Speech To Text Software on iOS and Mac

Good and Geeky way to write

Romantic view of writingWhen we have using speech to text software it baffles me why it is, when people are on about writing these days, they often are thinking about using pen and paper, or even worse using a pencil. It’s not the most efficient way to get the words out of your head and onto the page. In fact working that way is downright slow and old-fashioned. I’m still in that baffled state of mind when I see pictures showing writing and writers and they have the image of people sitting in front of a typewriter. So if the picture is to advertise something to do with writing, you’ll see a romanticised, dreamy, stylised view of people with pens or with old-fashioned typewriters. It’s all there in the marketing hype and the connection to the old-fashioned ways of doing things. Nostalgia rules! More and more we’ll see images which include computers and people typing on keyboards in the advertising realm of ours. I’m firmly of the opinion that these days, even that is a little bit old-fashioned. It’s certainly going to be a long time before we can just think and our thoughts will appear on the page. Mind you, that would be downright dangerous if there wasn’t any security involved in the process. Do we want people to know exactly what out thoughts are? It wouldn’t be very good if as you walk along the road and were thinking about things, people were doing a drive-by download of your thoughts.speech-to-text-software Despite everything, it is true to say there is a new more modern way to write. I do it just about every day of the week. It is the fastest way to get the thoughts and ideas out of my head and into a document. I write by talking to my computer. I use speech to text software which is remarkably accurate at the same time as allowing me to write three to four times faster than pecking away at the keys on a keyboard. This is the way forward and it is available now on our mobile devices as well as to use on our desktop computers.

An overview of speech to text software

For the last couple of years we have had available on our Macs built-in software which will take our speech and turn it into text. It’s very simple to get started. All you have to do is to set it up initially in the system preferences. Then two taps on the function key for the computer to start listening to you. It’s using the same Siri dictation engine as you find on the mobile phones and on your iPad. It’s fairly accurate and once you get used to it you can write quite fast indeed. It’s possible you’ll achieve an accuracy rate of around 95 percent with your speech to text software.

What this means in practice is that you will need to edit your converted text and find where mistakes have been created by the software. You will find there will be a word or two here and there that needs to be changed. The software can sometimes get completely confused and insert a word which has nothing to do with what it was you wanted to say. There will be other words such as homonyms which means that they sound the same as other words. So you will have said there when you really meant their. There may also be one or two places where perhaps you were not very clear in how you said the word and it wasn’t interpreted quite right. This could be as simple as a word that was supposed to be plural, but came in as a singular version of the word.

Dictation built into all Macs

speech to text software

speech to text software on your Mac

What is the best speech to text software to use? When you are using this basic Siri dictation, whether it’s on the Mac using the built-in dictation software or if it’s on the iOS device you will be dictating one or two sentences at a time. Depending on whether you are in the flow with regards your creativity of creating the words from your ideas you may want to either ignore any mistakes you see as they are made, or correct them as you go. I find if the sentence more or less makes sense it’s best to work out later what it was you meant. Catch more of the problems by doing the editing later. Edit the work in one foul swoop when you’re finished saying all of what it was you wanted to say. Whether you are writing using a keyboard for whether you are writing using dictation software you will certainly have to do some editing properly before you publish. So you don’t need to think the editing stage of dictation is time-consuming and something to slow you down. You can balance the fact the software will usually spell things more correctly than you will with a keyboard-based workflow. You will have fewer typos to have to fix and that will make the complete editing process much faster overall.

Fixing Small Problems With Speech To Text Software

speech to text software on your iPhone

How to use Siri dictation on the iPhone

When I am using Siri dictation on the iPhone, the way it works out is I find one or two words that are incorrect. It’s as simple as pie to select the word and with just a couple of taps on the keyboard put in the correct words. It is more productive than to try again dictating the word and expecting it to come out right the next time. One of the things you can do both on the Mac and also on your iOS device is to have the computer read back your text. When you do this on the Mac you just have to set it up in the system preferences for speech and text. You will see there is a keyboard shortcut of Option-Escape. Use this keyboard shortcut and the voice you have chosen will start speaking whatever you have selected. I use the British English voice called Kate and sometimes the voice that goes by the name of Daniel. You can also set the speed of playback of the voice. When I’m in editing mode I will usually read out aloud to myself, but getting the computer to read to you is another good option. It is also possible to do a similar thing on your iOS device. Once again you do have to set it up beforehand in the system preferences. It’s best to choose one of the enhanced voices as they sound more natural and less computer like. By listening to the words being spoken, either by yourself or by your computer voice, you’ll find any mistakes still in the text so you can correct them.Dictation & Speech

Dictating in iOS with Siri Speech to text Software

Get Dragon Dictate on iOS

Get Dragon Dictate on iOS

Speech to text software for iOS. To get started with Siri dictation on iOS on your iPhone or iPad you need to be using the standard Apple keyboard. To the left of the spacebar you’ll see a key which has a picture of a microphone on it. Tap once on this key and you’ll get between one and two minutes of dictation time. You’ll be able to speak two or three sentences, maybe even four before it stops and you have to go again. It’s a good moment to have a quick look at the speech to text results. It’s only a small amount of text and it’s easy to quickly change one or two words here or there if you need to, for it makes sense. If it is more or less correct you can also just ignore it and go with the next dictation session. Using this method you’ll quickly be able to crank out hundreds of words. Within 10 or 15 minutes you can easily have five or 600 words in your document. The microphone on the device, whether you are using the iPhone or the iPad is of a high quality and providing you are close enough to it you will get good word recognition. If you’re going to be moving around from place to place so you can walk and talk at the same time, consider using an external microphone. The microphone included on the headset of the iPhone which comes as standard when you buy it, will give you good quality speech to text conversion. By having the earpiece plugged into your ear the microphone is going to be in just the right place for your speaking. It was after all designed that way so you would have good communications when speaking on the phone using the earbuds and the microphone. Another possibility you might want to consider is to use a clip-on microphone. (lavalier mic) The beauty of this is the microphone is held in just the right place in terms of distance from your vocals to ensure good quality recording. I use a microphone made by Giant Squid and it only cost about $40. I did have to buy a converter to allow me to plug into the 3.5 mm socket on the phone. There are other external microphones you can buy and some of them will plug into the lightning connector.

Dictating in iOS using an applicationIMG_3443

There is speech to text software made by Nuance Communications called Dragon Dictation. It works in a similar way to Siri dictation. The difference is that you press a button on the screen to start the dictation and you don’t see any feedback until you have finished dictating. Ever since iOS 8 or 9 the Siri dictation throws the words onto the screen as you’re dictating. With this DragonDictate app it seems you can dictate for quite a long time. More than the two or three sentences you get from Siri. When the Dragon Dictation application has finished putting the text on the screen you can easily select single words and you’re just given the option to delete. When you’ve deleted the word you can bring up the keyboard on the screen and insert the correct word to replace the one you’ve just deleted. I suspect this application is going to be more accurate than Siri dictation even though it’s not so different. Which one you prefer to use is going to depend upon how you like to work. The advantage of using the inbuilt Siri dictation is the fact it is always there accessible by a key on your standard keyboard. It is nice to see the words arriving on screen as you are dictating. Even if you are limited to the amount of time you can dictate for. The other advantage is that you can dictate into whichever application you want to work on. You might be working in Ulysses on your iPad or perhaps Byword on either the iPad or iPhone. If you go down the route of using Dragon Dictation on iOS then you’ll need to copy the text you dictated and paste it wherever you really wanted it to be. The Siri dictation is the one I use most often. Seems I have some sort of preference there

Record into Audio recording apps

Recording audio for transcription

Recording audio for transcription

There is the other option of recording the audio into a general audio recorder software such as Twisted Wave, Just Record or one of the many other voice recorders available. The other option would be to use the Dragon Recorder – Nuance Communications application. Mostly the difference between these applications is going to be how you’re going to transfer the file created from the iOS device to where you’re going to have the voice transcribed. You will need to have the full DragonDictate speech to text software on your computer. I use DragonDictate for Mac 5. The method for moving the file using the Dragon audio recording software for iOS is by using the method of linking up to a web browser on your desktop computer. It’s easy to do even if it is not particularly elegant. It’s for this reason I prefer to use one of the other audio recording softwares. With Twisted Wave I get the option to set the input gain manually so it’s best suited for the microphone being used. This way I can be sure I’m not recording at too high a level and having clipping destroy the recorded audio. At the same time you don’t want to have the volume of the recorded audio too low. It’s because of these things I generally tend to use Twisted Wave. There are occasions I might use Just Record. My reason to change to this would be it is quicker to get into the recording mode. It is a much simpler application and all you get is just one button to press when you want to start a recording. The quality of the recording seems to be good enough despite the simplicity of the application. Either of these two applications allow me to share the completed audio file to a application so I can transfer it to my Mac. My preferred method is to use an application called Bit Torrent Sync. The good thing about this application is that I don’t need to connect my iPhone or iPad to the Mac with cables in order to move the file. It’s not necessary for the file to go out across the Internet and then come back in again either. I have the sister application of BT Sync available on the Mac and the file is transferred directly from the iPhone to my Mac. It is very fast to transfer files this way, I also use it with pictures. As soon as I have the file in the folder on my Mac I can change the mode in the speech to text software from dictation mode to transcription mode. I just drag and drop the file onto the DragonDictate for Mac application. The transcription starts working straight away and works faster than real-time. So if I have an audio file which is 15 minutes long, it might only take 10 minutes for the DragonDictate to convert the speech into text. It must be able to do some magic in ignoring areas of the recording where there is no voice to transcribe.Transcription workfow using Dragon Dictate

Listen to the Audio and read the transcript

When the transcription has been completed by DragonDictate speech to text software on the Mac the results pop up in a Textedit window. You could simply read through it and edit it in the same way as you would edit any other dictated or typed in words. Another possibility is to first of all play the audio from your file as you read through the transcribed text. You’ll be able to listen to what it was you actually said and compare directly with the text on the screen in Textedit. You’ll probably still want to do an edit, where you do a read through of your text out loud. This is when you will be organising your words and making the piece flow better for when it’s read by somebody else. It’s not going to be perfect directly as it comes from your mouth unless it’s a short document. Editing has to be done.

Dictation on the Mac

Dragon Dictate Status Window

Dragon Dictate Status Window

As already mentioned, it’s possible to use Siri dictation on the Mac. This is a good place to start if you want to experiment with the possibilities of speech to text conversion. It’s not the same as using dedicated software like DragonDictate. With DragonDictate you get more tools to use and a better vocabulary to work from. DragonDictate also learns from your speech patterns and is much more accurate overall. It’s necessary to train your Dragon when you first start using the software. One way to do this is to read the texts provided in DragonDictate. However, there is a school of thought which says you should instead train your Dragon by reading your own writings into the software. This way you’re getting the dictation software to learn the words you use personally, as well as how to recognise your way of pronouncing things. The pieces of text you can use from within the software are only fairly short. You do get the option to make corrections as you are training your Dragon. This could be enough to get you going and the Dragon can do the rest of the training on the job as it were.

Correct Text as You Go

Another thing DragonDictate can do is to let you correct text as you go. Tell the dictation software to select a word or set of words and then say the words again or change the words to what you really wanted to say. With Siri dictation you can use the punctuation commands while you are dictating, but with DragonDictate you get a wider range of commands. The DragonDictate software is fairly expensive and if you don’t do much writing it’s probably not worth you getting it. If you write every day or if you have problems with repetitive strain injuries then DragonDictate is well worth the money. For start off, you’ll find you can write about three or four times faster than if you’re using the keyboard and typing with your fingers. Another good point in favour of the DragonDictate software is using it to control other applications on your Mac. I quite often use DragonDictate within the application Messages. I will use DragonDictate to first of all open the Messages application. I will dictate the message I want to send and finish off by using the command ‘Send Message’. I also use DragonDictate extensively with Day One. I use it to input entries into my journal every day of the week. I have also set this up to have commands specific to the Day One application. I use my voice to command Day One to start a new journal entry and I can also tell it to open up the tagging window. It does make things much faster for creating journal entries. Dictation is a fantastic way to record my life in the best digital journal app. You can also use these specialised DragonDictate commands in applications such as Mail or even in Word. If you are a writer you don’t want to be using Microsoft Word for speech to text software. You should be using Ulysses or Scrivener. Word is for office workers and not for us creative types. Whatever word processing applications you use with speech to text software you will be amazed at how productive you can get.

Correcting text in Dragon Dictate

Correcting text in Dragon Dictate

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Recommendations for Using Dictation

Training your DragonDictate

Training your Dragon

Until you get used to using speech to text software for dictation it will seem quite strange. It isn’t really something you can do in office for with other people either. Dictation is great when you are working by yourself in a quiet place. Using dictation is also marvellous if you are able to dictate as you are walking. I will sometimes do dictation while I’m out walking the dog. If you want to have a more relaxed seating position and workspace then why not relax on the sofa and dictate into your iPhone or iPad. If you use a laptop computer you can also use the full-blown, best in class DragonDictate while sitting with your feet up in an armchair. You don’t have to worry about getting into a specific seated position where you can attack a keyboard with your fingers. Dictation is a must if you suffer from repetitive strain injury. Being able to say goodbye to the pain is a great motivator for taking up writing by dictation.

Take the time to get used to a new way of working

Remember it does take time to get used to new ways of working. You’ll need to get used to speaking clearly and using punctuation as you say your sentences. If you can get past the early stages then I feel sure you’re going to be a happy writer creating many thousands of words. It doesn’t have to take more than a couple of days or at most a week or so before you are an expert at using DragonDictate. There are versions for Windows and also for the Mac and lately Nuance Communications have come up with Dragon Anywhere. Dragon Anywhere is a subscription service which is supposed to give you the same level of quality of dictation as you would get with the desktop software. I haven’t been able to try that yet as at present it’s only available in North America. So I urge you to go forth and get all futuristic with your writing and take up dictation. Try it out on your iOS devices and also compare the built-in dictation on the Mac. If you’re serious though, you will go for the industry-standard product of Dragon dictate.

Statistics for the Dictation

How to use DragonDictate

These are the statistics for writing this document using DragonDictate

5KWPH

Aim for 5k words per hour

This document has been dictated using speech to text software into Ulysses text editor on my Mac. I did it in word sprints, the first one for just 10 minutes, followed by four separate 15 minute sprints. Then the last section starting from Recommendations For Using Dictation I added without setting a timer. Probably just another 10 minutes of writing. My average words per hour is nearly 2600 words. The screenshot is from the app 5KWPH by Chris Fox

 

 

Book visual - Dictation

Right Click on the book to download the ePub. (6mb download) – Or click here for the Kindle Version

Add review questions in iBooks Author

Seeing as the iBooks author is so good for the making of textbooks that can be used for study purposes, it is good to see that Apple put in the interactive widget that allows you to add review questions. The way that this works, is that at the end of a chapter or section you can add a widget that allows you to ask questions about the content of that chapter or section. It is kind of like a little test for the reader of the book. The questions can be multiple choice and work with images as well as text.

There are a couple of ways of using images with the questions, it could be that the images are used to give the reader a hint of what the correct answer is. On the other hand it is possible to set it so that the reader has to decide which picture is the correct answer for the question that is given. Whichever way you go about doing this, the questions are not going to be terribly hard and are really there, only just to aid the movement of the information into long-term memory. The user is not given a punishment for getting too many wrong answers.

 


 

A better learning experience with teacher created iBooks

One of the really interesting things about using iBooks is that if you’re not going to sell the iBook, that is you are going to give it away, it is perfect for a teacher to use iBooks author to create iBooks that are only going to be used within their own class room. With this in mind, the teacher can be really specific in terms of the review questions that are asked at the end of the section or chapter. What would be really nice and handy would be if it was possible in a future version that readers would have to again a certain level in order to be able to move forward to the next chapter.

Configuring your questions and answers

IBooks Author review widget

If you are using images within the questions, then all you have to do is to drag and drop the images where you want them. Whether you’re working with images or text answers, it is possible for you to set them up so that there is more than one correct answer to the question. This makes the test a little bit more interesting as you will be wanting to make the reader do some thinking rather than just guessing, as you can so easily, when you are doing multiple-choice.

Using the touch screen facilities for a better review section

I quite like the questions where you have to drag a label onto a target. This is quite good as the user of the test doesn’t have to do any writing. It is perfectly possible to have for example, an image with three things within the image and the user has to attach the label to the correct place. It is very easy for the reader of your iBook to get through and finish a test like this. The idea is really just so that they should know that they have understood a sufficient amount of the content. There is also a similar type of review question where images have to be dragged on top of other images.

Books created by iBooks Author a perfect fit for education

These review questions that you can add by means of the widgets available in iBooks author, are just part of the complete package that you get with using electronic books for your teaching or learning experience. It has to be much better than the old dead tree version of textbooks. Even though you can’t take a pen and write in the margins you do still have the ability to create notes that will apply to a specific part of the text. The whole of the book is searchable, which is better than just having an ordinary book with its table of contents and perhaps an index at the rear. I am honestly quite surprised that this change to electronic books is not happening faster. Of course part of problem is that there is more than one format for electronic books. Publishers don’t want to let go of the system that they have at present, but in the end I think they will be unable to stop progress from happening.

Review Widget

Is an electronic book harder to read?

Electronic books are not for everybody, only yesterday I spoke to a student that was getting all excited over the arrival of some old-fashioned textbooks. I asked her which she not rather have a books for her learning. Despite her dad being a geek, she told me that she liked to have books, has she found them easier to read. I will have to have a talk with her again and point out more of the benefits of electronic books

Starting the day with Siri and Dragon Dictate

Before I even opened my eyes I was able to send a post off to Facebook, check the time and also I sent a message to my wife. The spelling in the Facebook message was okay but a couple of the words were incorrect instead of saying sent her, it said centre. Siri read the message back to me and it sounded okay and then so it is all quite impressive I think. Even if my iPad has plenty of battery in his when I go to bed I still like to plug it in just so I have Siri available to talk to 1st thing the morning. You know how it is in the morning when you don’t want to open your eyes. You certainly don’t want to open your eyes and peer into a bright screen and so Siri is just perfect for starting the day.

I’m really pleased with Apple Watch OS2 because it is now possible to start a workout by asking Siri to start it for me. It saves you a bit of time searching through the applications for the activity application and then choosing which activity and then finally pressing the button to start. It doesn’t seem to be able to stop the activity when you are finished, but that would be nice too.

Dragon for Mac 5 is quite unreliable


This morning when dictating into Day One in version 5.01 of DragonDictate El Capitan

I was just in the spelling mode and I gave the command spacebar and instead of putting in a space, DragonDictate deleted the last word in the sentence and pasted in this –nice is now possible to start a workout bya – this is really weird behaviour from DragonDictate. The text it put in, is from five sentences previous which makes it even extra weird.

So I posted onto the Nuance community forum and hopefully the developers of the application will also see the post. They really do have a long way to go to get the application back to a decent level. In version 4.5 of DragonDictate everything was working pretty well and I am regretting paying the money to upgrade to version 5.

UPDATE

There has been a couple of updates to the software since the first release and it has got a little better. I’m still getting the extra letter thrown in at the end of a dictate session randomly. I can delete the letter and issue a ‘Cache Document’ command to be able to carry on with it. Still getting some odd behaviour with the recognition of text from time to time and again caching the document is needed to sort the problem. I can go for about 20 minutes and even 30 minutes before the problems arise and it seems sometimes the best thing to do is to change application for the dictation. So a move from Byword to Scrivener or in the other direction will let me keep working.

Still waiting for the Dragon Anywhere to surface. There was a preview video shown during the week so it might be coming soon. I’d love to have the better than Siri dictation on mobile. I’m wondering if it will be with the recognition dictionary on the device or will it have to go off to a server and be returned as text. If you don’t always have internet connection, the first option is preferable. The thing with that is the size of the software needed for recognition of voice can be huge. I probably have enough space on my mobile devices but some people will not. Let’s see how it goes.

I am a writer and author and I write non-fiction books. I have one already published into the Kindle store. The second book is nearly ready to be published and I expect to have a third ready to go in a couple of weeks.

This is a little different, in that it is a small piece of fiction written for the writers group I will be going to this evening. The starting point, the spark for the piece was the word harmony. I wanted to write the piece without using the word harmony. I wanted it to be a comedy and I hope that the writers group kind of just ‘gets it’.

I want to be a writer

This morning I was listening to podcasts about being a writer while walking the dog. There was a podcast on self publishing, writing and marketing books by Simon Whistler called The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. He was interviewing an author called Mark Wayne McGinnis who wrote books called Scrapyard Ship (Scrapyard Ship Series Book 1)
. Yesterday I had a look to see if I would buy one of the books to have a listen or read and it didn’t get many good reviews. Most of the reviews of the books were saying that the stories were not very good. Yet it seems that this guy is selling books and making some money. He writes for three or four hours per day and the aim is to have 1500 or 2000 words every day. I feel sure that if I set my mind to it I could write decent books, if not great books and hopefully make some money doing it.

Scrapyard Ship Scrapyard Ship Series Book 1 eBook Mark Wayne McGinnis Kindle Store

Going undercover with Kindle Spy

In the podcast he mentioned some software called Kindle Spy and I had a look at it and decided to buy it myself. I have just been using it for a little while and it seems to be quite interesting and useful. There is not much point in having books on the Kindle where there is no money because nobody is buying books in a category or type. It is quite easy to drill down into the data and find topics to write about and hopefully some of that will match up with topics that I know something about so that I could create a good book. I started by looking at books about graphic design for the Mac and in particular books about using Pixelmator and I was bit disappointed to see that there’s probably not much money in that. That is a shame because I would like to write a book about Pixelmator for iPad. If you go a little bit more general into graphic design then there is more money in that so maybe I could get the book into a more general topic but do it using Mac and iPad software.

Show me the money!

I’m not sure that my book about writing and using technology to get ideas generated and out of the head and onto the page would be a good moneyspinner. But who cares, I have the book written already and it is close to being put out there into the wide world of publishing. It seems to me that there is very little money in blogging and so I should minimise the number of words I write for blogs and start writing for books instead. I still need to have the blogs, but I should keep the articles to between 300 and 400 words rather than my articles of over 1000 words that I tend to do. As for the videos that I make I think those are a useful added value to my books and are worth having as part of my portfolio. Maybe I will make more money from those when I have some books also selling.

Make a plan David and do it today

It wouldn’t be difficult for me to have a plan to write 3000 to 4000 words per day and have set dates for when books had to be let loose into the world. I already have a little bit of a organisation set up in OmniFocus for my blogging and I think I should change that. Maybe if I have one day per week when I am blogging and one day per week when I am making a video and the rest of the time to be writing for books. I have got to go where the money is! I need an income and need to be able to get out of the summer job and I need to do it soon. I am pretty sure that I spent too much time farting about and being unproductive.

At the moment I don’t really count how many words I write each day because some days I don’t write any words and other days I write more than 2000 or 3000. So perhaps what I should do is to have a daily document in which I paste all of the words that I write for that day. I would have to be quite disciplined about this, but I think I could do it. The question is where I put these words for keeping a count? I could use Scrivener as it is the application that I should have open every day anyway, for doing my writing or I could use a plain text file that I keep in Dropbox or iCloud that I access through Byword. Or I could do both with a bit of automation.

A set time per day for reading

Every author that talks about writing says that it is absolutely vital to be a reader. I do read a lot, but it tends not to be books. I did buy a book yesterday to put on my Kindle application on the iPad. I also have a paperback book that I have started but I’m struggling to get back into reading. I particularly enjoyed the first two books in the series of this paperback book, it is just that I prefer to read on my electronic device. I am thinking that a particular good time for reading would be late at night. I should have an hour after Victoria has gone to bed, maybe two hours. It would be a good way to finish the day.

Geeky Writers Workflow – Banish Writers Block

When you have a pre-defined workflow that takes care of everything from the creative part of the job to the finishing up with editing there is no need to suffer writers block. There are tools you can use to get the ideas rolling and for you to never be short of things to write about. This book gives you the low down on what you can do to unlock the ideas in your head and to cajole them into being a set of words that will fill your book or whatever piece you want to end up with.

Writing doesn’t have to be hard. The creative process can be like a well oiled machine that only needs to be started with a big virtual button. I always have things to write about and a list of things waiting in the wings to get  on with next. In the book I show how a geek would do it. Geekiness is just being passionate about your subject and making the most of the technology to get the best out of yourself. No more writers block, it will be a distant memory that you can laugh about.

Writers Workflow V1

Add 3D objects to iBooks Author project

This has to be one of the best uses for the iPad touch interface, adding 3-D objects to iBooks. I love the way that you can take an object on the page of your book and spin it around in all directions. If you know how to use one of the 3-D object creation applications such as the Google 3-D Sketch up, is quite simple to create your own 3-D objects. On the other hand, if you don’t have those skills for creating 3-D things that you can put into your iBooks, then you might find it easy to search and get something that has been already made. There are a number of libraries that allow you to look for these 3-D objects, the only thing that you have to look out for is the size of the file. I did find that choosing something that was really complicated was too much for my iPad version 1. I haven’t yet tried the same thing in my latest iPad, which is the generation three iPad, but I suspect that it would work without any problem at all.

How to add 3-D objects in iBooks Author

In the video I show you in detail how to get the right type of 3-D object. I seem to remember that it is also possible to take objects that have been created in other applications and change the file type in Google sketch up so that they will work in Apple iBooks author application. If it is applicable to your text, having a 3-D object in there to illustrate something, it is without a doubt quite impressive. The reader can tap on the objects in the book and immediately be able to move the object in whatever 3-D axis they choose to. The only thing that you can’t do is to turn it inside out.


When I tried this out I put a 3-D which it into an iBook, I have to say I was genuinely impressed with the final result and the fact that I’ll is able to zoom in and spin around the three-dimensional object. I only used an image of a chair, so it wasn’t terribly exciting, but it gave me the idea of what is possible and how iBooks Author can be used to make really interesting textbooks.

Self publishing with Kobo

Screenshot 26 01 2015 09 42I decided that my second book I would send to as many online bookstores as possible. To not bother with the KDP Select of Amazon for Good and Geeky Writer Workflow. I have heard on a few of the podcasts, there is not enough benefit in the KDP Select to make it worthwhile having a book exclusive on Amazon. In any case I am quite pleased to be able to try, with it and without it to see how it works. I thought I’d put it onto Kobo next after listening to the guy who works for Kobo on the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. I got the impression they care about the authors, maybe he was even hinting that they do more so than does Amazon. Kobo is based in Canada, but is available to authors worldwide.

What a palaver getting an account started

I spent ages searching around the site to get an author’s account that would allow me to upload and submit my books. I went around in circles so many times that I started to get dizzy. After filling in the form a couple of times with the messing about of having to wait for an email to arrive and clicking on it to activate the account. It was on my second try when I used Facebook to login rather than using the email and password method, I was able to start moving forward with Kobo. If I wasn’t the persistent sort of fellow that I am, I could have quite easily given up with the process. There was a part in the process where I had an account with Kobo and the only thing I could find to do with submitting books to publish was a help page. You would think that they would have had a link from the help page to the submissions page. I’m really not sure exactly what happened in the end but at some point the link I need it presented itself and I started the process. It seems some of the problem occurred due to using two different browsers during the sign up process. It is built into the security of the software the same browser has to be used when verifying the email address. Got there in the end.

Forms to fill in and files to upload

Scrivener
It was easy to add the book cover design and upload that. On the site it said I could upload a Kindle format file for the book. Seeing as, I had one of these available I gave it a try. It didn’t work and I got an error message. So I went back into Scrivener and I compiled the book again, but this time in the EPUB format. This time it worked perfectly. When I got to the page for putting in the amount of money to sell the book at it took me out of the submission process to the page for my bank details. After the bank details were put in there it didn’t put me back at the page where it had kicked me out. I had to find my book in the submission process again and go back in. Fortunately all of the details I had put in previously had been saved. I was then able to put in the price for the book in Euros and I let it automatically base other countries on price in Euro.

Wait and see

I did have to go back into the details for the book and enter the categories under which I wanted to sell the book. It would have been nice to have a search window to help me find the most suitable categories for a book about writing. You can choose three categories on the Kobo system. When everything was all finished off I got a message to say that it could take up to 72 hours before the book would be available for sale. Quite a lot longer compared to my experience so far using Amazon, where they say it will take 12 hours but usually takes about half of that time. Let’s see if they under promise and over deliver and take less than 72 hours for the book to be online.

Already started on the next book

Yesterday I was able to do some research for the next book and I collated all that into Scrivener. Today I was able to start using my research and get working on the book about using PGP encryption to encrypt emails.

Adding text to iBooks Author and dealing with styles

When you open up a new project in iBooks Author you are not given the opportunity to open up a project without having a template. What this does is to force you to use styles. It may seem that Apple is being the heavy-handed Big Brother that is forcing you to work in a particular way, but the use of styles within a book project is a very good way to work. You will be dealing with large amounts of text and it would look very unprofessional if you had a multitude of fonts scattered around your book, especially if at times they were doing the same job. You really don’t want to have a chapter title in one place using the Baskerville font and in another place in the same book using Helvetica. The same goes for the fonts you use for the body text and any headers, section titles or any other text elements within your book.

Working out the best way to bring your into text into iBooks Author

If you are writing your text directly into the iBooks Author application, which is perfectly possible and okay to do, you’re not going to run into the some of the problems that you might run into, if you are bringing in text created in other applications. You will simply place your cursor onto the placeholder text, start typing and it will be in the correct style for that iBooks Author template you have chosen. That will be the case whether it is body text or if it is a title for a chapter. Everything will look as it should do.

 

Bringing it in from Byword

Byword text editor
If you are going to bring in text from another external application such as Byword (an excellent markdown editor ) then the way to go about it, is to go to the preview view of your writing, select all of the text and copy it to the clipboard. Then you will go into the iBooks Author application put your cursor into the text box where you plan to paste it. The placeholder text will select all of itself as you do this and when you press command V it will be replaced by whatever you have just put onto the clipboard. Now when you have done this, you will wonder why it is that you can’t see any of the headings that you created in Byword. All of the text will be in your project as body text. Don’t worry we can sort this out.

Using Paste and Retain Style

Now you have a choice of how to deal with that text. One possibility is to go back and to re-paste the text in, but using the command in the edit menu which is Paste and Retain Styles. If you do this, you will again be disappointed, because the styles that come in are styles from Byword rather than being the styles that are in the template you are trying to use. You will have some work to do to change a paragraph to the style that is correct for the template. To be honest, this is a bit of a pain in the neck, especially if you’re importing in a large amount of text. All of the text pasted will be styled, but in the FreeForm style in iBooks Author.

Playing Spot the Style

The other choice that is possible, would be to leave the text that was pasted in first, as body text style and once again go through each of the paragraphs to apply the correct style to each of them. The problem that I find with this way of doing it, is that visually it is probably a little bit more difficult to spot which paragraphs should have which style. This is especially the case if in Byword you have assigned different levels of header to your title paragraphs. You won’t find this in the iBooks Author manual.

How to use iBooks Author

Deciding on the best workflow for importing text

Now you have seen what the problem is, what is the best workaround to get your text to fit in with your chosen template? Personally, I have found that if it is a small amount of text then it is probably easier just to use the ordinary Cmd-V paste and then to apply the correct styles to the header paragraphs.

If I am posting in a large amount of text with multiple levels of header, then it is best to paste and keep style, even though those styles are incorrect for the template. You will be able to easier see which styles are which, when it is time for you to get the text to conform to the template.

Tools within iBooks Author to help

Whichever way you to decide to paste in your text, the best way to quickly make use of the template styles, is to use the shortcut keys. have a look at the Wizardgold YouTube channel to see the iBook Author review.

Best method when using standard pasting of clipboard contents

  • First of all put your cursor within a paragraph that is the body text.
  • Open up the Styles sliding drawer.
  • Look for the disclosure triangle to the right-hand side of the style, click on it, scroll down to the set hotkey and follow it through for setting a hotkey for one of your function keys.
  • Do the same for each of your header levels
  • Using your mouse or trackpad put your cursor in each paragraph that you wish to change and use the hotkey to set it to the correct style.

Best method when pasting in your styles with the text

  • All of your text will have come in as free-form and the first thing to do is to go through each of the header levels and change them to match the style in the template. (Use Hot Keys for speed)
  • After that, of the imported text, all that will be left as free-form will be the text that you want to have as body text. Go to the styles drawer and to the right of the free-form style, hit the disclosure triangle and choose the option to select all instances of that free-form style.
  • You can then tap on the body text style in the styles drawer and all of that free-form text selected will be converted and your job is done.

How to Use iBooks Author

iBooks Author is relatively quite an easy application to start working with, this is because it is quite similar to the way that the application Pages works in terms of the way that it handles text and images. Of course, with iBooks Author you do get a number of extra facilities, such as the ability to add interactive widgets to your book. It seems to me that iBooks Author is desktop publishing, grown-up. It is fairly amazing at what you can do in this free application to create electronic publications, that used to be quite difficult to work with in the past, with applications such as Quark and PageMaker. It is very easy to add text and to add the styles to that text so that you have a very professional looking book, that looks good from start to finish. By using the styles for the text you can ensure that the way a chapter title looks on page 1 of your book, is exactly the same as the way that same type of text element will look on the last page of your book.

iBooks author to make textbooks

The iBooks Author software application is perfect for making textbooks. You can see this quite clearly when you look into the templates for iBooks Author that come with the application. The software gives you plenty of opportunities for setting out a well laid out textbook with chapters, sections and pages. Your chapters can have sections and pages, but you can’t put chapters inside of sections. Just some common sense rules to help you organise your electronic textbook to best advantage for the viewer or reader. One of the particularly good points of the iBooks Author for educational purposes, is that you can add review interactive widgets at the end of a chapter or section, that the reader can use to assess whether they have read and understood that part of the book fully. It’s like a little test and is perfect for study purposes.

The Apple iBooks ePub format that comes out of iBooks Author also gives the reader of the book excellent facilities for notation and personal markup of the text. A reader is very easily able to add a note that can be viewed at a later stage, for example at revision time. This also builds upon the authored glossary which is another educational feature of the authoring process in this e-books authoring software. When you’re writing your book and you want to have a word or a passage of text that has extra information for the reader, you can easily set that text to have a section in the glossary.



Great application to use on your Mac to create iBooks. They will only play on the iPad and it can be difficult to get them into the Apple Store if you want to sell them but still a large enough market for it to be worth while doing.

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