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Old 08-13-2014, 10:51 AM   #1
verydeepwater
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Adobe Indesign's Export to Fixed Layout Epub

The latest version of this software available through Adobe Creative Cloud includes a feature to export to fixed layout EPUB.

I was wondering if people had tried this and what their opinion is.

At a superficial first glance, I was very impressed, but upon opening up the resultant EPUB, the code looked pretty horrendous, with span tags for each and every word - to give them absolute positioning. The result looked fine when viewed on iBooks - live text positioned around and over graphics, exactly as you would want, but I would think it would be almost impossible to edit or update the resultant xhtml files. This software makes it possible to produce a fixed layout EPUB almost effortlessly but I wonder how stable the result would be?
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Old 08-13-2014, 11:23 AM   #2
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Even when exporting to reflowable ePub the result is mostly horrendous :/

It usually happens when people who don't know how to use Adobe InDesign, design a book for someone and that book happen to come to you. Although, Adobe's conversion is not perfect regardless, if it was as simple as pressing a few buttons and getting a fixed layout ePub, ePub conversion service companies wouldn't be in business now would they?

I wrote a post here about how to turn a reflowable ePub to a fixed layout one in a few steps, it's really simple if you know basic html/css.
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:53 AM   #3
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Actually I find Indesign a really useful tool to produce reflowable ebooks, as long as you have everything in paragraph styles and character styles, it produces pretty good code, which can easily be cleaned up with an html editor. Certainly a lot quicker than coding everything manually.
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Old 08-14-2014, 02:09 PM   #4
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Actually I find Indesign a really useful tool to produce reflowable ebooks, as long as you have everything in paragraph styles and character styles, it produces pretty good code, which can easily be cleaned up with an html editor. Certainly a lot quicker than coding everything manually.
You can do the same in Word. (Toxaris's tools make this very easy.)

Or by writing in calibre editor/Sigil. Then add in styles as needed. Manual coding is not needed, as all the stuff that would be handled automatically in Word/InDesign can be done through the CTRL+B/I/U keys plus something to automatically insert "</p>\n<p>" instead of enter. e.g. Saved clips, AutoHotKey.

Last edited by eschwartz; 08-14-2014 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 08-14-2014, 02:17 PM   #5
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If you use styles correctly in Word, ePUB's generated by my tools will honor those styles.
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verydeepwater View Post
The latest version of this software available through Adobe Creative Cloud includes a feature to export to fixed layout EPUB.

I was wondering if people had tried this and what their opinion is.

At a superficial first glance, I was very impressed, but upon opening up the resultant EPUB, the code looked pretty horrendous, with span tags for each and every word - to give them absolute positioning. The result looked fine when viewed on iBooks - live text positioned around and over graphics, exactly as you would want, but I would think it would be almost impossible to edit or update the resultant xhtml files. This software makes it possible to produce a fixed layout EPUB almost effortlessly but I wonder how stable the result would be?
I'll tell you this much:

a) I agree, 100% on the resulting code. It scares my pants off.
b) if one more person emails me with some horribly-laid out beginner effort in INDD, and tells me (not asks) that "[I] should be able to make a FF ePUB with the push of a button, and would [I] do it for a few bucks," my head is going to freaking explode right here, all over MR. Not that it's MR's doing, mind you, but it's the ONLY place I have that I can be myself. And then they want me to "auto-magically make it for Kindle, too," for like, $25.00.

I want to blow up Adobe and their "plug-ins" and promotional crap. I mean...

Hitch (being a teeny, weeny bit cranky. I know, the shock is horrifying).
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:18 PM   #7
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So how does fixed layout for the Kindle work when you have different Kindles with different screen resolutions? Does it in fact work without having to make different eBooks?

In the same vain, how does it work on the iPad when you have different resolutions there too?
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Old 08-19-2014, 10:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
So how does fixed layout for the Kindle work when you have different Kindles with different screen resolutions? Does it in fact work without having to make different eBooks?

In the same vain, how does it work on the iPad when you have different resolutions there too?
Same as watching something in different resolution than you currently have on your pc. If you have 1280x1024 resolution on your laptop and you're watching something with 1024x786 resolution, it will not fill the screen and vice versa.
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Old 08-19-2014, 10:39 PM   #9
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Same as watching something in different resolution than you currently have on your pc. If you have 1280x1024 resolution on your laptop and you're watching something with 1024x786 resolution, it will not fill the screen and vice versa.
Then what good is fixed layout if you expect to make one version and sell to multiple devices with differing screen sizes/resolutions? It just seems silly.

So you make a fixed layout eBok that looks god on a Kindle Touch, but on a Kindle Paperwhite, it's not even filling the screen. Might as well not even bother.
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:25 AM   #10
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Devices which can read fixed layout, such as iPads, Kindle Fire and Kobo Arc, will enlarge the page to the width of the screen, regardless of the size of the page in pixels. So for example a fixed layout page with the dimensions of 1241 pixels high x 857 wide will fill the screen of the different versions of iPads with respective resolutions of 1024 x 768 and 2048 x 1536. Rather than the actual size of the page in pixels, the proportions become more important. So for example a page size of 1241x857 pixels will fill the width of the tall thin screen of Kindle Fire range (1280 x 800 or 1920x1200) but leave gaps at the top and bottom, due to the different proportions. Interestingly enough, whilst Amazon until very recently restricted the download of fixed layout ebooks to the kindle fire range, which were basically the only kindle devices capable of reading them. It now seems that the software has been updated and fixed layout can be downloaded and read on all kindles with KF8 - all be it in black and white on the Paperwhite and e-ink. As an addendum to the above, I notice the ebook mentioned above (1241x857) will fill the height of the screen on the e-ink kindle but leave gaps on the left and right - again due to the proportion of the screen. (I am not sure if anyone is interested in all this-probably talking to myself).
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:38 AM   #11
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Exporting pubs from Indesign vs Word and writing in Sigil

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschwartz View Post
You can do the same in Word. (Toxaris's tools make this very easy.)

Or by writing in calibre editor/Sigil. Then add in styles as needed. Manual coding is not needed, as all the stuff that would be handled automatically in Word/InDesign can be done through the CTRL+B/I/U keys plus something to automatically insert "</p>\n<p>" instead of enter. e.g. Saved clips, AutoHotKey.
One advantage with Indesign is that it will create the opf file for you - listing all the files and images, and if you make a table of contents in indesign, it will make the toc.xhtml and toc.ncx files. Also the code is a lot better than that created by Word.
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:43 PM   #12
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No problem, my add-in can export to ePUB fine. You also get clean code (I think cleaner than Indesign if what I am told is true), an opf and a ncx. Ok, no toc.xhtml. That is true.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
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One advantage with Indesign is that it will create the opf file for you - listing all the files and images, and if you make a table of contents in indesign, it will make the toc.xhtml and toc.ncx files. Also the code is a lot better than that created by Word.
Respectfully, I'm going to disagree on that. Yes, IF the InDesigner is intimately familiar with eBooks, like you, perhaps, or Liz; but not what we see. I've seen books with so many 'char-override" styles that we literally had to design tables just to keep track of what the InDesigner MEANT, and that was almost the least of our issues.

And nobody seems to keep an eye on the endless spans. Both programs are careless, to some extent, about using spans for various styles, but I've seen so many horrible "can't you just export to ePUB for me for $25" InDesign files that I'll take Word over it most any day. At least in Word, I can clean it with a modicum of effort; but the time spent figuring out what "char-override-61" was intended to do...that's honking.

(And vis-a-vis spans: we're pretty sure that we've uncovered that KDP has a "span limitation." A point at which the book will simply stop doing what the spans tell it to do. I'm composing an email for ECR now, about it, and my Tech Account Manager, but....hmmmmmm.)

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Old 08-23-2014, 03:06 AM   #14
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Yes I agree, export from indesign only works if you get rid of any extraneous formatting, other than specified in character and para styles. So usually a lot of work has to be done on the indesign file before exporting. I tend to delete any character overrides that get through. Also span tags are an issue. I haven't tried Toxaris' add in, as I couldn't get it to work, maybe I'll try again sometime.

Last edited by verydeepwater; 08-23-2014 at 03:16 AM.
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