Given the current state of content related technologies there is little doubt that e-pub, and any e-book format is a transient thing. The world of content technology is moving fast and it has to be asked what does a standards e-book format deliver? E-pub is about to go into specification round two. It's going to take 18 months apparently, but a lot is going to happen in that time.
Generally it will end up being something like (X)HTML5 and CSS-3. It has to or it will be irrelevant. E-pub got a lot of things right. XHTML, SVG, CSS, and a pretty good packaging spec. From a presentation and navigation perspective it has nearly everything you need. The problem with e-pub is not e-pub at all. It is the current crop of devices which are really designed only for novels and narrative trade non-fiction. There are a thousand woes with the lot of them as everyone knows. It's as if the manufacturers have got together and planned mutually exclusive feature lists, with a centrally maintained stupid behaviour specification.
Anyway this is why with IGP:FLIP we tag all content for both ePub and a variable content future. The XHTML is far more important than the CSS when it comes to creating future ready content. It is a mugs game to spend money on XML digitization and get only an e-book format or two, especially one created for today's crop of devices.
We currently have Azardi II in development. A year down the road it is radically different from Azardi which was very experimental.
- The development environment has moved from Qt to Mozilla XUL. That means it works on all platforms and versions (If Firefox works on a machine, Azardi II will).
- The underlying rendering engine therefore moves from Safari to Mozilla and the Internet viewport will have HTML5 features available.
- For those who care a big advantage is that Mozilla at least has a shot at rendering MathML.
- It is both an e-pub reader and a streaming XHTML interactive page reader.
- It has dual viewports. That means reading two parts of the same book at the same time, read two books at the same time, or read a book and navigate an associated website at the same time
- It has local, and Internet Library functions. Internet Libraries can be public or private and secure.
- It may have a document security (almost DRM) mode (documents locked to a specific reader), primarily for enterprise document security.
- and finally, Azardi II will be free, but not open source.
The first release will not include the editing and packaging features of Azardi. We will be looking at these in the second release.
The primary objective of Azardi II is to demonstrate a practical content delivery framework for interactive content, particularly for education. For example an e-pub text book in one viewport, can be used to drive streaming content in the second viewport. This could be tests, videos, animations or any other related content. It's like releasing SCORM content from its LMS prison.