thinking outside the tank

Archive for January 2010

Inside Epub – design of an NCX handler in C#

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The NCX document of an epub publication contains information about its structure. When presented to a reader using a reading device it acts like a Table of Contents. As such, it plays a key role for content providers; authors and publishers want to be able to organise their documents; they want to add and remove content and change the order in which content is presented to the reader.

The article published today in the Inside Epub series looks at the design of software that provides this functionality in the context of an online wysiwyg epub editor.

The article can be found at: Design of an NCX handler in C#

Figure 1. shows the latest user interface design for the editor and shows how the <navMap> of the NCX is displayed as a table of contents.

Figure 1. Online wysiwyg epub editor

Figure 2. shows the actions that can be performed by the content provider. All of these action involve changes to the NCX document, and mostly they need changes elsewhere in the OPF Package. For instance, whenever a content document is added or removed or its position in the reading order is changed, there will typically be changes required in the <spine> and the <manifest> elements of the <package>. These topics are covered in the article.

Figure 2. Editor Actions that affect the NCX


Written by netkingcol

January 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

User interface for an online epub editor

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A new article is available in the Inside Epub series which discusses and presents a user interface design for an online epub editor. The article is in the programming branch of the Inside Epub website which splits between an exploration of the epub standards and documentation of  the author’s efforts to design and develop an online wysiwyg epub editor.

Written by netkingcol

January 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Develop your own epub editor

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Inside Epub has just released an article entitled: Develop your own epub editor. This is the first article in a series which will show how to build an online, wysiwyg, epub editor using free and/or open software tools that are in widespread use.

The Code Project strand of Inside Epub builds on the background information presented recently which explored the epub standards and showed how they work together to package content documents and hold them in a file with the .epub extension. See Introduction to epub for more details.

Written by netkingcol

January 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

OPS and PDF in one OCF container

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Did you know it’s possible to ship a PDF version of your ebook when you publish it in the epub format?

The Open Container Format, part of the epub specification from the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), provides a general-purpose container capable of holding a range of resource types. 

The latest article from Inside Epub shows how the Open Container Format makes it possible to have a PDF file as part of your epub publication: OPS and PDF in one OCF container.

Written by netkingcol

January 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm

How the epub standards work together

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The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) maintains the standards describing how ebooks with the .epub extension are constructed. There are three main specifications:

  • Open Publication Structure (OPS)
  • Open Packaging Format (OPF)
  • Open Container Format (OCF)

If you want to know more about these specifications and how they work together, read the recent article How the standards work together from the series provided by Inside Epub. The analogy is drawn between the structure of  a printed book and the aspects that each standard addresses:

  • OPS <==> the vocabulary used to write the book
  • OPF <==> the parts, chapters, and sections of the book
  • OCF <==> the cover and binding of the book

The articles in this series explore epub by looking inside The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a free ebook available from epubBooks. Screenshots are used to illustrate how the standards have been used in this relatively simple example.

Try this at home – you might find it useful.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2010

NCX navigation in epub books

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The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) maintains the epub standards for electronic publication, but there are good reasons to reuse an already existing standard – not least of which is you don’t have to maintain it yourself.

That’s what IDPF have done to specify how a Table of Contents should be held in an epub ebook. They have adopted the NCX specification of the DAISY consortium. The problem was how to let readers dive into any part of an ebook and at the same time save the processing effort to open and parse the entire book.

The latest article in my Inside Epub series explains how this works: NCX navigation in epub books.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2010

Written by netkingcol

January 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

A closer look at Open Packaging Format

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If you want to find out more about the epub standards created by the International Digital Publishing Forum, you might be interested in the series of articles I’m writing under the banner Inside Epub.

I have just added the latest article called A closer look at OPF which explores the Open Packaging Format document that comes with the free epub ebook The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, available from epubBooks.

The article explains how epub documents are described using <metadata> – data about data – and how they are packaged using a <manifest>. It also discusses the use of the <spine> element to specify the reading order of the enclosed content documents.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2010

Written by netkingcol

January 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

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