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Proposal for multi-format ebook authoring tool; Vex open source XML editor

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  • Jon Noring
    [cc: John Krasnay, lead developer of Vex] Everyone, In a nutshell, as part of the OpenReader Consortium effort, we are interested in preferably an open source
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 4, 2006
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      [cc: John Krasnay, lead developer of Vex]


      Everyone,

      In a nutshell, as part of the OpenReader Consortium effort, we are
      interested in preferably an open source application (or plug-in for a
      word processor) for authoring simpler types of publications, which
      allows (almost) pushbutton conversion of the master XML produced into
      a variety of the common ebook formats in use today, as well as into
      the new OpenReader format: http://www.openreader.org/spec

      This authoring tool would be focused towards the smaller, independent
      ebook publishers who, by and large, are not that savvy with publishing
      tools nor with XML (e.g., the full DocBook vocabulary would scare the
      bejesus out of most of them, as do pointy brackets.) Most of these
      "indie" publishers primarily publish books having fairly simple
      document structures and layouts, such as "traditional" fiction. This
      tool would not, and cannot, be a 100% solution for all small indie
      publishers, but hopefully can be an 80% or 90% solution, thereby
      saving many indies a whole lot of time and effort.

      I have outlined my thoughts and initial requirements for this tool in
      a series of three articles posted to The eBook Community:

      Overview: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebook-community/message/26923

      For Publishers: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebook-community/message/26924

      For Developers: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebook-community/message/26925

      ******

      On a related topic, as I have been looking around for both open source
      and commercial XML editors that might be used for this proposal, I ran
      across an open source XML editor called "Vex":

      http://vex.sourceforge.net/

      Although it is a little rough around the edges and needs some feature
      additions such as easy non-Latin character input (I tried out the
      Windows version), it is very intriguing and shows a LOT of potential.

      Is anyone here familiar with Vex? And if so, are there any other open
      source and commercial XML editors that are similar to Vex that we
      should look at?

      *****

      Of course, if anyone here is interested in helping us make this
      proposal a reality, let me know in private. I can be reached at my
      usual email address of jon@..., by Skype (sometimes) at
      'jon_noring', and by phone at 801-253-4037.

      And feel free to share comments on this group, too, but if you do plan
      to do so, I request you read the three articles above first.

      Thanks!

      Jon Noring
    • Larry Kollar
      Nobody here will be surprised to hear me say I think you re definitely on the right track. While I think most of us here on xml-doc are interested primarily in
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 6, 2006
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        Nobody here will be surprised to hear me say I think you're
        definitely on the right track. While I think most of us here on
        xml-doc are interested primarily in technical publishing,
        which may necessitate more complex markup than what would
        suffice for eBooks, I also think you have to start *somewhere*.
        It's definitely easier to start with something simple and work
        your way up than to jump straight into something like DocBook.

        I've brought up this point before, but it's definitely possible
        to use nothing more than HTML+CSS to lay out (at least some)
        books. Here's an example:

        http://www.alistapart.com/articles/boom

        IMO, if you start with something at this level, you're going to
        get a lot more people trying it out, and you may well get that
        80% you're looking for.

        --
        Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS CPE Products
        "Content creators are the engine that drives
        value in the information life cycle."
        -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jon Noring
        ... Definitely! Prince is cool, and I see Prince being a part of the document conversion system to produce PDF from the master. Note that the founder of
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 6, 2006
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          Larry wrote:

          > Nobody here will be surprised to hear me say I think you're
          > definitely on the right track. While I think most of us here on
          > xml-doc are interested primarily in technical publishing,
          > which may necessitate more complex markup than what would
          > suffice for eBooks, I also think you have to start *somewhere*.
          > It's definitely easier to start with something simple and work
          > your way up than to jump straight into something like DocBook.
          >
          > I've brought up this point before, but it's definitely possible
          > to use nothing more than HTML+CSS to lay out (at least some)
          > books. Here's an example:
          >
          > http://www.alistapart.com/articles/boom

          Definitely! Prince is cool, and I see Prince being a part of the
          document conversion system to produce PDF from the master.

          Note that the founder of Prince, Michael Day, is also a co-founder of
          the OpenReader Consortium. He's been advising us on matters related to
          CSS, etc.


          > IMO, if you start with something at this level, you're going to
          > get a lot more people trying it out, and you may well get that
          > 80% you're looking for.

          I hope so. Remember that, by and large, small publishers are not
          tech-savvy at all -- and they never will be. They don't have the
          resources to hire anyone to do their document work for them. So they
          get by as they can. And they use *Word* for just about everything, so
          that is the type of environment we have to provide them. And they
          also misuse Word (only a small percentage even use Styles!) Thus
          the interest in Vex, and a constrained set of choices so they can't
          create garbage XML. As soon as you add something that can be misused,
          it will be.

          Jon Noring
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