Perhaps, this book should be titled Everything You Wanted to Know About ePubs (But Were Too Afraid to Ask).
My original intent was to write a small bundle of articles about the format to help users who need to publish technical ePub documents. Creating this kind of document can be a chore as most existing software solutions cater to trade publishers first, educational publishers second, and academic or technical publishers last, if at all.
As I’ve delved into the topic, my goal has expanded a little. To begin with, I’ve included more details about the internals of the ePub format. I believe this background is necessary to help you understand the tradeoffs that developers make when designing ePub-related software. This understanding should help you if you need to craft your own software solutions (and you likely will).
This book will also show you what you need to do to create complex ePub documents using nothing but a text editor and some command line tools. While this is not an efficient workflow for most users, it will allow you to thoroughly understand what makes this technology work and to fix problems that may crop up when using other tools. More importantly, it will give you a foundation to create your own tools that can be tailored to fit your needs.
Finally, this book will discuss existing ePub software solutions and offer suggestions on different tools and approaches to help you make better use of this technology.
This book is intended for people who are already familiar with XML, HTML and CSS, but may not know how all of these technologies work together to create an ePub document. Readers who are not familiar with the underlying technologies may feel lost in places. I’ve tried to include links and references to the relevant documentation, but remember The Internet is your Friend here.
All of these technologies have standards documents out on the web. These documents are carefully crafted and their goal is to reduce areas of ambiguity as much as possible. This (perversely) tends to make the documentation difficult to follow on an initial reading.
- http://www.idpf.org/epub/30/spec/epub30-publications.html is the current link to the ePub 3.0 standard. http://idpf.org/epub/201 is the current link to the ePub 2.01 standard, which is technically “obsolete” but still used by many older devices.
- http://www.idpf.org/epub/301/spec/epub-contentdocs.html is another important document that describes what content is allowed in ePub 3.0.
- http://www.w3.org/ is the home of the World Wide Web consortium. This contains all of the standards documents for the web technologies used in ePub documents including HTML 5, CSS, SVG, MathML, etc.
- http://www.w3.org/TR/MathML/ is the specification document for MathML. This page contains the specs for Presentation Markup, which is the most commonly used variant on the web.
- http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Mathematics is a link to a Wiki book about a math layout and scripting language called LaTeX. While TeX and LaTeX are not part of the ePub standard, there are a number of tools that use this language to generate math markup that can be used in ePubs.