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Friday, June 30, 2006

ComicRack v0.9.4 released

This is a small incremental update adding two new features:
Smooth scrolling and panning of oversized displayed pages with the mouse, and two quick commands to open the next/previous eComic from the current list.

As always here's the short overview:
  • NEW: Panning of pages with the mouse in zoom modes (hold & drag)
  • NEW: Publisher entry for smart lists
  • NEW: Size column and grouping for the lists
  • NEW: Added command to open next/previous item from current list
  • CHANGES: Page Up/Down changes to next/previous page regardless of zoom mode
  • CHANGES: Dismissing the page context menu does not open the GUI anymore
  • BUG: Part navigation roll over on last page fixed
  • BUG: Redraw bug of the main splitter
Also I think I should finally make some screenshots so that people see what they're missing out :)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

ComicRack v0.9.3 released

So this is a rather big release, as I basically rewrote the whole image retrieval and caching logic. Wonder how much bugs have crept in :)
So here's the quick rundown on the changes and features:
  • NEW: New Memory Cache-Manager for thumbnails and images with precaching (improves speed and memory usage)
  • NEW: Error Page if page image could not be loaded
  • NEW: New Animation Switch in Preferences
    The moving little gearwheels can have a serious performance impact on broken graphics drivers. That's why this defaults to off.
  • NEW: Color Schemas for overlays
  • CHANGE: Update to unrar 3.60 dll - hope this fixes some ugly bugs
  • CHANGE: New format for the Disk-Cache (not compatible with pre 0.9.3)
    You should manually delete the old cache folder in 'C:\Document Settings\\Application Data\cYo\ComicRack'
  • CHANGE: Moved the overlays to new default locations
  • BUG: Unregister of File-Types did not work
  • BUG: Color adjustment was always calculated, even if not needed
  • BUG: Comics not updated correctly in browser
  • BUG: Comic Information was written to eComics even when no information was changed
  • BUG: Comic Information was not correctly imported into the database
  • BUG: Fixed Selection drawing bug

The rewrite happened because of two requirements. First I wanted to fix the 'black page' bug and really optimize the whole caching for the upcoming network sharing. And second, I wanted to be able to do in memory precaching to speed up page flipping somewhat.
As a side note: the caching preferences dialog does currently not really reflect all the new options available. Sometimes I'm just lazy :)

You may also note a redesign and relayout of the preferences dialog. I wanted to get rid of the "programmer" settings.
There's a problem with programmers and their software. They put all kind of settings into their programs and also crazy switches into the dialogs to tweak them. But how many people really need five color settings for overlay panels. Yep, right :)
So I tried to clean the preferences up. Make them more accessible, only put in important settings and also change the access order to better reflect their importance.

Finally a word about the "gearwheel bug":
ComicRack has this nice little moving gearwheel it displays when something is happening in the background (mostly caching and loading of images). All this loading, retrieving, caching, color adjustments etc. is done in the background, so the reader does not have to wait for completion.
Now it can happen that the gearwheel is drawn above the current page and not beside it (if there's not enough space).
This of course leads to a constant redrawing of the page part that is covered with the tiny little square of the gear box. So no problem there, EXCEPT you have a totally screwed up graphics driver that needs the same amount of time to draw the small little square as to draw the whole full screen page image.
And this, because the CPU is constantly drawing at 100% load, starves the background process that loads the page.
Point is: If loading of pages takes verrrrrry long, turn off the animation. Actually now it's turned off by default.

hf with the new release :)

Friday, June 16, 2006


If you edit the Genre for a comic, you get a dropdown list of all genres found in the other comics in the database.

It would be nice to have a default list, like the Pop, Rock, Classical etc default genre list entries in mp3 tag editors.

What would be a good initial list of comic genres?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

File Format support

ComicRack supports cbr(rar)/cbz(zip) and pdf files. But there are some pitfalls.

ComicRack expects that the extension really matches the content. So if you have a cbr/rar file but it has a cbz extension, you will not be able to view it and no thumbnail will be shown.

Pdf support is very hacked together. ComicRack only searches all images embedded in the file and displays them as pages. This can lead to funny results with some pdf files :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

ComicRack v0.9.2 released

Again bugfixes and some new features:
  • BUG: Preliminary Fix for the "Black pages" bug
  • BUG: Page Part Overlay not always shown when it should have (resize, zoom mode change)
  • BUG: Switched back to 1.3 sharpPdf library as the 2.x beta broke the pdf export
  • BUG: Wrong names for new lists/folders in the database view
  • BUG: Incomplete serialization of the xml information
  • BUG: Resize of the Database-Panel if main window is to small
  • NEW: Added "Move To Last Page Read" Command
  • NEW: Added true positional drag & drop in lists
  • NEW: Added Page Up/Down for browsing
  • NEW: Support for reading ComicInfo.xml in archives
  • NEW: Two menu entries for ComicRack Blog and User Forum
  • CHANGE: Default information file in eComics is now ComicInfo.xml (without any path)
Next release will have a reworked image caching that will a) fix the stupid black page bug and b) increase the browsing speed a little.

BTW the reason for this black page bug is that ComicRack loads pages in a background thread, because sometime in the future I want to share comics over the network (like iTunes can do with mp3).
But currently it can happen that i lose sync with this operation, and therefore the black page.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

PDF export broken

Well, always test, never assume.
That should be the mantra of software development.

Sometime in the past I switched from version 1.3.1 of sharpPdf to 2ß. This actually broke the pdf export without getting noticed.
So now I'm back to 1.3, next release in a few days contains the fix.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

ComicRack v0.9.1

New version is up.
This is only a small incremental update with lots of bugixes and some new features. Here's the list of the main changes:
  • CHANGE: Moved Database & Settings from "Application Data\cYo\ComicRack\Version" to "Application Data\cYo\ComicRack"
  • CHANGE: Sort order in Dialog Formats
  • CHANGE: Nice About Dialog fade
  • BUG: Wrong Count in ComicBrowser (Genre, Author, Series)
  • BUG: Range Editor in Smart Lists did not work
  • BUG: Could not delete Folders in Database-Treeview
  • BUG: Correct disable of group/arrange buttons in Pages View
  • NEW: "All Supported Files" and "All Files" Filter to the Open Dialog
  • NEW: Display of proposed settings in background of textboxes in the Comic Dialog
  • NEW: Copy & Paste of view setup in database view
  • NEW: White Point Correction
  • NEW: Register Shell-Extensions in Preferences
  • NEW: Save as Zip Compressed Comic (CBZ)
  • NEW: View Options Dialog to provide an alternative way to turn on/off columns
  • NEW: Icon for Comics
One point though for all the early adopters out there (right, meaning you three :)), in order to use your old database you have to copy all files and folders from

"C:\Documents and Settings\Your User Name\Application Data\cYo\ComicRack\"
"C:\Documents and Settings\Your User Name\Application Data\cYo\ComicRack"

If you do not do this, ComicRack will create a new database. Your old data will not be lost, this version of ComicRack simply will not find it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A word about the Database and Meta Information

ComicRack stores all its info into the folder

C:\Documents and Settings\'Your User Name'\Application Data\cYo\ComicRack

Now this is the default location on XP/2K machines to store application specific, network roaming data. By default the Application Data Path is hidden, so you may have to change the settings in your explorer or type the location into the explorer address bar to get there.
In there is ComicDb.xml, the comic database. It's a quite simple formatted xml file. I will post the schema format someday.

But ComicRack also stores Meta Information directly into the comic files (cbr/cbz/pdf etc). So even if you should delete your database or remove files from it, when you re-add them, the info is there again.

BTW, it is already possible to store the Meta information into a separate xml file with the

File->Save Book as...

Command. Just select the proper format in the Save Dialog, right there after the formats to save your comic as a PDF-file or a list of images.

So the main point is: Data entered for your comics is not stored in some special format you do not know and is lost if you wanna change your software. There is no vendor lock in :)

So going to sleep now and catching up with she-hulk (the comic i mean :>)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New Build at the weekend

I will release a new build on saturday or sunday. The build will fix some obvious bugs and add some small new features.

There are still chunks of functionality missing that are already planned. The next bigger things I will put into ComicRack are:
  • Whitepoint correction
  • a Rename Wizzard
  • completed Extension Manager in Preferences
  • a RSS feed reader (at least for this site :))
  • Annotating comics with pen on Tablet PCs
The big thing that I kinda roll in front of me is comic sharing in a local network like ITunes is able to do with songs. As an example, I am reading most of my stuff on one of the Tablet PCs I own. So i have to manually copy files to them to read them. This means also that reading states (last opened etc) are not the same on the different machines. Sharing the comics over the network would solve this problem. An alternative approache would be a check out/in process. But I like the "Share your Library" option better :)

And as there's a forum now, you can bring in your own ideas.

It would also be cool if people who like ComicRack would spread the word a little bit. Bring some life to this dark page. Tell your friends, post in forums, mention it etc.

For now I guess I can greet each visitor personally. hehe