Monday, May 16, 2011

Pressjack looks to offer RSS feed driven digital magazines for both online and tablet delivery

Trinity Innovations, the company behind 3D Issue digital flipbooks, is currently in beta with a new product that hopes to bring a new digital publishing solution to publishers – one that is RSS feed driven, instantly updated, and can be viewed both online on your PC, as well as on your iPad.

PressJack has been described as a sort of Flipboard for online magazines. That isn't quite right: Flipboard is a consumer product where the reader brings in RSS feeds from content producers and re-lays them out into an attractive iPad product; PressJack if for publishers, creating a digital magazine out of their own RSS feeds. In a way it is a logical outgrowth of the Flash flipbook product, and something other flipbook vendors should consider – most continue to push replica editions.

The PressJack work space.

"We're launching in Beta so we can shape it around user's requirements," Hannah Baldaro of PressJack told me last week.

"So instead of us making something that isn't needed, or isn't wanted, release in Beta to find out user behavior and how they want to it and we can add the features for the final version."

The system is pretty simple: you sign up on the PressJack website then download the beta software. Then you create a publication and begin adding in RSS feeds. Three weeks ago, when I first heard of PressJack, the customization options were few. Now, after a couple of updates, there are more attractive options available such as customizing the cover, adding in stand-alone HTML pages.

After each step the publisher can demo their product to see how it is coming along. I created a demo publication is about ten minutes this morning, though I will admit I was already pretty familiar with the digital publishing solution. The only element I customized was the actual size of the publication – having it match the exact resolution of the iPad.

The output version of TNM.

Unfortunately, one can't see these digital magazines on an iPad right now, but Baldaro promises that will come.

"For the moment it runs in Flash," Baldara said. "So that's just for Beta and then when it's launched it will have an HTML5 output solution, so, obviously, it will be able to be viewed on any device."

"Then there is plans for it to be web hosted, as well. Once you've created your digital magazine it sits online and then it updates itself," Baldaro told me.

For now, publishers can output their digital magazines for self-hosting.

PressJack, as mentioned, is in beta, but should launch as a final product soon. "It was released probably three weeks ago, we've already had two updates, so we're hoping in six to eight weeks," Baldaro said.

For me, I hope they never go "live". By that I mean, that hopefully the developers will not feel like PressJack is ever a finished product. There is a lot of things that could be added, so it might be best if they just keep updating the product indefinitely.

The standard article layout.

Some of the things I would like to see in the future would include a TOC solution, or the ability to use that is today the home page as a second page, allowing the creation of your own cover.

The biggest thing would be layout options: right now all digital magazines created would look pretty much the same. Being able to produce "themes" would be nice, or at least being able to manipulate the themes as you can on Blogger or WordPress.

Finally, what about advertising? Right now the easiest way to add advertising would be as stand-along HTML pages. It would be nice to be able to incorporate network ads into the article layouts, as well.

I should mention, finally, that some of these features suggested above may already be available to beta users, after all, I'm not an expert users at this point. But you can check PressJack easily enough by going to their website and signing up and taking it for a test drive.

1 Comment:

Tablazines said...

I didn't realize it wouldn't work on an iPad since there's an iPad (or some type of generic tablet) posted on the website.

I downloaded it to play with... but I will definitely be needing some type of html5 solution.

I agree 100% on the additions you suggested. This solution definitely has some promise.