Investigation of FBReader (Android)

Frist, a great thanks to the team of FBReader, who developed and constantly updated this decent e-book reader, and more over, an open-source one that others can develop based on.

Reason of the Study

I have a project to build a customized e-book reader on Android. The project is for the church organization, and does not require commercial license and closed-source. So a couple of existing open-sourced e-book readers are investigated so as to make a decision which one is based on.

Key features of the customized e-book reader shall include:

  • FTS (Full text search) among a series of books. Shall be fast and indexing is required.
    • Shall support Asian text for FTS. This is important as most books are written in Asian language (Chinese, ie)
    • This feature is put to the top as it is a most-demanding feature and much development required)
  • Txt format is preferred, while supporting other rich-text format would be also good (for the possibility of enhancing existing text-based books.)
  • Certain series of books packed with the app.
  • Additional books able to be downloaded from the specific web-site
  • Support book-mark, notes, etc.
  • Comfortable and convenient GUI, with unnecessary features trimmed.

FBReader is the first one that I investigated! :-)

Overview of FBReader

Project home:

License: “FBReader source code is dual licensed. The default license is GPL. If you want to build closed-source FBReader-based product.”  >>

Source code:

This e-book reader looks like very well developed and maintained. The last release was 2.5.10 on September 26, 2015, which was quite active and update to date (now is Novemeber, 2015).  A beta version 2.6 beta 15 is available for trial, and a lot of GUI improved.

To match the required feature of mine:

  • FTS.  Only support within a single book. Major development required.
  • Book format: more than enough.
  • Packed of books: minor development required.
  • Book download: minor development required. The existing book store feature is a reference.
  • Book marks and notes: yes. (even able to sync to cloud, but required premium version which is not free)
  • GUI: basic GUI (at or before 2.5.10);  while much more improved in 2.6.

Based on the preliminary review, FBReader is definitely a good option to proceed.

Development – first try

The first try, is just to download and re-build the project.

There were a lot of issues coming up in order to build FBReader from a scratch. However at last all these issues were fixed.

I am going to write another article regarding to the building of FBReader, and possible some enhancement or suggestion regarding how the project is organized for the building system.