The Role of Z39.98

With all the hype for EPUB 3 production, lost in the frenzy seems to be the work we did on the Z39.98 Authoring and Interchange Format.

But is it any less valuable for being overshadowed by its distribution counterpart?

I’ve already written a short defence of the format in the DAISY forums, but it feels like we’ve been unnaturally silent on the format since it’s delivery.Continue Reading The Role of Z39.98

What’s an Editor?

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?

Get Rich… Soon

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

XHTML5/CSS Namespaces

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

Lost Order

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

Anchors Away!

In the EPUB accessibility guidelines, we’ve noted the use of span and div tags for representing page breaks/numbers, but another common question is why not the good old a tag?

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 span and 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!

Use Your Headings

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