Streaming from Google Drive or PC?

Hi, I have a fairly large collection of comics/BD/mangas and the space on my ipad is limited. I can currently think of 2 ways of dealing with this:

Do I have the possibility to store my files in Google Drive and read them from Panels without storing them on the ipad, only downloading or streaming when I want to read? Will I be able to see all my collection with thumbnails in the Panels app even if the files are not downloaded?

I tried a different approach today by sharing a folder from my computer on my local network. The ipad detects the folder, I can access my comics, but I need to import them to the Panels folder which uses memory on my ipad. Should it not be possible to have Panels reading the folder directly instead of importing files individually? My comics are already organized in this folder, so it would be annoying to import them manually, on top of using ipad storage.

What you describe is not possible because comic files are compressed or binary blobs of data (PDF for instance). You need to download the entire comic to access a portion of it.
Same goes for files stored on a cloud service.

If you want to stream your content without downloading the file, you need a server doing the content extraction on their side, and streaming the pages individually.

I’d recommend you look into setting up an OPDS-compatible server like Kavita, Komga or Codex GitHub - ajslater/codex: Codex is a web based comic archive browser and reader
They all support page streaming.

Here’s a guide we wrote for setting up a Komga server with Panels Read with Panels on iOS | Komga
But it’s more or less the same with the rest of servers.

Keep in mind that if you want to access them outside of your local network, you have to set them up so they can serve over HTTPS. Komga also has a guide for that Expose your server | Komga

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Thank you for the answer, I will look into this.

Did I misunderstand or you did not provide an answer for my second use case? i.e. read comics directly through the smb shared drive. My understanding after some research is that this is doable with YACReader for instance. If I can open the comic from Files, I should be able to do it from Panels without importing?

It’s the same thing. Even if you can open the file directly, the comic is entirely transferred into the app and then opened. That’s what YACReader is doing. If you try to open a 2GB cbz, for instance, it will have to transfer 2GB to your device, and then open it.

Currently, we don’t support opening files without them being inside a library, so the only option is to import them.

We plan to add support for SMB libraries in the future. It would work similarly to the integration we made for iCloud Drive. You will be able to explore the SMB folder, tap on a comic, download it locally, and then open it. After you read it, you can delete the local copy to free up space. The difference between this integration and the importer is that the importer and the library are the same thing, saving you one step.

But streaming is only doable when you have a server streaming the content.

Yes, it makes sense the 2GB file needs to be transferred to the tablet at some point so it can be read. I was just expecting something more “transparent”, like not needing to manually import it to the Panels folder. Looking forward for the future SMB library support!