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Is HTML5 the Future of Book Authorship?

samzenpus posted 1 year,11 days | from the forget-the-paper dept.

Books 116

occidental writes "Sanders Kleinfeld writes: In the past six years, the rise of the ebook has ushered in three successive revolutions that have roiled and reshaped the traditional publishing industry. Revolution #3 isn't really defined by a new piece of hardware, software product, or platform. Instead, it's really marked by a dramatic paradigm change among authors and publishers, who are shifting their toolsets away from legacy word processing and desktop publishing suites, and toward HTML5 and tools built on the Open Web Platform."

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116 comments

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Obligatory answer: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899183)

No.

Re:Obligatory answer: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899201)

Large numbers of blacks moving in, thats the doom of any neighborhood or city. DOOM. Look at Detroit. Look at any ghetto and any rough neighborhood anywhere in america. Everybody knows it is true. It is a observable repeating pattern, predictable. Everybody's too chickenshit to admit they know it is true.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

liamevo (1358257) | 1 year,11 days | (#44903415)

Yeah, because those white hick towns are so much safer and nicer. It's all about poverty dude.

Re:Obligatory answer: (4, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899617)

No.

This is correct. Mod parent up. No disrespect to HTML5, but it is not going to play any key role for "authorship," (which is, although beside the point, absolutely the incorrect term for the query; "publishing and distribution" is what is meant and what should have been used).

Any writing will be composed however the author feels most comfortable or creative, via pen and paper, dictation, typewriter, or word processor. They're NOT going to compose and tag HTML code for crissakes! I realize some of you supernerds have already, good for you, but no one cares. Write with the method you want to write with, Napoleon. GOSH!

Any written work, or book of images, or any combination of the medium, that is ever intended to be physically printed en mass, is going to be normalized as PDF no matter what the original form of the composition, even if it is a book of mathematics that is typeset in LaTeX, even if it is a small run of physical books and the majority of the tokens are sold as eBooks. If it is going to press, it will be PDF at some point. PDF is fine for digital distribution, but it is not ideal for eReaders, per se, unless the digital consumer desires a digital representation to be identical content to the printed book, in which case PDF is ideal.

IMO, there will be no single winner of the digital formats, because there's plenty of room for all of them, and then some. It's digital... who cares? Let's give the consumer some choice, it will make no significant difference in cost. Publish your book, print and sell the hardbound and softbound editions, and make available PDF, ePub, and Kindle format, Plaintext, DjVu, CHM, HTML, and sure, whiz bang HTML5 with JavaScript and video if you want... and any other versions for the digital consumer. There's no problem. Stop evangelizing the need for a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899813)

Indeed, the answer to the question is probably the same as the answer to, "Is HTML5 the future of application programming?"

Re:Obligatory answer: (2, Informative)

gigaherz (2653757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900033)

"Is HTML5 the future of ?" NO. If HTML is ever the future of anything, it will most probably be a later version, not 5.

In my opinion, HTML as we know it isn't fit for any truly serious work. The current model based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript is too clunky. Ideally, we would need a new content description (modelling) language, that's better designed at describing the content we want to see on the future of the "web", instead of it all being a hack around vertically-scrolling pages. We would need a new presentation language, that's better fit to describe to the User Agent how that content is supposed to look like, and either a much improved version of the scripting language, or a whole new language that's better fit to interact with both the content sources (model), and the presentation patterns (views).

I will list a few of the flaws I can't stand about the HTML model, roughly in order of how simple the concept is:

  • You can't vertically-align objects without scripting.
  • You can't define a horizontal-scrolling element without scripting.
  • You can't define a non-scripted grid-like layout with proportional, fixed and content-dependant sizes mixed together.
  • It lacks a simple, integrated, templating and data-binding system.

I will stop here since I'm apparently thinking of WPF too much.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900091)

Why are there no bullets in my <ul>?

Re:Obligatory answer: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900397)

HTML is not the future of slashdot

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900623)

I know there are many that desire a site to have a good visual design, but after using slashdot and so many other forums, I find I could not care less about what something looks like. I prefer fast loads and pages that behave to good looking sites. Slashdot, before the recent design change, is very good looking IMO, but neither the new design nor the classic design behave well. You know what I mean. Function preceeds form, dammit. Who gives a shit what something looks like if it behaves like it has multiple personalities? My absolute favorite site for function is Craigslist. Its buttugly, but so are you!!! It works so well! Pages load instantly, no matter how much content. I wish... I know it'd be some seriously outrageously clever hack, but I wish so badly that there was a mirror to slashdot (consider how many tpb mirrors, and reddit mirrors there are) that was entirely coded in Perl: flat, ugly, blazingly fast and incredibly functional!

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | 1 year,11 days | (#44905885)

evidently you don't feel that bullet points are a useful bit of functionality. fair enough, but there are plenty of people who would disagree with you on that one...

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

unixisc (2429386) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902801)

HTML is not the future of slashdot

Nor even its present, by the look of it.

Okay, I understand why /. doesn't support Unicode, but for the life of me, I don't understand why it can't support simple tags like UL or OL. Especially since the latter is simply having numbered listings. I've seen non-technical blogs support bulleted & numbered lists better.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

zidium (2550286) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900403)

CSS, dummy.

Seriously! You make such a technical answer about HTML and CSS and don't even know about list-style: none?! Come on!

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900459)

I know about them, I was just wondering why would slashdot have that style on the comments...

Re:Obligatory answer: (3, Interesting)

nabsltd (1313397) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901571)

Because it is a mistake.

Slashdot is using a <ul> as the basis for their dropdown menus, and for that they don't want any markers. Unfortunately, they seem to have added "list-style: none;" to selectors for all <li> elements.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44905537)

Actually, the comment boxes themselves are
  • s. The thread view is done by nesting lists inside lists. But yeah, they forgot to reset the list-style:none for the comment content.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44905559)

Shit, I pressed submit too fast forgot to escape the <>.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44902137)

Deliberately misunderstanding a question does not make you clever.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44903217)

There are on my screen. It must have to do with the slashdot screen version you're using (I'm not logged in so it's the default desktop version). You can choose in user preferences.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900099)

You might add that the problem of content/layout separation would be easily solved with a simple macro system.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900727)

Isn't it really all a SMOP [wikipedia.org] ? (SMOP Means Onomatopoeic Polysyllabry)

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,11 days | (#44903861)

No, all you'd need is a way to define constants. Then you could say something like:

cHEADER_TEXT="blah blah blah blah blah blah"
cBODY_TEXT="blah blah blah2"

Then you could go on designing your page as normal, and instead of writing your text in the middle like you do now, you could stick the constant there. That way you could have two pages using the same constants but with completely different layouts, except it would be easy, unlike with CSS

For browser writers it would only take half a day of programming (of course plus testing, etc). At least one browser writer has already implemented it as an experimental feature, but then they removed it later......

Re:Obligatory answer: (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900679)

"Is HTML5 the future of ?" NO. If HTML is ever the future of anything, it will most probably be a later version, not 5.

In my opinion, HTML as we know it isn't fit for any truly serious work. The current model based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript is too clunky. Ideally, we would need a new content description (modelling) language, that's better designed at describing the content we want to see on the future of the "web", instead of it all being a hack around vertically-scrolling pages. We would need a new presentation language, that's better fit to describe to the User Agent how that content is supposed to look like, and either a much improved version of the scripting language, or a whole new language that's better fit to interact with both the content sources (model), and the presentation patterns (views).

I will list a few of the flaws I can't stand about the HTML model, roughly in order of how simple the concept is:

  • You can't vertically-align objects without scripting.
  • You can't define a horizontal-scrolling element without scripting.
  • You can't define a non-scripted grid-like layout with proportional, fixed and content-dependant sizes mixed together.
  • It lacks a simple, integrated, templating and data-binding system.

I will stop here since I'm apparently thinking of WPF too much.

Very little of what you typed is true so it must be mentioned that your CSS is really out of date if you haven't heard of these items.

Review these for your points because they don't rely on scripting, you are selling things short.
vertical-align:middle - CSS, aligns vertically - http://www.w3.org/wiki/CSS/Properties/vertical-align
overflow:auto - CSS, creates scrollbars http://www.w3.org/TR/css-overflow-3/#overflow-properties
float:left + width:30% with font-size:15px inside, float:left + width:30%,float:left + width:30% - 3 column layout in CSS with fixed font inside and content dependent bounding boxes - also see the whole basis of responsive design
The developer creates a "simple, integrated, templating and data-binding system" or does everyone forget that the world doesn't revolve around picking up a bloated framework and claim to be a developer. Sigh, so many posers exist in this field. For every 300 designers seeking another "framework", I meet one real developer who read the specifications instead of waiting for someone to make an article about CSS in a blog post. I'll bet you don't even use SVG, or lift :)

Re:Obligatory answer: (1, Insightful)

Count Fenring (669457) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901175)

The "vertical-align" property only functions as a general vertical alignment tool in table-cells. Now that we have "display: table-cell" in basically all modern browsers, this is more or less sufficient, but it's still a far cry from being as simple as you've made it out here.

Columns are HUGELY more complex to build than they have any right to be, and they are fragile in any number of cases where they shouldn't be. Support for true multi-column content panes is far from where it should be.

Saying "the developer builds their own" is the same as saying "one is not provided." Whether it should be provided is a worthy argument, but it's not a foregone conclusion, and calling the OP a poser isn't remotely justified here.

Doing rich interface design is unquestionably clunkier in HTML/CSS/JS than in dedicated GUI toolkits on the desktop; I don't agree with the parent that it's not suitable for any real work, but your dismissing him out of hand isn't remotely fair. And it's pretty clear that he's not a "poser web dev," but rather a native dev who's used to more explicitly specified layout mechanics (that is, not having to work around the assumptions inherent to HTML as a descendant of a width-specified static document format.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44902065)

My thoughts about them are true and non-regrettable. There is a group of people ruining this field with their shotty work. They proselytize Chrome because it's Google based, they call themselves developers and all they know how to do is use jQuery and Wordpress. They dirty the waters with filth. They don't concentrate on page weight like we did when people cared about the cost of bandwidth, the load on the server, or even the history of sprite usage and why HTTP requests matter. Now, any dipthong with a copy of Dreamweaver claims to be a developer. Hand code? Against their "rapid application" development policy. Cross-browser compatibility? What is that, oh right, install a Javascript framework to support your lack of ingenuity and interest in ... solving a problem. Instead they outsource puzzles, outsource code, outsource security and no one is the better for it. I am an artisan and I see development this way. Those who do nothing but install frameworks can be replaced because they have no inclination or passion to be dedicated to their field of study. They simply exist to be supplicants to the latest fad framework in which they believe "Someone else has done the work for me".

Ask me why I don't use github to release all the code I write and I tell you it's because of these stragglers that will take it along with 10 other pre-written snippets that they can't even debug or tweak because they couldn't write it themselves to begin with. vertical-align was in CSS 1, this isn't a case of not being skilled in the latest and greatest, this is hands down, not knowing what has existed since the early 2000s. What obfuscates them from knowing what is available? It isn't the lack of information because the specs are free for all but it doesn't stop them from posting about it as if they know what they are talking about. That's when they deserve reprimanding because they are spreading more filth which I attribute to leaving core coding and playing fancifully in framework land - where all the trees are made of candy and we don't support IE 7 because we can say our framework doesn't like it either. That is not a legitimate excuse. As a developer your job is to make sure it works instead of following your ego to the next fad or else what skill do you bring to the table?

Concerning your comment, vertical-alignment is not only used in tables, I use it for images all the time. It started out as aligning any inline element (Applies to: inline elements). http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS1/#vertical-align Then it was reviewed in CSS 2 and CSS 3. I understand if someone gets ONE thing wrong about a language but to get that many things wrong has a strong basis to me that they don't know what they are talking about. I don't regret calling their information out as false and I'll accept a 0 rating because I don't choose to give my email address out to this site to post. /soapbox

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

liamevo (1358257) | 1 year,11 days | (#44904511)

You can't vertically-align objects without scripting.
Yes you can.

You can't define a horizontal-scrolling element without scripting.
I don't even know what you mean. Do you mean like a carousel? You can, but clunky.

You can't define a non-scripted grid-like layout with proportional, fixed and content-dependant sizes mixed together
Sure you can.

It lacks a simple, integrated, templating and data-binding system
So people build their own, mustache, handlebars, ember.js etc

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

pr100 (653298) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899941)

Surely the suggestion is not that authors compose and tag raw html... the suggestion is that they use editors/word processors that have html as the underlying document format?

Re:Obligatory answer: (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901689)

Answer is still no. I already have a word processor. I will use that. I can *export* to HTML if I desire. It would be one option only.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44902559)

HAHAHAHA no

Tell me, how do I specify that the inside (binding side) margin is .75" and the others are .5" in HTML5? How do I communicate the concept of a full bleed image? Or leaving a page blank? How do I specify a running header? What about full spread art? HTML5 can't even begin to express the things that books actually need in order to be printed.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

jandersen (462034) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900385)

It's digital... who cares?

Well, we should care a bit - certainly enough to not lose the ability to decode it and transform information to other formats. There's a science fiction story about this (or probably many), about how we digitized all our knowledge and then lost the key, so to speak.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

StripedCow (776465) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900877)

You are looking too much from a technical viewpoint.

If HTML provides good standards for monetization, (e.g., micropayments), and browser vendors follow them, then I see hope for HTML.

On the other hand, big players may work against that. For example, Google, Facebook and Twitter have no interest in micropayments, as they depend too much on an ad-based world. Apple is too much into closed technologies.

Perhaps Amazon could trigger a world of web-payments, but they really need the browser vendors on their side then.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901739)

Your argument then is that HTML is good for the promotional and sales portion of the venture, after all writing and editing is done.

I agree it can be a useful tool in the larger set. It will never become the set.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1, Informative)

YttriumOxide (837412) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901459)

I completely agree. Having just published my first book (see my sig), I didn't spend any time considering the design/layout/etc until right near the end. The content is what was important to me, so I wrote that first. Once I was done with the content, THEN I laid it out, made it look "like I feel it should look", and produced a PDF which ultimately got printed to paper.

For the eBook version, I used RTF which was then converted to the appropriate format (mobi) by the publisher. But again, it was a 'last step' thing, as the content is what I spent my time on.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901969)

Maybe that's the process you used and maybe that's the process you hallucinated.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902043)

Maybe that's the process you used and maybe that's the process you hallucinated.

Yes, my book is about LSD... however it is called "Dropping Acid: A Beginner's Guide to the Responsible Use of LSD for Self-Discovery". Most of the book was not written while under the influence of psychedelics.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,11 days | (#44904207)

I wrote the first several chapters of Nobots straight into slashdot's journal system. Later chapters were in Open Office and copied there. Changed layout quite a bit afterwards. Good luck getting full justification with HTML 5.

Nobots (full book, what's at slashdot is a crude first draft) will be out shortly.

Re:Obligatory answer: (3, Informative)

Kielistic (1273232) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902397)

You should probably be aware that ePub is basically a zipped HTML document.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902921)

No.

This is correct. Mod parent up. No disrespect to HTML5, but it is not going to play any key role for "authorship," (which is, although beside the point, absolutely the incorrect term for the query; "publishing and distribution" is what is meant and what should have been used).

I respectfully disagree, though not with all of what parent post is suggesting.

Creative writing is best done in a simple text editor where there is no style and the author/revisionist wrestles with his muse in an empty and barren arena. No witnesses to the bloody mess, and no distractions from the work at hand. WYSIWYG is a terrible distraction when trying to birth some new text into the world.

That said, the whole point of writing is to get one's words in front of some reader somewhere who will pick up on what the writer laid down. Making the raw final draft presentable is what publishing is all about. This is where HTML5 and CSS3 come into play. These technologies have nothing to do with the writing process but they can be necessary and sufficient for converting the writing into something that is readable. And they enable self-publishing in a much easier way, and to a much wider audience, than any other approach. But they do this work behind the scenes.

By far the easiest way to self-publish one's own creative writing is to do the writing in plaintext in a text editor, then copy-paste it into the input field of a good wiki engine. Make a "final" pass with the wiki editor to add the italics, bullets, and other stylistic stuff, and you are self-published on the web, with a potential audience of billions of readers. You will want to use one of the wikis that provides access controls, so that you can determine who can make changes to your work, but there a lot of wikis that support access control lists. You won't have an easy way to monetize the work, but hey nobody starts writing for the money. And maybe you could sell tee shirts or something from your web pages.

Where the HTML5 and the CSS3 come in is in the Javascript, PHP, and style sheets that you can use to adjust the way the wiki engine works. Of course you need an HTML5/CSS3 compliant wiki engine, but all of them are headed that way. Dokuwiki [dokuwiki.org] is my personal favorite: fully HTML5 and CSS3 compliant, and I found it easy to develop my own template, adequate for my book.

An example of a novel in progress is my work Artie Wood and his Electric Flying Machine [nopoco.net] . I could not do this any other way.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

invid (163714) | 1 year,11 days | (#44903227)

Having first learned to write manuscripts on a typewriter, I mimic the same style when writing a novel on the computer; using Courier New in manuscript format, underlining where I want italics and double-spacing everything so there is room to write comments on a hard copy. Some younger people have proof-read my work and actually thought that was the way I wanted it published. I had to explain that as an old-fogy, the presentation style is the last thing I do.

Here's a shameless plug for my latest novel [amazon.com] , where you can see from the sample the suggested format for ebooks as specified by Amazon.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899767)

Correct! It might be the future of PUBLISHING but not of AUTHORING.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899823)

keep planting trees..

i'll take real books over an electronic gadget any, and every, day. no contest, no comparison.. no ereader or tablet, past present or future, will ever equal or surpass reading a real book.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899923)

keep making buggy-whips..

I'll take real horses over a mechanical device any, and every, day. no contest, no comparison.. no auto-mobile or motor-bicycle, past present or future, will ever equal or surpass riding in a real carriage.

Re:Obligatory answer: (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901757)

Leisure/utility : apples/oranges.

Re:Obligatory answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901451)

No.

Agreed. Microsoft Word is a juggernaut. If you are an author, your editors are going to use it. If you want to make a print book as well as an eBook, most of the tools to get the content into pages expect Microsoft Word content to get you started. There are gigantic toolsets built around that program, and just about anyone involved with writing or publishing books isn't going to want to ditch all that to move to HTML 5.

If you have a platform that can go from MS Word to well formatted HTML 5, more power to you. But getting around Word right now is probably impossible.

No, But Maybe. (3, Insightful)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899185)

The obvious answer to this is no, by the law of headlines. However, taking a look at the material does lend itself to the possibility of a good workflow. My own concerns would be with going from LaTeX now — there is some stuff on offer that could be quite excellent once further developed and supported.

Re:No, But Maybe. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899267)

FFS. Can you please shut up about Betteridge's law of headlines?

Re:No, But Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899343)

FFS. Can you please shut up about Betteridge's law of headlines?

Crying "no true Scotsman fallacy!" recently got old and un-trendy.

Just before that, smugly telling someone they didn't technically use "beginning the question" correctly got old and un-trendy.

I can't wait to see what's next after the god damned law of headlines gets old and un-trendy.

Is getting offended when I call them "sheeple" ("sheople?") still the hip thing to do? Just pretend the use of that word has no connection to the mindless adoption of this herd mentality. You have fun with that now.

Re:No, But Maybe. (1)

dugancent (2616577) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899399)

It's not, and never was, hip to get offended for using "sheeple", it just made you look like an idiot. Still does.

Re:No, But Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899659)

It's not, and never was, hip to get offended for using "sheeple", it just made you look like an idiot. Still does.

Let us reason together here, like gentlemen, and not have you rushing to unfounded judgments against my intelligence like the small-minded. Assuming you have a choice in the matter.

"Sheeple" means people who engage in groupthink and trend-following behavior because they have a herd mentality. You know, like you can observe in sheep and other bovine animals. The sheep do it because there is safety in numbers against predators, standing out from the herd gets a sheep targeted by them. Sheeple aren't worried about being eaten by wolves or something. Sheeple do this emotionally and spiritually out of ignorance and out of a desire to escape the genuine difficulty of being who you are.

If it is the particular word that offends you, provide a better one that still describes the same condition. I am seeing complaints but no constructive suggestion from you. If it is the connotation of contempt that often goes with the use of the word "sheeple", try focusing on the cause of that contempt. That would actually be constructive. Then you might take a look around you at the world and the impact of sheeple on it and realize that a little mere contempt is marvelously generous and merciful. If it's the subject itself, of human behavior and its pathologies, that so offends you, then what you really want is censorship but you don't have the guts to admit it.

Any way you look at it, your position comes with a lot of problems. Are you going to insult me some more?

Re:No, But Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899607)

I beg to differ. Before coming to the end of any question you need to begin it.

Re:No, But Maybe. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899699)

FFS. Can you please shut up about Betteridge's law of headlines?

No.

Not really (1)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899205)

Unless the two dominant sources of e-books (Amazon and Apple) support it: no.

Re:Not really (3, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900197)

Unless the two dominant sources of e-books (Amazon and Apple) support it: no.

That would be a yes then:

Amazon infuses e-books with HTML5 power with new KF8 format [arstechnica.com]
It’s Official: iBooks Now Supports Epub3 [the-digital-reader.com] which is based on XHTML1.1 which introduced html5 features to XHTML

HTML & XHTML (1)

unixisc (2429386) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902839)

Actually, once XHTML came out, why do we have HTML being perpetrated at all, instead of switching over completely to XHTML?

HTML 5 == XML, no? (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | 1 year,11 days | (#44904547)

Actually, once XHTML came out, why do we have HTML being perpetrated at all, instead of switching over completely to XHTML?

I thought HTML 5 finally was valid XML? And without all the jiggery-pokery of XHTML and different DTD flavors.

So what is ePub then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901099)

ePub is just HTML in a glorified wrapper. If you're going to make a work available in ePub then HTML should be a given. However it shouldn't matter at all what tool the author uses to compose his work. Presentation for publication and distribution is the job of editors.

Now whether or not the author wishes to be the editor of their own work is another story. Some want that level of control, and others don't really care.

Also sloppy piss-poor formatting in electronic publications means the editor isn't doing their job. There is more to it than just doing a straight OCR scan or copy-pasta from the source text file. And then they wonder why people don't want to pay as much or even more for an electronic instead of paper edtion. (At least from what I've seen, the guys that work on the paper editions take pride in their work. Doesn't seem so on the e-side. It's like they handed it off to some intern who's task of getting coffee for everyone else is more important.)

LaTeX anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899207)

These problems were solved years ago....

DocBook FTW (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899225)

I will never go back to anything containing "TeX" in the name.

Re:DocBook FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899693)

Interesting. How do you find pros that support BBFS?

Re:DocBook FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899729)

I will never go back to anything containing "TeX" in the name.

Not even TeXtbooks, TeXas or TeX Mex?

I guess you're not going to use cipherTeXts either?

Let's put the X in TeX (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900739)

Publishing's like a muscle, and you make me want to flex.

Re:LaTeX anyone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899581)

The thing is that the current set of problems are not the same set that was solved so well by TeX and LaTeX. The focus of publishing is shifting from the printed page to the mobile digital screen. This brings a host of new issues and opens great new possibilities. Now we look for personalization, user interactivity, multiple media types, and the ability to link to and incorporate material from sources around the net.
    HTML5 though has a ways to go to generate the workflow and ecosystem necessary to support large scale publishing. As noted by Sanders though, O'Reilly seems to be making progress in using HTML5 for significant publishing efforts.
    The current publishing paradigm has significant momentum, not only in technology, but in how may practitioners think about the problem. An amazing amount of digital content carries over the same representations and style that was used when printing to paper. We can do so much more with modern tools.
    Of course I have thought that this shift was due for the past 15 years. Perhaps publishers will now look at the web as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Re:LaTeX anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899711)

These problems were CREATED years ago. Yep. You can do many things with LaTeX but it is painful. I wish there was something to replace it with.

Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899223)

From the article: "HTML5 is actually an excellent source format for producing paginated content, as the CSS3 Paged Media Module can be utilized to design the eqiuivalent of a standard book template for print." But which popular user agents implement CSS3 paged media? It appears to be so obscure that caniuse.com has no results for "paged". This [css3clickchart.com] claims that only "labs" (alpha?) builds of Opera support it, and that was probably before Opera switched to being yet another WebKit wrapper. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] claims that most of the CSS3 paged media properties are completely unsupported in popular browsers.

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899299)

Is this an opportunity for a plugin to come to the rescue?

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899313)

No one wants your stinkin' plugins to bring support for things and further shard the comparability of user agents.

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899317)

Ugh. Proofing fail, compatibility.

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899361)

Ugh. Proofing fail, compatibility.

No, that was a "Preview button - use it" fail. Then it was compounded by a redundant second post of a correction when your intended meaning was already obvious.

So it's really a double-douchebag fail.

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901855)

Douchebag? Don't project.

Re: Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901541)

This is why DRM is in the HTML5 spec. An irrational fear of a perfectly valid architectural choice.

Re:Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (2, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899671)

HTML5 is actually an excellent source format for producing paginated content ...

Which is actually completely untrue. HTML5 is a terrible source format because it is predominantly a visual markup, not a semantic one. You can sort of graft semantics onto it through CSS classes, but any such solution is inherently fragile and at the very least a publisher-specific standard, and likely a book-specific standard.

DocBook is an excellent source format. Its tags are semantic by their nature, which makes it much better as a source format, because it can not only be trivially converted to HTML5 for electronic publication, but also to LaTeX for print publication. It will also be easy to convert from that to whatever format replaces HTML5 ten years from now. And of course you can always add additional semantic tags to extend it if you need some book-specific or publisher-specific functionality.

Re:Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899893)

Actually I was working on my personal website this month and got to look at what HTML5 has to offer now.
HTML5 has now become a lot more semantic, it contains nested tags, , , and a lot more of those.

I haven't used a

tag in my whole web page, and I have headers that are fixed to the browser frame with a menu with buttons.

CSS3 has also grown a lot, I only use an image for the background. Using gradients and shadows (including inner shadow) allows you to make good looking components. CSS3 even does automatic chapter/section/subsection numbering.

The only thing that is missing is automatic generation of content tables (chapter, images, bibliography).

Re:Almost nothing supports CSS3 paged media yet (3, Informative)

nabsltd (1313397) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901621)

HTML5 is a terrible source format because it is predominantly a visual markup, not a semantic one.

Actually, HTML elements in ePub have defined semantic roles [idpf.org] , primarily to allow assistive technologies to make better use of the content.

I don't think so... (1, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899243)

I'm living large with XML'd e-pubs, but I do use a bit of HTML5 storage in a few of my apps.

Ebooks are great for "read once, maybe" material (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899259)

It would not be surprising to see O'Reilly, Microsoft Press, and other publishers of documentation of fast-evolving products to switch pretty much entirely to a digital format over the next 5-10 years. Also non-fiction ghostwritten by celebrities, or other disposable works written to cash in on some hot topic like a new diet.

Serious fiction, academic textbooks and other non-fiction with an extended shelf life are a different matter. Paper is more reader-friendly.

Re:Ebooks are great for "read once, maybe" materia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899287)

Disregard that I'm a fatass snob who sucks cocks.

Re:Ebooks are great for "read once, maybe" materia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899391)

Disregard that I'm a fatass snob who sucks cocks.

You too?!?! Oh my gosh! I thought I was alone! Well except that "snob" part...

Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899281)

Two weeks ago I published the web edition of the Graphics Codex [graphicscodex.com] . It is HTML5, with full LaTeX, SVG, and complex text layout for quality and Javascript + links for interactivity. This is a port of the earlier iOS edition that I wrote, which had similar features but wasn't HTML5. After having written several traditional books and seen them massacred by conversion to PDF, MOBI, and ePUB, I think that HTML5 from the start is the way to go for future publishing.

Re:Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (4, Interesting)

catmistake (814204) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899655)

I disagree, strongly. There is nothing wrong with HTML5. The issue is that it is a non-issue . In physical publishing, the industry has long adopted PDF. It is ideal for printing. PDF is here for the forseeable future. If your book is being pressed, it doesn't matter if it was previously Word, LaTeX, HTML5, chiseled in granite, or you used your finger on a sandy beach and made molds with plaster; it's going to be normalized as PDF before it hits the press.

For digital distribution there is room for all formats, and new formats no one has thought up... there is no purpose in even talking about this. Compose how you feel most comfortable; if physically publishing, send your content to the printers in any form you wish, they will normalize to PDF; make any format available that the digital consumer desires -- the cost of multiple formats is negligible... I imagine a perl or python or ruby script conversion for each format desired is all that is necessary, perhaps with some proofing to iron out wrinkles.

Enjoy your preferred method of composition. But as I pleaded above, please stop evangelizing the need for a solution where no problem exists. HTML5 is not the One True Format, and all others despair in their inferiority. Give consumers the choice of all or any that they wish to use.

Re:Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (5, Insightful)

dargaud (518470) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900825)

In physical publishing, the industry has long adopted PDF. It is ideal for printing.

...but it absolutely SUCKS for reading on any kind of screen. It hardly ever reflows properly. Even on a large PC screen it's a pain to read a multicolumn pdf: you are always going up and down because top and bottom of page are outside the screen. You can imagine on an ereader... It's also very resource intensive on phone/ereader.

Re:Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (4, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901949)

Both methods of publishing will be around for quite a while. He is correct about physical publishing, you may be right about digital. The two opinions are not exclusive.

Re:Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44902917)

It hardly ever reflows properly.

PDF doesn't "reflow" ever, period. Its not meant to... what it gives you is identical content everywhere it is used, no matter the platform. It is not necessarily ideal for eReaders, unless to want an eBook that is identical content to the printed version. I have found I prefer PDF versions of magazines because I prefer content that identical to the published version, even though the copy appears small on a small screen, and I have to magnify the page to read it and scroll around.

Re:Yes, HTML5 is the future of publishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900415)

I wouldn't buy a book which I can't archive. You should make downloadable version of your HTML5 book so that it's archivable for future generations.

Book Authoring... No. Intermediate/final format (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899345)

If you're talking about actual writing of most common forms of books... i.e. novels... No. That's going to remain with Word, Scrivener, etc. At that level, HTML is a hidden/internal or after-the-writing format that the writer cares and knows as little about as they do Postscript or PCL printer languages.

Perhaps for more complexly formatted books and for web pages and web apps... but even there... more likely to be a behind-the-scenes after-the-writing format than something that the writer/designer/programmer deals with directly.

Not when there's Tex (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899349)

You can't easily specify printout options with HTML for one...

Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899357)

No, it is not.

Let's all buckle our seatbelts (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899561)

Because we're in for a sustained campaign of "all documents in the cloud" opinion pieces driven courtesy of cloud providers and companies that make money off of sniffing your panties, like Google.

HTML 5 as of now represents a regressive step in page layout and rendering relative to what can be done by other word processing technologies. It's good for making web pages but as a universal lingua for all written communication it's lacking a lot. Also the really interesting things around the evolution of written documents and writing itself are outside of the scope of HTML5 and as such represent non-standardized efforts by privater groups and individuals. We're talking things like novel representations of information and collaborative editing.

Those things will may be open sourced or closed source efforts. Even if they're open sourced, that's still not a standard and are not going to be standards since the process of creating standards is always (over) run by competing commercial interests who attempt to define those standards to advantage themselves and disadvantage their competitors . This is why the standards process proceeds at a glacial pace,, if it ever concludes at all, why the *real* people quit such committees in disgust.

Everything in the cloud is the Next Big Thing according to the people with Big Money who spend their time trying to discover / create / profit from The Next Big Thing. That doesn't mean it serves any real need. The play here is to "get as many people using it as possible, like Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest, then through the magic of network effects, everyone WILL use it. Then - profit.

The thing is, is doesn't solve any problem but it creates lots of new ones around security and privacy .

Sure, sharing group oriented documents at some points in their creation implies they're living on a server somewhere. And there are models of group authorship which are superior to lone efforts- Wikipedia is of course the best known.

But the death of custom word processors and the death of private storage and the death of general purpose computing CPUs ? I mean, I am sure there are forces in society who not only earnestly hope for such outcomes, but campaign for them using all their considerable resources, it's just one of those things people are smart enough to reject.

Pay the Writer (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899591)

So how will this revolution make sure that the writer gets paid? As Harlan Elison says, Pay the Writer [youtube.com] ! Don't get me wrong, I love writing and am not looking for top dollar for my own small efforts, but all I see is sites wanting free writing. I do it myself, but at least I don't have ad dollars coming in off the backs of the few people who contribute to my site.

Wha? (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899663)

SO how did chm work out? You see many books in that.

Put simply the stuff I am writing is not in HTML format and never will be if I can help it.

Re:Wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44899675)

That's a good point. These obscure languages aren't going to have any staying power.

Re:Wha? (1)

flargleblarg (685368) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899739)

SO how did chm work out? You see many books in that.

CHM??? chm is a piece of utter garbage by Microsoft, intended as Compiled HTML Help.

HTML5, on the other hand, is actually rather decent.

Re:Wha? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | 1 year,11 days | (#44899795)

HTML5 on the other hand, is a bit of a bitch if you want to embed resources in a single file for distribution.

CHM is pretty much an archive designed to store HTML files and supporting artefacts, along with indexes for searching. Nothing really stopping you using HTML5 in a CHM file, since it is rendered with IE anyway.

Re:Wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44900037)

Wrong. ...it is rendered with IE anyway.

this is what's stopping the use of HTML 5. HTML on the other hand...

Re:Wha? (1)

sidthegeek (626567) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902399)

HTML5 on the other hand, is a bit of a bitch if you want to embed resources in a single file for distribution.

It's not impossible. You can use the data: URI scheme to embed Base64-encoded files. It increases the filesize considerably, though.

BookJS (1)

johanneswilm (549816) | 1 year,11 days | (#44900095)

You should check out BookJS ( http://sourcefabric.github.io/BookJS/ [github.io] ). It's made so you can design book pages in the Chrome browser and create PDFs using the browser's print-to-pdf function. it can handle footnotes, floats, margin notes, etc. . It's being used in Fidus Writer ( http://www.fiduswriter.org/ [fiduswriter.org] ) and Booktype ( http://www.sourcefabric.org/en/booktype/ [sourcefabric.org] ). However, going on with Fidus writer, I am less sure that book editing can be directly done woith HTML, without a large amount of Javascript, basically because the contenteditable feature is so broken in most browsers. I have filed tickets with Chrome and Firefox.

Please NOOO!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901281)

I am sorry for the super geeks o nerds or Start Trek lovers out there that have only one nail and everything is a hammer for them, but HTML is SHIT for any serious publishing.

Why? In my Imac right now I see slashdot with 80 words lines!! Hell to read, there is why newspapers use short lines, lost of them, we need to focus our vision and short lines makes possible very fast reading as you could use your visual memory to read a big chunk of info at a time. With long lines you can't, simply because the next line has nothing to do with the last, as it is very far away.

But somewhat this is the standard on Internet. HTML is the format that could do lost of things well, but there are better tools for specific needs.

You need a format that controls how the info is displayed in the screen. This format exist, it is called "PDF", and it is open enough.

yes, but (1)

Tom (822) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901351)

HTML5 is great for text. Like, basically, any markup language. If you write a novel or something, you basically just need text with less than a dozen markers for where chapters start and such. Then you send it to your publisher and they'll do their part.

Now if you write something more interesting, then HTML5 isn't the solution, mostly because there aren't any good editors and readers/browsers still don't guarantee you a good result. For stuff that requires DTP, you are better off with PDF today, and probably for a while.

And if you do your own typesetting, and/or if you want a professional look instead of the amateur crap that most word processing software (and most of the cheap DTP programs) generate, nothing beats LaTeX and nothing will in the forseable future.

Actually, thinking about that I need to rephrase:

Yes, HTML5 is great if you're an amateru posting a blog who doesn't care how your shit looks to the reader, because all of the 5 people reading your blog couldn't spot the difference anyway.

If you want to publish a book, if you care about writing and reading at all, if you don't want to contribute to the downfall of civilization, for fucks sake, think about typesetting.

Here's a few starters:
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/01/the-trouble-with-word-processors/ [thebookdesigner.com]
http://oestrem.com/thingstwice/2007/05/latex-vs-word-vs-writer/ [oestrem.com]
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133/visual-comparison-between-latex-and-word-output-hyphenation-typesetting-ligat [stackexchange.com]

Now if only there were a WYSIWYG LaTeX editor for OS X that's as easy to use as Pages - I'd be using it all day.

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44901443)

i started writing a book on facebooger.
years ago, i posted a disclaimer that facebooker, zookerburger, and the joogle android-army of sheister-led bureaucrazies have NIL rights to my creative work which i post on facebooger.

people actually read it!

i cannot read or write in html, usually i write mainly in English

Re:yes, but (1, Informative)

nabsltd (1313397) | 1 year,11 days | (#44901777)

If you write a novel or something, you basically just need text with less than a dozen markers for where chapters start and such.

There are very few novels that don't use some sort of alternate text (italics, bold, etc.), so that has to be noted in some way.

Then, you have structures like in-chapter breaks, first paragraph differences, date/location notations, chapter name/number, etc., where it's very likely an author has an strong idea for what the final result should look like. At the extreme end, you have novels like The Andromeda Strain which is as complex in specific formatting requirements as a math textbook.

The primary difference today is that authors have many tools available that allow them to convey the desired look and feel to the publisher. And, for that, HTML is a lot more tedious than a WYSIWYG word processor. Someday, someone is going to write a WYSIWYG word processor that can output high-quality, compact HTML plus CSS, but none of those exist right now.

Re:yes, but (1)

Tom (822) | 1 year,11 days | (#44902887)

There are very few novels that don't use some sort of alternate text (italics, bold, etc.), so that has to be noted in some way.

Much fewer than you think, that seems to be a curse of modern times. I could quote a friend of mine who works in the publishing industry and said something like "bold does not belong into a novel, EVER".

But yes, that and some titles and such are what a semantic markup language needs, and is why I said it needs some markers instead of saying plain text would do.

And, for that, HTML is a lot more tedious than a WYSIWYG word processor.

Frankly, 99% of the people using a word processor don't know how to use it. Everyone who submits a manuscript in Word format where he used individual formating instead of styles should be banned from writing anything again for five years (and life if he didn't spend that time learning how to use styles).

But it's not so much the fault of the authors as the tool. Those stupid crap WYSIWYG editors don't give you a visual indication of where your content is properly styled and where it's just crap you fixed with duct tape.

YES! (1)

Ron Elliott (1584463) | 1 year,11 days | (#44905613)

I definitely think HTML, CSS and JS is the future of publishing. In fact, I'll go ahead and say the transition has already started. If you look at what's happening right now, book sales, magazine and newsprint subscriptions are on the decline in favor of information gathered from the internet. People generally don't like picking up a book to look up some info when Google is readily available and decreases the amount of time required to get said information. Also, writers will not have to learn anything different, there are already WYSIWYG editors for HTML in existence, they only thing that is missing is a standardized CSS file for them to use that creates all the justified columns and what not they require. HTML5 is also very descriptive about it's data when used properly, unlike PDF's generated with a series of images (I really hate reading these on my kindle!). Also when you add javascript to the mix things like those old childrens books with scroll wheels for animations becomes possible again. HTML5, CSS3, and JS will provide much more rich content than what is currently available, not to mention it's an open standard and can work on any device implementing a web browser.
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