The future of EPUB? A first look at the EPUB 3.1 Editor’s draft

10 March 2016

About a month ago the International Digital Publishing Forum, the standards body behind the EPUB format, published an Editor’s Draft of EPUB 3.1. This is meant to be the successor of the current 3.0.1 version. IDPC has set up a community review, which allows interested parties to comment on the draft. The proposed changes relative to EPUB 3.0.1 are summarised in this document. A note at the top states (emphasis added by me):

The EPUB working group has opted for a radical change approach to the addition and deletion of features in the 3.1 revision to move the standard aggressively forward with the overarching goals of alignment with the Open Web Platform and simplification of the core specifications.

As Gary McGath pointed out earlier, this is a pretty bold statement for what is essentially a minor version. The authors of the draft also mention that they expect it “will provoke strong reactions both for and against”, and that changes that raise “strong negative reactions” from the community “will be reviewed for future drafts”.

This blog post is an attempt to identify the main implications of the current draft for libraries and archives: to what degree would the proposed changes affect (long-term) accessibility? Since the current draft is particularly notable for its aggressive removal of various existing EPUB features, I will focus on these. These observations are all based on the 30 January 2016 draft of the changes document.

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Jpylyzer 2015 round-up

08 December 2015

Yesterday (7 December) we released version 1.16.0 of the jpylyzer tool, which is this year’s third release of the software (excluding bugfix releases). This blog post gives a brief overview of the main jpylyzer improvements that have been implemented over this year.

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Preserving optical media from the command-line

13 November 2015

The KB has quite a large collection of offline optical media, such as CD-ROMs, DVDs and audio CDs. We’re currently investigating how to stabilise the contents of these materials using disk imaging. During the initial phase of this work I did a number of tests with various open-source tools. It’s doubtful whether we’ll end up using these same tools in our actual workflows. The main reason for this is the sheer size of the collection, which we estimated at some 15,000 physical carriers; possibly even more. At those volumes we will need a solution that involves the use of a disk robot, and these often require dedicated software (we still need to investigate this more in-depth).

Nevertheless, throughout the initial testing phase I was surprised at the number of useful tools that are available in the open source domain. Since this will probably be of interest to others as well, I decided to polish a selection from my rough working notes into a somewhat more digestible form (or so I hope!). I edited my original notes down to the following topics:

  • How to figure out the device path of the CD drive
  • How to create an ISO image from a CD-ROM or DVD
  • How to check the integrity of the created ISO image
  • How to extract audio from an audio CD

In addition there’s a final section that covers my attempts at imaging a multisession / mixed mode CD. The result of this particular exercise wasn’t all that successful, but I included it anyway, as some may find it useful. All software mentioned here are open-source tools that are available for any modern Linux distribution (I’m using Linux Mint myself). Some can be used under Windows as well using Cygwin.

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Response to report on JPEG 2000 expert round table

19 October 2015

Today my attention was caught by this report of an “Expert round table” on JPEG2000 and Digitisation, which was published on the TownsWeb Archiving blog. Although the report as a whole is quite balanced, it’s unfortunate that it provides fuel to some long-running myths about JPEG 2000 not supporting fully lossless compression. Since I wasn’t able to leave a comment on the Townweb blog itself, I turned my response into this small blog post.

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Why PDF/A validation matters, even if you don't have PDF/A - Part 2

08 July 2015

This is the second and final instalment of a 2-part blog on the use of PDF/A validators for identifying preservation risks in PDF. You can read the first part here. In Part 1 I showed how PDF/A validators can be used to identify preservation risks in a PDF. I illustrated this with an example that uses the PDF/A validator component of Adobe Acrobat’s Preflight tool. Needless to say, Acrobat is not scalabe to situations where you need to verify large volumes of PDFs. Luckily, several stand-alone PDF/A validators exist that are designed especially to do just that.

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