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Old 12-31-2009, 01:44 PM   #1
Kolenka
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Sony's Periodicals & Extensions to ePub

This isn't so much a rant that Sony is extending the ePub format, per se, but rather an explanation on how this stuff seems to work. I was curious what it would take to create an ePub from RSS feeds (similar to Calibre) that looked and acted like periodicals on the Sony.

In the ePub files itself, there are two new XML files:

- META-INF/metadata.xml
- OPS/atom.xml (referenced in META-INF/container.xml)

The Metadata XML file is an RDF file with extensions from Dublin Core and a couple Sony-specific extensions (to specify a thumbnail and logo that lives in the ePub). It sets up the description of the periodical, and I'm assuming is what turns on most of the logic that drives it to be categorized as a periodical.

The Atom.XML is an Atom feed that acts like yet another TOC focused more on describing the articles themselves. Title, Author, Update timestamp, word count and so on all appear here. Included is some information on if it is a section or article of a newspaper, and what section an article belongs to. This seems to form the backbone of the navigation buttons that you see on the PRS-900 that let you jump between articles and sections.

Beyond that, it seems to be a run of the mill ePub. The OPF file has a normal manifest and spine, although the guide only includes references to each section (dunno if this is important in any way yet).

The NCX TOC seems to be formatted in a fairly standard manner as well, with each Section getting a nav point, and all articles and a second nav point for the section within the section's main nav point. The playOrder attribute seems important though, as it does increment, and the section's main nav point and its twin inside itself share the same value. Again, this could be pretty standard in NCX files (since the parent nav point can't actually be jumped to on Sony readers, in particular, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is duplicated on other devices).

The XHTML itself seems to be able to be practically whatever you want, although Sony is providing templates to newspapers to help speed them along a bit. Possibly even a tool to generate the publication based on a fixed CSS file the newspaper tweaks and feeds in.

I've also noticed that if you drop this completed ePub into the Reader's database/media/downloads folder, it will appear as a 'new delivery', even if it is side-loaded via USB. The Reader is just picking the periodical with the most recent modification time (and is unread) to display.

As for the raw specifics of what goes into each file, I have to leave that as an exercise to the reader for now, unfortunately. I don't have the specifics wrapped up in anything that can be used to replicate it (although it is pretty straight-forward once you see the contents of these files), but it does work. I've been able to use this to get the Seattle Times onto my PRS-900 and have it show up as a periodical instead of a book.
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:54 PM   #2
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Hi and thanks for your description! I'd be interested to implement certain changes in my ePubs from the German Weekly "Die Zeit" but I'm fairly inexperienced with ePub modifications (I haven't managed to implement fonts yet).
It would be great if you could supply step by step instructions on what to do in order to make my Newspaper show up in "Periodicals", maybe a file that only needs to be implemented would be helpful.

Edit: Ok I already managed to make it show up in Periodicals and on the reader by only modifying the metadata.xml...
Unfortunately while the TOC does display well on the Mac in the reader library software, it only shows TOPpage in the TOC on the PRS 900... Is a modification of the atom file needed (which is tedious to do by hand) or am I just missing something?

Edit2: As far as I have figured it out, the Sony software uses the regular TOC referenced to in container.xml but the reader itself wants the atom.xml which must be linked to and then of course properly set up in order to work which can hardly be done by hand for a newspaper with over a hundred articles. A possible trick is to use the atom.xml and link to a toc page that is already present in the document, e.g. on page 2 (must be xml or xhtml, the epub standard toc files won't work). This will then show one available link in the toc on the PRS900 that can be used to jump to the page with toc hyperlinks and continue from there... nothing like the Sony newspapers though...

Please keep me updated if anybody finds something new (like for example an app that could be used to convert a proper atom.xml that links to all the articles or sections in an epub newspaper together with first lines and proper dates and names embedded)

Last edited by johnnyb; 10-14-2010 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyb View Post
Edit: Ok I already managed to make it show up in Periodicals and on the reader by only modifying the metadata.xml...
I'd love to be able to do this. What change did you make to the metadata.xml file in order to make it show up under periodicals? Is there an example ePub floating around anywhere that is set up as a Sony periodical that I can look at?

Andrew
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:51 AM   #4
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Hi Andrew, what I did was take a metadata.xml from any Sony publication and just change the information from their title, publisher, date etc. to your publication's title, publisher, date (explode the epub in Calibre, put the metadata.xml in the META... folder and rebuild again)...
In fact, the metadata.xml being present already has the file show up in Periodicals, but of course you need to create it first...

Here's the code that has to be put in a txt file that has to be saved or renamed as .xml:

Code:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#"
		 xmlns:dcterms="http://purl.org/dc/terms/"
		 xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" 
		 xmlns:prs="http://xmlns.sony.net/e-book/prs/">
	<rdf:Description rdf:about="">
		<dc:title>PUT THE NEWSPAPERS NAME HERE</dc:title>
		<dc:publisher>PUT THE PUBLISHERS NAME HERE</dc:publisher>
		<dcterms:alternative>PUT AN ALTERNATE SHORTER TITLE HERE</dcterms:alternative>
		<dcterms:issued>PUT DATE HERE IN THIS FORMAT yyyy-mm-dd</dcterms:issued>
		<dc:language>en</dc:language>
		<dcterms:conformsTo rdf:resource="http://xmlns.sony.net/e-book/prs/periodicals/1.0/newspaper/1.0"/>
		<dcterms:type rdf:resource="http://xmlns.sony.net/e-book/prs/datatype/newspaper"/>
		<dcterms:type rdf:resource="http://xmlns.sony.net/e-book/prs/datatype/periodical"/>
	</rdf:Description>
</rdf:RDF>
of course this does nothing to the navigation in the reader (bar does show up but only has the TOC button which only leads to the very first page of the document), since this is handled by the atom.xml file that I haven't found out how to create automatically... Unfortunately it doesn't resemble the structure of the standard TOC so cannot be simply copied over from some other file...
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Old 10-15-2010, 09:40 AM   #5
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Thanks for that info. I'll give it a go sometime.

Andrew
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