Full-featured Android app might finally arrive - if YOU help make it happen

Many forum users of this form has probably been waiting for an Android app that could rival ZotPad. Finally, a realistic and ambitious project has been launched that will bring us such an app - including automatic syncing of attachments and annotated PDFs!

The preliminary name for this app/project is "Zotero Reader", but the name might change due to trademark issues. A few details are available on their IndieGoGo-page, where they try to kickstart the project through crowdfunding: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zotero-reader-android-app/x/3250899

Already a couple of hundred dollars have been raised, and that with little or no PR (this is actually the first time the project is mentioned here). I literally stumbled upon it today, and donated C$ 25. I suggest YOU do the same before 20 June, so that we can finally have a good Android app for tablets. And if you cannot afford a large donation, you may donate as little as C$1. Every little donation helps!

Not does this project seem decent, they actually also have a rough working PROTOTYPE of it up here: http://zoteroreader.com/
There you can see how the interface will work, and the general design overview. But keep in mind that the native Android app will have many more features, including automatic syncing of attachments.

Are you guys excited? I certainly am :-D
  • Indeed, this looks great! I tried the online prototype app at http://zoteroreader.com/ and it works beautifully. The developers promise to bring full WebDAV + "as needed" synchronization, which means that we can use large Zotero libraries even on small (in terms of storage) tablets, as only the attachments we want are downloaded (and later synchronized back).

    If this becomes reality, we would be able to read, highlight, and annotate all our academic (or other) PDFs on an Android reader and have it all in sync. For me, this is a dream come true.

    Anyone who is interested should pledge a few dollars (you only pay, if the project is fully funded within one month from now). I think it should be worth it for many of us! Go to http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zotero-reader-android-app/x/3250899 and pledge a few bucks.
  • If you are on slashdot, you could also vote for this story submission, which might result in some additional advertisement for the funding campaign: http://slashdot.org/submission/2673293/zotero-reader-for-android-will-bring-your-entire-library-along-with-you
  • have voted it up on slashdot
    a really fantastic project that would really improve the use of zotero on tablets, my biggest problem at the moment!
  • Just noticed this thread. Seems like the fundraising is far off. The prototype would be great as an android app. Oh well.
  • Bugger, I would've contributed to this had I known.
  • The fully open-source (AGPL, like Zotero itself) but not entirely feature-complete Android app that I launched nearly two years ago is certainly available as a starting point to any interested developers.
  • Oh dear, had no idea a funding campaign like this was going on. @ajlyon's work with Zandy has been great, but it's not feature-complete enough for daily use.

    I wish zotero.org had blogged about this on their front page or something. I think there's plenty of people willing to pay more for a decent Zotero Android client with Evernote or Springad-like features!
  • you can certainly try contacting the developers to see if they can be convinced to do something with this under a different funding model (or release the source code). Maybe ajlyon would be willing to provide a rough figure of how many copies of Zandy he sold to help gage possible revenue for making the app available for a moderate pricetag.

    I'm not an entrepreneur, but apart from problems getting the word out, I felt the min. 25$ contribution - I guess you could give less, but it seemed like it started at 25$ - might have been a mistake. That's a pretty high hurdle to get involved, considering that most apps are under $10.
  • edited July 18, 2013
    Yeah, I think they would need to try again with a proper PR campaign, I mean, contact the Zotero evangelists group and tell them to inform their local institutions, convice the Zotero blog to write about this, etc. It seems like an opportunity that was wasted.

    For me, $25 for a full-featured client is not too bad for something I would use practically every day, but yeah, it is a steep price for an android app...
  • Right - but that's why you have different contributor levels on kickstarter/indiegogo. They should have had a $10 level IMHO and given you a little extra for contributing 25$.
    They didn't promote this very actively - me and several other people who do a lot of Zotero stuff retweeted their stuff, but I don't think there was much of a push from their side - very understandable, they're graduate students and don't do this full time, but that might mean that a strategy that doesn't rely on lots of people hearing about this quickly, but rather a more gradual funding model that requires less in-advance trust may work better.
    That's what mronkko has done with his ZotPad for iOS, which I'm pretty sure has by now brought in more than 6k (at least I really hope it has).
  • Very sound points, adamsmith! Hope the Zotero reader devs are reading this.
  • I think that the way to go with the Android app is just to code it and sell it then. I do not see price as an issue 10 or 25 is a lot for an Android app, but it is not much if you consider it from other perspective: A piece of software that you use daily in your work. Moreover, some people can get their university to pay or refund the cost.

    Also 6k is not enough to develop anything robust and fully featured. Based on experience developing ZotPad, it will not take a lot of time to get something useful done, but have a fully featured and robust app takes months.

    Also, if you consider hiring someone, that is actually quite expensive. In Finland, where I live, the recommended salary for an entry level programmer with masters degree is 3.5k/month, and when you add all the side expenses (mandatory pension and health insurance etc), you get close to the 6k.

    But as a hobby project, 6k is probably in the right range.

    As far as ZotPad goes, the sales indeed exceed 6k, but I would not characterise it as a gold mine. I set up an LLC to make it easier to license third party software, and have not paid any salary for myself yet apart from the initial sales that were recorded as personal income prior to the LLC. I plan to include technology from iAnnotate in the next major version, and if I were to sing the deal today, the sales would not be sufficient to cover the cost but I would need to spend some of the initial investment. (Which is fine, because I expect to break even in the long run and my goal was never to make ZotPad a real job for myself, but to develop as good iPad app as possible.
  • Zandy has brought in about $3-4K in two years.
  • My Zandy app remains broken. I don't know the last time it was updated and I can't download my pdfs. Stay away from Zandy for sure. I wish I had the money I spent on Zandy for this project.
  • I do hope they give the fundraising another chance. Their web-based proof of concept is very strong and I would pay for an app that made this workflow easier on my Nook.

  • this is probably a long shot, but...

    I've been using zotreader for a while and my library of PDFs is stored in the cloud and synced to my tablet. does anyone know if there's a way to access my locally stored PDFs from zotreader. many thanks!
  • I also would have gladly contributed to get this project off the ground. I suggest another funding attempt, this time with more PR.

    Re: the cost. Although it's certainly relevant from the developer's strategic perspective, it really doesn't make sense to compare the price of this app to most other apps. This is a very niche market, and they won't be selling millions of copies. Researcher-specific tools are always going to be more expensive than Angry Birds. If you would use this on a weekly basis for your job, $25 is peanuts.
  • Hey guys,

    Thanks for the feedback. We didn't get funded, but with hindsight the timing for the fundraising wasn't very good - summer vacations means a lot of interested people weren't available. We tried the kickstarter route first because it seemed risk free - no money down for us beforehand.

    However, I'm now pursuing plan B - hire an offshore developer with my own money and sell the app (around 5$ a pop) to recoup the investment. I would program it myself but I don't have the time (finishing PhD, then postdoc). I would be highly satisfied if I had a finished product that did what I wanted it to do - that is, comfortably view and annotate papers on my tablet while keeping in sync with my Zotero library - even if that means a small risk of losing a few k$. Hopefully it should be done by early next year.
  • Hey,
    that is very good news! For zotfile and zandy I often saw the problem that there is no way through the API to tell zotero servers that the attachment has changed (--> annotations in pdfs were added, for example). Has that been resolved yet?
  • Patrick - good luck! There's definitely demand, hope it works out - love the prototype.
  • @mpape: there is most definitely a way to tell the API to update an attachment - that's how the "Update PDF" option works in the current prototype. In the native version, updates to a PDF (e.g. annotations) will be automatically detected and sent to the Zotero servers (either immediately or as soon as wifi is back on).

    @adamsmith: The level of support from the kickstarter campaign and the reports from the Zandy and ZotPad developers here make me confident that the risk of losing money is fairly small.


    I came up with a wireframe for the main view, as you see it's much less cluttered than the prototype:


    Right now it's very derivative of the Gmail native app but it should come on its on once features are added. Clicking on the page icon will bring up the relevant PDF immediately while clicking elsewhere on an item will bring the detailed view.

    Feedback appreciated.
  • edited November 18, 2013
    Just a suggestion from an outsider: Maybe it would help to ask for support (e.g. financial, but also programming support) also on the official Zotero Blog (any chance on that?) and maybe big Android programming forums/ famous android programmers which might know the right people, etc.
    There might be some help from this route as well and maybe someone has some time and the necessary skills to support/ bring up a base, etc.
    Just my cents, but might help as well to bring this project forward and make it more public!

    The screen looks really great from the users perspective. Keeping it up simple but still intelligent I guess is the right concept!
    Kindly keep it up and let us know any progress, support and help needed (refering to the 1st paragraph of my text).
  • Hi all,

    Some update on Zotero Reader?
  • Great idea, really nice prototypes!

    This would be a godsend with webDAV support, even if just the web version.

    I really hope to see some development on this.
  • @patrickmineault: I would love to see an Android app to access Zotero my Zotero library (and perhaps group libraries) in the cloud. I am very enthusiastic about your project. THANK YOU!!
  • This is a wonderful app, thank you!It seems pretty much complete, to me at me at least.It's just that Fierefoc (30) keeps trying to block access to it, and I had to finally add a permanent exception to make FF stop bugging me. I hope that is ok, does anyone know?
  • only kind of--the security certificate has run out and isn't secure anymore.
  • @patrickmineault: Any news on this? You said you hoped for a release in early 2014. If there is something to test, I'd be happy to help out. :D
  • I'm getting security warnings from Firefox and Chrome trying to access the zoteroreader.com site. Anyone know what's up? Is this project still alive?
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