The CommonsBlog


Omnibus v0.5 Released

Version 0.5 of the omnibus edition of The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development, as re-envisioned as part of The Big Book Reboot, is available to most subscribers. Those who subscribed after around noon Eastern Time on April 22nd will start getting the Omnibus with the next update.

This release adds some new material:

  • A rewritten chapter on threads

  • A lightly updated chapter on permissions

  • A mostly-reworked chapter on local files and assets

  • A trimmed-down chapter on SharedPreferences

  • A reworked chapter on SQLite

Also, 0.5 introduces a new book format: APK. Here, by “APK”, I mean that the omnibus is available as an installable Android application, using its own digital book reader, EmPub, for Android 2.2 and higher.

There are several objectives with the EmPub initiative:

  1. EPUB readers, on the whole, mangle the book, because they replace my CSS with their CSS. I want to make sure that there is an on-device option that always faithfully renders what I am trying to write.

  2. EmPub will serve as the foundation for a new set of tutorials, building up a subset of EmPub capabilities (in a app called EmPubLite).

  3. While EmPub is fairly basic at the present, I intend to add more capabilities over time, not only to make it more usable to you as a reader, but also to demonstrate Android capabilities in an app that is bigger than my typical focused examples. That being said, EmPub is not designed to have an infinite number of features.

  4. EmPub is open source, so others might find use for it in its entirety, though that is not its principal aim by any stretch.

Right now, to get the APK onto an Android device, the easiest approach probably is to download the APK on your desktop or notebook, then install it on your device (e.g., via adb install). I will eventually add a QR code to allow you to get it onto the device a bit easier. Also, eventually, EmPub will optionally self-update, downloading new versions overnight and letting you then install them when you are ready. The book will not be on Google Play Store or any other market, though I may distribute a free sampler edition by those venues.

The EmPub usage model is fairly basic:

  • Swipe vertically to read within a chapter
  • Swipe horizontally to switch between adjacent chapters
  • Click any link to open it, and if it is an internal link, you should slide over to that chapter and section
  • Tap on the icon in the upper right to return to the table of contents, where you can click any link to visit any chapter

As with the PDF, KF8, and EPUB (for the few readers that support it), changebars work in EmPub to highlight what is new or changed within a chapter.

If you encounter bugs or have feature requests for EmPub, please file an issue.

If all goes according to plan, Version 0.6 will ship in about two weeks, with a few new chapters and a bunch of new tutorials, based on EmPub and EmPubLite.

If you encounter problems with the Omnibus or have other Omnibus-related feedback, please contact me at omnibus /at\ commonsware.com.