Infogrid Pacific-The Science of Information


Fixed Layout ePub

This unit contains information and tutorial articles on fixed layout ePub3 production. The focus is on using IGP:Digital Publisher as the production environment, but also apply to other manual methods. Updated: 2012-10-29


This Fixed Layout Unit is a series of articles about creating fixed-layout ePubs to the IDPF ePub3 specification. The articles attempt to be both informative and instructional. There is relevant discussion on proprietary devices such as iBooks when special considerations are required.

There is specific information on using the advanced techniques available with IGP:Digital Publisher (DP), but most information is general in nature.  DP has sophisticated tools and options for creating:

  1. IDFP Fixed Layout (FLO) ePubs
  2. iBooks standard FLO ePubs (iBooks 2)
  3. iBooks IDPF conformant FLO ePubs with extended Apple Metadata

all from the same master IGP:FoundationXHTML source content. It also allows the creation of both flow and fixed layout from the same content if the content is suitable.

iBooks is currently the dominant eRetail outlet for IDPF FLO ePubs and does an excellent job with core features and support for standards. There is a requirement for some publishers to deliver their digital content through controlled channels. That is the AZARDI target market.

The problem with ePub3

Producers and publishers also have the problem that the IDPF Specification was written in a vaccuum with no testing frameworks as is done by other standards development bodies. It is a theoretical document or perhaps more correctly a wish-list. It is unlikely that any reading system will seriously try and support all the features. Many of the features also threaten to increase production costs significantly.

In contrast the ePub3 Fixed Layout Specification is a pragmatic part of the specification that can be implemented due to the fact that Apple (in iBooks) and AZARDI (Online/Desktop) had custom fixed layout models working before the ePub3 FLO Specification was finalized. The specification consolidated available techniques and extended usability with new properties.

Even though there are few ePub3 readers or books available, the IDPF continues to charge on with more theoretical extensions and changes planned. Fortunately for most publishers ePub2 does just fine, and most old reading systems and devices work with the ePub3+2 transitional format.

Meanwhile ePub3 Fixed Layout is new and implemented correctly opens up a new world of digital content.

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