Call for Review: EPUB 3.2

We live in exciting times for the world of ebook standards, with the IDPF-W3C merger and web publications. Yet for most of us, the EPUB we create and consume has not changed in a while. EPUB 3.0 came out nearly seven years ago. The minor changes of EPUB 3.0.1 happened more than four years ago. EpubCheck hasn’t had a major release in nearly three years. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for mature specs. EPUB 3 works. It satisfies lots of use cases, and lots of actual users. Most publishers have existing tools and processes to create and distribute EPUB 3 (if you don’t, you should).

But the world, and especially the world wide web, keeps changing. HTML and CSS, the building blocks of EPUB, keep getting more powerful. Implementations evolve. New media types are invented. And specs must adapt to those changes. In April, I wrote a blog post about the recent history of EPUB 3, and why the W3C EPUB 3 Community Group was working on EPUB 3.2.

I’m pleased to say that the work has gone well. We’ve created a draft spec that satisfies our requirements of being completely backward-compatible with EPUB 3.0.1, while updating EPUB’s relationship to the core web specs of HTML, CSS, SVG, etc. But don’t take my word for it—go see for yourself.

Consider this a formal request for wide review of the EPUB 3.2 specification. Let us know what you think. Is the spec clear? Readable? Implementable? We want to hear about everything from typos to fatal flaws. If you’re comfortable with GitHub, the best way to provide feedback is through GitHub Issues. We’re also happy to receive emails. The ambitious can even send us pull requests.

EPUB 3.2 is a modular family of specifications. Feel free to review any or all of them. Note that we have not made any changes to EPUB Accessibility, as it is not tied to a particular version of EPUB.

  1. EPUB 3.2 Overview: A non-normative introduction to EPUB
  2. EPUB 3.2 Specification: One spec to rule them all!
  3. EPUB Packages 3.2: describes the package document, which provides both metadata and structure for the publication
  4. EPUB Content Documents 3.2: the good stuff: HTML, CSS, and more!
  5. EPUB Open Container Format: how to turn a bundle of content into a single file
  6. EPUB Media Overlays 3.2: how to synchronize audio and text in EPUB
  7. EPUB 3.2 Changes: what’s changed since EPUB 3.0.1.

Our plan is to spend about two months in this final review period, until around the end of September or beginning of October. We will address all the feedback, and create a final version of EPUB 3.2, which will need approval from the Publishing Business Group before being published as a final community group report.

Thank you for your attention, and please let us know if you have any questions.

—Dave Cramer (Hachette Livre) and Rachel Comerford (Macmillan Learning), co-chairs of the EPUB 3 Community Group.

3 thoughts on “Call for Review: EPUB 3.2

  1. ePub as a standard needs to address a capability of reading agent – hardware and software wise. Agent must (or should declare their capabilities – for example if it is able to handle FlexBox – so that the author of ePub document can control the presentation of the content using CSS queries as an example. The default set of such capabilities can be the lowest denominator of all current reading apps and devices. It seems that this route of adoption is more realistic and pragmatic for both sides: content authors and reading agents (hardware and software apps) providers.

    1. Because ePub is mostly a container for the content, it should stay like that and do not interfere with content (HTML ) and presentation (CSS, JS) which are governed by other standards.

      And ePub as a standard should adopt only open (in a web sense) and widely supported emerging practices. Bad example would be creating CFI Good example is adopting Web Annotations. Hope this helps Cheers!

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