An Introduction to ePub 3.0


Steven R. Bagley (University of Nottingham)
Matthew R. B. Hardy (Adobe Systems Inc.)


The half-day workshop An introduction to EPUB 3.0 will be held as a morning session on September 4th 2012, during ACM DocEng ’12. We will consider the EPUB 3.0 format, the latest revision of the EPUB standard released by IDF and used by Apple, Adobe and others to implement immersive and interactive eBooks containing multimedia as well as text. No previous experience of EPUB 3.0 is necessary and the workshop will be accessible to both those working with eBooks and those just interested in the technology. However, some knowledge of XML will be beneficial.

The workshop will comprise three major sections as follows:

Section 1.  In the first section of the workshop we will take a high level look at EPUB 3.0, considering the needs it was created to meet and the type of documents it is able to encode.  EPUB 3.0, like EPUB 2.0 before it, is capable of describing encoding and electronic book. However, where as EPUB 2.0 struggles to encode documents more complex than a simple novel (for example, it is very difficult for EPUB 2.0 to display an equation, most eBooks resort to encoding the equation as a bitmap image). EPUB 3.0 is much more expressive.  In this section of the workshop we will also explain the additional capabilities present in EPUB 3 over EPUB 2 and consider how these can be used in the creation of documents and also what level of support for these features can be found in current eBook readers. We will also consider how EPUB 3.0 compares to the alternative eBook formats that are available, namely: PDF, Apple’s iBooks, and the formats used on the Amazon Kindle.

Section 2.  This section will delve within the .epub file and see how the internals are structured and how the documents make use of many standard file formats, such as HTML, SVG and MathML.

While EPUB 3.0 documents can be created by hand using a text editor, it is much easier to use software tools to help the process, in this section we will look at what software is available to ease the creation of EPUB 3.0 documents.

As well as looking at the support for EPUB 3.0 within commercial tools (such as Adobe InDesign), we will also look at how we can write programs (in appropriate languages, such as XSLT) to aid with the construction of EPUB 3.0 documents. We will also consider how this can remove the problem of targeting multiple eBook formats.

Section 3 Finally, to close the working session, we will take a look inside some existing EPUB 3.0 documents to see how they make use of the various technologies to create the various effects on screen.