The Little Library 1.3: Kapow!

It’s been a month and a half since the last major update to the Little Library. We’ve created a better overall out-of-the box experience with the 1.3 release… and Kapow! an online libraries interface! “What,” you say, you have no idea what I’m talking about? Well, get ready to weep! (or at least read a list) LL now has the following shiny new features:

  • You wanted a wrapper for html items in your library for easier navigation? Now you’ve got it.
  • You wanted a LL branded favicon? (or wanted to know what a favicon even is? Google it.) Shazaam!
  • The world is a better place now because for the first time ever on planet earth you can see and search through items in every other person’s Little Library from the comfort of your own couch. Just check out the Options page, and click on Online Libraries. And sit back and soak in the empty libraries of some 27 or so other Little Librarians on earth. Not only that, you can now sync from any of these libraries, and even sync single library items directly to your home LL. You can check out everybody’s libraries, and make some interlibrary loans without leaving your local application. Share on!
  • For all of you who no longer want to support Klingon, you can now delete the custom language you’ve created for your interface. Vlifzang! (Pardon me, I forgot…you deleted that.)
  • For those of you too lazy to create html from scratch and then upload it into your library (I guess I’m talking about myself), you now have the power to enter html/css/js straight into your description field, and if you don’t have any uploaded files on that item, the page will show up as an html page. Sha-bang!

What’s super about 1.3 is that it included most of the major features expected for version 1.4! Now what are we going to do? I guess we could move to the Amazon jungle and relax a bit. Or maybe we’ll just move on to version 2.0 and add modules like blogs, chat, etc (and move to the Amazon…in six weeks…seriously). What do you think?

If you haven’t already (really?) install the Little Library and check out what’s new!

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Little Library 1.2: New Look, Better Functionality

The Little Library 1.2 has just been released with the following features and bug fixes:

  • Updated user interface, and better layout for desktop browsers
  • Updated look for the install page and the desktop application logo
  • Updated to JQueryMobile 1.0 Full Release (was 1.0 Beta 3), with added stability, faster page loads and smoother transitions.
  • Updated to JQuery 1.6.4 for better overall functionality
  • Added the ability to delete single files
  • Added the ability to upload multiple files at once on supported browsers
  • Any files with names like “index.html” will become the “homepage” of the item, even after adding multiple files
  • Fixed a persistent connection issue on MacOSX (and some Windows & Linux systems) that wasn’t allowing for replication of local library items to the online library
  • Created a “Notes” (instead of Description) field in the Notes section

We’re excited about these updates and hope all of the changes have been beneficial! The next release, 1.3, will include quite a few more functionality related features, and for 1.4 a simple online store for sharing between libraries is being envisioned. Make sure to leave feedback if you have any requests for future features, or if you’re not sure about a specific feature.

If you haven’t already install the Little Library and check out what’s new!

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The Little Library 1.1 – A New Language for All

The Little Library 1.1 has just been released with an important new feature: the ability to change the language of the interface at will. Sure, you’ve always been able to change the language of the interface to a completely different language (currently only Spanish and English), but now you’re also able to make your own English (or other language) interface text! This means The Little Library should now be completely localizable to any setting worldwide in which there is a UTF-8 supported written language. Try it out for yourself! (I’ve got an “English Bob” version of the interface just for myself, in which I’ve changed category names, and text here and there to be specific to the kinds of things I want in my library).

If you’re wondering what’s so special about this new feature, remember that this will allow anyone with the Little Library application to translate it to any other language and to make the interfaces meet their needs easily (and without needing to code anything). Since the Little Library is built for worldwide users, hopefully this will help users to be able to use it and adjust it as a tool to meet their specific needs.

If you already have the Little Library, you likely already have the upgrade. No manual upgrades necessary.

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The Little Library 1.0 in the Wild

Finally, a full version of the Little Library is out in the wild! After extensive testing on multiple platforms in Beta 1 & 2 (and a lot of failure), the Little Library 1.0 is ready for a gig on the mainstage. Take it out for a spin. Expect automatic updates as feedback comes in.

Check out, fork, and modify the source code for the Little Library on Github.

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Coming to a Device Near You: The Little Library Beta 2

The Little Library Beta 2 has just been released, with many improvements to stability, synchronization, and most importantly ease of installation and updating. Now you just need to install the application via the link below, and you too can have The Little Library on your PC (Windows 7, Vista, and XP), Mac (OSX Snow Leapord and Lion), or Android device (>=2.2 Froyo). Installation instructions are provided and installation usually takes about 2-10 minutes depending on your connection and the speed of your device. Once you’ve installed the Little Library on one device, you can access and update your online Little Library from any device with Web access at http://library.ic.tl/yourlibraryname (substitute your library name with the actual name of your online library) and/or install it on any other device for online/offline access to your library anytime, anywhere.

We are moving quickly to a full 1.0 release as soon as we’ve had some user feedback and made any necessary tweaks to the system. Future updates will be pushed to your local device automatically as soon as they are released (this means you may not notice when we update things, so keep an eye out for improvements to the user interface, and new features and functions).

Offline Meets Cloud

One of the improvements we’ve made to the Beta 2 is that we’ve added the ability to put your Little Library on a local area network. If you know your LAN IP address, you can then share your library with others, and/or allow them to install the Little Library from your computer or device without having to use an internet connection. How does this work? The Little Library is built on CouchDB, a non-relational database that also happens to be a Web server. This means you can build an entire network of Little Libraries with your friends, peers, and coworkers, and share resources without even having internet access. You can now share resources and libraries via WiFi or wired LAN, and create your own network of offline libraries. And as soon as any of the offline devices gets internet access, all of the library information will be uploaded automatically to their online library in the cloud.

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The Little Library goes Beta

The Beta 1 version of the Little Library application was released earlier today (to mild applause by my family). You can check it out here:

https://github.com/rwadholm/The-Little-Library

Follow the instructions on that page, and you too can be the proud owner of a test library! You’ll be doing the world a service by breaking things now so they don’t have to later. Please send any comments and feedback my way, or leave a comment here.

Some new features include syncing with other libraries (actually works now!), automatic creation of an online library, a three page End User License Agreement that quotes Patrick Henry, file validation (to avoid loading those pesky malware files onto your computer and in the cloud), optimized iOS page sizes, automatic thumbnails for any items that have images in them, and the ability to upload and view multiple files for every item in your library. This last feature allows you to use your library as a private Web server. You could host every file of a website you’ve made in one item, and when users click on the item–BING!! (not really “BING”, I actually prefer non-microsoft products), they’re at your hosted Web site. So you could share your library with them, they could make changes, share with you, and you can have a dynamic Website between friends. How lovely.

Beyond Web sites, you could include all of the Word documents, books, videos, audio and images you wanted to all in the same library item, so that you can serve up a college course, a series of videos, a compilation of songs, etc. all packaged together nicely. You’ve just got to make sure the content is owned by you (as in, you created it, or you found it with a Creative Commons license that allows you to share it). That’s because the End User License Agreement requires you to only upload and share Creative Commons or Public Domain or other similarly open licensed content.

So you can think of the Little Library not as a file repository, but as a multi-device, peer-to-peer, distributed online/offline open content bazaar based on bleeding-edge technologies like JQuery Mobile, HTML5 WebStorage, and CouchDB. Although that is a bit wordy…

More to come.

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Open and ready for business

The Little Library application, front page with categories showing

A (mostly) working prototype (version 0.4.1) is now available to kick the tires and see how she handles. You can now create library items, delete them, update them, and access the files you’ve uploaded. It’s finally a library! You can check it out here: https://github.com/rwadholm/The-Little-Library.

Beyond this early prototype, MAF-LT has decided to take on The Little Library as an actual project, meaning more developer eyes and hopefully faster and more reliable code (as well as the ability to reach clients in more isolated areas). Presumably, MAF-LT will be releasing future versions as they become available. Until then, feel free to play around and send feedback.

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Hello world!

The Little Library is a small project aimed at providing resources to those in the greatest need.

Bob Wadholm has been working frantically on a mobile library platform called The Little Library (it’s not “books on wheels”, it’s a digital library for mobile phones). People all over the world today own and use mobile phones. Nice phones—probably nicer than the phone in your pocket (and certainly nicer than the one in mine;). And not just in wealthy countries. At Mission Aviation Fellowship Learning Technologies, we’ve been working on a project in a poor rural area of a developing country where most people have the latest Android phone on the market—people that in most cases do not have a radio, computer, or land line telephone. While they mostly don’t have access to the Internet (or data plans), they do have the ability to load semi-sophisticated software on their phones (using SD cards, Bluetooth, and WiFi). This allows us to use a tool that pastors in poor rural areas already own in order to deliver content to them along with face-to-face learning time (national pastors will be teaching national pastors face-to-face). Training organizations can deliver audio books and videos to non-literate pastors and Christian leaders for free. This is much cheaper and more secure than traditional textbooks (they are in mostly Muslim areas, which makes carrying around Christian materials dangerous). This is where a digital mobile library might come in handy—it could be an easy way for people to create, store, view, and edit files on their mobile phones.

Bob is still working hard ironing out all of the many wrinkles of a simple mobile library. If you are curious or courageous and don’t mind breaking things, you can check out a hardly working (and very buggy) version of what he has created so far here (use your desktop computer, not your mobile phone):

Play with the App >>

Try adding a book (any book, even a fake one), deleting a book, and generally playing with the system (you get extra points for breaking it). Email Bob (rwadholm@indiana.edu) when you are confused, or when you break it completely. He likes that sort of thing. If you wait several weeks, he might even be able to fix it. He hopes to release a mostly working version in the next several months. If you want, before then he can create a personal library just for you to play around with.

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