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Transparency Reports

Transparency Report of January 2022

ePubs eBooks documented and improved their links and table of contents

This is the 34th monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin.

What Happened This Month

Plugin Stats

Finally released a version to WordPress.org mid-January (3.10.1) which resulted in a spike.
Active install growth on WordPress.org was basically going well until my release mid-January. I’m unaware of it introducing any problems, but I think it just didn’t add much for free users so many of them got scared o it.

Mailing List Stats

Stats from my MailChimp mailing list.

Email list growth is still dead without Freemius’ Opt-in screen.

Website Visits

Stats from my site’s Koko analytics (don’t need no Google Analytics, thank you!)

I did write a new post this month, but it had hardly any views. Not sure where these increased viewers are coming from. Maybe from me (I visited the user manual quite a lot while logged out on my phone, in preparation for editing it).

Freemius Stats

Freemius gathers other stats about sales and sites using the plugin.

Just one year-long professional license sold this month, plus a monthly renewal.
There were 105 “Opted-In Sites” (but I’ve disabled Freemius’ opt-in, so they only count as opting in when upgrading or deactivating) and 104 “Un-Installed”– so it seems 105 new users tried PMB, one kept it active (and upgraded) whereas everyone else uninstalled it during the same month… 🤔
Also, I realized “Active Sites” means “New Active Sites” (because I, myself, am running PMB on a half dozen sites), and the stats about “Plugin Versions”, “WordPress Versions” and “PHP Versions” are all for those new active sites.
I’m including the Uninstall Reasons again because I realized this pie chart shows all new data, it’s when you drill down into a particular response that it shows all the old data too.

Finances and More Plugin Stats

The Details

Documenting Making eBooks!

In December 2021, PMB 3.9.0 added the ability to create ePub eBooks (without using dotEpub browser extension). It is not, however, a free feature. And because 3.9.0 didn’t include any new features for free users, I didn’t bother releasing 3.9.0 to WordPress.org.

In January 2022 I played catch up with the documentation: updating the website’s promotional materials (mostly the homepage), the user guide, and writing a post on how to create an ePub eBook from an existing PMB project.

As usual, in the process I noticed a few things that could be improved…

PMB already intelligently bundles images into the eBook file, rather than hotlinking to wherever the images are stored on the internet. This is a major advantage over dotEpub because the images in ePub eBooks can be seen without an internet connection and without using up any data on your cellphone bill.

Additionally, PMB 3.10.0 makes all hyperlinks to included content link to the corresponding spot in the eBook, rather than linking back to the website. E.g., if you have two posts, one with a hyperlink to the other, when you put those into an ePub eBook, that hyperlink will no longer link to the website, but instead to wherever that second post was included in the eBook.

ePub Table of Contents Indents Nested Articles

PMB supports nested content (i.e., diving your book or project into “parts”) but parts and articles within those parts looked the same in the ePub eBook’s table of contents. PMB 3.10.1 now shows those nested articles with a dash in front. It’s not a masterpiece of design just yet, but its helpful for readers.

A PMB project with parts “WordPress” and “Non-WordPress” as seen in the “Edit Project” step of PMB, and in the ePub eBook’s table of contents.

Thinking Out Loud

Images and iFrames from External Websites

One trouble I’ve encountered this month is that images from external websites don’t appear in the generated ePub file. (Why? It’s technical, but the technical jargon involves client-side rendering in Javascript and CORS restrictions.) It will be a bit of work to overcome this, including having the website’s server fetch the images instead of fetching them directly from the browser which is generating the ePub file. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of how PMB creates ePubs (the ePub-creation code runs in your browser instead of the server). But I’m still happy with PMB’s approach (it can handle huge projects and avoids putting extra strain on your website).

What Do New Users Want?

It was interesting reviewing this month’s Freemius stats: basically, 105 new folks activated PMB, and 104 of them deactivated it (about 55 new sites were added during the month too). Looking over the deactivation reasons, the big reasons are “expected something else” and “expected to work differently” and “missing specific feature” which are all pretty similar. Some folks gave some more detailed responses which indicated they didn’t understand PMB could be used to add print buttons onto their website… I suspect they’re seeing all the text and documentation about PMB Pro that they miss that print buttons is still a thing. It’s something to work on…

Fitting Inline Images on Pages While Reducing Dead Space

One of the major difficulties converting WordPress content into well-designed books is how to handle images: in WordPress you just add them inline and it’s fine. But when you take that same content and put it onto discrete pages, with page breaks, inline images become a pain because often they don’t fit on the page. So then they need to be placed on the next page, leaving a bunch of dead whitespace on the previous page.

The image couldn’t fit on page 3, so it was placed on page 4 and left a ton of whitespace on page 3. Yuck.

PMB’s current solution to that is to reorganize the text and images, but some authors’ writing depends on the images maintaining their order relative to the text, so that’s not an option for them. So what to do?

This is an issue for which I’m seeking input via Twitter and the Prince forum. But more feedback on what you’d do (even outside of WordPress or even HTML) is very much welcome.

What’s Next?

I’m wanting to write a few more tutorials and solve that issue with remote images in ePubs. I’m also considering adding a Word export format or more designs (like one where images are shown on the outside margin instead of inline with the text). Let me know me know if anything is especially important to you!

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