DjVu Web Browser Plug-in 4.0 Reviewed

A report by PlanetDjVu, March 17, 2003

We have discovered that LizardTech has released Version 4.0 of the DjVu Web Browser Plug-in, on March 12, 2003. Once again we were not notified of this release here at PlanetDjVu.

The first thing we notice is that statement on the LizardTech download page that this plug-in update "includes support for the enhanced annotation capability available in DjVu Editor 4.0 and DjVu Editor 4.0 (Pro)." This is the only place that DjVu Editor 4.0 and DjVu Editor 4.0 (Pro) are mentioned. These application names are not mentioned in the Help file or elsewhere on the LizardTech website. Perhaps LizardTech intends to announce these as new products in the future? Are these upgrades to DjVu Editor 3.5, an application that disappeared last June? Perhaps these are alias (internal) names for Document Express Desktop Edition and Document Express Professional Edition (previously called DjVu Solo or DjVu Editor (without encoding), and before that DjVu Shop.

The next thing we notice is that the plug-in has grown to 4.8 MB, while on the main download page it is still listed as 1.7 MB. If you select "Download Info" and thereby get access to the downloads for the German, French and Korean versions, the sizes are correctly identified.

We downloaded the English version and installed that. The installer asked us if we wanted to uninstall the previous DjVu 3.6.2 plugin, and then after doing so it asked to reboot the computer, but as we were testing on Windows 2000, we did not reboot and that was fine. We then were without any DjVu plugin, so we ran the installer again and this time it did the V4.0 install to IE and Netscape. Upon opening a DjVu file, the new 4.0 plug-in launched.

Opening the Help file led to a suprise.  The formatting of the Help file has changed, and it looks very nice (better than before) and performs well.

The first thing we did was to search for "annotation", and we found an "Overview" page for Document Express Desktop Edition that is not part of the Index of the help file. Guess it got left out of the structured index.

Reading through the Help file, we notice that the section on the customizing of the plug-in toolbar has been omitted completely.

Next, we checked for the problem that the keyboard navigation keys stop working when a DjVu file is embedded in HTML, and which has been the subject of recent discussion in the Forum of PlanetDjVu. Unfortunately, this problem has not been fixed. This is a problem in IE only.

We checked the magnification problem associated with the zoom key, which causes the Opening Zoom to fail to take effect after the zoom key has previously been used, and which is the subject of a new post in the Forum. This is not fixed either.
We then read the readme.txt file for this new release of the plug-in, and these problems above are not listed as known problems.

We checked the LizardTech website for DjVu Examples that could show the new reported annotation, header and footer features described on the orphaned Document Express Desktop Edition help page, but there are none. There are just the same Obsolete Indexed files that have been there for the past two years, so we could not see these new reported features in action with our 4.0 plug-in update.

The readme.txt file reports that the memory leaks have been reduced or fixed, and that might be enough reason to upgrade your plug-in version. You will have to decide for yourself. But we see little other reason to upgrade, at least until we begin to see DjVu files containing the new annotations and headers/footers that reportedly are features supported by Document Express Desktop Edition.

In an hour or two of testing, we were able to find out all ot the above. We find it sad that LizardTech does not invite end user testing or feedback or conduct any beta tests that we are aware of, because the software would have fewer problems and omissions as a result.

The big reported reason for this upgrade, support for annotations and headers/footers, remains to be demonstrated. We will just have to wait and see. Headers and footers were announced a year ago, but we have yet to see these in a DjVu file.

The Help file looks nicer, the new "Document Express" graphics have a fine new glossy appearance, but we see little else that would cause us to recommend this update to you.

If you do upgrade, first make a backup copy of your 3.6.2 Help file, because this is the only place where you will find documentation on the customizable toolbar controls.

On a final note, the plug-in still does not work with Opera 7.0 for Windows after the upgrade, although Opera has never been listed as a supported web browser. The last version of Opera that worked with the DjVu plug-in, after a manual copy of the plug-in files, was Opera Version 6.5.

We did a manual copy of the plugin files to Mozilla, but this time, unlike with  3.6.2, it did not recognize the plugin files. We are uncertain why, but it appears that this upgrade does not work in Mozilla as the 3.6.2 plugin did. Again, Mozilla is not a supported web browser for the DjVu Plugin from LizardTech.

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