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hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Apr 3, 2016 8:02 AM
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Hi, there,

I spent at least a month trying to figure out how to render interior images on my kindle. Basically I had images which I wanted to stretch out the full width of the device at the start of every chapter. I was creating the html files by hand, so here's what I did to the css files. Keep in mind that I didn't want these images to consume the entire page, I just wanted them at most to fill up about 1/3 of the page.

First, all your images should be high quality. For me I used minimum pixels for 1800 px. It could even be higher. The key points are

1)Kindlegen will automatically decrease the image size/quality according to the device.
2) Sometimes I had to blow up low quality images to get to 1800px. That can be ok because the largest Kindle device is 10 inches, and the low-quality graphic still looked fine.

Second, create a series of breakpoints for your media queries. Here are the ones I used:

I ended up writing unique css media queries at certain breakpoints. These breakpoints fit my need to make my graphics work. Your own graphics might require different breakpoints/thresholds. Please note that I did not use queries specific to android or ios and I did not need to specify device-pixel-ratio.

a. generic styles, for everybody (and for devices which don't detect media queries)
b. phone media queries valid for both portrait and landscape: min-width 320px max-width: 767px
c. phone media queries valid only for landscape 768 to 1500 px landscape (because we assume 2 columns, this is basically the same as Phone/Portrait)
d. Landscape over 1500px -- when 2 columns, this will look the same as portrait 768-1024
e. 768-1024 portrait -- this probably comprises about 60-70% of the devices
f. 1025-up portrait -- future proofing, just in case

Third, use variations of this CSS code inside each media query.

div.image-replace-title {

width: 95%;
margin-left: auto;
margin-right: auto;
}

div.image-replace-title img {
width: 100%;
display: inline;
}

I put 95% for the most common media queries, and then decreased it to 75% for huge (and I mean HUGE) media queries (see f above). The lowest e-ink devices didn't recognize these media queries, but the rest did. The key thing is that using high quality images to begin with allowed Kindlegen to compress as needed. My images rendered great on the e-ink devices.

I still had one or two image problems with Kindle app for ios that I had to figure out on a case-by-case basis.

One other thing is that the latest Kindle Previewer (beta version) works great but renders gigantic mobi files. When you send them to your Personal Doc Service, Kindle will send a fairly small ebook by comparison. (I uploaded a 20MB file, and saw that Amazon.com was reducing it to about 2mb when it was sending this to devices.

Hope this helps somebody!
Ned Kelly

Posts: 1,096
Registered: 09/05/15
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Apr 3, 2016 8:52 PM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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Crikey...I just make mine 1000 wide and drop them into the word file when I want them to go full width...

Works fine for me. see below (not sure if there's any full width in the LI) but 175,000 words, 1100 pages and 250 pics...

Cheers

The Great Space Race

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8A73IO
hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Apr 4, 2016 2:13 PM   in response to: Ned Kelly in response to: Ned Kelly
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First, I just downloaded the preview of your ebook. Looks great!

On my 12 inch screen (admittedly an unusually large tablet), your images are only about 1/3 of the screen. On my 10 inch screen, your image occupies about 2/3 of the width (which feels right).

I wanted my images to be big enough to cover most of the screen width even on larger devices. The great thing is that after you upload the file (it was 20 mb .mobi file for me, can't imagine what it was for you), Amazon.com will compress the ebook file appropriately for the device.

It's fair to say that 12 inch screens aren't normal, but who can predict the future?

Hapax

Edited by: hapax_bookguy on Apr 4, 2016 2:13 PM
Notjohn

Posts: 22,982
Registered: 02/27/13
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Apr 5, 2016 2:51 AM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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I agree that calling for full width or something close to it is a good idea, but like Ned I think that you are over-thinking it! Surely the number of people reading on 12-inch tablets is vanishingly small, and if they regularly read e-books on such a screen, surely they know that most images won't zoom to that size.

I use 800 pixels wide, 127KB total size, and width="100%" (but in line, not in the CSS, because that isn't always the case).

Amazon used to instruct us to use 450 pixels wide, and some of my older books were created that way. They still look perfectly fine on my latest-generation Paperwhite and Kindle 7 tablet. These are the highest-rez devices commonly sold. (If you have a 12-inch tablet, you must be using an app.)

Good luck! -- NJ

The book: Notjohn's Guide to Kindle Publishing 2016

The blog: Notjohn's KDP Guide
Ned Kelly

Posts: 1,096
Registered: 09/05/15
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Apr 12, 2016 4:45 PM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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NJ's encapsulated it fairly concisely. If I'd used media queries I'd also have to provide larger images to call up, and with so many I'd incur an even bigger download cost. When designing my books I decided to cater for the most common sizes and the baseline I build to is the Kindle Fire. Sure some may view on a larger screen, but as has been said they are in the minority.

Cheers

Ned
hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Oct 31, 2017 5:37 AM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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I wanted to add something to my original post:

I ended up increasing the dimensions of low-quality images to make them comparable to my high-quality images.

You would think that upconverting something with width 300 px to 1000 px would look pixilated. Maybe it does, but keep in mind that the tablet is still going to have 6 or 7 inch width on large tablets (and possibly 9 inch on a HUGE tablet).

When I upconverted an image from 300 px to 1000 px (sorry, I forgot the exact dimensions), the image still looked great on ipads.

If you are viewing an image on a 22 inch monitor, then pixilation will be apparent, but the physical dimensions of the reading system are more important than the pixel count. As long as an image renders fine on a device with 6-7 inches inch width (or 9 inches if you are being ultra-cautious), you have nothing to worry about. If you start with a fairly high pixel image, Amazon will simply reduce the image to the appropriate size for the device it's downloading to.

The ideal solution is to keep the highest quality images, but I recognize that practically many people have to deal with less-than-ideal quality images. Maybe for the type of images I used, stretching it to 1000px width or 1800px didn't seem to affect the ability to read it clearly. Perhaps your images are different.

Finally about bandwidth, I don't know the ins and outs of how Amazon delivery costs, but I would assume that most people who download image-heavy ebooks would be doing it on wifi. In many cases, Amazon would be shrinking image quality depending on the device it is sent to

Edited by: hapax_bookguy on Oct 31, 2017 5:39 AM
booknookbiz

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Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Oct 31, 2017 6:14 AM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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hapax_bookguy wrote:
I wanted to add something to my original post:

I ended up increasing the dimensions of low-quality images to make them comparable to my high-quality images.

You would think that upconverting something with width 300 px to 1000 px would look pixilated. Maybe it does, but keep in mind that the tablet is still going to have 6 or 7 inch width on large tablets (and possibly 9 inch on a HUGE tablet).

When I upconverted an image from 300 px to 1000 px (sorry, I forgot the exact dimensions), the image still looked great on ipads.

If you are viewing an image on a 22 inch monitor, then pixilation will be apparent, but the physical dimensions of the reading system are more important than the pixel count. As long as an image renders fine on a device with 6-7 inches inch width (or 9 inches if you are being ultra-cautious), you have nothing to worry about. If you start with a fairly high pixel image, Amazon will simply reduce the image to the appropriate size for the device it's downloading to.

The ideal solution is to keep the highest quality images, but I recognize that practically many people have to deal with less-than-ideal quality images. Maybe for the type of images I used, stretching it to 1000px width or 1800px didn't seem to affect the ability to read it clearly. Perhaps your images are different.

Finally about bandwidth, I don't know the ins and outs of how Amazon delivery costs, but I would assume that most people who download image-heavy ebooks would be doing it on wifi. In many cases, Amazon would be shrinking image quality depending on the device it is sent to

Edited by: hapax_bookguy on Oct 31, 2017 5:39 AM

Hapax:

Vis-a-vis the "Kindle Document Service" and all that--I hate to tell you this, but the reason that the file was "so small" via KDS is because that's an "old style" conversion, effectively delivering a KF7/PRC file to your device, NOT a dual-mobi (a MOBI both both KF8 and KF7 code in it). Moreover, the view you see, of that book, then, on your device, is incorrect. (You can find the accurate delivery fee size on the pricing page of the KDP upload).

The only way to (mostly) reliably test a MOBI file on your device is to side-load it via USB cable, and even then--it's only mostly accurate. If you've used embedded fonts at all, it's still not perfect. There are other small glitches that aren't quite what the "finished" (uploaded and rendered by Amazon) book will have--for good or for bad. Believe me, I've had any number of discussions with Amazon (Seattle) about this; there isn't ANY preview--not the preview-mobi, not KDS, not sideloading it via USB, etc.--that's 100% accurate. Close, yes--but not 100%.

Lastly--honestly, you could have gone with 100 and saved yourself all the brain-damage. The difference between 95% and 100% is nominal at best. (Also, not all media queries work, sorry to say, no matter how much they seem like they should--for example, iOS versus Droid, for MOBI).

I admire your diligence, however. I wish I had such experimenters working for me! Usually, when I want to investigate media queries, I end up doing most of them myself. Of course, to be fair, my guys are pretty damn busy making books, and don't really have time to "mess around." :-D I oughn't criticize. ;-)

Good luck on your work.

Hitch
We produce ebooks
An Amazon Professional Conversion Service: http://amzn.to/29pWZSg
www.booknook.biz/

William Thompson

Posts: 1,034
Registered: 07/06/14
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Oct 31, 2017 4:55 PM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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I've written a Sigil plugin called AddKindleMediaQueries which basically quickly dual formats your epub to duplicate all images for KF7(in pixels) and KF8(as percentages) in your epub. This plugin is just meant to take out the pain, drudge and repetition of converting image-dense ebooks in HTML code when you add the media queries.

This plugin just creates two simple css media queries to deal with both KF7 and KF8 displayed images shown below:

@media amzn-mobi {
. kf8only {
display: none;
}
mobionly {
display: inline;
}
}

@media not amzn-mobi {'
kf8only {'
display: inline;'
}
mobionly {
display: none;'
}
}

Also, the normal way to put a smaller-than-device-width image into Kindle that works across all devices has nothing really to do with media queries. For instance, if you want your image to be 95% of the device width then you can perhaps achieve this on a suitable white image background that is 100% width. If you do it this way then Kindle will not reduce the size of your image and your actual image will always be 95% width across all devices. If you prefer a transparent canvas or background then you might be able to do this with a 8-bit color tiff or giff images -- for black and white only. Transparency doesn't work for png images on Kindles.

hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 3, 2017 1:42 PM   in response to: booknookbiz in response to: booknookbiz
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booknookbiz ,

First, I realize that you have TONS more experience about formatting than I do. So I'm willing to entertain the possibility that you're right a LOT more often about ebook formatting than I am.

My original file generated from Kindle Previewer was 16 MB. The downloaded file for a purchased file on Kindle app for android is 8MB. (It says it on the sale page and on the Kindleapp's ebook listing). The ebook is here: https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Boys-Tales-Civil-War-ebook/dp/B01DUNJCE8/

According to my Kindle app on android, the test mobi file I sent directly to the device as a document shows as 1.6 MB.

But here's the thing. I know how Amazon used to render .mobi files on older devices. It used to look like crap. This was true especially for image rendering. But the 1.6 MB test file I sent to my kindle app renders perfectly. No weird sizes or widths. All CSS media queries are working. If Amazon were sending the K7 version to the device (which does NOT support media queries), the test file I see would not render correctly. The test mobi I sent to the Android app renders perfectly.

I have tested this same ebook on Kindle Touch K4. It also renders appropriately -- the images are substantially smaller, but the embedded fonts show up.

So what's going on?

My best guess is that Amazon is applying some algorithm to optimize images in the Kf8 CSS media query friendly way.
This does not explain why the test file listing on the Kindleapp shows up as only 1.6 MB. Something's strange here.

Perhaps inside the Kindle app these estimates of file size are wrong for test files. Or maybe they are estimating the file size for delivery wrong. Who cares! All I know is that the rendering looks fine on my K4, iphone kindle app and my 12.2 inch x 8 inch Galaxy Tab Pro

EVEN SO, I will try to compare sideloaded content via sent to the device through cloud for future projects.

About sideloading, a few years ago I had a particularly traumatic experience sideloading via itunes to the Kindle app on Ios. Perhaps more recent devices and versions of itunes handle things better, but quoting Scarlett O'Hara, "If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill as God as my witness I'll never sideload .mobi files through itunes again!"

Sorry, one last thing. The reason I went with media queries at 70%, 85%, 95% etc (if I recall) was to workaround Kindle's lack of support for css max-width property for images.

hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 3, 2017 1:47 PM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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William,

This is nifty code, and I can't wait to try it out. Also, I haven't looked at Sigil in a while, and I should try it out again.

Generally though my issue has not so much been with doing a query to distinguish between K7 and K8. My issue has been with distinguishing between different displays (as well as view mode, etc).

My approach has been to focus on stuff which works in epub and not stuff specific to Kindle.

I realize that the Kindle universe is pretty dominant these days, but I don't want my styles to be too specific to Kindle if I can help it....
William Thompson

Posts: 1,034
Registered: 07/06/14
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 4, 2017 2:53 AM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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Well I'll try and answer some of your questions, if I can.
hapax_book_guy said...
My approach has been to focus on stuff which works in epub and not stuff specific to Kindle.
...And that's a good approach for sure. I also have another Sigil plugin -- called CustomCleanerPlus -- which might help you and make things simpler with your epub preference. This plugin has an option "Reformat smaller images to preserve image size... ". This plugin option automatically converts all epub image height/width values to percentage values. So this plugin will convert all smaller images properly for all epub vendor uploads which will also work for Kindle KF8 devices as well (but not for older mobi7 devices which only use pixel dimensions for images).

But if you wanted to cover all bases(all ebook vendors) then you would have to also create a separate epub(for Kindle-only upload) and run the AddKindleMediaQueries plugin as well to give you the appropriate epub that will properly use media queries to dual format all smaller images correctly and appropriately(ie images less than 100% screen width) for both mobi7 and KF8 devices.

Also, as to the above, my preferences are somewhat different to yours. Since 85% to 95% of my own ebook sales occur on the Amazon/Kindle platform, I tend to favour Kindle far more than any of the other epub vendors out there including iBooks(which only ever represents about 2% of my total ebook sales in a good month).

Why not try my free Sigil plugins now available on MobileRead?

CustomCleanerPlus - an epub-specific custom cleaner for both html docs and epubs

ConvertAbs2RelCSSValues - converts all cms, mms, inch, point and pica values to relative 'em' values in the epub css.

AddKindleMediaQueries - Optimally dual-formats all epub image entries both for KF7 devices(in pixels) and KF8 devices(as a %)

You can download all these free plugins from The Sigil Plugin Index on the MR Forum

hapax_bookguy

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Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 4, 2017 10:12 AM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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Wow, that's an impressive lists of plugins for Sigil these days. I'm really going to have to try it for my next ebook I format.

I use a Docbook XML toolchain with XSL to epub files, but I'm always searching for better/easier way to do things. (HTMLBook looks promising)

The docbook toolchain produces clean html files and .opf, etc, and I'm very comfortable with it so far.

Edited by: hapax_bookguy on Nov 4, 2017 10:12 AM
William Thompson

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Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 4, 2017 4:10 PM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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It's very interesting that you mention DocBook. I've used and experimented with many markdown formats in the past including Markdown, Multi-Markdown, Git Markdown, Pandoc etc. Pandoc also has a command line facility to convert Word, OpenDpoc, HTML etc to epub. But I've always found that if you use any of these mark-up apps for epub conversions, they all fall short. Basically, they only ever create web HTML and any conversions to epub were usually all sadly lacking. Pandoc will convert to epub via the command line but the conversion, in my opinion, is poor because there is no ability to center text, add vertical spaces via styling, text justify, style headings, add proper XHTML namespace headers, add dropcaps etc. As a consequence of all this, due to my own frustration with markdown, I wrote a full-blown Windows app(exe) called @Markdown2Epub which was basically an app that converted a text file, marked up using my own extended @Markdown form, to epub only. This app's major features were that it gave the user the ability to properly style their text file into a full-blown and properly styled epub. An unusual feature of this app was that it also produced a proper epub stylesheet(from a template embedded in the app) which the user could easily change and then save via Sigil to use again for their next epub. I've recently been considering revisiting this old app and perhaps converting it to a Sigil plugin(which could then be used for plain text to epub conversions in Sigil). I really like markdown because it's so simple and quick and is about as easy as it gets.
booknookbiz

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Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 4, 2017 9:30 PM   in response to: hapax_bookguy in response to: hapax_bookguy
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hapax_bookguy wrote:
booknookbiz ,

First, I realize that you have TONS more experience about formatting than I do. So I'm willing to entertain the possibility that you're right a LOT more often about ebook formatting than I am.


It's possible, but on the other hand, it's at best difficult to keep up with everything. I've been wrong..oh, once or twice. :-D (Obviously, a lot more than that.)


My original file generated from Kindle Previewer was 16 MB. The downloaded file for a purchased file on Kindle app for android is 8MB. (It says it on the sale page and on the Kindleapp's ebook listing). The ebook is here: https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Boys-Tales-Civil-War-ebook/dp/B01DUNJCE8/

According to my Kindle app on android, the test mobi file I sent directly to the device as a document shows as 1.6 MB.

But here's the thing. I know how Amazon used to render .mobi files on older devices. It used to look like crap. This was true especially for image rendering. But the 1.6 MB test file I sent to my kindle app renders perfectly. No weird sizes or widths. All CSS media queries are working. If Amazon were sending the K7 version to the device (which does NOT support media queries), the test file I see would not render correctly. The test mobi I sent to the Android app renders perfectly.


Well, then, I can't explain it. The last time I tested the send-to-kindle app...which I think was within the last year or so--it was DEFINITELY a kf7. Now, just so I'm clear, "In the Beginning..." (j/k), way back, yes, the send-to-kindle app, the email method, was, abablooley, KF7. Then, for a very, very short period, it was KF8, but then, it definitely flopped back to KF7. I have no super-knowledge about this, no inside info, just that that's what it was.

We had an issue, a bizarre issue, with a font, about a year ago, and for a variety of reasons, we tried EVERY method of "seeing" the final file, from the Previewers, to the online previewer, to downloading the Preview MOBI, to sideloading that, etc. At that time--and I found this to be mind-blowing--even sending the PREVIEW mobi to the email app rendered a KF7. A file that did NOT have the fonts (!!!).

I have tested this same ebook on Kindle Touch K4. It also renders appropriately -- the images are substantially smaller, but the embedded fonts show up.

So what's going on?


You got me. I'm going to have to do testing around this, because, from the last time I checked this, KF7's were being delivered. Question--when you plug the Kindles in, and grab those selfsame files via USB, and pop them open, do they have the KF7/KF8 folders inside them? (I mean, yeah, sure, I could test it myself, but I'm on anew regime, of ACTUALLY taking both Saturdays and Sundays off, nowadays. Put a sign up on the website and everything. ;-)


My best guess is that Amazon is applying some algorithm to optimize images in the Kf8 CSS media query friendly way.
This does not explain why the test file listing on the Kindleapp shows up as only 1.6 MB. Something's strange here.

I damn sure agree with that. That file is small. Do me a fave, or both of us, and pop open the file. Unpack that, and tell us what's in there. That will tell us more than either of us guessing. BTW, that "embedded" font--it's definitely not a font that's on the device already, right?

Perhaps inside the Kindle app these estimates of file size are wrong for test files. Or maybe they are estimating the file size for delivery wrong. Who cares! All I know is that the rendering looks fine on my K4, iphone kindle app and my 12.2 inch x 8 inch Galaxy Tab Pro
Agreed, that is what matters!

EVEN SO, I will try to compare sideloaded content via sent to the device through cloud for future projects.

It's weird.

About sideloading, a few years ago I had a particularly traumatic experience sideloading via itunes to the Kindle app on Ios. Perhaps more recent devices and versions of itunes handle things better, but quoting Scarlett O'Hara, "If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill as God as my witness I'll never sideload .mobi files through itunes again!"

LOLOL, if it's any comfort, I, too, have PTSD from that. It's annoying as bloody hell, isn't it?

Sorry, one last thing. The reason I went with media queries at 70%, 85%, 95% etc (if I recall) was to workaround Kindle's lack of support for css max-width property for images.

I figured that's why you were doing that, but I guess, based on your description, I had misunderstood. I thought that the widths of the images were large enough so that you could have just left them to 100%. We've done that--doing endless coding to try to ensure that images are perfect, on every single device, at every orientation, and that's a lot of work. Not so bad if, like some of the coffeetable books that we get, all the images are the same size/aspect ratio, or, say, 3 different sizes, but if you have 50 images, all different sizes/aspect ratios, man, brother, that's work.

So: unpack your mobi, and let's see what you have there. That'll tell us more than chewing the fat. ;-)

Hitch
We produce eBooks
An Amazon Professional Conversion Service : http://amzn.to/29pWZSg
www.Booknook.biz

hapax_bookguy

Posts: 46
Registered: 11/25/07
Re: using css media queries to render interior images
Posted: Nov 6, 2017 12:38 PM   in response to: booknookbiz in response to: booknookbiz
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A quick reply for booknookbiz a longer reply for William Thompson:

Booknookbiz: First, I haven't split open a .mobi file in a long while. I don't have python on my current system to use kindleunpack. I see that Calibre has a plugin. Let me figure that out and get back with you. Unpacking it will provide two separate directories for K7 and k8?

For William Thompson. docbook is great about generating clean HTML and all the extra epub stuff. It's semantically very rich. Also it's very good for versioning/source control. I think that longterm HTMLbook (developed by Oreilly) might eventually be a better solution
https://atlas.oreilly.com/

After I use docbook to generate html and the extra epub files, I use a command line tool to generate the zip file, and I have to manually move the images into the directory before zipping things up. There are methods for doing it automatically (generally requiring a java ant recipe or using Liza Daly's python script), but they never worked very easily.

A key thing to producing epubs with docbook is knowing how to make Docbook XSLT customizations to add HTML classes and other things. I certainly am not well-versed enough to write sophisticated XSLT scripts, but I can write a few snippets to accomplish what I need. For one thing, I had write some customizations to make sure that embedded fonts were referenced correctly in the opf file so that it would be visible in ibooks (using the suggestions from here: https://github.com/JayPanoz/Soma/wiki/How-to-embed-fonts )

It's not like I'm keeping it a secret, but I really need to document my workflow so that outsiders can read it. Perhaps I should write an ebook about it! (or at least release a test project).

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