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Old 02-12-2010, 05:52 PM   #1
RootlessAgrarian
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New to Sigil, frustrated: bad TOC

As a clueless n00b I have been wandering about in Google-land trying to find out how to generate a working TOC for an epub doc. I have a readable epub doc with many sections and chapters and would really like a decent TOC for navigation.

In my wanderings I read that Sigil should recognise the H1 and H2 tags as hierarchical chapter/section markers and generate a correct toc.ncx (I sure wouldn't want to construct one by hand). So I painstakingly edited over 60 .xhtml files by hand to h1-ify and h2-ify the titles of sections and subsections of the book. Ugh.

I re-epubbed the dir (many thanks to the MR member who contributed the neat little applescript for zipping up a dir into proper epub format!) and read the resulting epub with Sigil. To my hair-tearing frustration it did not even read the entire document, but stopped after the first section. No error message, nothing. And the TOC of course contains only the structure up to that first section.

I'm beginning to have a real hate/hate relationship with Sigil -- it's slow as molasses to respond to text edits and I have not yet seen any way in which it helpfully automates any epub editing task. But maybe I need to get to know it better. In any case -- what causes Sigil to stop reading an epub one section into the doc? Is there any cmd line tool for generating a correct toc.ncx once I have h1 and h2 tags in the xhtml content files?

And btw, I introduced "chapter breaks" in Sigil while doing some wysi editing of the book, to get clean page breaks between subsections. Could this be mucking up the TOC recognition?

Calibre can read/view this epub in its entirety but with no TOC at all (more hair tearing) -- why does it "see" the doc differently from Sigil?

Anyway, I am baffled and discouraged, and looking hopefully for a cmd-line or other tool that will auto-generate toc.ncx from xhtml source, so I don't have to write my own :-)

Am I alone in finding Sigil rather opaque, feature-poor, and confusing? (And why is the "Preferences" menu option disabled, while I'm griping?)
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Old 02-12-2010, 06:23 PM   #2
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Bear in mind that Sigial is not even in beta yet.

However, it certainly ought to read in all of an ePub. Are you sure all your epub files are declared in the manifest? Sigil is quite strict about only reading files that are actually declared to be in the ePub, not just all the files it finds in there.


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Am I alone in finding Sigil rather opaque, feature-poor, and confusing? (And why is the "Preferences" menu option disabled, while I'm griping?)
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:39 PM   #3
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Oh boy...

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Originally Posted by RootlessAgrarian View Post
I re-epubbed the dir (many thanks to the MR member who contributed the neat little applescript for zipping up a dir into proper epub format!) and read the resulting epub with Sigil. To my hair-tearing frustration it did not even read the entire document, but stopped after the first section. No error message, nothing. And the TOC of course contains only the structure up to that first section.
Relax.

You probably hit a bug somewhere. Read this wiki page, then create a new issue on the tracker.

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I'm beginning to have a real hate/hate relationship with Sigil -- it's slow as molasses to respond to text edits
I'm not disagreeing with you. It is slow. Just a few minutes ago I posted an analysis of the loading speed and how it has improved in the 0.2.0 version of Sigil.

The editing speed is directly linked to the size of the document loaded in the Book View. So that will be faster in 0.2.0 too.

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Originally Posted by RootlessAgrarian View Post
And btw, I introduced "chapter breaks" in Sigil while doing some wysi editing of the book, to get clean page breaks between subsections. Could this be mucking up the TOC recognition?
Should not have, but then again, I'd have to see the file.

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Originally Posted by RootlessAgrarian View Post
Calibre can read/view this epub in its entirety but with no TOC at all (more hair tearing) -- why does it "see" the doc differently from Sigil?
It's an entirely different application with entirely different behavior.

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Am I alone in finding Sigil rather opaque, feature-poor, and confusing?
The version number should tell you a lot: it's currently on 0.1.9. It's not even alpha software, meaning there's a long way to go.

It's written by an overstressed and overworked grad student who doesn't get nowhere near the amount of sleep he should.

I'm always open for suggestions, and even more for well-written patches.

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(And why is the "Preferences" menu option disabled, while I'm griping?)
Because a preferences screen has yet to be created. Again, it's 0.1.9. Bear with me.
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:42 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Bear in mind that Sigial is not even in beta yet.

However, it certainly ought to read in all of an ePub. Are you sure all your epub files are declared in the manifest? Sigil is quite strict about only reading files that are actually declared to be in the ePub, not just all the files it finds in there.
"files declared in the manifest," I blush to admit, is new language to me as an epub n00b.

if "the manifest" = content.opf, then each of the xhtml files is indeed noted as an item in that list. tellya what, is there an epub sanity checker out there that emits diagnostic messages (something like the various html and xml checkers, but for epubs)? maybe that would give me a better clue than Sigil's mute, obstinate refusal to read past the 3rd file or so.

point taken though, I should be less hard on Sigil noting that it is pre-beta :-) I'm still trying to figure out what it's good for; Calibre can convert pretty much any of the popular document formats to epub (though the result is sometimes ugly code), and from there on, standard cmd-line tools seem to work as well as Sigil... vim with spellcheck is pretty good for catching OCR errors, for example.

I attach the problem epub file in case any kind soul feels like pointing out what I have obviously done wrong...
Attached Files
File Type: epub AgCiv.epub (240.5 KB, 105 views)
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Valloric View Post
Oh boy...

[...]

It's written by an overstressed and overworked grad student who doesn't get nowhere near the amount of sleep he should.

I'm always open for suggestions, and even more for well-written patches.
I tip my hat to your self-restraint :-) clearly there's a big vision behind Sigil -- didn't realise that the coding team was, er, an army of one! and I'm still not sure whether this is wholly a Sigil problem or something wacky about my epub file. if it is a broken file, then what would be nice would be for Sigil to complain about the offending syntax rather than just sulk :-)

what I'd really like to know is how toc.ncx gets generated... whether Sigil is supposed to do that based on h1 and h2 tags in the xhtml files, or whether Sigil needs some external agent to generate toc.ncx before it can navigate the toc correctly. I'll prowl the wiki when I have some leisure time and do a little more self-education.

anyway, apologies Valloric for griping peevishly about a free app supported by one Lone Stranger. I'll shutupsky and go look at the wiki before I make a bigger fool of myself
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:49 PM   #6
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take a look at the incredibly useful epubcheck validator from threepress.org : http://threepress.org/tools/ it will show errors, and there are some explanations on the side of the page. i just ran your epub through it and there's an un-closed H1 tag in your content004.xhtml file (line 13). that could be causing the problem.

sigil is at the very very beginning of its development, but for a completely free, open source, community-feedback-based app developped by "an overstressed and overworked grad student who doesn't get nowhere near the amount of sleep he should" for sheer love of the art (and love of epub, presumably, and maybe some other crazy ideas), i think it's already a pretty amazingly useful app. i suspect if you take a bit of time to see what it can do you'll start to like it a lot too, despite its current shortcomings.

it's a completely different beast from calibre, by the way ; calibre is a converter, whereas sigil is an editor.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RootlessAgrarian View Post
and I'm still not sure whether this is wholly a Sigil problem or something wacky about my epub file. if it is a broken file, then what would be nice would be for Sigil to complain about the offending syntax rather than just sulk :-)
found and downloaded epubcheck... which just confuses me even more.


java -jar /Users/de/Documents/EPC/epubcheck-1.0.3.jar f AgCiv.epub
Epubcheck Version 1.0.3

ERROR: AgCiv.epub/OEBPS/content.opf(9): unfinished element
ERROR: AgCiv.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml(13): unknown element "H1" from namespace "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
ERROR: AgCiv.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml(13): The element type "H1" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "</H1>".
ERROR: AgCiv.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml: The element type "H1" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "</H1>".

Check finished with warnings or errors!


hmmm. the strange thing is that there are h1's in content files 000 through 003 which don't raise a flag; and that the h1 tag is, in fact, properly closed by a /h1 tag.

now, is epubcheck also broken? or am I missing one of those odd "delayed action" syntax errors ...?
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
take a look at the incredibly useful epubcheck validator from threepress.org : http://threepress.org/tools/ it will show errors, and there are some explanations on the side of the page. i just ran your epub through it and there's an un-closed H1 tag in your content004.xhtml file (line 13). that could be causing the problem.
You mean this line 13?

Quote:

<h1>Section One: Before Civilization</h1>
ummm, what part of <h1>blah blah blah blah</h1> is unclosed?

I have a feeling I'm going to feel insanely stupid when I finally realise what it is I'm looking at and not seeing.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:07 PM   #9
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I tip my hat to your self-restraint :-)
One of the benefits of being awake for 24+ hours: you find it hard to get angry.

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Originally Posted by RootlessAgrarian View Post
if it is a broken file, then what would be nice would be for Sigil to complain about the offending syntax rather than just sulk :-)
And again, I agree with you. Long-term plans include writing an epubcheck equivalent in C++ (with some more bells and whistles) and plugging that as a library into Sigil. That would then do the complaining: the user would be warned about the errors and asked whether he wants to proceed. Same thing for export.

But Sigil currently includes HTML Tidy and runs it on your HTML files before loading them. This usually fixes any problems, but it's not perfect.

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what I'd really like to know is how toc.ncx gets generated... whether Sigil is supposed to do that based on h1 and h2 tags in the xhtml files, or whether Sigil needs some external agent to generate toc.ncx before it can navigate the toc correctly.
Sigil uses the heading tags, yes. H1 through H6. It usually works well. I plan on enabling direct NCX and OPF editing some time in the near future ("near" means more than a month... let's say two).

You should really attach that epub file of yours on a new issue on the tracker. The more bug reports I get, the more bug fixes I can implement. EDIT: I see you added it to a post. That's a step in the right direction, but I prefer having it on the tracker. It means I can easily search for it later and watch for regressions.

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I'll prowl the wiki when I have some leisure time and do a little more self-education.
Sadly, there's not much there. User documentation is non-existent. Some have lately offered to write it, but I said to hold off until 0.2.0 ships. I don't want people going through the trouble of writing docs that will become obsolete in about two weeks.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
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You mean this line 13?



ummm, what part of <h1>blah blah blah blah</h1> is unclosed?

I have a feeling I'm going to feel insanely stupid when I finally realise what it is I'm looking at and not seeing.
yep, i mean that line 13, with a tiny difference. i just unzipped your file, and i see :

Code:
<H1>Section One: Before Civilization</h1>
notice that the opening tag has a capital H while the closing tag has a lower case h. that may be the source of your troubles.

i see also that you've got a LOT of extraneous code in there (i didn't go far, but in the first paragraph alone i see a few tags that are unnecessary, like when you have this sort of series :

<p class="calibre2">< i class="calibre3" >Neandertals did not paint their caves with the images of animals. But perhaps they had no< / i > < i class="calibre3" > [...]

(example of unnecessary tags in bold, and since the entire pagraph is in italic you could just have one class on the p tag). those are not drastic problems but they certainly do muck up the code and can make it harder to find the real problems.

also, i see you downloaded the tool and used it locally ; i recommend you use the online tool, first because i think there is a more recent version than the one you downloaded (1.5 ? not sure), second because the explanations could be helpful for you.

edit : also, i and b tags are deprecated, and should be remplaced by em and strong. not critical for your problem but nonetheless might be worth keeping in mind...
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:17 PM   #11
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also, i and b tags are deprecated, and should be remplaced by em and strong. not critical for your problem but nonetheless might be worth keeping in mind...
Actually not really. Here's a quote from Ian Hickson, the editor of the HTML5 specification:

Quote:
<b> and <i> are technically not deprecated, but the style of markup that
would use them, namely presentation-orientated markup, is discouraged in
favour of more semantic markup, e.g. using <strong>, <cite>, <dfn>, or
<em> as appropriate.

Some would argue that there are times when <b> and <i> are appropriate
elements. This is a matter for debate on another list.
Source
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:19 PM   #12
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notice that the opening tag has a capital H while the closing tag has a lower case h. that may be the source of your troubles.
XHTML being XML, and XML being case-sensitive, H1 and h1 are two different tags. EDIT: here's the XHTML 1.0 spec on the issue. Still true for XHTML 1.1.

But surely Tidy should have caught that... hm, "should have"...

Last edited by Valloric; 02-12-2010 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Actually not really. Here's a quote from Ian Hickson, the editor of the HTML5 specification:

Source
ha, okay, thanks for that info. i was sure they were deprecated ; i've stopped using them for years now. that's very good to know, two less "search and replace" i have to do when i'm cleaning up a file.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:20 PM   #14
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XHTML being XML, and XML being case-sensitive, H1 and h1 are two different tags.

But surely Tidy should have caught that... hm, "should have"...
before you panic, i opened that file in dreamweaver to check it, first so i could easily localise the line in question, and second because i know tidy could fix it before i see it. so maybe it's not sigil's fault. although, i guess tidy should have fixed it, when it was opened in sigil previously...
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
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I attach the problem epub file in case any kind soul feels like pointing out what I have obviously done wrong...
epubcheck is what you want. Here's the output from your file:

ERROR: /Users/pdurrant/Desktop/test.epub/OEBPS/content.opf(9): unfinished element
ERROR: /Users/pdurrant/Desktop/test.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml(13): unknown element "H1" from namespace "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
ERROR: /Users/pdurrant/Desktop/test.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml(13): The element type "H1" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "</H1>".
ERROR: /Users/pdurrant/Desktop/test.epub/OEBPS/text/content004.xhtml: The element type "H1" must be terminated by the matching end-tag "</H1>".

Check finished with warnings or errors!

The unfinished element in content.opf just means some required metadata hasn't been set yet.

The unterminated h1 needs fixing. But I seem to see everything in this ePub in Sigil. And what's more, this ePub was saved from Sigil. Could it be you attached the truncated ePub and not the original ePub?

The manifest is the section in the content.opf file inside the <manifest> tag, and is a list of all the files in the ePub used in the content of the ePub.

Perhaps I'm just not seeing the problem - I just checked that the last bit (Permissions) displayed in Sigil.
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