Sunday, March 18, 2012

Questions on Layout and File Types for the Compendium

The Spawn of Endra beseeches the audience:

Ahoy folks. Work on the layout for The Lands of Ara 2011 Compendium is going well, and as Carter recently mentioned we're aiming for the end of March for its release. This will be a free download available on the blog, and it's going to be pretty cool, if I do say so myself. Lots of great gameable content and some sweet artwork by the Binghams, Kelvin Green, and the Marg over at The Oubliette.

We want this to be a useful resource so I'd like to get some input about how folks use electronic files during the game, or just reading stuff. In the first place, I like to see stuff in the hard copy, so I'm trying to make the layout work in terms of the usual coherent page breaks, no orphans or widows, etc. I also know that two column formatting (a la B/X) seems to irritate people reading electronic files. For the most part it's going to be single column except where we've got, e.g., stat blocks next to images, or places where text or tables makes sense side by side. That is, you're not going to be reading to the bottom of a page and then scrolling back up to the top again.

We're thinking of this being a pdf, but I've heard (I think) that certain e-reading devices don't handle pdfs. I don't have any such new-fangled devices, so I have no idea. Are pdfs generally okay, and if not what are the alternatives?

Lastly, we have some really cool color art, but perhaps some people printing a hardcopy don't want to deal with that. We do have BW versions of the artwork as well, and I could conceivably also have a BW version of the Compendium available. At this point that's not a high priority for me to deal with, but I'd be interested to hear from folks on this score.

Any feedback on these topics are greatly appreciated!


  1. + 1 for the single column text layout.

  2. PDF works on most e-readers, but many people report that they are slow to respond and have glitches with graphics-heavy, multi-page PDFs. For example, I have some issues of Fight On! that my Nook Tablet's standard PDF viewer could only view the first few pages of.

    EPUB is pretty much a standard format. Plaintext and HTML, surprisingly, are not. There are other formats, which vary in accessibility.

    Single column is better for reading on a screen, especially an e-reader. I think a sidebar/main body format would also not be objectionable. Two column is bad for reading on a screen, but preferred for print. I haven't investigated, but I think two column is either impossible to get in EPUB or difficult (requires CSS.) Either way, it's contrary to what EPUB is intended to do.