We recently finished a massive under-the-hood effort to prepare for the next big release of the Unbound Reader. You’ll see some of the improvements right away. For one, we got rid of that pesky pop-up window. None of us has ever been a big fan of pop-up windows, but initially it bought us time to face some of the challenges with having a single-page app open up right in the midst of another navigation framework. Now the reader OPENS IN THE SAME WINDOW as the rest of the site, and conforms to whatever dimensions please you for reading on-screen. So RESIZE AWAY. We’ve scaled it down to fit on my tiniest laptop and up to fill my ginormous 24-inch flatscreen, and it looks great either way. We added A THIRD FONT-SIZE to the font-scaling for those who really want to bump up the dots-per-em.

For those into reading with Groups, we made it easy to SWITCH GROUP SETTINGS RIGHT INSIDE THE READER. So you can go from reading with the public to reading with your group without leaving your book.

You may also note that this release of the Reader loads content SCREAMINGLY FAST – much faster than the previous versions. We finally did the dirty work up upgrading from Dojo 0.4.3 to the 1.1 release, and that accounts for some of the speed, but more than that, we completely overhauled the way the Reader loads content and images. Interface elements are now done with CSS spriting, which reduces the number of requests by a factor of five. We also overhauled the HTML, so that the basic UI shows up almost immediately, reducing the amount of time you have to stare at a blank frame.

One thing that’s hard for people to see is a new plugin framework we created, which separates reading interface functionality from the wing activities, i.e. chat and notes. This will make it easier for us to improve the features and functionality of the annotative and communal aspects of the Reader. Among other things this opens the possibility for future third-party development.

Overall, the Reader is more MODULAR, PLUGGABLE AND EXTENSIBLE–nice buzzwords that mean nothing until they’re taken advantage of, but good qualities to have in the coming months as we head into new territory.