Monday, September 7, 2009

The Continuing Horror Of ePub

Kat Meyer RTed this. After reading it, I got pissed because it was some of the same things I said before and took crap for saying so.

On Formats and Friction
Let me state up front that I think all the current formats suck beyond words. We live in a world where a web app can behave just like a really fancy desktop app… where onscreen design can easily surpass what is economical in print design, and where a great many devices (desktops and smartphones at least) have enough raw power to get the job done. And yet we’re stuck with something akin to a spit-and-polish version of the Mosaic browser.

After expressing my anger on Twitter ...

Not me!

1 comment:

MCM said...

I'll reply here because it's more fun.

I don't think ePub should be saved because it should be saved (if that makes sense). I think it should be saved because it has the most market penetration, and it's the weak link in the system. We can do something really useful here, because it's so accessible.

Think of it like this: every ePub "chapter" file is just an HTML document. You can include tons of useful stuff in there. So write all your advanced CSS, all your cool javascript, all the stuff we can do in websites and can easily include. Save it out, and upload it. Very few ePub readers actually validate anything, so most of them will run it without problem.

Make a new ePub reader for iPhone etc that uses the indexing etc as before, but renders the individual pages using a stock HTML rendering engine. It's dead simple for iPhone and Android at least. These will be called ePub2-compliant readers.

For everyone else? Include some stock text at the top of each file that says "YOUR READER IS TOO OLD. SOME FEATURES MAY NOT DISPLAY CORRECTLY". On the ePub2 reader, you can use Javascript to hide that so no one sees it. On Stanza etc, it'll be there in big red letters (assuming Stanza supports changing font colour, bloody hell)

Once that shift takes place, it's not a question of IF you can do the features you want, it's a question of WHICH features you're going to do first. Deep meta-text, internal cross-linking, dynamic content and commenting... all easily done in a web browser. So force the format to adapt. The best way to is ignore the rules.

That's what I mean.

It's easier than trying to create a new format from scratch, anyway :)