Or, “What’s New in Documentation Land”.
Last December, we started packaging the in-app documentation for many of our OmniApps and distributing those in EPUB3 format through Apple’s iBooks Store. These books are DRM-free and freely available to anyone—not just users of our apps. To date, nearly 30,000 copies have been downloaded; thank you!
Earlier this week, we reached a new milestone by publishing the OmniFocus 2 for iPhone User Manual, in the following languages:
- Chinese (Simplified)
These, too, are freely available worldwide on the iBooks Store. We decided that, rather than limiting distribution to the countries or regions in which these languages are predominantly used, that we would make them available to everyone.
This is just the first step; a trial to see if this is doable (and to see how our customers react to these releases). Meantime, the Documentation Wranglers are busy at work at packaging up the translations for all of our apps with the goal of making these available on the iBooks Store as they’re ready to go (pending Apple approval, of course).
Can’t Find Our Books on Your iBooks Store?
Apple allows us to distribute our EPUBs in 51 countries, and we promise to make our books available in every iBooks Store to which we have access. However, a number of you have let us know that, while you can purchase our apps from your local App Store or Mac App Store, our books aren’t available in your country’s iBooks Store. We have been keeping track of the countries as you let us know (thank you!), and want to provide that list here again:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
While the iBooks Store is our preferred download method (we’ll get to that shortly), we want to ensure that all of our users can get to the EPUB versions of our documentation wherever you are. If you reside in one of the above countries, or if you can’t find our books on your country’s iBooks Store, you can download any of our books from our downloads site:
Within that directory, you’ll find region folders (for example, de for German, es for Spanish, and so on) for the various translations we have published.
Direct Download vs iBooks Store
So, you’re probably wondering whether you should just use our downloads site instead of the iBooks Store. Sure, you can do that, but there are a few huge advantages to getting our books from the iBooks Store:
If you have “purchased” your copy from the iBooks Store (they’re free!), you will receive a notification in iBooks whenever we release an update. If you are getting our books from the downloads site, you’ll have to check that regularly, or keep an eye out on Twitter for when we update a book.
One of the many reasons why people want our documentation in a different format is so they can make notes and annotations to things they regularly refer to. And while you can do this with a PDF, once you’ve added a bunch of notes to a PDF file, all of your notes and annotations are stuck in that one file. There is no easy way for you to take the notes and annotations from one PDF file and inject them in another. When you download an update from the iBooks Store, iBooks preserves your notes, annotations, and bookmarks from one version to the next.
The final advantage of using the iBooks Store is iCloud Sync. If you are using iCloud to sync books across your iOS devices and with your Mac, all of your notes, annotations, and bookmarks are also synced. This means that a bookmark you make in iBooks on your Mac will show up as a bookmark in the same book on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
We ask that you first look to the iBooks Store in your country to see if our books are available. If so, please download them from iBooks. If not, then please feel free to use our downloads site.
A Final Note About PDF
As you may have noticed, we have slowly phased out distributing PDF versions of our documentation. The advantages of EPUB (as noted above) far outweigh what you get with a PDF. We are continuing to work on our documentation process and toolchain, with the goal of making our docs more accessible—and printable—soon.