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Have You Xiine It?

CoDe Magazine rolls out Xiine, a new .NET-based content reader that brings online content closer to print quality.

his is an exciting time for CoDe Magazine and EPS Software Corp.! For the last year or so, we have been building a brand new, .NET 3.0-based digital publishing platform called "Xiine". I am happy to announce that we've now shipped Xiine!

What Exactly Is Xiine?
The Xiine platform allows publishers (not just CoDe Magazine) as well as the community to publish content digitally. From a reader's point of view, Xiine allows readers to read digital content in a much better format thanks to the magic of WPF! Xiine also provides the ability to manage your entire digital library, so, for example, you can use Xiine to organize your issues of CoDe Magazine and CoDe Focus, as well as books and other content. Using Xiine and your issue of CoDe Magazine you can read the issue on your office computer, annotate it, discuss it with the community, and then go home and open your Xiine library (see Figure 1) on your home computer, and your issue of the magazine, with all your annotations, will be right there! Better yet, we've made Xiine an open platform, and we will invite other publishers as well as the .NET development community to partake in Xiine. We hope you can read your favorite books and other magazines on Xiine soon!

Figure 1. Code Magazine Collection: Here's the complete collection of CoDe Magazine issues in the Xiine library.
Where Do I Get Xiine?
You can download the free Xiine client from CoDe Magazine's site, or from www.xiine.com. The client is small (less than one megabyte in size), so it downloads quickly. ClickOnce makes the installation completely painless. If you have a CoDe Magazine subscription (or ever had one in the past), just sign into Xiine with your standard CoDe account and you'll be able to read the issues you've subscribed to. Xiine.com also has links to additional free content (including CoDe Focus magazines).

A Better Reading Experience
Xiine has a ton of cool features, but the most important one is readability. Digital layout lags far behind print layout. Compare the layout of this printed article (see Figure 2) and its HTML counterpart (see Figure 3):

Figure 2. Print: A printed article page is highly readable.
Figure 3. HTML: The same article page in HTML lacks readability.
There are obvious layout differences between the two documents; HTML simply does not provide good layout options, nor does it provide high quality text rendering. It also doesn't take advantage of digital opportunities such as the ability to change the font size and still achieve a professional layout. While a PDF provides the ability to mimic the print version, the standard PDF reader fails to customize (much) to the reader's preference. Plus, the scrolling problems contribute to an awful reading experience in the PDF reader, especially with multi-column layouts.

Xiine does many things differently. Figure 4 shows same article in Xiine.

Figure 4. Xiine Display: The Xiine display has a dynamic layout that's nearly as readable as print.
Figure 5. Font Adjustments: Xiine can adjust the font and layout and still look professional.
Note that Xiine significantly improves the layout compared to HTML. For example, Xiine features multi-column layout—and does so without the need for a scroll bar. (Xiine supports scrolling optionally, but most people opt for a page-by-page view with single-key page flipping). Xiine also supports customization. For example, to read in a slightly larger font, after making the adjustment (which Xiine remembers for future reference), you still see a robust layout (see Figure 5).

Editor's Note: This article was first published in the July/August 2007 issue of CoDe Magazine, and is reprinted here by permission.

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