File reader function not satisfactory

Discussion in 'Pleco for Android' started by catapart, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. catapart

    catapart Member


    I've been trying to import a few .epub books into the file reader recently and was disappointed to find that none of the books were rendered as text -- all there was on the screen was a blank page of whiteness. I tried to change the encoding, but none of those listed worked. I'm sure the .epub files are not corrupted, as the other e-readers on my phone (Xiaomi Mi 5) rendered the books perfectly. Is there anything that I'm doing wrong? Any setting I could try change? Why's the Pleco Reader not capable of dealing with those .epub files when all the other readers are?

    Another thing I'd like to hear your feedback on: why's the interface of the reader so un-enjoyable? I've been reading some texts using the Xiaomi Reader as well as the 网易云阅读app, and both render texts absolutely beautifully, making it a joy to read. The Pleco Reader by contrast is not even comparable. I'd love to read entire books on it, particularly (atm: exclusively) because of the fantastic integration with the dictionary functions/flashcards, but right now it's just like going back to the beginning of the digital era, websites of the pre-90s sort of feel. What's the reason the reader is so basic? Would it cost too much to be like an actual reader that people would voluntarily read their books on? It'd be great to hear your comments on that too!

    Thanks for engaging with me, I'm a new customer and super appreciative of your product, would just love to optimize the functions I'm relying on heavily.
  2. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Sorry you're not happy with this function - if you contact support we'll be happy to set up a refund. (even for the entire bundle, if you bought the bundle but no longer consider it a good purchase because the reader doesn't work well for you)

    Anyway, we don't support EPUB on Android at the moment, just PDF and text files. We do support EPUB on iOS, and with a much nicer interface, but to be honest, on Android people mostly lost interest in our file reader function last year after we launched Screen Reader / Screen OCR (which are not even technically possible on iOS); they'd generally rather just use the reader app of their choice and overlay our system to look up words. You should be able to do that yourself quite easily with the other e-readers on your phone, assuming they use standard Android system controls to render text (most do, but a few - like Kindle - don't).

    It's certainly technically possible to build out our document reader to match those other apps, and to support EPUB - in fact in a lot of respects it's easier than on iOS, since Android has a very convenient HTML-to-Android-text-view converter built right in (EPUB files are at their core really just .zip archives full of HTML files). However, it's hard to justify making that a priority when there's so little interest from our Android users in file reading these days - there are other things we can spend our time on on Android that will do more good for more people. That being said, there are some things coming in our flashcard system in 4.0 that will greatly enhance the value of reading documents within Pleco rather than outside of it in Screen Reader, so once that's out we are optimistic we'll be able to finally make some progress on Android file reading.

    The one thing we have put a lot of effort into recently on Android file reading is PDF, since Screen Reader / OCR don't generally integrate well with PDF reader apps and a lot of Android file readers don't support PDF yet (or if they do they tend to garble Chinese text). PDF support is also responsible for much of the cost of our file reader add-on, since we have to pay license fees for the PDF reader library we use.
  3. catapart

    catapart Member

    Hi, thanks for the response, I really appreciate your comments, they make me understand much better what's happening and why things are the way they are. Just one more question: you mention that most people "generally rather just use the reader app of their choice and overlay our system to look up words." Would you mind pointing me to the relevant passage in the instruction manual or simply help me work out how to do that. I don't necessarily think I've understood the Screen Reader/OCR function very well until now. In the accessibility settings on the Pleco Screen Reader, it says that "after you tap on the floating Screen Reader button you can tap on any Chinese character on the screen to look it up." That's obviously ideal and once that works, I see that it's not necessary to have an amazing Pleco-internal File Reader. My problem is that I can't seem to make this work. No matter which app I'm using on my phone (say I'm using the 纽约时报app or the Mi Reader app), even after all the settings are turned on/access granted etc., I cannot just instantly look up words. Instead, when I click on the screen reader button, it copies the text into the pleco reader and switches to the Pleco App. But that's not what you mean by "tap on any Chinese character on the screen to look it up" right? It'd be great to learn how to do this. Is there any setting I need to change? Thanks a lot!
  4. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Turn off the option in Settings / External Access to "Send reader text to clip reader" - that should give you a floating view instead.
  5. Abun

    Abun 探花

    I second the request for epub support in the Pleco Reader. The screen reader doesn’t work in the reader I use, and honestly, there aren’t too many good ones to choose from. At least not if you want support for epub3 features – quite a few of which I find essential for Chinese ebooks (vertical text, ruby…) – and extended Unicode. As a matter of fact I can’t think of a single one that supports both. So I think it would be awesome if we could get those for in Pleco for Android as well at some point.
  6. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    We don't even support all of those EPUB3 features in our iOS app, actually. And in fact our general plan with EPUB on iOS is to move away from EPUB features and instead towards easy reading / text extraction (with the current embedded-web-browser-based approach now an off-by-default option) - clear, well-spaced, readable text with perfectly reliable navigation / bookmarking, instant pagination, and various things that are hard to efficiently layer on a mobile web browser like highlighting flashcard vocabulary.

    So if we do support EPUB on Android I suspect we'll be doing it exclusively through that approach, i.e., extracting the text from an EPUB file and presenting it as text; we would want to support links / TOC's, of course, and maybe also some light text formatting like variable font sizes / bold / etc, but I don't think developing a fully-featured EPUB3 reader on either platform is a good use of our time.
  7. Abun

    Abun 探花

    Fair enough :)
  8. magicdave

    magicdave 秀才

    I'm pretty happy with the Android reader for the most part, but the one function I really miss from IOS is the ability to search within a text.
  9. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Funny, that one doesn't get commented on much in general - it's on our to-do list but it involves enough new UI complexity that it probably has to get in line behind several other things.

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