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Derek Read

Reply to: Epub and Ebook output?

At this point the software does not support direct output to any of the various epub/ebook formats (unless you include HTML or PDF in that list) but this does not mean there is no solution for you to produce something today from your DITA content. Our feeling at this point is that it makes sense to have our clients use the dedicated ebook publishing tools that each vendor offers rather than try to incorporate versions of these tools into our product.

However, we are considering adding support for the International Digital Publishing Forum “EPUB” format at some point as looks like it is becoming the de facto standard (many devices can now read this format with the Kindle being the most notable exception).

An Immediate Solution:
All of the various tools I have looked at for generating an that is ebook compatible with a vendor's own specific hardware either use HTML as the “internal” format or provide a function for importing HTML files (and possibly PDF and other file types). Since it is easy to produce HTML from DITA using XMetaL your solution essentially becomes the following:

1. In XMetaL Author Enterprise select either “Single HTML File” or “Multiple HTML Files” or one of the PDF outputs when generating output. Which one you select will depend on the tool you are using and the capabilities it has for “importing” or generating its own ebook format and which file type it deals with best.
2. Import the file(s) into the vendor's publishing tool (each one will have a different UI for this) and use it to generate an ebook compatible with their specific hardware.

I have gone through this process using the Amazon Kindle “Mobipocket Creator” software without any trouble and created a compatible .mobi file. The following forum posting contains my description of that process: http://forums.xmetal.com/index.php?topic=1410

Many of the tools provided by hardware vendors also include some kind of emulator so you can preview what your final output will look like on the actual device. Without an emulator you would need to purchase a physical device in order to test the output.

In cases where an ebook reader directly supports PDF or HTML you might also choose to simply provide that file type for that particular reader. I believe almost all devices now support (some level) of PDF and almost all can read HTML (outside of any kind of “wrapper” file). This means that for many ebook readers you could skip step 2 above.

Here is a list of devices and the formats they support:
Note that older versions of some ebook readers may also support different formats (so you may need to read up on the specifics for your target devices).