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Old 02-14-2011, 05:25 PM   #1
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Why is the EPUB format so poorly implemented (on the desktop at least) ?

I mean come on. It's HTML with a little bit of CSS.



Half a year later I expected a lot of desktop readers to show up. Multi platform readers. Perfect readers. Because what looks ok in one reader, doesn't look so well in another. Why is it so hard to develop a piece of software that displays the same like most web pages do today ?

Even the readers themselves look [vulgarity deleted - MODERATOR]. FBReader, EPUBReader (Firefox Add-on), even Adobe Digital Editions !

I expected EPUBReader to work perfectly since Firefox is such a well developed browser. Nope.

I also expected Adobe Digital Editions to work perfectly since I heard the "engine" is implemented in most e-Ink readers and they're the only ones with nasty DRM schemes for EPUBs. But no. They obviously focused more on the interface instead of functionality and ease of deployment. Deployment, yeah. It's probably the most most disgusting thing I ever installed on my computer. [vulgarity deleted - MODERATOR] is up with the install process ?? It installs through flash, through the [vulgarity deleted - MODERATOR] web browser ??? I was expecting a [vulgarity deleted - MODERATOR] .exe like the flash plugin but nooooo, if you're using Linux it doesn't give you a link or something but they [vulagarity deleted - MODERATOR] to say "only install from sources you trust" ? Like Adobe ? Gtfo...

The only desktop reader I kind of, sort of like is the "Kindle for PC". It's not perfect but (except for the icon and the very small do not register button when you first open it) you can tell it's well developed. Why isn't there a clone, multi platform or not, that supports EPUB ?

And why doesn't Amazon support EPUB ? What's their deal ? Are they afraid 5 years from now the dudes who conjured up EPUB will put a lock on it and ask Amazon to pay royalties or something ? They support HTML, don't they ? They do, yeah; they have a website.

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 02-16-2011 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 02-14-2011, 07:59 PM   #2
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There are now a few implementations of mobile ADE on the Desktop, see Reading Adobe ePub on the Desktop. The lack of Linux support from Adobe is notable, particularly since there are now several Linux based devices with mobile ADE and WiFi-based download capability - but no similar support for the Linux Desktop.

Another option for DRM-free ePub is Calibre's Reader.
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:10 AM   #3
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What do you mean by poorly implemented? Most readers do it reasonably well. I agree that there are not a lot of readers there, but then again, the format is more for portable devices like readers.
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSpider View Post
I mean come on. It's HTML with a little bit of CSS.
This is also the main problem. It's XHTML 1.0 with CSS 2.0, but not quite. There are some bits it doesn't support, and some minor extensions.

So a proper ePub reader shouldn't just use a browser engine, but one specifically designed for the ePub dialect. Unfortunately, no-one does, and no-one supports everything that ePubs should support.

Last edited by pdurrant; 02-15-2011 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:02 AM   #5
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSpider View Post
I mean come on. It's HTML with a little bit of CSS.
I was expecting a god damn .exe like the flash plugin but nooooo, if you're using Linux it doesn't give you a link or something but they have the balls to say "only install from sources you trust" ?
Lucidor is a good Linux ePub desktop viewer, the best I have tried.
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:04 PM   #7
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Kindle was using a version of Mobipocket format before ePub got so popular. There has been no real reason for them to change.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toxaris View Post
What do you mean by poorly implemented? Most readers do it reasonably well. I agree that there are not a lot of readers there, but then again, the format is more for portable devices like readers.
The implementation is horrific. Standard? What standard? I have three readers and of course the desktop. I have books that look completely different on all of them. Sometimes good but different, sometimes almost unreadable. To display them the same on every reader I'll have to convert them seperately for every reader and edit that arcane CSS file. Most of the time I simply delete it. Books look a lot better that way. There is also absolutely no way to edit the ePub. Sigil is a nice try, but it is nowere near WYSIWYG.


So me and my wife went back to mobi. Not as fancy as ePub, but always the same en what more do you need for a normal book? Italics, font sizes, fat print, pictures and that's it.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:17 AM   #9
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Sorry, I don't agree. Why would you need a WYSIWYG? Sigil is not trying to be one. Editing is quite easy with Sigil.

The main problem is usually NOT the readers, but the implementation of the ePub itself. A lot of books use a dirty way of creating ePubs. If you would create an ePub as it should with good clean xhtml and css, it would look almost the same on every reader. Especially if you just use font sizes, italics and alike.
One thing that is dependent on readers is whether justification is done.

Sometimes I take a look at an bought ePub and I cry of what they did to mutilate the book. After editing the book looks as it should, is smaller and faster. Usually editing takes me up to half an hour at most.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:24 AM   #10
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WYSIWYG is rather "pointless" overall for ePub, because unless you have an emulator for each and every device you're planning to have viewing the ePub file you'll never be guaranteed of the "perfect rendering".

You have to rather "let go" of the desire to control things at the pixel level else you will go mad. It's something a lot of web-designers really lost a lot of hair over (and still do). I guess that's in part why I like things like LyX a lot, because it forces you to let go. So long as you're stylistically consistent should come out quite okay (and if not, then a few CSS tweaks should fix it).

Paul.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ortep View Post
So me and my wife went back to mobi. Not as fancy as ePub, but always the same
You would have thought so, wouldn't you? But that's not true. The different physical Kindles render Mobipocket files differently to each other, and Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac render them differently again.

It's really very disappointing.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:33 AM   #12
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It's really very disappointing.
While in one way, yes, it is a bit dissapointing, in another it's an example of the power of the flexibility of the format. Your ePub should be rendered reasonably well irrespective of the display or engine on the device, that is the power of these formats, this means that manufacturers can offer a whole swathe of devices and not be limited to a set of output formats that'll inevitably become outdated within the next generation or two of eReaders.

A very good example of what happens when you try to hard-code the formats is what we have when trying to view PDFs on eReaders. I realise people are using reflowable attributes in PDF but really it's like rounding the edges off a rectangular stone to use as a rolling pin.

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Old 02-16-2011, 03:58 AM   #13
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While in one way, yes, it is a bit dissapointing, in another it's an example of the power of the flexibility of the format.
No, you have not understood me. I did not mean that Mobipocket ebooks rendered differently on different devices because of different font or screen sizes leading to different number of character per page and different line breaks. This is what one expects from ebooks, and is one of their great advantages (which PDFs don't have).

No, I mean that Mobipocket ebooks do not render in the same way on different devices. Coding that works one way on one device works a different way or is ignored on a different device.

Amazon have not made their various different implementation render Mobipocket format ebooks consistently.
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Old 02-16-2011, 04:21 AM   #14
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My appologies for that - okay, so the mobi format itself is the neutral party, rather Amazon's Kindle rendering engine has the disparity, thanks.

Paul.

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Old 02-16-2011, 08:41 AM   #15
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Isn't XML a more restrictive language ? In other words, isn't it more uptight about closing tags ? Because I thought that with HTML you can leave open tags, which used to cause 99% of the problems with website layouts...

However, today most modern browsers account for that and web page looks more or less the same. And with tools such as epubchecker and Sigil's "Validate Epub" tool you'd think the code would be more precise. Yet they look different everywhere you look at it.

Why can't they focus on developing an open source engine that reads it properly instead of focusing on adding more features (such as audio and video) ?
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