thinking outside the tank

Posts Tagged ‘media

Inside Epub Project Review – feedback welcome

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The project to develop an online wysiwyg epub editor has reached a critical point. It’s time to make the application multi-user and no longer rely on the type of hard-coding that’s common in prototypes.

This article from Inside Epub: Online wysiwyg epub editor project review looks at what’s been achieved to date and what remains to be done.

If you have any comments, observations, or suggestions or if you think this project should take a direction that’s different from the one I’m proposing, I’d be happy to hear from you.


Written by netkingcol

February 18, 2010 at 6:04 pm

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

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

First impressions of Smashwords

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Yesterday I went through the process of publishing my story Mus musicus as an ebook on Smashwords. I’d read about them from my LinkedIn group ‘Tools of Change for Publishing’, which drew attention to their recent acquisition of the New Zealand-based digital book publisher BookHabit.

Smashwords Registration
The registration process was straightforward, requiring minimal initial details. This is followed by the arrival of an activation email to prove ownership of the email address.

Once logged in I was able to change a wide range of information about me and my account: personal profile, how I want to be contacted, how I want to be paid (most interesting), how much of my royalty do I want to share with affiliate members etc.  Most of these I’ve only just started to explore.

Read the Style Guide
The first thing you need to do is to read the Smashwords Style Guide which tells you how to prepare your ebook for submission. Essentially, you need to simplify your text in terms of its formatting and layout. The point is that ebooks don’t have page layout; the devices on which they are read need to be able to flow the text smoothly, screen by screen, and since these devices have screens that range in size from the largest computer monitor down to the smallest mobile phone, you can’t impose a page size on your book. It’s the same separation of content from presentation that makes CSS and XML so valuable.

The benefit you get from this is that Smashwords can deliver your text in the widest range of formats, making it available to the largest number of potential readers. The downside is that it’s advisable to keep a separate copy of the work if you want to preserve formatting for distribution through other channels. Editing multiple source documents is a nightmare. If I felt that Smashwords were the place to be then I would write new stories with the Style Guide in mind in order to minimise the rework. Mus musicus is about 25,000 words; I wouldn’t want to start from scratch preparing The Lord of the Rings. Read the rest of this entry »

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