Join Justin Putney for an in-depth discussion in this video Publishing as an EPUB, part of Creating HTML Layouts with InDesign.
- In this video we're gonna take a brief look at EPUB as it relates to InDesign and HTML. EPUB, at its heart, is HTML with some extra metadata and wrapped up in a zipped package. So if you know HTML, then you can create and edit EPUB. Even better, InDesign exports EPUB in two different flavors: Reflowable and Fixed Layout, the two different InDesign to HTML approaches that we've been discussing in this course. To export EPUB from InDesign, all you have to do is go up to File and choose Export.
In the Export dialog, you're then gonna to choose as Format either EPUB Fixed Layout or EPUB Reflowable. Now I went over the specific EPUB options in a different video so I'm not gonna rehash those now. What I do want to do is take a look at the EPUB files themselves. You can follow along if you have the Exercise Files. We're in Chapter 3 03_02 in the start folder, and I have the two different EPUBs exported from the alice document. I'm just gonna copy those over to the end folder in the Exercise Files for 02_03.
What I want to show you is that these files are simply just zipped up HTML files. Now for whatever reason the native unzip capability on the Mac doesn't really know what to do with an EPUB, even if I change the file extension to zip. What I'm gonna do instead is use a tool I already have on my system called the StuffIt Expander. If I use that to unzip these two files, I then have folders with HTML. If you don't have the StuffIt Expander or similar software installed, you can use a free tool called the eCanCrusher.
This tool will unzip and rezip EPUB files and it's available for both Mac and Windows. Now I'm just gonna browse into the Reflowable EPUB folder. That's the one without the fxl in the name, and I'm gonna go into the OEBPS subfolder. In there I have an untitled HTML document. I'm just gonna open that in my web browser. Now you can see this content looks exactly the same as when we exported the same document directly to HTML.
Under the hood, this is very similar to the HTML export. Now let's contrast it with the Fixed Layout. Inside the Fixed Layout folder in the OEBPS subfolder, I actually have three HTML documents or XHTML, which is another type of HTML, in addition to the table of contents, the toc. The reason I have three documents here is because the Fixed Layout export has exported each page separately. I'm just gonna open the first page in the web browser, and show you that it is, in fact, HTML.
Now if we were to look at the sources of these two files, you'd see there are slight differences. For instance, if I open the Fixed Layout in TextWrangler, a free text editor, and I turn on the text wrapping so you can see all of the code here. See that each word, like this word Down, actually has a significant amount of style applied to it. That's because each word is absolutely positioned. So this file would be a little more difficult to edit than the Reflowable one, but it's still HTML under the hood. Now the great thing is you can crack this open and you can choose to edit it, but you really don't have to.
InDesign does a pretty good job exporting the EPUB files and once you have an EPUB, you now have a single file that you can distribute or upload to an online marketplace. The process of submitting an EPUB is generally much simpler when comparing it to submitting an app. If you're submitting an app, say you're doing it with the Apple App Store, you'd have to sign up as an Apple Developer. That has an annual fee and then you'd get a developer certificate from your account you apply that to your app, and then you publish your app with that.
Then you have to submit it to the App Store for approval. Now contrast that with the process of submitting your EPUB to the iBook Store. Really all you need is an Apple ID. You have to enable it for iTunes Connect and download some things to test, but it's free and it's a lot simpler. So for a lot of documents in InDesign, the EPUB might be a better format for publishing than, say, creating an app. Google also has instructions for their Google Books program for submitting EPUB files. As well as submitting EPUB, you can submit PDF.
Note that support for Fixed Layout EPUB is not nearly as widespread as support for Reflowable, so be sure to check the stores, reader applications, and the devices that you're targeting as you're planning your project. Now since we're focusing on EPUB as it relates to InDesign and HTML, I've only scratched the surface in this video. But if you'd like to learn more about EPUB, check out the following courses on Lynda.com. InDesign CC EPUB Fundamentals with Anne-Marie Concepcion. If you're particularly interested in Fixed Layout, she has a Creating a Fixed-Layout EPUB course as well.
Now that we've covered exporting your entire document as an EPUB, let's investigate some ways that we can embed HTML within your InDesign document in the next video.
- Exploring InDesign's HTML and EPUB export options
- Publishing to the web
- Embedding HTML elsewhere
- Creating web and mobile apps
- Working with text and images
- Solving export problems