I started the Bookvia application the other day and was presented with the “Tips” dialog. Being curious, I tapped the “next” button a few times and started to wonder how many tips there were. I decided to go search for the tips in the source so I could easily see all of them in one place. 41 tips in total as it turns out. While I was reviewing the tips I noticed one said “You can add your own OPDS feeds by clicking on the icon at the right of the ‘My Feeds’ title.” I had a general idea what OPDS feeds were but never spent much time with them so I thought I would dig into the subject deeper.
The Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) Catalog format is a syndication format for electronic publications based on Atom and HTTP. OPDS Catalogs enable the aggregation, distribution, discovery, and acquisition of electronic publications. OPDS Catalogs use existing or emergent open standards and conventions, with a priority on simplicity.
Ok, that description is nice and technical. It fits my general impression that OPDS is a way to present people with a catalog of books, but how does this apply to Bookvia? Let’s take a look. From the Bookvia main menu, if we select “Stores” the user interface presents a “- STORES” and a “ – MY FEEDS” section with four feeds listed under MY FEEDS. Tap on one of the existing feeds, and the OPDS catalog opens and we are presented with a list of options. The options will vary by catalog and usually they include ways to filter access to books. You typically see categories like ALPHABETICAL BY TITLE, MOST RECENT, MOST READ, etc. Selecting one of the categories will present a list of books to review. You may see thumbnail covers, titles, and author information along with pricing and download options. Selecting a book will present you with more details about your selection along with options to download the content.
As the tip told us at the start of this little venture, an icon on the right of the “- MY FEEDS” section can be used to add new feeds. Pressing the icon, we are presented with a dialog box with two fields “Title” and “URL”. Fill out the two fields and press “CREATE” to add your new catalog. The title can be anything that makes sense for you to identify the catalog. The URL must be complete; for example, to use the URL http://opds.oreilly.com/opds/ you must include the “http://” and the closing “/”. Press the “CREATE” button and you are returned to the STORES screen. Your new feed should be added to the end of the current list beneath the four existing feeds. You may need to slide the screen up to view the entry you created depending on your screen size.
So, that’s a look at how OPDS works and can be configured in Bookvia – giving you access to more content. Now, I’ve got to get back to the other 40 tips.
For those looking to learn more about OPDS, additional technical information can be found at http://opds-spec.org/.