John Cobo http://cobobook.com Technology support for authors and publishers Sun, 12 Apr 2015 17:03:02 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 ePubChef Whitepaper http://cobobook.com/whitepaper/ http://cobobook.com/whitepaper/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 10:22:55 +0000 http://cobobook.com/?p=2218 What is ePubChef? EPubChef is code written to give authors and publishers the advantages of established software tools and processes. The tool allows full control of an eBook product lifecycle saving time and money. EPubChef combines professional GitHub version control with open source text with EPUB software. Anyone with basic web skills can use ePubChef […]

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What is ePubChef?

EPubChef is code written to give authors and publishers the advantages of established software tools and processes. The tool allows full control of an eBook product lifecycle saving time and money.

EPubChef combines professional GitHub version control with open source text with EPUB software. Anyone with basic web skills can use ePubChef to create and modify the design of eBooks. A fully validated eBook can be regenerated at any time during writing, editing and even for each sale if desired. Point-of-sale eBooks can include personalised data and links unique the reader.

Philosophy of ePubChef

The tool is designed around these key principles:

  • A good book has a longer lifespan than software or a software company. Works must be accessible for many years to come.
  • Ebooks should not be written in other people’s software that could restrict future use.
  • Software must not limit the creativity of book designers, it should encourage innovation by handling tedious tasks.
  • Creation of ePub by hand is time-consuming, error-prone, and therefore not a good idea.
  • Software to create ePbub should be fully flexible and completely under the control of the publisher / author.

Continuous Delivery and eBooks

The term “continuous delivery” is borrowed from software development. It means the capability to publish at any time the content of the book deemed ready. It also means that the book an editor sees is the same book the reader sees. EPubChef enables continuous delivery.

Version Control

With this system, the author, editor, publisher, and eBook designer all work on the same files. GitHub and similar tools have become incredibly adept at managing such collaboration. Enormous and complex software projects have been built using these tools by developers who do not even know each other. Publishing can now take advantage of GitHub.

Using ePubChef, the book text is held in simple, future-proof text files with Markup where needed. Formatting is controlled by a simple, text-based recipe file and standard web templates and CSS. The code to transform the text into EPUB is open source and part of the packaged book.

Who am I?

I am a systems architect and developer with many years of IT experience. I have designed software that has saved several million pounds by improving processes and delivery. I have contributed to open source software.

What do I want?

I am in search of a partner, preferably someone working within the publishing industry with vision, knowledge, contacts, and entrepreneurial zeal. If you think this project may be of interest to you, please contact me. Any discussion at this stage would, of course, be informal and without obligation.

John Cobo: info@epubchef.org

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Small and Simple http://cobobook.com/smallsimple/ http://cobobook.com/smallsimple/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2015 17:38:30 +0000 http://cobobook.com/?p=2213 Is there a space in the world of publishing for a simple but efficient piece of software? I design and write software for a living. For a bit of fun I tried to write a novel. Having written it, I tried to turn my novel into an EPUB. To my amazement, it was extraordinarily awkward […]

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Is there a space in the world of publishing for a simple but efficient piece of software?

I design and write software for a living. For a bit of fun I tried to write a novel. Having written it, I tried to turn my novel into an EPUB. To my amazement, it was extraordinarily awkward to do, so I wrote some code.

I firmly believe that the best software is small, simple, does only one thing and is born to play nicely with other software rather than demanding its user to change his or her lifestyle to be able to use it.

I have written some open source Python which turns multiple text files into an EPUB. It is not that clever or tricky but it works well. The code will deal with text files that include HTML or Markdown snippets, it allows anyone with basic web skills to change the look of their resulting eBook making it unique even beautiful.

My little software does not do marketing, it is not an editor and does not have a GUI. It will however work nicely with GitHub and DropBox if you want it to and will let you easily create a two-level table of contents and other useful things.

Any author or publisher who uses the code can keep everything needed to re-generate their book whenever they want. Tweaks to the text or styling are free – forever.

This little bit of code can take input arguments and generate a personalized copy of an eBook. One could include a personal message from the author, or a link that tells the distributor exactly which purchaser enjoyed the book.

My little bit of Python is good friends with EpubCheck, KindleGen and FlightDeck.

Perhaps most importantly, the code works from a human writeable, text based description of the eBook. This description is I believe, much more useful than EPUB as a “standard” for eBooks. This could become a standard for the book creators while EPUB remains the standard for eBook reader software.

John Cobo, Creator of EpubChef

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ePubChef description for a friend http://cobobook.com/epubchef-alternative-description/ http://cobobook.com/epubchef-alternative-description/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:37:59 +0000 http://cobobook.com/?p=42 The other day someone asked me what the ePubChef software does, and how. This is what I told them. ePubChef is software which: Starts with plain text files (a file = a scene or chapter containing paragraphs of words) Those text files can be augmented by a human using markup (HTML or Markdown) if needed […]

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The other day someone asked me what the ePubChef software does, and how. This is what I told them.

ePubChef is software which:

  • Starts with plain text files (a file = a scene or chapter containing paragraphs of words)
  • Those text files can be augmented by a human using markup (HTML or Markdown) if needed
  • a control document dictates how scenes are stitched together to form chapters and the entire document, I call this the recipe.
  • Rules apply common typographic best practices (remove double spaces, convert three dots to an ellipsis, etc.)
  • Multiple output options are possible. The text and any markup are injected into templates. My first templates produced EPUB 2, I changed the templates, but not the books to produce EPUB 3. A web version of the book is easier to create than EPUB.
  • CSS is (of course) used for style
  • Each paragraph COULD automatically be given an anchor (HTML term) for access from outside the document.
  • For bookmarks, a datastore external to the book COULD list anchors in the document with bookmark text/notes. It would be the job of the reader software to display these to the human reader.
  • Links to external data COULD be treated differently for different reader devices. For example, if generating an eBook for a mobile phone you might give a link to a google map, while a PC’s edition could embed it in the page. An e-ink reader edition could display a text description of the map. (I have not done this yet, but it is possible).

EPubChef is partly about generating specific variations of the eBook at time of “purchase/download”, rather than creating one EPUB and then distributing it to all types of readers and devices.

EPubChef is not the sort of software with pretty user interface with big buttons and rounded corners. It runs in the background and allows authors and editors to use their favorite text editor.

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eBook Reader Compatibility http://cobobook.com/ebook-reader-compatibility/ http://cobobook.com/ebook-reader-compatibility/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 20:09:42 +0000 http://cobobook.com/?p=9 EPUB (2 and 3) are standards. There is a multitude of EPUB readers that have interpreted, ignored, augmented the implementation of standards. Therefore, sadly, one eBook will not look the same in all readers. This is a fact of life and is also true with web standards, although browsers and web standards now are much, […]

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EPUB (2 and 3) are standards. There is a multitude of EPUB readers that have interpreted, ignored, augmented the implementation of standards. Therefore, sadly, one eBook will not look the same in all readers. This is a fact of life and is also true with web standards, although browsers and web standards now are much, much better than a few years ago.

What to do about it?

If your eBook looks fine in eBook reader “A”, but not good in reader “B,” either:

  1. your eBook has not implemented the standard correctly
  2. the standard itself is ambiguous
  3. one of the readers has not implemented the standard correctly

Item (1) above you obviously fix yourself. Items (2) and (3) are trickier, but what should be avoided is coding around the issue and making different eBook versions for different readers. This is how browsers were a decade ago, and it is not a situation that can or should last.

Is there a central place for eBook designers to state issues with readers and the EPUB specification. A central issue log would be a good first step to making many eBook creators and readers happier people.

Is epubtest.org such a list?

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