App or interactive ebook

Hi, I just found about Hype after reading about a London animation studio which made an interactive ebook (Galdo’s Gift - https://bookmachine.org/2018/02/07/making-groundbreaking-animated-interactive-childrens-storybook/).

My interest is also to create an interactive children’s book and I am curious to what extend Hype is enough on its own to do that. More specifically, I would like to know whether I should incorporate the whole thing inside an Xcode project (app) or use the iBooks Author software. Also it is not clear to me why the software CircularFlo was used. The only thing that is clear is the use of Blender, which I have some grasp of and which I could use in a project like that.

I would appreciate any thoughts or ideas about a similar workflow using the Hype software with the same goal.

Cheers.

As you’re probably learning, the base of the interactive portion of these books is always HTML + JavaScript, so the choice you make as to how you wrap that code and what platform the ‘wrapper’ restricts you to is a big part of your decision here. Publishing with iBooks author as an Epub3 gives you the flexibility to publish as an Epub3 in the iBooks store and outside of it. It used to be that iBooks Author only exported the .ibooks format, but now you can also export an Epub3 file and distribute however you please. But you need to make sure you start with one of their Epub3 formats when selecting a template.

Publishing as an app would give you a bit more flexibility, but will be a greater technical challenge unless you are already familiar with Xcode & Web Views or frameworks like Phonegap. Creating in Xcode (without a HTML-friendly wrapper like Phonegap) requires that you handle things like multiple devices, future compatibility, and all the nuances that go into producing an app.

iBooks Author has it’s own way of doing things that makes creating a book quick and convenient, but you lose a lot of customization options. But sometimes the restrictions make the whole process easier to manage.

You’ll find folks here who have travelled both roads, so here’s a few questions that might help:

  • what do you want to do in your book? Any technical wacky things that might not work in iBooks?
  • what’s your current comfort level with iBooks Author & Xcode/ app production?
  • what devices or Book Platforms / App or Book Markets do you wish to sell to?
2 Likes

@Tapocketa_Trev might be able to chime in as well :slight_smile:.

Thanks Daniel,

It seems to me what Trevor and Tapocketa did with Galdo’s Gift is quite a lot to aspire to for the moment. I actually contacted Trevor and he was kind enough to share some info.

I do have some minor experience with Xcode, having gone through an online bootcamp, but not sure if it makes any sense to stretch the concept to an app. What could the benefits be?

No experience with iBooks Author, so I don’t know what it can do, but I assume it cannot do the interactions and simple animations that Hype showcases, and which is what I am looking for.
I am on the Apple platform, but I guess it makes sense to be able to reach a broader audience. What I am looking for is tablets. iPads and later (or at the same time) android devices.

Also, I am wondering if the integration between Hype and InDesign is seamless through the AOM widgets towards the epub3 creation?

Ha ha… what about me?
Have I been inactive on this forum for too long? :smile:

I’ve done both. I prefer wrapping an HTML project into a WebView, as I find that has more power, more consistency and potentially more compatibility.

As comparison, I created “A Book About Hype” (for Hype 3.5) with iBooks Author. It was somewhat successful project, as it hit #1 (Computers and Internet) on the iBooks store. I was specifically targeting that store, which is why iBooks made sense. But in general, “A Book About Hype 4” probably won’t be made with iBooks Author.

While there was a lot of interactivity in the book, I feel I can do so much more (and so much better) with an app. With iBooks, there was a lot of crashing. I don’t think I was doing anything too taxing, but if you flipped through the pages too quick… boom. That’s not a great user experience.

However, I created Revisions as an app, and Apple told me to put it on the bookstore. (The iOS version had trouble – which was first launched a decade ago. Today, it’s flagged as an issue.) So, if you’re going the app route, it should feel more app-like than book-like – or you might get your app rejected.

Probably the biggest “Photics” mistake, in its 20 year history, was releasing The Interactive Stencil Textbook as an iBook. You’ll need to know your target audience. The iBooks Author app is geared more towards creating publications for Apple’s ecosphere. Stencyl is used by a lot Windows users. So, will the Hype widgets even load for them? Outside of the iBooks/Books app, which ePub readers even support Hype widgets?

I mean really, do you need any more proof than this… http://community.stencyl.com/index.php?topic=4067.180 …I gave away the book for free, but I still got a complaint because it wasn’t a PDF or regular ePub. Pick the wrong format and you can severely diminish your potential audience.

…but, making Apps is tough. WOW, I can tell you there’s been a significant technical hurdle for the Hype 4 book. I couldn’t figure it out. I had to use one of my Technical Support Incidents, then an Apple Engineer was able to solve the problem – and that’s just macOS. Do you want it on iOS? Windows? Android? Linux?

Take a look at this… Wrapping – Export Hype HTML to an App 🎁 …that thread just oozes stress. The reality is that iBooks Author is easier. Creating apps is a lot harder.

You might be asking the question incorrectly. Instead, maybe you should be asking – how do I make both? “The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook” is currently the most successful Photics project. Why? Well, the timing was good. The software was really popular back then… https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=gamesalad,stencyl,tumult%20hype …but also because the book was available as an App and as a PDF. Apple featured the app, so I got a nice boost that way. But as a PDF, it had greater compatibility.

The problem with that – is it worth the effort to create two versions of the book… or three… or four? Unfortunately, this is a problem. Progressive Web Apps might be a solution, and word on the street is that Tumult is looking to add that feature to Hype, but how do you monetize a PWA? :man_shrugging:t2:

Anyway, so to sum up… both, neither, one or the other. :laughing:

In other words, I don’t know what’s best for you. That’s a decision for you to make. This is just a description of my experiences regarding the matter. I’ve been very disappointed with iBooks Author. If I went back in time, I probably wouldn’t use it at all.

2 Likes

Thanks Photics,

you brought more confusion than I needed I guess :slight_smile:

As I am trying to navigate the arena, the question for me, at this point, seems to be what is the easiest and fastest way to creative interactive content for children on iPad mainly. If this can be done through iBooks Author or InDesign on a good enough level, I guess there is no reason to work much harder for creating an app. In the end of the day what interests me more is the creative side of the content (animation, text, story, interactivity) than the coding or packaging of this content.

Perhaps later, if I stay interested, I can test other options. As a total beginner to ebook publishing in general, though, I am searching for the least intimidating route!!

At this point I can’t even distinguish differences between iBooks Author and inDesign as a packaging system to incorporate the various elements. On top of that I am trying to understand exactly how the different apps, namely Hype and CircularFLO, can help with adding interactivity, as their features overlap.

1 Like

Definitely iBooks Author is the easiest. We’ve seen a lot of books use Hype-created widgets in iBooks Author documents. There are a few downsides in how a widget integrates into a page, but if you’re looking focus on content and get your idea out as fast as possible this will be the way.

As a pragmatist, I’d say start with this, and if you hit roadblocks in content production, or in how the widget interacts with the book, then start looking for solutions to those specific problems.

I’d definitely take heed to @Photics notes about iBooks Author, but if you primarily make the content in Hype (as we see with most children’s books) then it would be easily portable later.

2 Likes