[rfc-i] ebooks (or pagination considered harmful)
julian.reschke at gmx.de
Sat Nov 20 08:43:28 PST 2010
recently, when discussing the current (paginated) RFC format, ebooks
were brought up as example devices where pagination not only makes
sense, but is even required.
That's only true on the surface.
(What follows below applies to the ePub format, but I'd be surprised if
the Kindle format is significantly different)
Indeed, pre-paginating content is the worst thing you can do *unless*
the following aspects are known and fixed in advance:
- display format and orientation
- the user's font size preference
To do things properly, the *recipient* needs to do the pagination,
potentially with the help of formatting hints in the file format.
In the case of the ePub format (as used in iOs and on Sony readers, for
example), this is done using (X)HTML, plus some metadata files, plus
CSS, all packaged in a ZIP file (the CSS allows hints for page-breaking).
As a proof-of-concept, I finally brought my scripts for ePub file
generation into a releasable state; they start from an XML source file
in the RFC2629 (xml2rfc) format, and need a Unix shell, "zip", plus
either "saxon" or "xsltproc" as XSLT processors.
Note: this is work-in-progress. Among the known issues are:
- no attempt is made to divide chapters across multiple X(HTML) files,
which makes most reading devices very unhappy for big files
- inlined raster graphics are not supported
Best regards, Julian
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