Formats for PalmOS
In the world of the handheld computers that ran the Palm® operating system, there were many devices, many reader programs and many formats that data was stored in. With the demise of Palm and the rise of Android and Apple in the portable device world, these files are probably not used much anymore. There are, however, a lot of legacy files to be found on the Internet It can be confusing too because Palm really only had two file extensions PRC and PDB. Therefore, when you have a file for a Palm device, you really can't determine what it is or what you can read it with simply by looking at the file name. It can be frustrating if you go through all the effort of downloading a file only to find out you can not use it. There is a way to determine what type of file a pdb file is though. If you open the file in a text editor, there will be a string of text that will identify the file type. It is similar to how a file extension is used to identify file types on computers except you can't see it unless you open the file in an editor. This file id can be used to determine what software is needed to use the file.
TEXtREAd - Better known as DOC format or PalmDOC or AportisDOC. This was the defacto standard in the Palm world. It has no relationship to the proprietary DOC format used by Microsoft Word. It is the Palm equivalent of an ASCII text file. This is usually just fine for reading a regular text based book like a novel or something. The rights to the format were purchased by Aportis and they had their own reader software to read the format called AportisDoc. There were a couple of problems with it. First, other formats evolved that used considerably less space than the DOC format because of compression. Space on portable devices at the time was at a premium. Another disadvantage was the inability to use special formatting like bold, italics, tables and images. Despite these disadvantages though, the format had some huge advantages too. The best thing about the DOC format is that most ebook software in the Palm world could read it. It was also pretty easy to save your documents into this format. See the HANDebooks converters page for more help converting documents. You could use MakeDocW, or even OpenOffice to save directly to this format.
DataPlkr - Better known as Plucker format. Plucker was a great little format. It is an Open Source Project so it is free for anyone who wants to support it. Not only was the reader free, but they also provided a free converter. Using zlib compression it could create files that were very small, which was very important at the time. The format was intended to allow you to capture HTML pages from the internet using your PC and coopy them to your handheld device. Because of this it supports special character formatting like Bold and Italics. It also supports hyperlinks, and even pictures and illustrations in the document. There is a free converter for Windows or Linux. After installing it in Windows it sets up file associations for html and text documents. What this means to the user is that converting a document is as easy as clicking on the filename with your right mouse button. This will pop up a window of things you can do to that file and one of the options will be "Convert to Plucker". Plucker was perfect for reading webpages on your Palm device and it was also great for manuals or reference books that utilize hyperlinks.
Isilofree - ToGoToGo - There is a format called Isilo. Isilo is a nice format, but I am trying to list these in the order of my preference and anything that is free is going to get listed above anything that costs money. Isilo would default to a free version after a trial period expired. The free version disabled certain features like hyperlinks and things in your documents. Seeing as how Plucker was also free and all of these things worked in Plucker as well, there wasn't any strong reason to chose the free version of Isilo over Plucker unless one had to read existing documents created and distributed by someone else. I also found while I was testing out the Isilo reader that some Isilo versions seemed incompatible with other Isilo versions, which was very frustrating.
Isilo 3 - ToGoToGo - The paid version of Isilo was actually pretty good. Like Plucker though, the last time I used it, its reader was a little less robust than some of the other free readers. Plucker handled webpages as well as, if not better than Isilo. Other free readers like PalmReader, CspotRun and ReadThemAll handled regular books as well as, if not better, than Isilo. So, since Isilo cost money, $17.50 at the time, I am not really sure who the target user was. It was user friendly. It had a good converter program and it converted hyperlink documents and supported hyperlinks, special text codes and images. Basically, it worked much like Plucker. Since it wan't an open source format though, if you used it to distribute your documents, they may be more secure than Plucker documents. Isilo seemed to be very popular though. If you needed a one stop solution and you didn't mind paying money for something you could get for free it would work fine.
PNRdPPrs - eReader, formally known as PalmReader format formally known as Peanut Format is free and works well. It was Palm's ebook format. They also have a reader for handheld Windows devices and even have readers for newer devices like those running Android. I guess maybe that is why they changed their name so many times. This means if you put documents in the eReader format they can be read by almost the entire handheld world. They had a free converter and a paid version. They also offered a paid ebook creator. You used to be able to make them for free with free software from their website. The free documents I made back then still work in the latest version of their reader software. See the HANDebooks converters page for more help converting documents. Basically you create a text document with Markup code in it similar to HTML, but called PML. These PML files can then be converted with the free converter program they also provided. This is a Windows application. You can also convert HTML files to PML in the same way because Microsoft Word will automatically convert them when they are opened into Word. Although I really liked the Peanut reader/Palm reader/ereader application, there are still things I don't like about the format. The first is that you have to convert your files no matter what format they come in before you can convert them to a format for your Palm. To do this you have to have Microsoft Word because their converter is really just a Word Macro. If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can't do it. Well, you could do it by hand. Even though the reader supports links and images, the handy little Macro didn't handle those for you and you have to go through and do it all by hand.
MobiPocket - I never tried Mobipocket so I honestly can't provide much information about it. A lot of people seemed to use it, but the free alternatives I listed above would meet the needs of any Palm user, so why look for something else? I am thinking maybe the Mobipocket advantage was that you could distribute stuff you converted more freely than with Palm reader, but I am not sure. Anything you converted with Plucker though, you could distribute to your hearts content and the reader was free, so I never saw the point. The format now used by the Kindle is a modification form of this format.
TEXtTIDc - Better know as Teal Document
ToRaTRPW - Tome Raider Format