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Randall-Reilly uses in-house technology to convert trucking publications to iPad

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Randall-Reilly, a b-to-b publisher based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., announced last week that it has created digital versions of its trucking publications that are accessible via iPhone and iPad.

The brands available for free on the Apple devices include Commercial Carrier Journal, Overdrive and Truckers News. The digital versions, which are also available for BlackBerry and Android smartphones, can be accessed by visiting the magazine website and clicking on the digital version.

The digital versions were developed by Digital Magazine Technology, a business unit that Randall-Reilly started three years ago to create digital replicas of print magazines. The company, which also publishes Equipment World and operates Equipment Data Associates, a data business, opted to create its own technology instead of using existing solutions offered by digital magazine technology vendors that also feature “flip pages.”

”We just didn't think that they had what we were trying to accomplish,” said Nick Reed, executive director of Randall-Reilly's interactive media division, explaining why the company decided to build its own technology.

”We felt we had great insight into what a publisher is looking for,” added Jim Davis, VP of Randall-Reilly's interactive media division, who said that Digital Magazine Technology's flexibility makes it simple to add banners, video and audio to advertiser messages in the digital publications.

Martin Hensel, president of digital magazine technology company Texterity, said Randall-Reilly is a rarity in developing its own technology. “In general, well beyond digital editions, we see publishers increasing the amount of outsourcing as they focus on their core value functions,” he said. “Technology is difficult to create and maintain without scale, so it is particularly suitable to outsourcing.”

Randall-Reilly's Digital Magazine Technology was built on an open source platform. It features Linux servers and Apache Web servers. For the back end, DMT employs MySQL and PHP.

Using open source to create the basic technology posed few problems, Reed said. ”The biggest issue wasn't with the back end but more in the user experience with the Flash layers,” he said.

Apple devices infamously don't support Adobe's Flash technology, which poses problems for viewing videos on iPhones and iPads. To get around this stumbling block, Reed said Randall-Reilly used JavaScript and HTML.

They opted against using HTML5. “Not everyone has a browser that supports HTML5,” Reed said.

In addition to making all of Randall-Reilly's publications available in digital format, the company also makes DMT available to other publishers and marketers.

Davis said Randall-Reilly has used DMT technology to create about 150 digital titles for other companies. He views this as a growth opportunity for the company, because the iPad and other e-readers will change the way digital content is consumed. In some cases, readers will prefer to get their digital content via a magazine replica and not a website.

”I think they [digital replica publications] have a new life,” he said.

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