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Old 10-22-2007, 04:43 AM   #1
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Adobe Digital Editions - questions

I have a few questions about Digital Editions that are related to creating epub content. Since it seems that some of those "in the know" frequent this forum, I thought I'd post here.

I am trying to do a few things with an epub, beyond the simplest text formatting, but nothing too unusual. Also, what I am doing is pure CSS, no javascript.

First, I am using drop caps in my epub. The drop caps are supposed to take up exactly two lines. They display perfectly in IE6 and Firefox 2 (also the Lector plugin). In Digital Editions, they display too high, but the blank space underneath still causes the second line of text to be pushed right.

An example of the HTML for a drop cap:
<p class="first"><span class="dropcap">I</span> ... </p>

The relevant part of the stylesheet:
p.first { text-indent: 0; }
span.dropcap { float: left; font-size: 3em; line-height: 0.5em; padding-top: 0.12em; padding-bottom: 0.1em; }

Second, I am using CSS popups to define words in-line with the text. The method I am using is documented here: http://psacake.com/web/jl.asp. Again, this works great in IE6, Firefox 2 and the Lector plugin. In Digital Editions, the word shows with the proper background color. When you mouseover, the color changes as it should (although it takes 4 seconds). However, the popup never pops up.

The last question is one of navigation within a document. If I have a hyperlink in an epub, I can click on it and Digital Editions will jump to the target page. However, I can find no "back" button, or equivalent. What I want to do here is to allow you to click on a word and jump to the glossary, which would have more extensive information than the popup. This could also be of great use for endnotes.

I realize that Digital Editions isn't a web browser, but if I am allowed to click on a link to get somewhere, the program should have a "back" button as well. Otherwise, I have to code up a way to return to where I was, which makes things very difficult. If there is a "back" feature and I missed it somehow, please tell me about it.

I know that some may think that I'm trying to do too much with an ebook, but these things I am trying to do aren't very complicated CSS, and they greatly improve the look and usability of an epub ebook. My understanding is that these types of things should be supported by the epub specification.

If it's simply a matter of Digital Editions not yet being fully compliant with the specification, that's ok, but I would like to know that, so I can look forward to a new version.

Thanks to anyone who has some useful input on all of this.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbenny View Post
I know that some may think that I'm trying to do too much with an ebook, but these things I am trying to do aren't very complicated CSS, and they greatly improve the look and usability of an epub ebook. My understanding is that these types of things should be supported by the epub specification.
Not at all... in fact, many of us feel that one of the main strengths of e-books should be the ability to allow many of the things you're trying to do, that printed books obviously cannot handle. I commend you for trying to push the envelope there, and I hope someone can provide the answers you're looking for.

Have you tried Adobe's support channels? (Not that I've heard particularly good things about them, just curious.)
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:14 AM   #3
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I'd suggest you wait until epub matures a bit more, before these kinds of features are supported. You can actually do all of those things (except for the CSS popups) with LRF for example.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
I'd suggest you wait until epub matures a bit more, before these kinds of features are supported. You can actually do all of those things (except for the CSS popups) with LRF for example.
I don't think what I am trying to do has anything to do with epub needing to mature. It has to do with the reading/rendering end of things. As far as I can tell, everything I am trying to do with CSS should be supported by the epub spec. As I said, Lector displays everything fine, DE does not. Thus, my questions about DE (hopefully to be answered by someone who actually knows something about DE).

I realize you were trying to be helpful, but telling me that one of the two things I want to do can be done in LRF doesn't help at all. I am trying to do this in epub, not LRF. This is not about trying to do things with an existing, proprietary format. It is about trying to see what can be accomplished in the new epub format. Besides, since epub will be supported on the Sony 550 (and maybe the 500) via DE, these issues will affect a lot of Sony owners as well.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:19 PM   #5
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Just as an aside, is anyone aware of any other epub readers, besides Digital Editions, Lector and FBReader? It would be nice to check things against as many readers as possible. I have already tried DotReader and although they claim epub support, I haven't been able to open any epub with it. It seems that other people have had similar results.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
Not at all... in fact, many of us feel that one of the main strengths of e-books should be the ability to allow many of the things you're trying to do, that printed books obviously cannot handle. I commend you for trying to push the envelope there, and I hope someone can provide the answers you're looking for.

Have you tried Adobe's support channels? (Not that I've heard particularly good things about them, just curious.)
Although the drop caps thing is just "nice", the popup word definitions are very handy and could be useful in a wide variety of ebooks, especially textbooks and older works with archaic words. In fact, what prompted me to try this was an ebook I'm working on now that has several foreign and archaic English terms. I also want to have a hyperlinked Glossary at the end, which is why the lack of a "back" button in DE is an issue.

No, I haven't tried Adobe directly. I don't even know how to contact them with these types of questions. Also, I don't know if they would even bother to respond to an individual who is not doing this for some major corporation. I'll take a closer look at the Adobe site and see if I can turn up any contact information or forums related to DE.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:45 PM   #7
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My point was that you shouldn't do this on epub now as it isn't mature. A file format by itself without readers/creation software is not going to be much use. It might well happen that epub never takes off, and all your efforts will go to waste.

That said, I for one support epub and hope that it will mature, as I like open standards based formats.

Why not just use hyperlinks to footnotes instead of a popup? Granted DE doesn't have a back button at the moment, but I'm sure that will change in the future, if not in DE then in an opensource viewer. The problem with advanced CSS like popups is that it requires large HTML rendering engines to support it. THese in turn make it difficult to create a reader that will run in the constrained environment of a handheld.
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:14 PM   #8
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I am doing this both as an experiment to see what epub is capable of and as a learning experience. If we all waited until epub matures, it never will, as no one will be using it. I think the only way for epub to catch on is if we start using it now. The prevalence and popularity of MP3 wasn't caused by big corporations. It was caused by enthusiats, hobbyists and regular people.
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:21 PM   #9
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No the prevalence and popularity of MP3 was caused by MP3 players, in particular the ipod. Without device support, epub is doomed.
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:37 PM   #10
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Ok, you obviously just want to have an argument about everything, so I'm not going to play along. If you have further comments that are constructive and relevant to creating epub ebooks, feel free to post. Otherwise, please take it to another thread. If you're happy with LRF, great. That doesn't mean others don't have the same enthusiasm for epub.
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:38 PM   #11
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Back to the topic that I originally posted. After a closer reading of the OPS spec, I see that although pretty much all of CSS2 CAN be used, there is a subset of what is REQUIRED by the OPS spec. It seems that the problem with the popups not working is that the required subset does not include "position" and "z-index". What a shame. I guess I'll have to figure out another way to accomplish what I want.
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Old 10-23-2007, 06:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jbenny View Post
No, I haven't tried Adobe directly. I don't even know how to contact them with these types of questions. Also, I don't know if they would even bother to respond to an individual who is not doing this for some major corporation. I'll take a closer look at the Adobe site and see if I can turn up any contact information or forums related to DE.
Try the Digital Editions forum. I got a reply within a day from the lead developer on the project. Adobe's developers seem to be only too keen to get feedback.
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Old 10-23-2007, 07:33 AM   #13
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Try the Digital Editions forum. I got a reply within a day from the lead developer on the project. Adobe's developers seem to be only too keen to get feedback.
I found a "user to user" forum. Is that the one you mean? It didn't seem to have much input from Adobe and lots of questions went unanswered. If you mean another forum, would you please post a URL?

Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jbenny View Post
Back to the topic that I originally posted. After a closer reading of the OPS spec, I see that although pretty much all of CSS2 CAN be used, there is a subset of what is REQUIRED by the OPS spec. It seems that the problem with the popups not working is that the required subset does not include "position" and "z-index". What a shame. I guess I'll have to figure out another way to accomplish what I want.
I admit, though I'm planning to release my books in ePub, I haven't had the chance to tackle it yet, and my needs are a lot simpler than yours, anyhow.

Maybe you should think about contacting the source, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Not only may they have an answer for you, but even if they don't, they might decide your idea is worth including in future versions of ePub.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:59 PM   #15
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In case you haven't already seen it, there's a helpful post on the Adobe site that incorporates many production hints on generating epub from inDesign. Much of it is still applicable to hand-generated html/css.

http://blogs.adobe.com/digitaleditio...sign-epub.html
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