MegaZine3 Variants and Folder Structure

This is a pretty technical documentation, explaining some MegaZine3 and mz3Tool basic concepts and how data is organized by mz3Tool. Such details are intended for those, who have the technical back ground or are curious enough to learn such details. The “normal” user does not need to know all this ;-).

MegaZine3 Variants

MegaZine3 supports different platforms and technologies:

Online + FLASH

This “classical” FLASH variant was the first solution to create flipbooks. Originally built with ActionScript2 in 2006, and 2 years later with a new plugin concept with ActionScript3. The first AS3 version was an OpenSource version, which in 2010 was stopped after most users asked for a licensed version. The actual main version still is an ActionScript3 program. As Online/FLASH version MegaZine3 is available as SWF file, which is loaded from a server and interpreted in a browser on the user’s PC. The browser must support FLASH; therefore mobile devices need a special browser like PUFFIN browser.  FLASHstill is widely spread and supported an billions of computers; and still a very valuable and popular platform for animations and interactive solutions like quiz, school books and games. FlLASH based solutions look the same on every browser; no problem with browser specific implementations, which is a common problem with HTML and Javascript. Vector based text is standard, which results in excellent qualities even with high zoom levels. The downside is that FLASH as an Adobe proprietary solution and not an open standard. This most probably was the main reason why Steve Jobs tried to kill FLASH. As a result of that campaign against FLASH many don’t like FLASH; what imO in many cases isn’t based on facts but “believes”. Anyhow, although Apple was the first banning FLASH, others like Google and Microsoft followed (mostly for egoistic business reasons, I think). And even Adobe as owner of FLASH did not fully support it’s child and acted in unprofessionally (again: my personal view). At the end: it is what it is and will not change. FLASH can still be used and in many cases is the best option, but obviously future solutions will be based on other technologies for the next coming years. Many believe Javascript will be the first choice, and I tend to agree; especially if combined with supportive frameworks/tools like Typescript, AngularJS, …
Future will tell, and we’ll do our best to best support what is used and available.

Offline + AIR

As already mentionened, MegaZine3 mainly programmed with ActioScript3. ActionScript3 (or AS3) is a scripting language developed by Adobe; and still fully supported by Adobe and gaining more and more market attraction, since AS3 is also the base of many mobile games. AS3 is very powerfull, supports object oriented programming and well documented. And still in many aspects more powerful than Javascript.

Remark: AS3 and JS are very similar, since both are based on the same standards. Actionscript not only is interpreted by FLASH in a browser but also supported by AIR; a powerful framework form Adobe, available on many operating systems like Windows, OSx, Android and iOS. And as long as nothins platform specific is used, the same source code runs on all platforms. Very attactive for developers 😉
For end users AIR offers the benefit, that programs are available much faster on different platforms; and look and behave the same

MegaZine3, mz3Tool and mz3Viewer are available as AIR based solutions for Windows and OSx. MegaZine3 and mz3Viewer are also available for Android based systems like tablet computers. An iOS version is not yet available, but depending on requests from customers this might change soon. A big advantage of an App (a program, independent of a browser) is the stationary use, i.e. no Internet connection is needed. Such Offline-Variants in many cases are also more powerful and faster.

Both the FLASH and the AIR version are functionally identical. mz3Tool (MegaZine3 development environment) is only available as AIR program for Windows and OSx, and mz3Viewer (free tool to show Mz3 Titles) is supported as AIR version on Windows, OSx and Android.
Reason: File access is needed, what is not supported in FLASH (nor in Javascript) because of security reasons.

As a side note: mz3Tool and mz3Viewer also make use of FLEX for the user interface. FLEX is a technology formerly developed by Adobe and actually available as OpenSource solution from apache.org.

Online + Javascript

The actually last MegaZine3 variant is a Javascript based solution. MegaZine3 switches automatically to this variant, if FLASH is not supported in the hosting brwoser. This is done without any user interaction. THe Javascript variant makes use of the same “mz3 configuration” file. There are some restrictions, though. One is the missing support of vector based fonts. Instead of SWF files images in JPG or PNG format are used. Those bitmap formats are well supported on mobile devices, in many cases by special hardware chips.
Another restriction is that because of the bitmap format texts areas cannot be identified and highlighted. And some features like search are not supported yet.

Mz3 Packages

mz3Tool supports all MegaZine3 variants. Setting a check mark e.g. defines, that additionally to the default FLASH and AIR version also the Javascript variant will be supported.

Depending on the use case (Online or Offline) all data needed is collected automatically and can be either uploaded to a sever in case of an Online package or distributed as ZIP file in case of an Offline package.

To view an Offline Mz3 Titelneither an Internetconnection nor a browser are needed.

Viewing an Mz3 Title

Depending on the variant different options are available:

Online

An Online Mz3 Titel is shown in a Browser, independent of beeing a Flash or Javascript version. The Javascript variant usuallly is built in parallel to the Flash variant. MegaZine3 decides during startup, if FLASH is supported or not, and depending on the finding makes either use of FLASH or Javascript.This provides the highest level of comaptibility.

Offline

Using MegaZine3 without Internet connection or browser is possible with the Offline version. For that the Offline package must be located on the local disk (or network storage), and mz3Viewer must be installed. mz3Viewer is a free App supporting Windows, OSx and Android, and available as free download from our website.

Folder Structure

mz3Tool creates and manages many folders and files. The user nevertheless can decide, where to save PDF files and the resulting (“Output”) files, i.e. all converted pages, the mz3 configuration file and more.

Output and Input Path freely selectable

The paths to the PDF file and the output folder are entered using two input fields: IN and OUT:

InputOutput Path

The Output path is set by default to the same path as entered for the PDF file.  We suggest to not change that.

Everything will be saved in a subfolder named  “_mz3Data”, which is created in the output path.

IMPORTANT:

  1. The name of that folder must not be changed and remain “_mz3DAta”!. Otherwise mz3Tool couldn’t find the needed files and folders any longer!
  2. Many folder and file names used and created by mz3Tool are based on the PDF-Name. Therefore the PDF name should not be modified once an Mz3 Title was built, i.e. the PDF file was converted. A different name tells mz3Tool it is a different Mz3 Titls; and in consequence everything had to rebuilt and configured again!

The main “_mz3Data” Folder

The folder “_mz3Data” holds everything (!):

  • general and specific configuration files
  • the “book data”, i.e. the pages
  • additional elements like video. image and audio files, the final Mz3 Title, the Online and Offline Packages and ZIP files… At the end: EVERYTHING!

folderStructure

Detail-Info

configData:  All configuration files located in this folder like the one with all book attributes are shared between Mz3 Titles using this _mz3Data folder as Output folder. Of the default settings for the Output folder are not changed, that are all Mz3 Titles based on PDF files in the same Input folder..

contentData: All configuration files specifying content, are specific for an Mz3 Title and located in sub folders named after the Mz3 Title. Such configuration files are e.g. defining whcih video is located on what page. This allows that Mz3 Titles share the same basic configuration but have their own content.

offlinePackage: This folder contains all Mz3 Title specific data. Everything needed to build (or show; that’s why it historically was called “offlinePackage”)  an Mz3 Title is available under this folder. In the meanwhile it is easier to use a zipped file in the folder “zippedMz3Titels” to share an Offline Mz3 Title (see Video: Publish Offline). Actually this folder is the key folder for all data relevant for an Mz3 Title.

zippedMz3Titles: This folder collects ZIP files of all shared Mz3 Titles. .

Move and Delete Folders

Before starting a new MegaZine3 project it is highly recommended to decide for a folder that is used to hold the PDF file and future Mz3 Title.Moving folders later only is possible if some rules are strictly followed.

Moving a folder or PDF file

A PDF file can be moved to a different folder.  The new location/folder must be communicated to mz3Tool. This is done in draggen&ropping the PDF file into the IN line again after it was move.  Since the Output path will be adjusted automatically, it is necessary to modify the OUT path so it points to the original _mz3Data folder; unless alos that folder was copied tgether with the PDF file (what is the suggested method moving complete Mz3 Titles)..

Also if just the “_mz3Data” folder is moved, the new destination must be entered in the OUT input field. Otherwise already converted pages are not found by mz3Tool.

AGAIN: The folder name “_mz3Data” must not be changed in any case! Also all sub folders must remain in place, i.e. the folder structure must not be modified. Subfolder names must not be changed neither.
And since the name of the PDF file defines many file and folder names. also that name must not be changed once an Mz3 Title was built.

Deleting Files and Folders

Over time many files will be created by mz3Tool. Especially video files can be very big!

If you e.g drag many videos on pages and lated do not use it any longer (i.e. delete the related video element from the page), those big files still remain in the assets_c/video/ folder. And also in case you publish Online and Offline packages, this will create a lot of duplicates.

Therefore it makes a lot of sence to purge unused files form time to time..

Reccomendation:

  • If Online packages had been created, the onlinePackage folder should be deleted once everything was uploaded to the server.
  • If ZIP files had been created and then distributed, also the zippedMz3Titles can be deleted
  • No longer used “elements” (video, image, audio files) can be easily and safely deleted following:
    Elements – Video – Manage Elements – DELETE Assets
    mz3Tool only deletes thos files that are not used in any configruation file (at the moment!)
  • Configuration files are small and do nto consume lot of disk space, so you can keep those. Unless your ended up in trouble because of problematic manual changes. In that case the corrupt configuration file can be deleted. It will be restored next time by mz3Tool with default settings.
  • Using many qualtiy levels and probably also the javascript fall back in high quality and prebuilt thumbnails, you’ll end up with plenty of big image files! Fortunately mz3Tool automatically deletes images no longer needed if a quality level is disabled. So in most cases it is sufficient to uncheck not longer used quality levels.
    Here an example of a configuration whcih will create many images in high resolution. Such setting not only results in long conversion times but also creates many big image files!

qualitySettings






 

Categories: Technical.

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