Update: 2008-04-25 17:15
I've decided to take down Digital Comic Downloader. I'm all about digital distribution as where comics need to go, so I'm afraid of making it less palatable to companies like Marvel (and others in the future) by causing any cold feet... As I said when I launched DCD, the purpose is not piracy but I have to admit that it is capable of enabling it. (It's probably a bit unrealistic for me to think that because the images are not perfect that users would never choose to spread them around.)
However, I'm going to start working on a new application able to view comics in a nice full-screen mode, but not able to save files to disk. My hope is that this approach will be viewed as a good balance between user needs and corporate interests.
Update: 2008-04-24 02:48
Fixed! I was staring at the logs trying to figure out where the new dynamic "secret" value came from when I realized that I was looking at an MD5 hash. After that it was easy to run the viewer SWF file through Sothink SWF Decompiler to see how it was generated. They concatenate the issue id, your session id, and a salt value of "tcbsqudqm23rue4pnvcja86tl4" with pipes and take the md5sum of that.
Update: 2008-04-23 10:55
Broken again. That was pretty fast! I'll see what I can do at lunch, otherwise any fix will be later this evening.
Update: 2008-04-23 02:27
Fixed! Marvel changed issuedata.php to only return metadata when you POST (not GET) this to it:
Perhaps they will change the value of "secret" a lot to make things annoying? Anyway, the download links below have been updated with the new versions. Marvel, you are welcome to download these too. :)
Update: 2008-04-22 18:55
Whatever Marvel did on their side seems to have broken their own viewer, too. It works fine in Firefox, but as of today doesn't work in Internet Explorer 7 under Windows Vista for me. Anyone else have the same problem? Also they were the first ones to download the DCD source code so there's no telling what further changes might be made on their side. If the current avenue becomes impractical I do have some ideas for automated screen captures... But I'd rather not go down that road.
Update: 2008-04-22 13:03
Broken again. issuedata.php is no longer returning the necessary metadata. If you try it and get a message saying that "such and such directory exists, do you want to delete it?", say no.
I won't be able to troubleshoot this change until I get home tonight, so I've decided to release the source code.
Update: 2008-04-21 18:07
Welcome to anyone coming from this week's Lying In The Gutters! Marvel downloaded the new version described below just minutes after it was posted. So if you use it and it stops working suddenly, please be patient while I research a fix. For now though, enjoy! (To be fair, the issue earlier is suspicious but still might've been a coincidence. No one from Marvel has contacted me, so there isn't necessarily a conspiracy afoot.)
Update: 2008-04-21 16:52
Nevermind, it was an easy fix. The MDCU server started rejecting requests from browsers with a blank agent-string. I've set a proper one in the program and the download link below has been updated. I am committed to providing an alternative to Marvel's unusable web viewer.
Update: 2008-04-21 16:42
Hmm. Someone from a Marvel IP address downloaded DCD this afternoon... And now it can't communicate with the server! I'll see what I can do later tonight.
I'm pleased to announce the availability of Digital Comic Downloader 1.0.
What it is
If you're a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, you know how awful the official web viewer is. It displays pages, sure, but it is basically useless for reading. Digital Comic Downloader brings the selected comic down to your hard drive, allowing you to choose which viewing software to use. This makes reading issues a pleasant experience, letting you make the most of your subscription. It can even combine the separate text and art layers of newer comics into flat files!
What it is not
Digital Comic Downloader is not meant for piracy. The issues that you download should be the ones that you're actually about to read (and later delete). Marvel has been very kind in not using encryption or DRM and that needs to be respected.
Further, the downloads produced are not perfect copies, so even if you had a mind to infringe copyright, what you've got is useless for archiving... But great for reading.
- An active, paid Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription
- Windows 2000/XP/Vista (only tested on Vista so far)
- Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- Adobe Flash plug-in
- A standalone comic reader like CDisplay or any other image-viewing application
Downloads are disabled. Thanks for everyone's support!
Hot to use
This is early, unsupported software. Only rudimentary error-checking exists. However: Once you've installed the program and any prerequisites, click on the Digital Comic Downloader entry in your Start Menu to begin. The fields should mostly be self-explanatory... Fill them in and click Download and you're off to the races.
One thing that might might confuse is the "Issue ID" field. To find this number, access the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited catalogue as normal. When you pick something you want to read, mouse over the "OPEN" button and look at your web browser's status bar:
As you can see in the screenshot, Astonishing X-Men #9 is Issue ID number 1454. Use that when filling out the fields in DCD.
Please leave feedback with any problems you encounter and any ideas you have for further development.
Here are features that I already plan to implement, so don't worry about suggesting them:
- Auto-compress the download folder into a zip/cbz. Probably in the next version. No rar/cbr support though, because there aren't any free libraries for creating rar archives. (only for decompressing them)
- Proxy support (at the moment it uses whatever Internet Explorer is set to... I think)
- Store the metadata that Marvel provides. There's all sorts of information like whether a page is a double spread, an advertisement, what year the series started, etc... This could be useful for future comic reading software.
- There will not be a full-series download function. I don't want to position this application as anything but a "hey, I want to read this issue but the official viewer sucks" sort of helper. So don't ask, thanks!
SWFToImage library by ByteScout, from:
MagickNet library by ?, from: