Dear Adobe Digital Editions Team

By Keith Fahlgren
May 22, 2009 | Comments: 3

Adobe has made extensive contributions to the world of EPUB software, from the free (as in beer), cross-platform Digital Editions reader to their open source contributions in epubcheck, epub-tools, and the ePub output for the DocBook-XSL project. Adobe's adoption of open source development models has benefited the community (and, I hope, Adobe) greatly, and I'd like to encourage them to adopt another open source technique for Digital Editions.

Like any piece of software, Digital Edition has bugs. As publishers sell more EPUB books, readers become more aware of the EPUB format, and Adobe partners with more hardware manufacturers, it becomes increasingly important that the Digital Editions/Reader Mobile SDK team collect, publish, and correct bug reports from the community. I've noticed a marked uptick in complaints about EPUB on Twitter, in person, and from our customers. Many of these can be traced back not to EPUB the format, but to the particular reading system being used to read EPUB. For better or worse, Adobe has the dominant reading system in Digital Editions (outside the iPhone), and it has both an opportunity and responsibility to improve reader satisfaction by resolving problems in the software.

To help facilitate that aim, I'd strongly encourage Adobe to adopt an open bug tracker for Digital Editions. Not only will an open bug tracker allow Adobe to be alerted to problems more quickly, it will also allow developers and content creators to develop workarounds for known bugs and improve the experience for readers. An open bug tracker will also help customer service departments triage customer complaints, as it becomes more clear whether a reader has come across a known issue in a specific version. Moreover, Adobe already has the infrastructure for open bug tracking at bugs.adobe.com.

I think it's also important that the Digital Editions team be transparent in their plans for the evolution of the software. A published roadmap would help readers and developers outside Adobe understand the basic goals for the future of the reading system. As Adobe's Reader Mobile SDK reaches wider and wider adoption, it'll be crucially important to understand whether Adobe intends to simplify and constrain the desktop version of Digital Editions (and the underlying rendering engine) by using a single codebase shared between both products. EPUB creators are often frustrated to learn of the constraints Adobe expects EPUB to follow on devices like the Sony Reader's 300KB "chunk" size limit and I think it's important to understand where those constraints do and do not apply.

Finally, I'd like to encourage the Digital Editions team to provide more structured release notes in EPUB format with the details of changes in every minor and major release. Ideally, these notes would include the current version at the top, but also the dates and notes on each previous version in the same document. In each version, any changes that introduce non-conformant features or enhancements should be unambiguously called out.

3 Comments

Did you get any response from Adobe about this?

Nope.

Any reply till date?

Projects

Bookworm

The free platform for reading EPUB books online from any device.

Integrated with O'Reilly Labs 02/09/09.

First translations added 03/11/09.

Feedbooks integration & one-click addition added 07/29/09.

Beta Projects

Open Feedback Publishing System (OFPS)

Participate in collaborative community feedback to help refine in-progress, open manuscripts like Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript or the published Programming Scala.

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O'Reilly Product Metadata Interface (OPMI)

Want to know all we know about an  O'Reilly book? Give us an ISBN and we'll let you in on our (RDF) secrets!

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Open Source

DocBook-XSL 1.74.3 with Improved ePub Output

Keith Fahlgren (O'Reilly Media) helped release the stable 1.74.3 release of the open source DocBook-XSL project and improved the EPUB generation stylesheets. Paul Norton (Adobe) and Liza Daly (Threepress) provided very helpful patches.

Released 02/17/09.

DocBook-XSL 1.74.0 EPUB Output

Paul Norton (Adobe) and Keith Fahlgren (O'Reilly Media) have contributed code to the 1.74.0 release of the open source DocBook-XSL project that generates EPUB documents from DocBook. An alpha-quality reference implementation in Ruby was also been provided.

EPUB is an open standard of  the The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and something O'Reilly is trying  to help gain wider adoption.

Released 06/02/08.