220,000 users of eReolen make it really popular – a complex task turned out to be a very popular app

We made it easy for you to expand your horizon with an app that allows you to access a significant number of titles also available at Danish libraries. In eReolen, these titles are available everywhere, all the time and for free.
More than 220,000 users are either reading ebooks or listening to audio books using the iOS and Android apps.

Updated apps and a giant leap in free content
To make eReolens catalogue of books available to as many users as possible, eReolen was developed as an app for both smartphones and tablets, and released for iOS in June 2014. Recently eReolen released an updated version for iOS and a new Android version.  
Both versions released in January 2015 move their respective platforms by a significant amount. The updated version adds 4,000 more titles provided by Danish publishers, enabling eReolen users to access more than 9,000 titles.

Developing apps contain challenges
The Android app being very different from its predecessor, received some criticism on various issues. Most of the criticism however centered on the ebook reader and audio book player.

Developing apps like this bring with it a lot of expectations. As users we expect the experience of browsing and sampling books to be as fluid and as responsive as possible, hiding any technical issues in the background. Therefore the use and handling of data in a project like this has been really complex.
It is not all about handling data, but also about the presentation of data -  about the reading and listening to books.

Performance, security and user interface at the centre
From the get-go balancing security, performance and user interface requirements has been of paramount importance to us, especially given the amount of time eReolen users spend using the app and the amount of content made available by danish publishers.

When loading thousands of books onto a mobile device, data must be accessible fast and be executed smoothly.

When you want to read or listen to a book through eReolen, a lot of data is sent back and forth. eReolen even makes it possible to enjoy your books offline as long as you remember to download them first.

It is incredible how much goes on inside your smartphone and within the app. A number of different elements have to cooperate, bringing you, the user of eReolen, a smooth and usable experience.

Integrating web based technologies with native apps
Implementing a robust yet smooth solution required extensive cooperation with our colleagues at Pragmasoft whose web based ebook reader and audio book player were selected by the Danish publishers to be hosted inside the eReolen apps.

Between us we have spent considerable time bridging the gap between Pragmasofts web based technologies and our native application modules.

Technically the integration is done using synthesized javascript method calls to- and from the web views hosting Pragmasofts code. Depending on whether the app is working in online or offline mode, content data is either stored encrypted and decrypted on-demand on the device or accessed directly using secure network connections.

In addition, the eReolen apps leverage Redias infrastructure for content distribution to reduce the amount of data that the application must download, and to provide a convenient interface and format for annotated rich content available in the app.

A complex task turned out to be a very popular app
Apart from the difficulties using these web based readers and players we see the eReolen project as a satisfactory arrangement. Even though it has been challenging, we reached the goal when we uploaded the newest version of the app:
To give you a good experience of borrowing a book in an expanded digital universe - for free.
We are really pleased to see that the app has been downloaded so many times and that the usability of the interface work as intended.

What’s next?
We have just released and an updated version of the Android app, using an updated version of both the web based ebook reader and audio player.
Waiting just around the corner is an update of the iOS app and its use of the web based ebook reader and audio player.

We hope you will enjoy the functionalities of eReolen when you are browsing through ebooks on your tablet or smartphone looking for your next read on the eReolen library app.

Download the app in App Store or in Google Play – more than 220,000 already have.

If you want to read more about the actual handling of data used for eReolen, please read the presentation that our developer Kristian Theilgaard wrote for Redia Lab in November 2014.
See the post here

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