Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two little Read Aloud things

I really get a lot of email. And I'm embarrassed to admit that although I answer a fair bit of it, I don't answer all of it. On the other hand, if you ask me a very specific question and tell me what you've done and what you're not sure about, I'm likely to get right back to you (especially on Twitter :)

The curious and awesome thing about helping people is that so often I learn new things myself. That was the case this morning. Costas Gheraniou, a reader in Greece, has been having trouble getting Read Aloud to work, despite working through my new Read Aloud EPUB for iBooks miniguide. We went back and forth on Twitter for a bit but the behavior that he was describing didn't make sense to me. He said that the book wouldn't play when he chose Start Reading, but that it would play if he clicked on a particular word.

One of my disappointments with Read Aloud was that it always starts at the beginning of a page (or a spread, even worse). Could it really be that clicking on a word would make that word play? So I got him to send me his file and I took a look. He had been using my example file as a starting off point and had removed all of the pages except the first one and then added his own audio and smil file.

This is a great way to learn by the way: start with something that works, and then adding your own bits in incrementally so that if something doesn't work, you can pinpoint just what it was. At any rate, our files were virtually identical except for the fact that his had only one page, and mine had four. And that was the problem: A one page Read Aloud book won't start to play when you hit Start Reading. It has to have at least two pages. That's an iBooks bug, if you ask me, but it's nice to know about, and easy to workaround: just create more than one page and it'll work fine.

The second part was something I hadn't realized, and works in my books as well. Once a book is playing, you can touch any word on the page to restart the playback from that point. It doesn't pause and it doesn't limit itself to that word, but you can at least control where it starts.

I wish this would work even if the book was not playing. It would be great to be able to play just individual words of interest.

Thanks, Costas!

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