Tablet for ewriter

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Ga Bowen
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Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Ga Bowen » Wed Oct 06, 2021 2:13 pm

Does anyone have any experience using a tablet in a production environment?

Would like to find something around the £99 mark that could handle a H+M ewriter book (or would html/browser be better?) with a decent battery.

It would have to be reasonable rugged. :)

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Tim Green
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Tim Green » Thu Oct 07, 2021 7:47 am

Hi Gareth,

EWriter is currently Windows only, because the viewer is a Windows application. Also, the standard viewer is a Win32 application, although there is also a Windows Store version that users can download. This means that you are restricted to Windows tablets, which basically means Microsoft Surface devices, or the other Windows alternatives from this list:

https://www.netbooknews.com/tips/surface-alternative/

Also, if you go for one of the ARM-based versions like the Surface Go, you can't use EXE eWriter or the standard EXE viewer. Instead, you would need to create plain data books with the .ewriter extension, and the users would have to install the viewer from the Windows Store. That is automatic, however -- they will be prompted to install the viewer the first time they try to open an .ewriter file.
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Ga Bowen
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Ga Bowen » Thu Oct 07, 2021 10:58 am

Thanks for the reply, Tim. :)

The tablet would be issued with everything already loaded/installed as a manual, so they would not need to be adding/installing anything.

I'm beginning to think I might be better producing it as an HTML.

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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Tim Green » Thu Oct 07, 2021 11:13 am

Ga Bowen wrote:
Thu Oct 07, 2021 10:58 am
I'm beginning to think I might be better producing it as an HTML.
If the tablets can have an Internet connection this is definitely the best way to go, because then you can update the documentation for your entire user base in a single central location without redistribution. Local documentation installation should always be just a fallback option for situations where you can't have online access.

Generally speaking, if possible, I would strongly recommend iPads over any other tablet. They are so far head of both Android and Windows tablets in every possible usability and performance metric that there is no longer really any comparison at all.
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Ga Bowen
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Ga Bowen » Thu Oct 07, 2021 11:54 am

Tim Green wrote:
Thu Oct 07, 2021 11:13 am
Ga Bowen wrote:
Thu Oct 07, 2021 10:58 am
I'm beginning to think I might be better producing it as an HTML.
If the tablets can have an Internet connection this is definitely the best way to go, because then you can update the documentation for your entire user base in a single central location without redistribution. Local documentation installation should always be just a fallback option for situations where you can't have online access.

Generally speaking, if possible, I would strongly recommend iPads over any other tablet. They are so far head of both Android and Windows tablets in every possible usability and performance metric that there is no longer really any comparison at all.
That's all interesting. The documentation will have to be provided for use offline, but installing the HTML version on the tablet won't be a problem.

Had no idea that iPads were such superior machines. Cost may play into this though. I've noticed already you can get a lot for <£150 on Windows/Android.

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Tim Green
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Tim Green » Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:23 pm

That's all interesting. The documentation will have to be provided for use offline, but installing the HTML version on the tablet won't be a problem.
That won't work, at least not on an iPad or Android tablet. Mobile operating systems are massively different from desktop ones, and all applications are strictly sandboxed. You cannot just install WebHelp and display it locally. The only way to display your own HTML content on an iPad or Android device is via the Internet, or with your own native app that includes all the HTML content in its own sandbox. That would mean programming an app yourself with the ability to display HTML, basically a browser app. And then the only way to update your documentation would be to update the app, which would mean going through the entire store approval process every time. And that way madness lies -- don't even think about considering it.

Windows machines are different, because Windows is fundamentally open. You can install and display HTML there without any problems. But there too, you are at a huge disadvantage if you preinstall the documentation on the machine instead of accessing it via the Internet, because your distribution overheads for updating will be many orders of magnitude greater than via online access. Also, if you provide online devices the odds are much higher that your users will actually use them.
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Peter Muckle
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Peter Muckle » Fri Oct 08, 2021 2:21 pm

If I may

Some sort of reader for Android is really needed I think....

I disagree about iPads being superior in *every* way - Android devices come in a much larger range, including ruggedised and waterproof, and some have a massive battery life. My Sony Z3 lasted 6 years, my iPad mini lasted 2 months, until it fell off the bed when charging and the charging port broke, writing it off.

Although Tim won't like the suggestion, you can read epubs on Android devices, and Lithium will show Xplains and all the HTML3 stuff. Most of the other readers don't though. If it is for your own company, it is easy enough to specify or pre-install Lithium. I had a go making a manual for epub, with some custom pages for an index and a navigation menu along the top.

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Tim Green
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Tim Green » Fri Oct 08, 2021 3:53 pm

Hi Peter,

Yes, an ePub can be stored and read on any mobile device, Android or iOS or Windows. However, ePub is also a pretty terrible documentation format, and eBook readers generally are at least a decade out of date in terms of HTML rendering, which is why I didn't mention it. ePub is fine for just reading something from start to finish, but you really, really don't want to be using it for interactive documentation. If you have the option of Internet access, I would still say that WebHelp on an Internet server should be the number one choice.

I absolutely agree that eWriter needs both an Android and iOS viewer apps, and those are already on the roadmap.

As for tablet brands: If all you are going to do is display ePub or WebHelp then pretty much any one will do. If you want optimal performance and a large range of quality apps that are actually designed for tablet use, then unfortunately iPad is still the best option. But I'm also a professional photographer, so I'm biased by things like the need for color calibration and accuracy and really professional editing apps. 8)
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Peter Muckle
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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Peter Muckle » Fri Oct 08, 2021 4:19 pm

Hi Tim,

My background is in field data collection, hence the need for something cheap, rugged (and not as big as an iPad) and with a proper all-day battery life. I was really disappointed with my iPad Mini!

Really looking forward to the Mobile versions of eWriter.

BTW, several people have assumed that eWriter is a writing app. It is a bit of a confusing name - I guess eReader was already taken. Or HReader...

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Re: Tablet for ewriter

Unread post by Tim Green » Sat Oct 09, 2021 7:57 am

Hi Peter,

Ah yes, "rugged". Like all other Apple products, iPads are only rugged when in a good case. If I were using any iPad for field data collection, I'd always consider a ruggedized case like an OtterBox to be an essential part of the purchase, and that puts the price up very high. For applications like that a cheap Android tablet is really a better option -- also because it's much easier to put your own software on it. For the same reason, you also have to do more for security on Android. Swings and roundabouts... :?
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Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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