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Old 02-08-2013, 09:50 AM   #1
nuno.pinto
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ePub limitations, good practices and safe bets.

Hello everyone,

I work for a publisher of educational content, press and multimedia.

We were considering moving some of our press content to ePub, and with that end in mind, we've searched for software to convert/adapt our contents and external companies to do that for us.

We've experimented with Sigil and it seems to be a great piece of software for creating eBooks. We've also studied the ePub format, and made some experiments, to find its limitations, allways using the less advanced hardware/software. What I found was that we can't really rely on css and ANIMATED gifs due to most readers only meeting the minimum ePub requirements. There's no problem in that, we'll just have to work around those issues.

BUT, some of the companies we contacted promissed to publish the ePubs with some interactive elements (exercises, animations, etc). I know ePub 3 supports Javascript, but not all readers. How can a company promisse such feats? Is there something I'm not considering.

Thanks for any reply,
Regards,
NP

Last edited by nuno.pinto; 02-08-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:17 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuno.pinto View Post
BUT, some of the companies we contacted promissed to publish the ePubs with some interactive elements (exercises, animations, etc). I know ePub 3 supports Javascript, but not all readers. How can a company promisse such feats? Is there something I'm not considering.
Simple. They'll just create an ebook that works on some readers (single one) and probably not even care about standards compliance.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
nuno.pinto
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Simple. They'll just create an ebook that works on some readers (single one) and probably not even care about standards compliance.
So, they're basically trying to rip-off with promises that might don't work.

Also, is that common practice?

The solution I'm thinking of proposing is:
- Make our eBooks ePub2 compatible, no interactivity, basically digital School Books;
- Take some exercises and make an app that chooses a random question from a repository of questions, multiple choice.


One would be a school Manual, while the other would be an extra for test preparation.

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Old 02-08-2013, 01:22 PM   #4
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Well...I assume the ePub 3 will work...but only on devices/apps that support ePub3. The problem is that there are very few devices/apps that support it...right now. Developers ARE working on it, but we are definitely in the beginning stages of adoption. I wouldn't say they are trying to "rip you off" unless they are trying to tell you that it will work on "all devices".

It is possible to create an ePub 2+3, which is a hybrid that can be used on any device. Devices that do not support the advanced features of ePub3 (video, audio, etc) would only show the ePub2. Devices that do support ePub3 would display all of the advanced features.
[disclaimer] I have not created or worked with ePub 2-3, but you can see examples of them at the Azardi website.

Last edited by Turtle91; 02-08-2013 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turtle91 View Post
Well...I assume the ePub 3 will work...but only on devices/apps that support ePub3. The problem is that there are very few devices/apps that support it...right now. Developers ARE working on it, but we are definitely in the beginning stages of adoption. I wouldn't say they are trying to "rip you off" unless they are trying to tell you that it will work on "all devices".

It is possible to create an ePub 2+3, which is a hybrid that can be used on any device. Devices that do not support the advanced features of ePub3 (video, audio, etc) would only show the ePub2. Devices that do support ePub3 would display all of the advanced features.
[disclaimer] I have not created or worked with ePub 2-3, but you can see examples of them at the Azardi website.
A lot of the ePub 2 software would probably have issues with the ePub 3 parts of the code.

Most 99% of the ePub compatible reading software out there doesn't handle ePub 3. So to pay to have an ePub 3 made is a waste of money. It won't work on most eInk Readers and most iOS/Android apps won't handle it. Also, when it gets validated, it will fail. Stores won't sell it and customers won't buy it even if the stores sold it.

The best thing to do is train people who can do the conversion to ePub in-house and not worry about external companies who do a poor conversion. There's a thread on issues with eBooks.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=204925
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A lot of the ePub 2 software would probably have issues with the ePub 3 parts of the code.

Most 99% of the ePub compatible reading software out there doesn't handle ePub 3. So to pay to have an ePub 3 made is a waste of money. It won't work on most eInk Readers and most iOS/Android apps won't handle it. Also, when it gets validated, it will fail. Stores won't sell it and customers won't buy it even if the stores sold it.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=204925
Have you tested one of the ePub 2+3 books on your device?? I know you don't like the ePub 3 spec, but it would be interesting to know if it actually doesn't work (like Azardi says it does) or if you are just guessing.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:28 PM   #7
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Have you tested one of the ePub 2+3 books on your device?? I know you don't like the ePub 3 spec, but it would be interesting to know if it actually doesn't work (like Azardi says it does) or if you are just guessing.
Find me an ePub 2+3 eBook and I'll test it.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:26 AM   #8
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Check the link I provided...several there.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:54 AM   #9
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... I know ePub 3 supports Javascript, but not all readers.
Javascript was actually supported (although its use was discouraged) in epub2, so it's really always been up to the device to be able to handle it properly.

what's epub 2+3? epub 3 with an ncx? on the few devices i've tested epub3s on that don't officially support them i've had no problems opening and reading them. Liz Castro wrote something up about this not long ago.

http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/20...y-arrived.html
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:55 AM   #10
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Apple iBooks supports ePub 3, and I believe the Fire does also. Why wouldn't other companies jump on board? With all the multimedia support...it seems like a no brainer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A lot of the ePub 2 software would probably have issues with the ePub 3 parts of the code.

Most 99% of the ePub compatible reading software out there doesn't handle ePub 3. So to pay to have an ePub 3 made is a waste of money. It won't work on most eInk Readers and most iOS/Android apps won't handle it. Also, when it gets validated, it will fail. Stores won't sell it and customers won't buy it even if the stores sold it.

The best thing to do is train people who can do the conversion to ePub in-house and not worry about external companies who do a poor conversion. There's a thread on issues with eBooks.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=204925
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:06 AM   #11
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Javascript was actually supported (although its use was discouraged) in epub2, so it's really always been up to the device to be able to handle it properly.
Ehh, what? If you look at the specifications, it is stated that 'Reading Systems must not render the textual content of the script element, and should not execute the script itself.' (emphasis not mine).

So what you state is not correct. The fact that some readers (or rather reading applications) do support it, is because they used a web renderer like webkit instead of developing a ePUB renderer.
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:10 AM   #12
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Apple iBooks supports ePub 3, and I believe the Fire does also. Why wouldn't other companies jump on board? With all the multimedia support...it seems like a no brainer.
Quite simple, almost all e-ink readers cannot handle multimedia because of the screen and other elements (battery). I am actually glad they don't. I want to read a book, not be bothered by audio/video. I do see some merits of multimedia with specific types of books (childrens/cooking/academic (perhaps), etc) but not for the majority. I would have much rather have them fix other issues with the format first, as good support for footnotes, just to mention one.
The 'solutions' in ePUB3 for footnotes that I have seen so far do not impress me. A pop-up balloon? No, thanks.

Also, iBooks do not really support ePUB3, but their variant of it. In order to get things to work you need iBooks/web-kit specific things which will most probably not work on other ePUB3 readers. The same goes for their fixed-layout format. Also iBooks specific.

Last edited by Toxaris; 02-13-2013 at 03:15 AM.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:25 AM   #13
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And the Kindle fire is not ePub 3 compliant. It's Amazon's variation which is not the same.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:41 AM   #14
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Ehh, what? If you look at the specifications, it is stated that 'Reading Systems must not render the textual content of the script element, and should not execute the script itself.' (emphasis not mine).

So what you state is not correct. The fact that some readers (or rather reading applications) do support it, is because they used a web renderer like webkit instead of developing a ePUB renderer.
i've read in an entry by Liza Daly on the Threepress Blog and in the epub3 specs that scripting in epub2 was not prohibited because both mention that "EPUB 3 Reading Systems may optionally support scripting, which was explicitly discouraged in EPUB 2" (3.0 specs) and that "The script element is specifically discouraged (though not disallowed) in EPUB 2.0.1" (Liza Daly)

but yes, looking again at the 2.0.1 specs does seem to make it pretty explicit. not sure how the idpf went from "must not" to "explicitly discouraged", though.

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Old 02-13-2013, 04:01 PM   #15
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Given that most (if not all) reading systems won't handle scripting, it's a waste of time and effort to put scripts in ePub 2 eBooks.
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