Cool App, Cool Cause

Little Pickle Press and Cabot Creamery partner to support KaBOOM, to help support their efforts to bring balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

The Cow is clearly in Patrick’s kitchen

The app Farm2Table, made with based on the printed book The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by Diana Prichard with illustrations by Heather Devlin Knopf, is a cute and fun story about the sources of the food we eat.

So if your answer to the question about where food comes from is “The supermarket”, you’ll learn something here. 🙂

The Farm2Table app is available in the iTunes store, currently for less than three dollars – check it out:

Announcing an API

We are happy to launch our newest major feature; an API for developers wanting to combine the efficient production of rich interactive content in our visual online editor with custom development.

The API is already in practical use. One example is the title “Eg og Pontus går i land” where singer-songwriter Odd Nordstoga is singing his marvellous book (you can still read it yourself, if you prefer to!), illustrated by the excellent Rune Nyhus. You can see the title in action in the screenshot below.

This book, with a completely custom menu, autoplay of pages, various animations and zoom effects, shows one way of using the API (mainly it is controlling timing and menu, the effects are actually created using standard tool features).

Other use cases include custom bookshelves beyond what you can already do directly in the visual tool, as well as creating a very rich custom-coded infographic as part of a tool-produced interactive book for e-learning. Two examples of the former use case are being released the coming week or so, in fact.

The API functions include (but are not limited to):

  • Starting/stopping sounds and videos
  • Navigating to new pages (known as scenes in, titles or chapters
  • Kicking off animations
  • Hiding and showing layers or individual objects
  • Using in-app-purchases to enable functionality and content
  • Tracking user actions to our Reading Analytics backend
  • Change menu state and look
  • Opening/fetching pages from the Internet
  • Opening the email client of the device operating system

Do you see a missing feature or something you would like to add? Let us know!

Next week the API will be officially launched at a hackathon at Telenor. We are really looking forward to it. One of our ideas is to create apps helping refugees from Syria and neighbouring countries. It will be interesting to see what the hackers can come up with.

Reading Analytics

If you are following the the tech press, you might grow a bit tired of the term “Big Data”. Thus, I will not use it again in this short blog post. But the fact is we are now working hard to finalize the architecture for version 2 of our analytics platform (the first version dates back a few years and was tightly integrated into the authoring tool, this new one is running completely separately from the content production platform). This is an important part of an innovation project for which we have gotten some funding from Innovation Norway.

The most recent incarnation of Reading Analytics in goes way beyond the basic counting of titles and pages that the user accessed. Did the users really use the quiz on page 8? How about the video on the credits page – was it money well spent? Stop guessing and gain actionable insights to optimize your next titles, and learn in detail how your readers are spending their time by utilizing Reading Analytics.

Our Reading Analytics platform also allows for clients to plug in their own Business Intelligence platforms and feed data into production systems, if they desire. And opposed to old fashioned data warehouses (I avoided saying the B-word!), these can efficiently be queried and we provide a set of default real-time-updated widgets and reports as well.

If you want to join our beta program for our updated Reading Analytics platform or have some input for us, please contact us.

Thriving in a Transitional Phase

App startingWe all aim to find the formula for the “next generation textbook”, and as tool makers we sometimes find a bit too few of the opportunities of the platform being used. But then again, what is wrong with a super efficient production process and clear and valuable enrichments based on the layout of a printed book?

Recently the small Norwegian publisher Tell Forlag has impressed us with how streamlined they made the process to release their latest book-as-app. It is called “Ortopediteknikk” and is teaching orthopedics for high school level students.

A clear design goal for the title was that the digital edition could be used alongside the printed edition, with the same page references and ideally the same layout. To achive this, Tell used the following process:

  • Import a PDF with 99% of the design identical to the printed book (layers in InDesign helped make the 1% smooth)
  • Enrich it with interactive elements like quizzes, image pop-outs and custom-made videos, at least a couple per chapter
  • Use the tool’s capabilities of automatic full text indexing and dynamic table of contents, as well as zoom and simple bookmarking out of the box
  • The below screenshot shows the dynamic table of contents where the user can answer quizzes and watch videos directly, and also do a free text search and jump to the relevant page

TOC screenshot

To achieve the perfect looking layout, we have licensed a specialized third party conversion tool and are running this on the server side. So the user can import the PDF directly by clicking the wizard button in Then, with no human interaction, the HTML5 backgrounds are in the tool and can be enriched with interactive elements. Compared to an image-based process, the difference is very clear when zooming in and seeing the perfect vector shapes of the text. And even in casual use, the great readability on high resolution screens is striking. Below is a screenshot of a page from the book that contains a quiz that was added in the enrichment process.

Screenshot page Ortopediteknikk

We have talked to teachers that prefer this book-like visual layout more than reflowable pages. In out experience, it also depends on the content what fits most. So is this a “next generation textbook”? Maybe not, but it is clearly a textbook that provides great value and enrichments to the next generation – and is popular and recognizable for teachers.

If you want to discuss in more detail or have a title (or an entire library!) that could come to life through such an enrichment process, please do contact us.

Subscription Engine Running

Ortopediteknikk from Tell is one of the titles using digital delivery of titles with license check
Ortopediteknikk from Tell is one of the titles using digital delivery of titles with license check using our Subscription Engine

Maybe we are too modest, but today – after several customers have been using it for almost a year – we are announcing at new product; nicknamed a subscription engine. Sometimes even refer to it with the cryptic description as a “white label subscription backend”. More simply put the product lets our Enterprise Edition customers packet, deliver and sell digital products in any way they want.

The product is API-driven and can integrate with the customers’ e-commerce solutions or run standalone. One use case would be using it to run a set of digital subscriptions, another a digital bookstore selling individual titles and a third to sell licenses in bulk to schools. Or all of the above! 🙂

If you want to discuss options or have a potential use case, please contact us.

Samsung and TapBookAuthor at AFCC

Samsung and have partnered for digitizing the winners in the SKTAA competition and will share some experiences at AFCC

This Friday, our CEO is proud to be joining Samsung Singapore to give a talk at AFCC – The Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Their talk will cover enrichments to digital interactive books and what is popular with the kids that use the apps, as well as with their parents.

Samsung has selected as their platform and partner for digitizing all the winners from the Samsung KidsTime Author’s Award competition.

Literally as we speak on Friday, the 38 winning entries – from some 7 different countries in South East Asia! – are being enriched in a digital format. There are 6 grand prize winners and as part of the talk, you can see a live preview of some of these winners.

If you are in Singapore, I hope you will be able to come to the talk, and look forward to discussing with you in the Q&A and after. I am of course also happy to show you how our tool helps such amazing titles come alive.

News from home while at BEA

The purpose of this short post is twofold; to tell anyone stopping by that we are at BEA and would be happy to meet and to let you know about starting to sell interactive ebooks for children today!

BEA – Book Expo America – is on in NYC this week and we are listening, discussing and mingling. Shout out if you want to chat! I’ll be here the rest of the week.

And from home, I got news today that launched their updated ecommerce page selling interactive books for children. They have nicknamed the format “ebook plus” and the titles typically contain voice-over, sometimes interactivity and animations and in some cases mini-games and quizzes. Out of the 150 or so titles available at launch, I believe only one single title was not made using our tool!

Work of Art

FrøetFrøet from Gyldendal – was called “the first app that proves that an app can be art” in a review.

This makes us as toolmakers very proud!

The app is different from a few other apps made with our tool in that it is not interactive in the sense that you tap to make things happen, but it is very visual with simple yet effective animations and the sound effects and actor create a very coherent experience.

Well done, Gyldendal – looking forward to the next masterpiece from you and our other great customers and partners!

User Forum March 14th

We’ll be holding our second User Forum in Oslo March 14th, at Mesh in Tordenskiolds gate. We’ll keep it low-key, personal and above all useful. We are keen on getting feedback from our users and excited to tell more about recently added features, share some tips & tricks as well as have a look at the roadmap for further development.

About 20 existing users have already enrolled and will be joining, if you want to join us and have not yet gotten an invitation – please reach out and contact us as soon as possible.

How-to video: Organized madness

In our series of how-to videos, we have come to the promising title Organized madness. It could have been called, like the video itself, Using workspaces to organize your content creation – but that sounded somewhat boring. In any case, the video below explains a really simple feature to help you keep track of your creative projects:

To put it simple, every workspace has a separate set of content in all tabs. This has proved really helpful in keeping track of content and making it findable, while not having to mess around with folders all the time. If you’d like to add another level of tidiness, you might like to use tags/labels. Then you can also filter on a given label within the workspace. Maybe we should make a small video to show you that later. Watch this space!

If you have questions above the feature shown above or suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, be sure to shout out to let us know.



How-to video: Creating a carousel of videos and images

In our series of how-to videos, today’s feature is one that can be used in many different types of titles, but the most obvious might be for educational ones. If the title is based on a textbook, you might want to have a carousel of videos and images where the printed books have a single static image. You find the video showing how you can do this embedded below.

That was pretty easy!? If you have any comments, let us know. Until then, please keep experimenting with the tool and we’ll be back with more practical videos the coming weeks. Please check back!

Employee of the week: Fredrik Medby Hagen

Fredrik started as VP Business Development (meaning he will do a lot of different cool things) the summer of 2013
Fredrik started as VP Business Development (meaning he will do a lot of different cool things!) in TapBookAuthor in the summer of 2013

Continuing our little series with info on our team, today we (Sondre, the CEO, to be specific) have the pleasure to write a few words about Fredrik. I have worked with Fredrik before, in the management consulting industry.

Therefore, I was more than happy when he decided to cut his salary to come change the world (or at least have fun in a little part of it, improving entertainment and education for children by providing our great cloud-based apps publishing tool – thanks for letting me plug it!).

Let’s see what Fredrik filled in about himself (in one of the very few forms of our firm!):

Name: Fredrik Medby Hagen

Title: Jack of most trades

Specialties: All things IT; requirement specifications, systems design & development,  testing, project-/program-management, IT-strategies etc.

Background: MSc in computer science (NTNU) and employment at small and large consultancies, doing all kinds of IT-related work within the sectors of gaming, telco, media, power&utilities, insurance, banking and health.

Fun fact: In the good old days, I used to nurture my creative side by playing around with trackers and sequencers. Some of my music was actually released (albeit after being remixed by this guy).

How-to video: Adding a sound that plays when pressing an area

In our series of how-to videos, we will today show a commonly used feature – namely adding a sound that plays when the user taps a specific area of a page. You can see the video below.

This feature is often used for adding sound effects (children love to repeatedly press to hear water fall, cars start and maybe even animals fart…). Another common use is for guidance or language training in educational titles. In a later video, we will see how even more advanced interactions can be created by using layers (stored in what we call object categories). This way some of our customers lets the user switch between different sets of active sound effects.

If you have questions above the feature above or suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, be sure to let us know.

How-to video: Adding a sound that plays when entering a page

In our series of how-to videos, we have come to a commonly used feature – namely adding a sound that plays when the user is entering a page. You can see the video below.

This feature is often used for having an actor read text in a children’s book or give an intro to interactions available in a page of learning. In a later video, we will see how this can also be automated for a large number of pages using our import feature.

If you have questions above the feature above or suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, be sure to let us know.

Employee of the week: Adrian Novacescu

Adi has been with us as a developer for a bit more than a year now
Adi has been with us as a developer for a bit more than a year now

Continuing our little series with info on our team, we today write a few words about Adi – a humble and modest guy, who has no big reason for that kind of modesty – since he really is in-the-making to become what people in Silicon Valley like to call a rockstar developer.

Name: Adrian Novacescu

Title: Software Developer

Specialties: I have experience building frontend systems with Java, SmartGWT, HTML, CSS, Javascript as well as backend systems with Java, JSP, Hibernate, MySQL. I am also the “Windows 8 apps go-to guy” in the company.

Background: “Politehnica”, Automation and Computer Science Faculty, Timisoara, Romania.

Fun fact: One time I was on a trip in the mountains with some friends. The weather was perfect when we left from home, so we didn’t took adequate equipment with us. The next day it started to rain, all our food was destroyed, and we spent another two days wet in the woods. Since then, I know that everything you do, you need to be prepared.


How-to video: Overview of the tool

As promised, we are kicking off our series of how-to videos that will run through autumn and likely the (way too long) winter. Our aim is for the videos to be simple enough to be used to learn brand new functionality, and they are a super reference resource if you participated in one of our workshop, but can’t quite seem to remember exactly how to complete a certain task.

This very first video will give you a very quick introduction to the user interface of the tool. It will lead you into the project tab, which is where you will enjoy spending most of your time using our tool. Have a look:

If you have suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, be sure to let us know.

How-to videos coming soon

We all enjoy playing around with TapBookAuthor, exploring its feature-set on our own, but now and then, we just want a quick and easy to understand solution. So to ensure that you get the most out of TapBookAuthor, we are in the process of creating some easy-to-follow how-to videos to explain usage scenarios and stuff you can do with TapBookAuthor.

In addition to this, you will see text-articles explaining the more advanced concepts coming your way. Some of these articles might be written by the TapBookAuthor-community (or based on the stuff we are surprised when we see you do) – in many cases, you have done way cooler stuff with our tool than we had dreamt of.

Our ambition is to have at least a two digit number of useful howto-videos live before we see snow in Norway (which may be earlier than you would guess!) and certainly over 25 by the end of 2013. Keep coming back here to see them as they are published. We will tag them all with a specific tag and category, making it super-simple to find a listing. And you can also get the videos from the YouTube channel or directly from the video listing on our web page.

The grand opening of our blog!

We are thrilled to launch the official TapBookAuthor blog! This will be the one-stop-shop for 1st hand information on the tool and the latest on what we are up to.

We will use this blog to inform you on the latest features implemented in our tool and updates on our planned roadmap ahead. We will also publish various news bulletins on what’s going on, some HOWTO-videos on how to use the tool, info from conferences we attend, talk about our planned user forum meetings, as well as general info on our business as it develops.

We are very excited to have come this far, and we look forward to sharing our thoughts and ideas here with you in the time to come. Stay tuned!

Best regards,
Fredrik and Sondre w/team

Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk, CEOFredrik Medby Hagen, VP BizDev