Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Let’s get this out of the way: the first beta of Sigil 0.2.0 is now out. It’s what all of you want to know, right? There you go. There is also a release thread in the Sigil subforum on MobileRead, and all discussion on the beta should happen there.

You can only get it from the “Downloads” section, not from the main page. The 0.1.9 version is still the “official” one, and the new version notification will not be triggered. Bear in mind that this is the very first public release of the code I’ve been working on for the past 3+ months, so it’s going to be buggy. I’m hoping most of the major bugs will be reported quickly and the second beta will have them remedied.

So really try to bash it. Do whatever you normally do in Sigil and report any (unintentional) differences on the tracker. Or anything else you feel should be reported. Just don’t forget to state that you’re using the β1 release in your issue. This would also be a good opportunity to read the Reporting Issues wiki page if you haven’t already.

Why a beta and not a Release Candidate as I’ve previously announced? Well because not all the features that I want in the 0.2.0 release are done. The biggest omission is the cross-file search: in the current beta, you can only search (and replace) in the currently open tab, but not across all the files in the book. The whole search mechanism is about to be overhauled, since Qt 4.6 finally brought a native API for interacting with elements in a QWebPage.

There are numerous other minor annoyances that need to be dealt with before I proclaim a “real” 0.2.0. Things like being able to select multiple items in the Book Browser and delete them; currently you have to delete them one by one, which I find annoying.

Bottom line, it needs a bit of polish. I tried to stay away from that since you always try to make things work first, and then gradually improve them later.

So, betas first, and then after a few of those you’ll see at least one Release Candidate. When I’m satisfied with the way it looks and behaves, I’ll mark the next release after that as “official”.

With that settled, let’s move on.

SGF is now dead

The SGF format was created to provide Sigil with a native file format that could be changed and modified as needed. Initially, I wanted to make epub Sigil’s native format, but that didn’t seem like a good idea at the time. Back then, I wanted Sigil to eventually be able to save many different e-book formats, so I needed to make sure Sigil could store anything the epub format couldn’t but that was potentially in use by the other formats. So SGF was born. Whenever someone asked about it, the short answer was “SGF is to Sigil what PSD is to Photoshop”.

It was a product of thinking for the future… but the future has changed. Sigil is now mainly focused on producing epub books. With that, the major reason for SGF’s existence was gone.

SGF had a few advantages over epub in Sigil 0.1.x. For one thing, it stored the text you saw in the Code View raw, with no preprocessing on save. Saving as epub would split the One Huge Flow™ into different XHTML files according to your chapter breaks, and a great deal of other “book normalization” transformations were applied as well. So SGF was definitely the more “native” format.

In Sigil 0.2.0, the separate files are now kept separate, and any advantage the SGF format had is gone. With no advantage and no real future need for it, SGF format export has been removed: epub is now Sigil’s native file format.

Before you start screaming “but I have hundreds of SGF files!”, 0.2.0 can still open SGF. From there, you’re just a click away from saving it as epub. I’m not leaving you people out in the rain. :)

Show & Tell

I prepared this little screen cast of 0.2.0 in action. Things to watch out for:

  • The loading speed;
  • The  “paragraph merging” speed;
  • The Table of Contents open/close speed;
  • The CSS tab;
  • The XPGT tab;
  • The image tab, which supports SVG.

And here is the video…