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C-Beats' New Digital Comic Book App - CHAOS!


C-Beats
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Hello everyone. I wanted to share with you a personal project I've been working on in my free time. This project is completely separate from LaunchBox and my work here at Unbroken Software LLC. Jason has been kind enough to let me post about this project here because we both think many of you would enjoy it.

The project is called "Content Hoarders Accommodating Organizational System" (CHAOS for short). What it is at this stage is a lightweight front end and reader for digital comic books that I've been working on it in my spare time for the last year or so. It has underwent MANY revisions in that time but I think it's been worth it. I know my son and I have been enjoying using the app quite a bit and it's been a great bonding experience for us getting to look through and read several different comics together with.

I started building CHAOS because my son was starting to get into a lot of graphic novels, as well as a lot of the comic hero movies that have been coming out. He was starting to ask a lot about the stories the movies were based on and wanting to read them. I started looking for existing solutions that I could use to display the comics in a way he could easily find them and read them, but most of the solutions I found had issues. Most were older applications that have added a lot of features I really didn't need and made the application overall feel really slow and clunky. They also didn't have a way to lock out most of those features and would make it possible for my son to alter the comic files in a way I really didn't want him to have access to. After trying 3 or 4 applications and not finding one I really liked, I decided to try and build my own.

Here are a few screenshots of the application in it's current state:

Grid View
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Details View
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Reader View
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CHAOS works similar to LaunchBox in that you import files into it and it then displays them in an easy to use interface that makes browsing and consuming your collection far easier. Outside of that though they are very different programs with different functionality. CHAOS structures it's data quite a bit differently than LaunchBox to help organize data in a way that I think makes a bit more sense for digital comics than video games. CHAOS also at the moment doesn't support any external reader applications and uses it's own reader I built from scratch to be lightweight, quick, and easy to use.

CHAOS is also very similar to LaunchBox in how it's licensed, sold, and distributed. CHAOS itself will be a free application with no library size limit. There are also premium features that require a license be purchased to use. The licenses work exactly how LaunchBox's does. The main difference is that while CHAOS is in a BETA phase all licenses will work until the 1.0 release even if they expire before it. I'm doing this as a way to thank people for making a purchase on the app when it's obvious the app is still in development and has not reached it's full potential.

Right now the only premium feature the application has is the ability to create user accounts to be used within the app. There are several roles that can be tied to user accounts that help determine what changes the users can or can't make to your collection. Several pieces of metadata are also saved by user account and not globally. This allows each user to mark progress on comics, as well as favorites, in their account and not have it impact other users at all. In the future it will also allow for parental control type of features and allow you to stop certain users from seeing content you want hidden from them (or password protected).

Future premium features will be related to the management and optimization of the imported files themselves, allowing you to move/organize the raw files into a better file name/structure. I also plan to add functionality that would allow you to convert your comics to different image formats to help reduce their size on your hard drive.

Unfortunately I do have some things I need to get finalized before I can release CHAOS. I need to spin up some servers and websites to make mass distribution possible as well as make things like auto-updating possible in the application. To help cover some of this financial overhead, and the overhead I've already covered, I have started a IndieGoGo campaign (which can be found here). The current plan is that I will use my own personal funds to get the server up and running while the campaign is ongoing and have everything ready to deploy by mid January (I'm shooting for the 10th). At that point in time I will make the software public and send out all the licenses.

If you want to keep track of the project you can do one or more of the following:
Join the Discord Server
Subscribe to updates on IndieGoGo
Participate in the subreddit

I also want to make it clear to everyone in the community, I have no intention of stopping work with Jason and LaunchBox. You all are still stuck with me here. CHAOS is an application I am building and working on in my spare time while working full-time here. I feel like I have the ability to develop and support both applications, and intend to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

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3 hours ago, Retrofrogg said:

Nice! Would be great if this was integrated into Launchbox somehow, so we could see our games magazines along with the relevant platforms.

CHAOS has two executables. One is the library app (similar to LaunchBox) and the other is a stand alone reader application. The reader accepts command line arguments and so COULD be used as an "emulator" inside of LaunchBox for any CBR/CBZ files you add as games. You can also set the reader executable as the default app for those image types so when you open the documents in LaunchBox it uses CHAOS reader for it. We will not be adding any functionality to LaunchBox exclusively for this product though, the two projects are completely separate and at this time we want to keep a pretty well defined separation between the two as to not confuse anyone.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/12/2022 at 8:21 AM, Retrofrogg said:

Would be great if Launchbox did at least this. 

Would also be great if Launchbox could add the metadata for Comics (I’ve also been doing this for manga; light novels and books are another story). Having to manually add the covers and metadata and clear logos and everything really sucks. 
 

I can understand having CHAOS and Launchbox as two separate entities, but I still wish that Launchbox had a plug-in that could share the latter's metadata library—and don’t get me started on trying to separate specific eras: like the Dan Garrett Golden Age Blue Beetle from the 80’s Ted Kord series and the 2006 Jaime Reyes stuff—y’know, keeping Launchbox’s video game-centered but having an extra option for those who’d want to integrate comics and/or manga through an optional add-on. But I would never say to make CHAOS into something it’s not; just asking for something similar.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey all. Probably one of the last updates I'll make on the forum about the app. Will only be making updates on the CHAOS Discord server moving forward. Just wanted to let ya all know I stood up a temporary SquareSpace website to distribute the app with. You can now go to www.libraryinchaos.com and get the app from there. Isn't a real sexy website but should serve the purpose I need it to until I get the time to hand craft one.

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