Some W3C Documents in EPUB3

I have been having fun the past few months, when I had some time, with a tool to convert official W3C publications (primarily Recommendations) into EPUB3. Apart from the fact that this helped me to dive into some details of the EPUB3 Specification, I think the result might actually be useful. Indeed, it often happens that a W3C Recommendation consists, in fact, of several different publications. This means that just archiving one single file is not enough if, for example, you want to have those documents off line. On the other hand, EPUB3 is perfect for this; one creates an eBook contains all constituent publications as “chapters”. Yep, EPUB3 as complex archiving tool:-)

The Python tool (which is available in github) has now reached a fairly stable state, and it works well for documents that have been produced by Robin Berjon’s great respec tool. I have generated, and put up on the Web, two books for now:

  1. RDFa 1.1, a Recommendation that was published last August (in fact, there was an earlier version of an RDFa 1.1. EPUB book, but that was done largely manually; this one is much better).
  2. JSON-LD, a Recommendation published this week (i.e., 16th of January).

(Needless to say, these books have no formal standing; the authoritative versions are the official documents published as a W3C Technical Report.)

There is also draft version for a much larger book on RDF1.1, consisting of all the RDF 1.1 specifications to come, including all the various serializations (including RDFa and JSON-LD). I say “draft”, because those documents are not yet final (i.e., not yet Recommendations); a final version (with, for example, all the cross-links properly set) will be at that URI when RDF 1.1 becomes a Recommendations (probably in February).

(Republished from my personal blog.)

About Ivan Herman

Ivan Herman is the leader of the Digital Publishing Activity at W3C. For more details, see

2 Responses to Some W3C Documents in EPUB3

  1. Thanks for making this available. The presented results are useful. How complicated is it to automate the process of creating EPUB 3.0 versions of official publications?

    BTW, I use Readium 0.9 –, initiated by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) – for reading Epubs on the desktop. It is available as a extension for Chrome, which works great. In Readium, however, the cover images of the Epubs are not shown.

  2. Hi Ralph,

    thanks for your interest!

    On your question on automation: I am not sure what kind of workflow you have in mind. There are manual steps that are unavoidable: a configuration file is necessary to set, at the minimum, the right order of the documents as well as an overall title. Also, at present, the tool relies on the availability of the original HTML files locally; it does not retrieve them automatically from the Web. (The reason are technical: the issue is not to retrieve one single file, that would be o.k., but to find all the files in the directory, and retrieve them all; I simply did not get around doing that yet.) Once all these are done, then the process can be controlled from the command line without problems. There should be a manual page on github.

    Yes, I know the Readium extension for chrome, and it is indeed quite o.k. (though sometimes a bit slow). I am mostly a Firefox user, and there is also a good extension for epub for it as well. I have also tested the books on iBook, the Adobe reader, and BlueFire. Indeed, the cover is somehow iffy, and not all readers handle that properly. What is more disagreeable is the vertical image put on the border on the starting page of each document (ie, W3C Recommendatation) which go bad on, e.g., the iBook. Sigh…

    Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any issues, features requests, etc.!