When Alice isn’t busy becoming famous on the internet for her fingernail landscapes, she’s been applying the finishing touches to our developer tools. We’re providing these to make it as easy as possible for anyone to produce, test and share publications, all without requiring actual physical access to a Little Printer.
What are publications?
Publications are short, designed pieces of content. They can be personalised or generic. Little Printer owners subscribe to publications using our Remote web-app via their smartphones, then receive a combined delivery of any new editions of those publications at a time they choose each day. Editions can be delivered daily (e.g. a news headline service), or only when certain conditions are met (e.g. a service advising people of local traffic problems).
Essentially speaking, publications are small websites designed in HTML, so if you’ve built a simple website you know enough code to get started. Every publication must have:
- A unique name
- A brief description
- An icon
- A schedule for delivery
- A sample version of the publication (for users try before they subscribe)
- An engaging visual design
- Some predefined endpoints with which BERG Cloud will interact
There’s more about this in the Publisher’s Handbook.
The developer tools comprise of two main features: The Rapid Prototyper, and the Publication Validator.
The Rapid Prototyper
This is where you can preview your design, even before you’ve done any of the configuration that connects your publication to BERG Cloud.
I’ve made a test publication called “Kitten News”, which I believe will be very popular. And I’ve posted the HTML and CSS at Pastebin — so you can see that it’s regular, straightforward HTML.
Now I’d like to preview my design, and the Rapid Prototyper makes it easy. As my design is already available on the web, I can paste the URL into the “Submit an endpoint” field. Or I can paste the HTML and CSS into the field immediately below that.
As I have a Little Printer, there is a third option, which is to send the preview directly to my printer. But it’s not necessary: clicking the “Preview!” button immediately outputs the design directly from our rendering stack to my screen. This is exactly the same as what gets sent to the printer.
And it’s clever: the image I’m referencing in my test publication is in colour, but adding a specific css class to the HTML automatically creates a dithered, black and white image compatible with Little Printer:
<img class="dither" src="http://www.foo.com/bar.jpg">
OK. I’m happy with my design, so I’m ready to test whether I’ve got everything configured correctly.
The Publication Validator
The Publication Validator examines my publication to see if all the necessary endpoints are present (like the icon and the sample edition mentioned above). It checks that meta.json is valid and contains all of the required fields (meta.json is the file listing all the variables that identify my publication to BERG Cloud). It also makes sure that my first edition is ready. Finally, it returns a bunch of errors for things that might be missing.
Once again, it’s a simple as pasting in the URL of my publication and hitting “Validate!”
Whoops. Looks like I have some more work to do.
Everything I need to get this fixed is contained in the Publisher’s Handbook. This is currently available as a download, but also forms part of the developer tools as a series of easy to navigate, easy to update webpages.
We’ve got some people testing all this at the moment. And we’re absolutely certain you’ll find it useful.