Editoria — Building a Book in a Browser
Paginated outputs remain important to scholarly communications, and are still critical for books like monographs. Even in today’s increasingly digital discovery landscape, many readers of long-form content continue to prefer print, and the ability to cite page numbers continues to be critical to creating good old-fashioned tools like a book index. But producing paginated books from HTML source files that could also be used for generating other types of digital files has always been a challenge, as Nellie McKesson notes in her recent blog post on Hederis.
So, a couple of years ago, the University of California Press and the California Digital Library partnered with Coko to begin an ambitious project to develop a workflow application that would allow books to be built in a browser using entirely open source technologies. Editoria is not the first open source, browser-based book production system that has ever been attempted, but it’s (at least to our knowledge) the first that has attempted to replicate the rigorous production editing process and workflow, which includes styling, copyediting, author review, and proofreading, in a browser-based application.
We borrowed the idea of single-source publishing using HTML source from predecessor applications like Adam Hyde’s Booktype, O’Reilly’s Atlas, and Hugh McGuire’s Pressbooks, all of which use some form of PDF rendering engine (often proprietary) to output beautiful, paginated books in addition to EPUBs and other HTML or XML-based files. Then, we’ve tried to stand on the shoulders of those applications by building in a greater degree of workflow support. It’s an ambitious project, and supporting paginated outputs from a single HTML-based source file, has been a non-trivial aspect of the system’s development.