PUB 607 Proposal (final – Sept. 30, 2015)

What is Code? by Paul Ford – eBook proposal

HTMLadies: Ames, Aniela, Gill, Monica, Natalie

The primary goals of our group are to produce an easy-to-use eBook with high readability, common-sense navigation, and an eye-catching cover design, in a format that is compatible across the most common e-reader platforms. Our group is primarily novice coders, with two members who have some experience with code, so the scope of our project is relatively simple. Regarding the workload, each person will be assigned one aspect of the project and will receive assistance and feedback from the others during group meetings. Our progress will be tracked on a single shared document to simplify the creation of the final project report. As each person completes a task on the eBook schedule, they will add to the documentation, so that all the group members are informed of changes as they occur.

Readability/Legibility

Readability is one of the most important parts of eBooks. We all agreed that readers don’t want it to be taxing on their eyes, or garish to their senses. Good design should be invisible. The minute the reader notices it, it’s not working. We believe good typography is the same way. We want to use two different fonts: one serif for the article body text, and then a monospace typeface (like Courier) when there are direct examples of code.

In terms of readability, we want to ensure we maintain appropriate chapter and section breaks, as well as image quality. The use of rescaleable vector graphics should make the appearance of our eBook more stable across multiple e-readers. Although the reader will be able to adjust the ebook’s typeface, font size, and line spacing (leading), we would like to ensure the default is highly readable. Our ebook should be aesthetically crisp and pleasing to the eye.

Ease of Use/Navigation

Having an ebook that was highly user-friendly and easy to use is a priority for us. As such, we will be focusing a lot on navigation. We decided that because the article is so long and is broken up into different sections, it would be conducive to create a hyperlinked table of contents. Furthermore, we hope to have hyperlinked endnotes, though we recognize that this may be more difficult. One team member watched a video on YouTube on how to code a table of contents, and we believe that this is within our capabilities as novice coders.

Simplifying the Text

With the existing content, we need to remove all elements that do not work in an ePub format: .gifs, and videos. There were some diagrams that were relevant to illustrating concepts that we would like to retain if possible. However, this may mean that we have to consider copyright issues when we outline our distribution plan. While the text is licensed under Creative Commons, the images, artwork, and diagrams are not. We will have to edit the photo/image content to determine which ones are integral to the text. Once we’ve decided which ones we want to keep, we should try to determine if it would be a worthwhile thing to spend time/theoretical money on. We will also have to determine what to do with the various paratextual elements (such as sidebars). Additional research will be required to see if there is a simple way to handle that material in an ePub2, as this is one of the areas in which the increased multi-level functionality of ePub3 would have been an advantage.

Aesthetics/Marketing

Having an appealing cover design will be important, in terms of marketing the eBook. We agreed that the cover needs to be simple but effective at multiple sizes, as ebook covers are frequently displayed as small thumbnails. We would like to use the ‘90s code aesthetic that the online article had, but make sure that the cover does not make the content appear out-of-date or irrelevant. Several draft options will be presented, and then the group will choose one or two to develop further.

Division of Work

We decided that workload would be split as we see necessary. It was agreed that the goal of the project was to learn. As such, we would all support one another to assist in the coding of the ebook. A couple of team members are stronger in regards to this part of the assignment, and they would be the main support system. Furthermore, we identified various portions of the ebook that will need special attention, such as images, title page, table of contents, and footnotes. While it was decided that we would all support one another as necessary, we also agreed that it was important to play into the strengths of the individual team members. As such, work such as design or organization would be divided according to this method of work division. Each team member will be responsible for one element, as assigned below, and then will work in concert with the group to get feedback and assistance.

Format and Tools

From what we can tell, most e-readers will be able to handle an Open ePub file (as opposed to an Adobe ePub file). The new Kindle Fire can handle ePub, but the older Kindle requires a .mobi or .azn. The ePub3 format is currently limited to Apple products, and is not functional on other e-readers, so we have decided to go with a format that is compatible across more platforms. We have decided that we will make an ePub2 file, and will research the possibility of converting it into a Kindle-compatible format at the end. As an ePub2 file, it will be accessible by most eReader devices and could conceivably cover most of the market with a single output. This epub will be reflowable, not fixed layout so that it is responsive and adapts to various devices.

As we will be splitting the work, we will use Calibre or Sigil, based on personal preference. Calibre was the program Juan recommended, but Sigil has a number of tutorials produced that create a very good looking end product. We will also use multiple code validators, such as Flight Deck or http://validator.idpf.org/, at the end of the project to check our final eBook code and to help us identify problems in our code.

Metadata

In considering distribution, we should also be aware that the file’s metadata will need to be generated.

Tentative schedule

 

Dates Assigned person
Documentation This will be completed as we go along. All
Prepare Master file for use Sept 28 – 2 October Monica
Stylize content (tagging text, removing unwanted elements, etc.) Sept 28 – 2 October All
CSS Sept 28 – 2 October Gill
Modify images & diagrams Sept 28 – 2 October All (Specific person TBC)
Footnotes and hyperlinks Sept 28 – 2 October Aniela
Cover Sept 28 – 2 Oct Ames
ToC and Navigation Sept 28 – 2 Oct Natalie
Convert for first iteration review 5 Oct All
Work on fixing coding issues that arise after conversion 6 – 8 Oct All
Review final result 9 Oct All
Prep for presentation 12 – 13 Oct All