Hey this is a great thread.
I work for a publishing company who has put all their chips in making me Mr. eBook guy. We publish a total of 26-40 books a year, most are highly stylized and have potential to have loads of media in the digital edition. So this is the way I usually crack mine out.
• First I take the InMtnDewsign FINAL book & strip the crap outta the styles and mass simplify everything. Basically get text to come in where I want and edit hard returns etc. etc. I use the 'article' feature a bit in ID. Then I output a epub from ID.
• Then I'll open it in Sigil first and see where I'm at. I edit a lot in Sigil. I edit and correct CSS/html etc. I also edit & correct the toc.ncx & content.opf files. I also add or delete fonts and edit fonts in CSS etc.
• I also use Oxygen/Author from time to time depending how Sigil is handling the file. Or depending how frequent Sigil is crashing that day. Once I like my code and file I move forward with local testing on my machine.
• Testing I start with the Nook beta app (cause it's the most picky). Then I use Firefox with a add-on, I test in ADE (but it usually doesn't like any files). From there, I move forward with external testing. I start with the iPad,, (cause I want to be in a good mood). Once I have a solid iPad version I move forward with the other devices. I test on the Nook next and once I'm satisfied with the epub versions I make a mobi-poop. !!!! Oops, I forgot I run two validators; epubchecker (locally, and threepress' upload validator).
• This is the only time I use Calibuuur (backward program). So I take my epub file and save/export/convert to a mobi from Calibuuuuur. Then I go back and test this file on the Kindle.
• After all the files have been loaded and scan tested by 'me' they go into QA to make sure links, text, loading, fonts etc are working correctly. Then they come back to me for corrections or changes.
That's pretty much it.
Here's the software I use:
On a Mac using 10.6.8
I'm sure there's a better way to do this crap, but this is where I'm at.