Friday, June 22, 2007

What is "open" about Digital Editions?

I am trying to find out more about Digital Editions, mostly through checking out blogs. I have done a report for Acrobat Services dotcom but this is intended to find out more.

It seems Adobe are supporting open formats. Digital Editions prefers PDF to be in PDF/A, the archive format published by ISO. My own PDF stock seems to work ok. I have not yet removed anything or checked for PDF/A compliance. But it also supports an open format for e-books. Please accept this as simple text - "an open format for e-books". That is my understanding, just before an attempt at the acronyms and standards.

Nick Bogarty, Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum wrote a comment on the Hectic Pace blog in Feb with some history and background.

In November 2005, a Working Group was formed to create a container format so that publishers could package all of their digital book files into one file to send through distribution. Over 30 companies and organizations participated in the effort. The result was the OEBPS Container Format (OCF) which is a ZIP-based specification compatible with the container technology used in OASIS' Open Document Format 1.0. The specification was approved by the IDPF membership in October 2006 with a vote of 47 FOR, 0 AGAINST and 11 ABSTAIN. The official spec

In February 2006, a Working Group was formed to create the next generation OEB file format specification. The clear goals of the group were to update OEB 1.2 to improve the adoption of viability of the standard as both a cross-reading system interchange and production format as well as (and this is important!) a final publication delivery format. The result of this effort is the Open Publication Structure 2.0 (OPS 2.0). A draft version has been released to the public and can be found at:

Open Packaging Format:

Open Publication Structure:

Apparently this OPS can be dreated in Adobe InDesign. So how is it different to PDF or to the MARS version of PDF? How else can it be created?

My impression is that the open source world has not yet looked at this much. I am not aware of anything being promoted that creates OPS. That could just be me, so comments welcome. It seems likely that Open Office or Scribus would be capable of doing this, even if some work is required.

Adobe on MARS continues as a mystery. On the Adobe blogs the most recent post I can find as relevant is from Bill McCoy in October last year.

Adobe's new Digital Editions publishing platform supports the forthcoming OEBPS profile of XHTML with OCF, as mentioned in the IDPF press release. In addition last week Adobe also announced a technology preview of Project Mars, which is developing an XML representation of PDF. The single-file packaging for Mars is based on IDPF OCF, and the page contents description is based on W3C SVG, which the IDPF OEBPS WG is working to support within the eBook profile of XHTML.

While Mars is still at an early stage, the prospect of a single container format and XML-friendly standards-based representation for both paginated PDF and "liquid" XHTML based content is a very promising development.

Trying to get past the acronyms it seems that whatever the open e-book format is called, it may have advantages over PDF, with or without MARS, if you like your pages to be "liquid", presumably on a small screen.

But I think someone should explain this a bit better. Digital Editions is a mass market product. So is there a short version of the background?


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