The editor of a specification can mean many things to many people, so considering that I’m starting ramble on about EPUB here, and we have a new revision revving up, it might be worth clarifying what I do… while sitting in my pyjamas all day.
Working as the editor of the EPUB specs doesn’t put me in a position of authority over the format, to make that clear right off the bat. I don’t have decision making power over what the working group decides to implement, or any kind of veto: the benign dictator editor label does not apply.Continue Reading What’s an Editor?
With the EPUB 3.0.1 revision kicking into gear this week, I thought I’d do a quick review of what’s on the table, at least at the outset.
(Note that nothing cited in this post is guaranteed to be included in 3.0.1 until it’s in the final recommendation, so don’t quote my ramblings as authoritative!)
The most exciting new feature to me, as a data freak, is the potential inclusion of RDFa lite and microdata for enriching content. (I know I opened the issue, but I still think it’s exciting!)Continue Reading Get Rich… Soon
Okay, here’s another thought experiment from a recent discussion I had.
First, the culprit:
Second, the scenario: if you’re trying to delineate the logical reading order in your EPUB, what does this element signify?
Continue Reading Watch your figure
Due to my lazy and haphazard reading of Twitter, I only just spotted a question about whether to use CSS namespaces or escape the colons in namespaced element/attribute names, since I have a few selectors using both in the accessibility guidelines on the IDPF site.
It seemed a bit after the fact to respond, but I wanted to give the topic some further explanation here, as anyone who can say anything meaningful about namespaces in under 140 characters deserves an award of some kind.
First, a word about namespaces and prefixes. If you think they’re impenetrably complex and evil, let me first try to dispel that they’re a difficult a concept. (Granting that they do get complex in some advanced implementation scenarios, and are rarely high on the fun list to manually implement.)Continue Reading XHTML5/CSS Namespaces
So when, exactly, is a list ordered or unordered?
Seems like a simple question, but is it? Do indexes and bibliographies represent ordered lists simply because they have been arranged alphabetically, for example?
I was involved in a interesting debate on the topic the other day with a couple of publishing people and we probably spent over a half hour arguing the merits of each approach for indexes before realizing we were really getting off track of our objective! It was an enlightening argument, if only to have to rationalize the position of no order, so I thought I’d share some of it.Continue Reading Lost Order
In the EPUB accessibility guidelines, we’ve noted the use of
div tags for representing page breaks/numbers, but another common question is why not the good old
The simple answer is that HTML5 does not define named anchor points any more, so it’s no longer kosher to (ab)use
a tags as a place to jump people to (a la
<a name="page32"/>). If you want a jump destination, put an id attribute on an element, which is not coincidentally how
div are defined in the guidelines for page breaks (and in the content documents specification, for that matter).
But if you’re thinking why not just
<a id="page32">32</a> instead, I have more for you!Continue Reading Anchors Away!
Finding useful results from a web search is hard enough, but what if the page returned makes extensive use of colour to convey information and you are colour blind, blind or low vision? How do you know this in advance, or if the information in colour will be accessible, short of visiting the page? What if you are deaf or hard of hearing and the page relies heavily on audio? How do you know if signing, captions, transcripts or descriptions are available without checking?
Currently there isn’t an effective way to refine the discovery of content based on user needs and preferences, but that is what the a11y metadata project seeks to address: how to discover the nature of resources on the web and how to filter to ones that are particularly suited to individual user needs, or that provide useful equivalents.
Simple search discovery mechanisms are not enough. Looking at the markup for a page will indicate if images are used, but it won’t tell a search engine if those images rely on colour or the author has written text into them, for example.
Creating an accurate picture of accessibility of web resources through metadata is the ultimate goal of this project. We’re currently looking at adapting and enhancing the metadata work already done by Access for All for submission as new properties to schema.org. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check out the web site.
A question I get asked a lot is why numbered headings matter in EPUB. HTML5 defined a fancy new algorithm that can correct your headings after all, right? (Albeit in weird and wonderful ways if you don’t follow every nuance!)
The answer to the HTML5 question I’ll get to, but I can never seem to stress enough that getting headings right in your documents is a key component of their overall accessibility. There are two primary ways that readers will move through your ebook at the markup level (or DOM/accessibility tree level, to be specific).
One method is the table of contents, but while it provides the structure of the document, constantly having to open it to move a section or two ahead or back is not the most user-friendly approach to navigation.Continue Reading Use Your Headings
If you’re wondering which is the correct spelling, it’s the one with the space. EPUB is a registered trademark of the IDPF, so the ‘3’ is not officially attached to it.
File this one under useless info that I get asked from time to time.
I’ve finally had a chance to recover from EPUB 3 Best Practices now, so figured it’s time to talk a bit about it. But don’t worry, I’m not going to flog the book. Everyone’s quite adept at deciding for themselves what they want to read.
I wrote on LinkedIn back when it came out in January that it was a long time coming, so I thought I’d pick up on that as a real first post for the site. The writing process actually began for me back in the summer of 2011, when I was asked to write the introductory piece What is EPUB 3? When I think that it was a year and a half from that piece being released to the release of the best practices guide, it would have taken less time to have a kid, which I happen to have coming soon, too. (There’s my shameless plug for the post.)Continue Reading Math is hard? Writing is harder…