Monthly Archives: June 2014

Digital Comics Hackaton In Paris And Other News

It have already been almost 1 full year (!!!) since my last progress report and there have been some AOS-related events recently so it’s time to post some news.

Digital Comics Hackaton in Paris

Hackathon

On the weekend between the 6th and 8th of July 2014, in the “Labo de L’édition” (litterally:  the “Publishing Laboratory” which is an incubator helping startup innovating in (digital) publishing tools and platforms) which is in Paris France, was organised a hackaton about digital comics.

The participants spent the weekend hacking some animation tools, web development tools and/or ePub related tools to make short digital comics. One of the goal of the organisers (including Actualina which is a startup focused on digital comics publishing and technologies and recently released Sequencity in France) was to observe the results and issues encountered by the teams as they were trying to hack something interesting using no tools that actually suit the range of possible narrative formats on digital platforms.

The exercise was interesting, the results impressives and people were very fun to chat with.

I was there as a “mentor” because apparently I am one of the few knowledgeable about  born-digital narratives, at least on the technical and fundamental theory sides. I thank again the organisation people, “Labo De L’Edition” and “Actualina”, to have invited me, it was a very interesting event and I met a lot of interesting people.

160px-EPUB_logo.svg

There was one particular and important thing that was very motivating through the weekend: almost all issues that participants discovered while hacking ePub or other tools (like Hype or Flash) to make them do something close to what they want; most of these problems were natively fixed by the fundamental structure of AOSL, either 1.0 or 2.0 depending on the problem. I even demonstrated successfully to some people why it works and how, spreading my knowledge of what I think is the right way to make tools for digital narratives.

In any way, I managed to have tons of confirmation that I was on the right track both
on the theoretical and practical side. The only thing missing is basically resources (time, money, etc.) Of course in the last few years I have searched for a long-term solution to solve that resource problem but nothing is easy to this day.

I hope that explaining in depth the fundamental theory behind my approach for AOS as a whole did at least helped some developers want to steal my ideas to put them in potential
tools projects (because, as Balak recently said in a conference, what we desperately need is tools).
I hope, but not too much, that some of them will be interested in participating to AOS but the current state of the code is difficult to start with so it’s not an ideal time right now (but it’s still possible).

Which gets me to:

Some news about AOS development

Since last year a lot happened in my life, which prevented me to progress steadily on AOS.
As always, having a project which is technically at least 4 projects in a production chain
(edition tool <=> universal format <=> exporter(s) => player(s)) but being the sole developer on these projects don’t help the while to grow fast.
However, for the last 6 months, lack of technical progress have been worse than previously
and I only managed to work on a few issues.

I still managed to prepare some ideas that will help me accelerate the development drastically (I hope). One thing I want to do is work on some interactive UI prototypes to solve some potential issues I was having with the UI of AOS Designer, but that will need close participation with some artists, which is hard right now because of my situation, but should be soon solved.

I always really wanted to put something in the hands of artists/authors as soon as possible
to start a dialog to drive the design of the tool, but it’s really hard to reach the initial point
where a very simple AOSL sequence can be edited. Any tool before this point would, in my
opinion, not be of any interest to anyone (me included). I hope to accelerate development to reach this point as soon as possible but I have no guarantee of when I can work on AOS these days, so I can’t promise anything at all.

I should be able to post, some time this summer, some news related to what I plan to do in the coming months, for accelerating drastically AOS development.

Work on AOSL Specification

While I was in the hackaton I did have some free time so I profited from the studious atmosphere and space and I managed to continue the work on the AOSL 1.0 specification document. Without this document, it is very very hard to understand AOSL for a developer (apparently :D ) so I focus most of my spare time allocated on AOS to writing it.

It will also be a starting point for AOSL 2.0 implementation which will be much needed to
finish the edition tool (“AOS Designer” which will be renamed soon).

Website issues and forum offline

Recently I had to cut off my dedicated server and will migrate it’s content to a new one
as soon as possible but I’m not sure when I will have the time to do it (I am in the middle of a business trip in Paris).

The website and the forum were offline but I managed to extract the data from the backup
yesterday to put it on a temporary web hosting account owned by my friends from niseija.com (thank you!). The web hosting account can’t manage Discourse (the forum application, see http://discourse.org ) so I cannot set it up right now but will do as soon as I setup the new server.

 

Next news should be good news, so see you soon!