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Old 02-24-2009, 01:36 AM   #61
richardigp
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richardigp began at the beginning.
 
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Currently living in Pune India
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
Questions:
1. How do you convert existing epub books to your format? Is it even possible to load existing epub books and edit them?
Over on the XML blog we explain that we created eScape as an easy way to make more than respectable ePubs from Open Office, more or less because we could do it. This was in response from a lament by Dave on the Teleread blog about there being no way to work with ODT and there should be a plug-in. So its ODT2EPUB only at present. eScape makes the packaging so easy, just focus on the editing (following a few basic rules), export XHTML and click.

I have also been on a lot of the forums here and seen how hard people find it to even make a simple drop cap. It doesn't have to be so hard! The problem is the approach is wrong meshing content & styles, instead of having clarity with structure. The whole idea of eScape is to have an existing ODT and make editorial corrections there in a user friendly, powerful content editing environment. You can then generate an ePub in just seconds, corrections and all. But the output is pure, consistent XHTML, with class statements as structural identifiers. You then select the style sheet of your choice, and eScape processes it together into an ePub package.

We don't have an ePub to ODT importer, but probably could. The approach would be to strip all styles inside if they aren't the eScape Structure-Styles because that would be the only way to maintain the structural integrity. That I think would get howls of anguish. We are looking at putting a file edit/repackage mode into AZARDI, but that is only on the drawing board and we have a lot more to do there with package checking/reporting first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
2. How do you guarantee display fidelity? Last time I checked, OpenOffice.org did not have an advanced XHTML renderer.
Not quite sure what you mean by display fidelity - making it look like the OOo file? That is exactly what we are not doing with eScape. We are using OOo to apply consistent Structural styles so the XHTML that comes out is absolutely the same for all books, and addresses the core text book structures, block styles, paragraph styles and inline presentation issues that seem to plague all e-book production environments.

eScape is a different approach. It lets anyone achieve the XHTML nirvana of separating content, structure and style. The XHTML is so consistent you can have any number of optional stylesheets and apply them to any ePub package and they will present accordingly. In effect eScape is saying to the reader, I will handle the XHTML (trust me!?), just use these Structure styles to tell us what you want various content blocks to be.

This is the core of good e-book packaging - especially for reflow. So while we exist in a Babel of ePub readers you can have a stylesheet optimized for Stanza, one optimized for ADE/Sony, another for whatever, and we can all stop crying about how everything doesn't do everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
3. SVG? OO.org doesn't support it. Do you?
We don't support it in eScape, in fact we don't support any images in eScape for the reason that OOo makes it hard to get the output size from XHTML. We would have to put into place more "rules" which would make the tool more difficult to use at the OO level. We left it out of this version to see if there is significant interest. For 99% of the books on MobileRead images (other than cover) - and trade & retail books in general don't have images. For those that do - there are other options.

The biggest problem most people seem to have is getting a drop cap, or other text presentation styles. or simple formatting for text-only books without a lot of anguish unless they are talented HTML/CSS experts. We tried to bring in clarification of structure vs. styling with advanced content block structures, lines and character styles applied directly to the content. We are waiting to see if it is of interest. eScape addresses the presentation issues of standard books by separating the XHTML structure and CSS at the point of origin. The CSS files can then be manipulated to your hearts content.

4. How do you handle the "longdesc" attribute? Do you support it?
No images - No longdesc necessary.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
5. Object tags?
Not with eScape.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
6. DTBook?
Not with eScape.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
7. XML islands?
Not with eScape. Not easy in OOo, or any other visual editor probably. This would require some style based "include/insert" statement to process the remote XML in at an insertion point - Eg: to put native MML into the file as an Inline or Out of Line Island. This implies a level of expertise that I think goes beyond the target user of eScape - and just about any other system. It also goes beyond the ability of most reader apps to handle it. As with the MML example, the Reader has to be able to render it, or send it to a processor such as MML2SVG and then display it. Inserting some DocBook into XHTML using islands is probably trivial, but why bother?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
8. Font embedding?
Not with eScape. We see font embedding as really important for e-books with class that compete with print for presentation quality. Interestingly (from what we have observed) ADE doesn't handle these correctly in that they display fonts that are not in the manifest but are declared in the CSS - I have a feeling (but can't say for sure) InDesign ePub packaging works like this. Our full commercial packager handles font embedding, and I suppose it wouldn't be hard to have an extra input directory - fonts; but the user would be responsible for the application of the fonts in the CSS to specific styles. We wouldn't do font embedding allowed permission checks however: that would be up to the integrity of the user.

eScape is a pure production environment for ODT to ePub (via an XHTML intermediary). It uses powerful separation of content, structure and styles to give new production options if someone wants to maintain their source content in an ODT.

All of the advanced issues you questioned, Islands, fonts, objects, etc. are non-trivial, andit is interesting to see these brought up. These issues are addressed in IGP:FLIP, but unfortunately we are not giving that away today, although there is a sandbox site where anyone can play.
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