[clug] Apple and ePub

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Tue Jun 29 06:25:01 MDT 2010

Hash: SHA1

On 06/25/2010 02:48 PM, Alex Satrapa wrote:
> On 25/06/2010, at 12:11 , Paul Wayper wrote:
>> OK, but for example Terry Pratchett occasionally uses interesting fonts and
>> typographical techniques for additional effect.  Is it Apple's right to take
>> that away …
> Do not expect typography to be preserved in an ePub. The first feature that most software readers provide is to allow the user to select a different font to apply to the whole publication. It's not just Apple "taking away people's rights."  It's not part of the spec that a device must honour the CSS presented. It is only in the spec that the device must not break when fancy stuff is presented.
> Here's a guide from Smashwords about getting books published in electronic formats: 
>   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52
> The main tips are: don't try fancy tricks. ePub is about portable content, not form.

*shrugs* sure.  For the same reason that you shouldn't rely on a person having
Comic Sans to display your web page "correctly".

>> Apple has to let go of their products and accept that people don't blame them if someone else's application isn't perfect.
> Except that people *do* blame the operating system for faults in software that runs on it. When a YouTube video breaks, people file bug reports against Safari, not Flash. When a book looks wrong in iBooks, people file a bug report against iBooks, not some author's non-conformant XHTML.

I know that Microsoft claimed that Internet Explorer was an inextricable part
of the operating system, but I hadn't realised that Apple claimed Safari and
iBook readers were as well! :-)

Yes, people "file bugs" (Apple has a public bug tracker?  Who knew?) against
Safari, because Safari can also break people's web browsing.  Internet
Explorer 6 had problems rendering standard HTML - I don't think we should be
blaming the standard.  Firefox recently changed their plugin fault tolerance
because people were complaining that 3.6.5 "broke" Farmville.  Software is

But people do understand roughly where the boundaries lie.  They don't
generally blame OS X for Youtube breaking, or Garage Band, or their telephone.
 They don't blame Main Roads, the NRMA, or the Canberra Raiders if they have
an accident driving home from a game.  And no-one sympathises with the people
that do.

Granted, Apple has continued to try and push this seamless,
everything-looks-and-works-the-same interface.  The only way they're going to
actually achieve that is if no-one else but one group in Apple develops all
the software for everything they release ever.  And that group doesn't change.

Since that's basically impossible, all I'm arguing is that Apple need to
realise that since they can't control everything it's better to be more
relaxed than strict about what runs on their computers.

> I know people who still talk about "editing a document in Windows."  They don't care for the distinction between Windows and Word - in fact, some of them don't care about the distinction between "Windows" and "Dell".

Sure, and we've all heard of people calling their computer "the hard disk".
That's regular common-or-garden not-knowing-and-not-caring.  While I do think
that these people are also going to have to learn the basics, and I do think
that making it all look like a homogeneous single thing makes that more
confusing rather than less, I don't really care if they say they're editing
their document in Wiki - let them be that unknowing.  Let me know if you think
all Apple users are that unknowing.

Because I think that dumbing everything down doesn't really work.  All you
find is that there's someone dumber.  We can be inclusive without lowering
everyone down to the simplest standard.  We can allow different fonts in
documents without breaking OS X, the iPad, or people's expectations of
homogeneity.  We can even allow people to choose to read all their books in
Comic Sans.  That's their choice; we don't have to be responsible for it.

Have fun,

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