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The Future Of Digital Exhibiting - The Next Step

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Posted 09/03/2020   12:14 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Prexie3c to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Given the current COVID situation, many physical stamp shows have been cancelled, and God knows when things will ever start picking up. Thus, I thought this is the time to blaze ahead with virtual/digital exhibiting. The recent APS Virtual Stamp Show was fantastic, and Richard has continued his single-frame digital exhibit competition - the Philamercury Digital Rendezvous 2020 (PDR2020) - a whooping 71 entries this year. Hope to see more of these!
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Posted 09/03/2020   04:07 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In 'real life' shows they standardized on frame sizes, exhibitors understood how to design and assemble their exhibits. Yet for digital online exhibiting there is no single presentation solution across every online venue. In my opinion this should be addressed. I have received a number of requests for assistance from various organization developers who are facing large amount of work due to the inefficient solutions they are using to get the submitted exhibits published. No one should have to 'strong arm' this kind of solution, no one should be having to take a submitted PDF exhibit and covert it back to image nor should PDFs be used to display the exhibits.

There are solutions which are far easier and more efficient for both the exhibitor to submit their material and for those responsible for publishing them. As a lone voice in this forest, I stand little chance of influencing existing shows and organizations. But since I have already assisted a number of folks in implementing the best solution I thought it wise to make available a 'starter kit' or templates of how best to publish an online exhibit. It is located here http://stampsmarter.com/features/Ex...mplates.html
Don
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Posted 09/03/2020   08:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hoosierboy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Morning Don and all,

Wish I could be of more technical help but after DOS 3.0 days it became above my pay grade.

I think you are on the right track. We are just in the infancy of this digital revolution but progress is being made. Thanks to you and all else helping this cause along.
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Posted 09/03/2020   12:50 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is hard to believe why PDF is a desired format.
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Al
Edited by angore - 09/03/2020 12:50 pm
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Posted 09/03/2020   1:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don,
May I suggest there should be a step zero to your outline, which would answer the initial question of "I have a finished exhibit and a scanner, what file format and resolution should I use to best feed into step 1 and onward?" In other words, let's stat with a uniform data input plan.
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Posted 09/03/2020   2:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mml1942 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would much prefer to view an Exhibit in a PDF format that I would a format that requires me to open and close 160 individual JPG or TIFF files.
Mike
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Posted 09/03/2020   4:16 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Mike,
Here is my opinion.
I do not understand the difference between opening 50 images files or a 50 page PDF which was made up of 50 images files. The download time and bandwidth is the same, and opening images files sequential avoids the user having to sit there and wait for the entire PDF to download. The solution I am recommending has a 'slide show' feature built in; click on a thumbnail, click on the slideshow button, and the images will advance one at a time and download the next image in the background.

PDFs are good for printing, by storing the fonts and page layouts they are basically printing press ready files. But this same 'portable document format' means they are inherently (and by design) non-responsive. In other words, the majority of users end up having to do excessive scrolling and many philatelic stamp exhibits are not supporting finger swipes. If objectives of philatelic exhibits include generating interest in our hobby, the best solution is to cast a wide user net and not require that users access the exhibit on a desktop monitor.

And of course using a PDF in an exhibit assumes that all users have a PDF viewer installed. The level of support needed for online PDF viewing is many times larger then simple HTML5. Supporting PDF can be a real nightmare given the multitude of browsers, PDF readers, and all their various combinations.

Lastly, having exhibitors scan there pages, save them as images, and then convert their images into to PDFs often results in lower image quality.
Don
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Posted 09/03/2020   4:23 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi John,
I concur that standardizing on a image file format is desirable. I approached this topic from a developers perspective and as someone who has been asked a number of times to assist. The existing approaches by some of the existing exhibits is a nightmare and is driving incredibly amounts of work at the developer level; so I see the immediate need to resolve this. One of the nice things about the solution I am recommending is that it does not matter what resolution the images are in, exhibitors and/or show organizers can set this at what every they desire. The image format can be any HTML compliant format.
Don
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Posted 09/03/2020   5:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don, I may be misunderstanding your reply, but standardizing an image input is absolutely required for me to play ball. I would not want show organizers to have different input requirements. I am wiling to scan an exhibit once and only once but not multiple time if each show had a different resolution requirements, etc.
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Posted 09/03/2020   7:46 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi John,
The solution I am recommending has no requirement for image size/resolution; any size/resolution html (.jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, or .svg) image is supported. I agree that it would be a good thing if the show organizers, or the hobby in general, standardized on image attributes for exhibits.

My image recommendation for hobbyists is to scan images they desire to keep in uncompressed TIFF format in the highest resolution your patience and storage space can tolerate. But while an uncompressed TIFF format is ideal for archiving your images, they rarely will be useful for other purposes and hobbyists will have to convert them. Luckily there are plenty of 'free' image file utilities which makes doing this extremely simple. I cannot recommend strongly enough that any hobbyist who works with images consider downloading and learning FastStone Photo Resizer 4.3.
https://www.faststone.org/
Unlike its name, this tool does a LOT more than simply resize images. It is a 'batch' utility which allow users to convert, rename, resize, crop, rotate, change color depth, add text and watermarks to images. It is fast, intuitive, and makes doing things like generating thumbnails of an entire folder of images easy.
Don
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Posted 09/04/2020   02:41 am  Show Profile Check clivel's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add clivel to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Personally I feel that a PDF document is an ideal format for a digital exhibition - PDF's are easily downloaded and printed for those who would like a hardcopy version, whereas printed HTML web pages are generally less than satisfactory.

PDF pages can easily be exported as individual images for display using the same mechanism proposed by Don if this is preferred.

PDF pages can easily be generated by many different software packages, here is a rather crude example page I threw together in 15 minutes using AlbumEasy which I then converted to an image for uploading here.



That being said, for some Exhibition style pages, especially those with complex text requirements, AlbumEasy may not be the best tool, AlbumEasy excels at placing stamp boxes with images, but is more limited when it comes to more complex typographic formatting, in which case, something like https://www.libreoffice.org/ which can also generate PDFs may be a better bet.
Clive

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AlbumEasy - Free software for creating custom stamp album pages
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Posted 09/04/2020   02:56 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Clive,
How do you address the non-responsive issue?
Don

Edit: I am currently struggling with support on PDFs, it is a flipping nightmare. Trying walking through the troubleshooting steps when a user has an issue with a PDF. What OS are you using? What PDF reader are you using? Are you viewing the PDF in the browser plugin or in a stand-alone app? The combination of OS/Reader/browser numbers in the tens of thousands. Supporting a PDF is significantly more costly than supporting a plain HTML page (which is virtually zero).

Additionally, many exhibit implementers are seeking to generate website traffic. Having users frequently return to their site means a better chance to get them to join the membership. Throwing exhibits into PDFs means users download them and do not visit the site as frequently. Website and exhibit owners may also not want people to be easily be able to download all the entire show exhibits and then post them on other sites.

There are (obviously) good reasons to use PDFs including being able to offer a full text searchable copy of the exhibit. For folks who have vision challenges, being able to use text-to-voice is important. And printing has always been a strong attribute of PDF (it was the reason the PDF format was invented).




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Posted 09/04/2020   03:53 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sorry for the double post but want I to draw a distinction. I do not think the question here is 'do you like PDFs for exhibits?'. The question is more about 'how do you emulate existing stamps shows to online or virtual shows?'.

A site like Richard's or Stamp Smarter are not trying to emulate stamps shows. These two sites are freely sharing information in an effort to grow our hobby; the equivalent of having holding a stamp show without any admission fees or bourse with paying dealers.

But most existing shows are commercial and are seeking to generate income and/or memberships. Giving away the milk means no reasonable person is going to buy the cow. Giving these organizations the option to offer an exhibit PDF download as part of a paid virtual ticket or membership is important. But at the same time, they want to also generate traffic and interest in their websites. The solution I am suggesting not only represents a lower support cost but also gives show organizations options for generating income if desired.

Standardizing on PDF would remove the option and force show organizations into coming up with other profit centers.
Don
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Posted 09/04/2020   06:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I just did not like PDF since it is not the purest form. An image gives a lot ore options including creating a PDF. You can tweak images in all sorts of ways if needed.

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Al
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Posted 09/04/2020   09:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Richard Frajola to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would say that there are many ways to present information in an "exhibit" format. The presentation I prefer is a display area with thumbnails that mimics a frame (all thumbnails go to full size JPG images) PLUS a searchable PDF file (nice for search engines).

For my audience, I am satisfied with the (easy) way I do it using input of either PDF files or in 300 dpi images at 100% of original size as a standard input. I tend to keep original size image files for use in the display area of the page (with 200 pixel wide thumbnail for a standard 8.5" width page) and make a searchable PDF file. I also reduce the size of PDF file.

I can also take odd size double-high, double-wide, triple-wide, etc pages easily - I just have to change the thumbnail widths.

Exhibit-style presentations are not particularly well suited to smart phone viewing and I decided long ago that I had to optimize things for computer / iPad devices that my target audience is using.

The images are all preserved in original size and there is no loss of clarity in the full image that was thumbnailed.

To use my format, all one has to do is right click on a webpage and save the HTML language. Strip the headers and use the HTML as you wish.

It takes me an average 10 minutes to do everything needed on a 16 page exhibit from time received until completed, uploaded and linked.
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Edited by Richard Frajola - 09/04/2020 09:44 am
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