Thanks to all of you who offered comments and suggestions in response to my last post. I’d like to answer the two most common questions and then tell you about some recent improvements.
“I’ve created a book in the 8.5×11 inch format, but now I want the larger size. Can I upgrade to the 11×14 inch format?”
Our two current book formats have the same aspect ratio, so it seems like it should be easy to convert from one size to another. Unfortunately, scaling up presents some technical problems that we haven’t solved yet. The area of the 11×14 inch page is about 50% bigger. Depending on the resolution of your images, some images that look fine on the 8.5×11 inch page might look grainy if you enlarged them by 50%.
The other issue is the text. If you automatically changed all the text from, say, a 10-point font to a 14-point font, some of the lines would wrap differently, and you’d have to go through each page and make a lot of adjustments — especially to the family trees and family group sheets.
At a minimum, we’d like to allow you to convert the final, print-ready file of an 11×14 inch book into an 8.5×11 inch print-ready file. This means you’ll be able to order a printed copy in the smaller size but you won’t be able to edit the smaller version. I’ll let you know as soon as we have the downsize feature available.
I suspect many of you will want to order an 11×14 inch book for yourself — you’re the one who’s done the work, after all — and several 8.5×11 copies as gifts for various family members. If you think you might want to order the same book in two sizes, or if you aren’t sure which size you want to order, you’re safer creating your book in the larger size.
“Now that you’ve raised the page limit, I want to combine two books into one longer book. Is there an easy way to do this?”
Yes! You can’t actually merge two books (yet), but you can copy pages from one book into another book. And you don’t have to do it one page at a time, either. Read on…
Better page management
Earlier this week, we launched a new page management feature. You can now copy multiple pages within the same book or from one book to another. Reordering pages, which used to be a tedious process, is much easier, and so is deleting pages.
To select multiple pages, just hold down the “Control” key. You can print, copy or delete the selected pages by clicking the appropriate button on the right side of the screen. Reorder the pages by dragging them to a new spot. To keep facing pages together, click “Arrange & Manage Double Page Spreads.”
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To copy pages to another project, select the pages and then click “Copy to a Project.” A little box will pop up with a list of all your projects. Select the project you want and then click “Continue.”
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More desktop printing options
Many customers have told use they’d like to print more than one page at a time on their home printer. Several people have asked for a “Print All” button that lets you print the whole book. The problem with this idea is that most people have lots of images in their book, and sending all those files to print at once would cause a system meltdown for most computers and/or printers.
Our product engineers have settled on a compromise: to let you print up to five pages at a time. When you click “Print,” you’ll see a Print Manager box that lets you choose which page(s) you want to print.
If you click the “All” button or enter a range of more than five pages, the pages you select will print in five-page batches. Based on customer feedback, we may adjust that limit up or down. The optimal batch size really depends on how much power and memory you have, so if printing five pages is making your computer crash, try printing only two or three pages.
Now take a look at the “Print Quality” section of the Print Manager box. When you print pages at home, you can now choose between two print methods: raster and vector. I’m not an engineer, so please don’t ask me what those words mean, but I can tell you how they affect you.
When you print using the raster method (“Normal quality”), your images are converted into a series of pixels. This is important because pixels do a good job of capturing subtle effects like drop shadows, variations in opacity, etc.
When you print using the vector method (“Higher quality”), your images are converted into a series of mathematically generated outlines. For some mysterious (to me) reason, this method produces sharper text and images. But for some equally mysterious reason having to do with Flash technology, subtle design effects like drop shadows don’t come out very well. Because of this limitation, embellishments, drop shadows and semi-transparent images will not show up if you print using the vector method.
In the screen shot above, I selected “Normal quality.” All of the design elements on the page appear in the print preview box. When I change my selection to “Higher quality,” the drop shadow around the photo and the embellishment around the caption disappear from the preview box.
The best print method for you depends on the type of content you have in your book and what you are trying to accomplish.
If you are printing proof pages:
If you are printing pages that you want to keep in a binder or scrapbook:
Please note that when you order a professionally printed copy of your book, the design elements, text and images will all come out sharp and clear (unless your images were scanned at a low resolution to begin with). Our printer uses a different, offline printing process, so there’s no tradeoff between the design elements and the text and images.
Our goal is to provide you with output options that work for you. Most AncestryPress users are also Ancestry.com subscribers, and you’ve made a significant investment in your family history research. Of course we’d love to have you order a professionally printed book from us, but if you prefer to print at home, we want you to be happy with the results.
By the way, several customers have told us that having us print their book is actually cheaper than buying high-quality paper and ink cartridges, so be sure to factor in all of those costs when deciding how to print your book. If you choose to print your book at home, you might want to forgo embellishments and drop shadows when you’re making your book so that you can pick the high-quality print option.
Tip: If you’re printing proof pages and you mostly want to review the text and images, check the “Print without background” box. It’ll save save ink and speed up the printing process.
Finally, on a separate topic, this weekend would be the perfect time to put together a quick gift for Dad using our Father’s Day photo book template. I may be biased because I work here, but I think the guy who designed the template did a terrific job. The order deadlines for delivery before Father’s Day are June 2 for standard shipping and June 4 for expedited shipping.
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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas
In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by Ancestry.com. For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.
Here you will find informational, and sometimes fun, posts from the folks behind the scenes here at Ancestry.com. We hope you’ll notice just how passionate we are about family history and about the products we’re building to help connect families over distance and time.Visit Ancestry.com