Zinepal Online PDF and eBook Creator Blog

Zinepal now supports Asian, Arabic and other Unicode languages

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Zinepal now supports creating PDFs with Asian, Arabic and other Unicode characters. To use this feature you have to select the "Arial Unicode" font when creating your eBook.

Only the "Arial Unicode" font contains characters for these languages. The other fonts are limited to characters in the Latin alphabet. In the future I'm going to add some functionality to automatically detect the language and select the appropriate font.

You will notice that if you select one of the other fonts then Asian, Arabic and other Unicode characters will show up as hash marks (#). This is an indication that the selected font does not contain the given character.

free preview and improved signup process

There have been a few changes to the eBook preview and account signup process.

All features of Pro Accounts are now enabled for all users during the eBook preview phase. This enables new users to easily preview all of the Zinepal features, without having to first sign up for a free month of Pro Account usage. To enable this new preview functionality all PDFs generated during the eBook preview phase have a "preview" watermark. The watermark is visible on all pages of the PDF and is only removed once the eBook is finalized.

The purchase of Pro Accounts has also been integrated into the eBook creation process. Once a user chooses to finalize their eBook they have the option to directly purchase a Pro Account and use all of the Zinepal features; or they can continue to create a free eBook with only the basic Zinepal features. Because of this the first month of free Pro Account usage has been removed for new users. This is no longer needed since the preview functionality now includes all of the Pro Account features.

I hope these changes will make it easier for new users to try out Zinepal. If you have any feedback please write it in the comments!

Kindle/Mobipocket problems resolved

Just a quick note to let everyone know that intermittent problems with Kindle/Mobipocket eBook creation have been resolved.

This problem only occurred for very long eBooks or eBooks with a lot of images. It is fixed now and there should be no problems creating Kindle/Mobipocket eBooks of any size.

new Zinepal website now live

If you've visited Zinepal in the last week you will have already noticed, but now it's official. The new Zinepal website has finally launched!

The new website has been under development for quite a while. It features a completely updated design that is much cleaner and easier to use. Many aspects of using Zinepal have been streamlined based on user feedback. Confusing aspects have been removed and common tasks made easier. The individual eBook pages have also been redesigned to make it easier for visitors to download eBooks, find more eBooks from the same user or subscribe to a user's eBooks via e-mail or RSS feeds. The new What Is It and Who Uses It pages allow first-time visitors to get a quick overview of what Zinepal does and how they can use it for themselves.

You may have also noticed that the term "zine" has been replaced with "eBook" throughout the website. This was done since eBook is a much more common term and more accurately describes what Zinepal does. Zinepal is not simply a web service for creating custom (maga)zines, but rather a full featured eBook creation service.

A few new features have also been added to the website. It is now possible to compose stories directly within Zinepal using the new "Add Story" button on the "Customize Your eBook" page. The eBook creation process has been streamlined by showing an eBook preview immediately. The full customization capabilities of Zinepal are now only displayed if user's need them. This makes it easy to quickly create eBooks based on previously set up customizations. Finally, any in-progress eBooks will be saved when users log out of their account. They can then log back in at a later time, even on a different computer, and their eBook will be restored.

I hope the new website will be easier to use for everyone. If you have any comments, please get in touch or comment on this posting.

update is coming (soon)

I haven't written a blog entry for too long, so here is a quick update. I'm busy working on re-designing the Zinepal website to make it look more professional and also address a number of usability issues. This is a pretty big job as I'm starting from scratch and cleaning up a lot of bad web design. Because of this I also can't release parts of the re-design once as they are done, it has to wait until the end when everything is finished. I'm getting close, so hopefully in a few weeks the new site will be live. Stay tuned!

database problems

There were some problems with the zinepal.com server earlier this evening. I had to roll the database back to an older backup from 12 hours ago. This means all zines that were created, new users that signed up or any other changes that were made in that time frame have been lost. Everything is ok again now and it should not happen again. My apologies for the problems, I hope this did not cause anyone a major inconvenience. If a zine that you previously created is now missing, then that explains why. Unfortunately you will have to re-create your zine if that is the case.

affiliate program and other tidbits

Over the weekend I launched the zinepal.com affiliate program. The program allows you to earn a commission for new Pro Account users that you refer. It's very easy to use and all you need to get started is a free zinepal.com account. Check out the affiliate program details to find out more.

I've also added a few new features recently, the main changes are:

  • customizable page size and orientation
  • customizable number of columns
  • improved ePub output with proper table of contents listing
  • increased maximum number of stories for Pro Accounts from 25 to 50
  • That's it for now. A few more features are coming soon!

interview with zinepal.com founder

Hyperlocal101.com has posted a nice interview with me. If you have time give it a read and post your comments here.

new backend now live!

Over the last few weeks I've been hard at work cleaning up the zinepal.com code and making it more robust. This work was completed last week and the site is now running on the new backend. The transition went pretty smooth with only a small hiccup affecting the delivery of recurring zines. This has now been fixed and everything should be back to normal.

The cleanup work took longer than expected, but now that it is done I can add new features much more easily. I'm planning on rolling out some often requested features over the next few weeks. The zinepal.com API is also still on the roadmap. Stay tuned.

The only user visible change with this transition is better support for eBook readers. When editing your user profile you can now see a new "eBook Reader" tab. On this tab you can specify your eBook reader e-mail address, the file format you would like to receive for your eBook reader (ePub, Kindle/Mobipocket or PDF) and whether you would like to only receive zines at your eBook reader e-mail address. This should help all the people that previously received zines on both their user account e-mail address and their eBook reader e-mail address.

Happy Holidays!

Just a short blog post to wish everyone happy holidays. It's been quiet around here lately as I've been busy working on some new features. I hope to have them ready for launch sometime in January. I recently also moved zinepal.com to a new server. The move went quite well with only a small hiccup during the process. The new server seems to perform a lot better, so I am happy with the result.

That's it for now. Happy holidays!