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A new, exciting, feature coming to Comic Zeal soon.

By now you probably have a version of Comic Zeal with the page lock feature. There's been an item on the to-do list that's been niggling at me for over a month now.

When the user has page lock on and they get to a landscape page (normally a two-page spread from a portrait single-page) CZ forgets about the lock parameters for that page and shows the landscape page in a height-fit mode.

In most cases that's enough to read the text on the iPad, the user can see the second page by panning to the right.

When the user turns the page again the page lock settings are re-applied and everyone's happy.

Except for this one thing ... it's not always obvious to the user that they have opened up a landscape page. In most cases it is, text, characters or panels are only partially displayed. Sometimes though, it isn't.

Which brings me to the niggly to-do. It tells me to add an indication to the user that they are looking at a two-page spread.

I was thinking of adding a little graphic, but there are some issues with that. Most of the time people don't want the graphic, so there will have to be an option to not show it, which people will use, which means they won't see the graphic when they need it.

Thank goodness for the beta testers though.

One of them said 'Why not just move the view to the right when they press the next page button?'.

Well, duh.

Obviously that makes a lot of sense. If the user indicates that they want to go onto the next page, but they haven't seen the second page in a two page spread we simply show them that second page. It's better than a graphic because it automatically does what the user will want to do when they see the graphic.

Now we start extrapolating.

Should it also work if the user hasn't seen the bottom of the current page? It would be nice wouldn't it?

What if we look at this as a way to navigate the page? instead of having to perform a careful action (panning the image right or down), the user can just press the next page button or tap zone.

How about this ... how about if pressing the next page button progresses you along the 'natural' reading direction until you run out of page? (natural reading direction is left to right, then down, then left to right again in western comics).

It's really quite a simple feature but it could be very important, it has the advantage of not needing to detect panels but greatly simplifying the reading experience and can be tweaked in the future to stop at panel boundaries depending on zoom levels, panel size etc. We could even adjust the zoom level a little bit to help fit panels or read text better.

You probably want to SEE it don't you? Well, do I have a screencast for you!

It's a little experimental right now, so I'm going to add it to a new 'experimental features' section of the settings pane. That will give us a chance to get your feedback (and work out bugs) before making it official. Naturally, this mode will always be an option that you can turn off.

I hope you enjoy the screencast and I'm really looking forward to getting this feature out to you.

Speaking of new features, the universal version of CZ 4 has been submitted to Apple for review.