. Same for italics.

To highlight a bit of text select the text in the HTML code  and click on the background color button and choose the highlight color. The following picture shows a bit of text highlighted purple. The code as in all previous cases is automatically inserted on clicking the appropriate button.



Now for inserting pictures. To insert a picture click on the insert picture button in the toolbar. The following window opens up:




the window shows the images that are already a part of the ebook. You can reinsert one of those images or you can click "Import image". If you click on "Import image" it lets you choose a picture from your file system. Once you choose an image this is what you see: (This picture is taken from Wikipedia and is not of pancakes that I made :). )




The required HTML code is automatically inserted by calibre. Only there is a little problem here. As you can see the paragraph starting with "Batter" begins right next to the picture and you may prefer that it start on the next line. To fix this just enter
</p> <p>
before the word "Batter" in the HTML code as shown in the picture below.


The calibre ebook editor also allows you do some simple image editing. Double click on an image you want to edit from the list of images in the left column and it will open in the middle column as shown below.


 The image editor lets you do simple things like trim, rotate and resize images. You can also select a small section of the image with your mouse as shown below:


Then you can paste another image into it. Just copy the image from else where and then click on the paste button in the editor toolbar. I have used this procedure to paste two images in to the cover image of this ebook. the result is:


These are some of the simple and most useful things the new ebook editor feature can do. We will be adding more features but if you want to edit ebooks this should help you get started. Dive in and enjoy yourself.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here it is calibre 1.0 in all it's glory

calibre 1.0 has just been released. It took us only 7 years to get here ;). Yes, we are only a little more than 2 months away from calibre's 7th birthday. This is a big moment, so allow us to indulge in a few lines of nostalgia before we go into all the cool stuff that calibre 1.0 brings.

calibre started life on 31 October, 2006, soon after the release of the SONY PRS-500, the first e-ink based reader to be sold commercially in the US. This was accomplished with the help of the fine folks over at mobileread.com (A big thank you to you guys for your support over the years). calibre was then called  libprs500. At the time there were no satisfactory tools to convert content into the LRF format, used by the SONY reader, so Kovid Goyal decided to implement a converter to convert the most popular e-book formats to LRF. This converter proved to be wildly popular. 

As Kovid's e-book collection grew, he realized that managing it was quickly becoming unwieldy, so he decided to write a graphical interface to libprs500. 
At this point (mid 2008) libprs500 was renamed to calibre (Converter And LIBRary for Ebooks) . The libre in calibre stands for freedom, indicating that calibre is a free and open source product, modifiable by all. Nonetheless, calibre should be pronounced as cali-ber, not ca-libre. People often ask why, so I'll clarify. It is because Kovid wanted a regular English word that most people would know. He grew up in India where we are taught English (UK) in schools and that is how calibre is spelled in English (UK). For more details on the choice of the name click here.

Ok enough with the speeches. Let's get to the exciting stuff. A comprehensive list of features added since 0.9.0 is here. Lets look at some of them in detail. 





  • Cover Grid : Judge ebooks by their covers ;)This the most recent feature to be introduced. It allows you to view your ebook collection as a grid of covers. This is what it looks like:To see the cover grid click the "grid of squares" icon at the bottom right corner of the main window (left of Jobs). As it is with most calibre features many aspects of the cover grid can be customized. Go to preferences -> Look and Feel and you will see a new tab labeled "Cover Grid". Click on it and this is what you see:


    As you can see in the figure above, you can choose:
    If the title should be displayed below the covers in the grid.


    Spacing between covers: calibre chooses the spacing between covers automatically based on       your screen size. However you can customize it by typing in a spacing of your choice as I have entered 0.5cm here. 


    Background color: The default is grey (see first figure) but you can change it to any color of your choice by clicking the "change color" button. I have chosen pink here, the effect of  which you can see in the next figure with a cover grid.


    Cover sizes: calibre chooses the cover sizes automatically based on your screen size, however you can customize that by clicking on "Larger" or "Smaller" covers. In the cover grid displayed in this post I clicked on  "Larger covers". You can also enter the size you like by typing it in.


    Since the release of calibre 1.7  the cover grid has been updated so you can include a background image. So when you go to preferences -> Look and Feel and you will see a new tab labeled "Cover Grid". Click on it and this is what you see:

Click change background image under background for cover grid. A window opens with a selection of available background images. If you select light wood as selected above to give your calibre library a wooden bookshelf look your calibre library looks like this:




  • A new, faster database backend 
    The database backend in calibre has been re-written from scratch. The new code is smaller, more robust and 2-3 times as fast as the old code. No pretty pictures for this, but those of you that have large book collections should appreciate the speed.

  • Allow adding images into the comments field, by clicking on the insert link button in the comments editor in the edit metadata dialog. [0.9.44]
    In the "Edit Metadata" window if you click on the comments section the following button in the rows of buttons above it becomes active: 
    Click on it and the following window opens:

    Now click on "Browse" to choose the image on your computer you wish to use.Then click OK. The caveat is that if you move the image on your computer to a new location then you will have to redo this. The image I chose is High Sunderland Hall. Here is how the second image will appear under "Book Details" (right most column of main window)  in the main calibre window when the book is selected:



    To be able to see the image in the book details you have to go to Preferences -> Look and Feel -> Book Details and make sure "Comments" is selected.

  • Conversion: Add option to embed all referenced fonts [0.9.37]
    Add an option to embed all fonts that are referenced in the input document but are not already embedded. This will search your system for the referenced font, and if found, the font will be embedded. Only works if the output format supports font embedding (for example: EPUB or AZW3). The option is under the Look & Feel section of the conversion dialog.


  • Conversion of Microsoft Word documents (.docx files generated by Word 2007 or newer) [0.9.34]
    DOCX files created with Microsoft Word 2007 or newer can now be converted by calibre. The converter has support for lists, tables, images, all types of text formatting, footnotes, endnotes and even dropcaps. A sample docx file showing the capabilities of the converter is available:
    http://calibre-ebook.com/downloads/demos/demo.docx

    Here is a picture of  a page from the demo document in docx format converted to epub by calibre:



    Notice how well it preserves the formatting.


  • Allow adding user specified icons to the main book list for books whose metadata matches specific criteria. [0.9.17]

     
    Go to Preferences -> Look & Feel  and you will see a tab called "Column icons". Click on it and the following window opens:

    Click on add a rule and you see:



    The rules work in the same way as the column coloring rules. After adding the rule shown in the image above the library looks like this:


    Notice the little pink heart next to the titles of the the two ebooks in the list that have the Romance tag.
  • Complete rewrite of the PDF Output engine, to support links and fix various bugs [0.9.13]

  • 64 bit build for windows [0.9.9]
    calibre now has a 64 bit version for windows, available at: http://calibre-ebook.com/download_windows64 . You can have both the 32 bit and the 64 bit build installed at the same time, they will use the same libraries, plugins and settings.
Hope you enjoy all the features calibre 1.0 offers :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ebooks of web content and virtual libraries

This blog post will discuss a class of plugins that allow you to make ebooks of content from the web, like chosen Wikipedia pages and recipe pages from sites like cooks.com, bigoven.com, foodnetwork and allrecipes as well as the calibre virtual libraries feature.

make your own ebooks from web content


The internet makes a lot of information available at your fingertips. But sometimes it is too much to take in at once, or not in a form convenient to use.

recipe books

For example taking you laptop to the kitchen to follow recipes from websites like cooks.combigoven.comfoodnetwork and allrecipes is not always convenient. However if you could put together a number of recipes from these sites into an ebook and load it on to your ebook reader it would make life a lot easier. There are plugins in calibre that allow you to do exactly this. Plugins for these websites can be downloaded directly from calibre following the procedure described in the section "Getting the find duplicates plugin" of  the blog post  "calibre plugins: duplicate finder". They can also be obtained from the mobile read website. Just click on Recipe Reader, BigOven Recipe Reader, Food Network Recipe Reader and all recipes Recipe Reader to download the plugin from mobileread or to get details about it.

The gist is:
Create an ebook of recipes from from the particular recipe website whose plugin you have downloaded by entering the urls of interest

Main Features
  • Create ebook of recipes
  • Give the ebook a title of your choice
  • Use generated table of contents to go to particular recipe

Special Notes: Requires calibre version 0.8.58 or later.

Usage
  • Click plugin button
  • Enter a title for the ebook (optional)
  • If you do not enter a title, the title will be the same as that of the first recipe
  • Enter URL of recipe.
  • To enter another URL click "Add another URL" and enter the URL in the field that appears
  • Repeat till you have entered all the URLs you want
  • Click OK

ebooks of Wikipedia pages

Wikipedia has a lot of useful information to offer. Some of their articles are quite long and/or related to many other articles. A plugin exists for creating an ebook for multiple Wikipedia pages. For example you could create an an ebook of the biographies of British writers like Charles Dickens, Bernard Shaw, Agatha Christie and J. K. Rowling from their respective Wikipedia pages and put it on your ebook reader and read about them at leisure or even while travelling. Here is a link to the Wiki Reader plugin page on mobileread. The Ebook created by the plugin will have a table of contents with the main headings being the names of the pages chosen and a substructure same as the table of contents as on the Wikipedia page. The details are similar to the Recipe Reader plugins and available on the Wiki Reader plugin page on mobileread.



virtual libraries


Virtual libraries allow you to conveniently manage a subset of your library. The virtual library button has been available since calibre 0.9.28. It is at the top left corner of the main calibre window under the main toolbar.



This feature used to be called 'Search restriction'. The new virtual libraries are easier to use, but otherwise fulfill the same function. Lets consider an example to explore this feature.

In the following example I tag ebooks created by the user (say using the above mentioned plugins) as "Compiled". Say I want to manage my "compiled" ebooks today, fix their metadata etc. I can do that by isolating them in to a separate virtual library. How do I do this?



Click on the virtual library icon and in the drop down menu that shows up click on "Create Virtual Library". Now a new window opens that allows you to create a virtual library based on commonly used parameters like Authors, Tags, series etc by just clicking on the appropriate parameter. If you want to create a more unusual virtual library (like books added in last 50 days) you can type in the Virtual library name and Search expression. For details on how to enter search expressions and how powerful these searches can be see the user manual page on the subject.
In this example however I have already tagged the ebooks of interest as "compiled", so I just click on "Tags" and a smaller window with all the tags listed opens over the previous one.

Now I just select the "Compiled" tag from the list. You can choose multiple tags and create the virtual library with books containing either any or all the tags of choice. Just select the appropriate option. If using a single tag this choice does not matter.

So here is the virtual library of compiled ebooks that can now be managed in isolation.


The recipe ebooks compiled using the some of the 4 recipe reader plugins mentioned above are tagged in red using column coloring feature discussed here. As you can see there are 5 of them and the tag browser shows that too.

Now say that you had just used the compiled tag to isolate the compiled ebooks instead of using virtual libraries. Then you would see,


where while there are only 5 "compiled" recipes again, the tag browser shows 7. This is because the tag browser shows the number of ebooks tagged recipes in the entire library (compiled or otherwise) and not just those displayed with the "compiled" tag. So, a virtual library is different from a simple search. A search will only restrict the list of books shown in the book list. A virtual library does that, and in addition it also restricts the entries shown in the Tag Browser to the left. A virtual library thus behaves as though the actual library contains only the restricted set of books.

what else can you do?


  • You can edit a previously created virtual library or remove it, by clicking the Virtual Library and choosing the appropriate action.
  • You can tell calibre that you always want to apply a particular virtual library when the current library is opened, by going to Preferences->Behavior.
  • If you use the calibre Content Server, you can have it share a virtual library instead of the full library by going to Preferences->Sharing over the net.
  • You can quickly use the current search as a temporary virtual library by clicking the Virtual Library button and choosing the *current search entry.

Hope you found the article useful. See you again when we have big news.