Tag Archives: apple

Where eBooks are Going—Pop-ups in EPUB 3

This isn’t about whether or not we’re going to have or how often we’re going to be reading eBooks in the next few years, because I assume that’s been thoroughly answered to everyone’s satisfaction.

This is a little view into what they may look like in the next few years, focusing on one cool feature: pop-up glossary or footnote data inside your books. Before you run off saying this isn’t for fiction, think about how often you’ve been in the middle of a complex SF or fantasy novel and wished for a f**king character list—especially when half the character names seem to start with the letter K!  (Yes, that’s an actual quote from a reader). With science fiction you’re dealing with advanced technology that may require a little optional background info—selectable or ignored at the reader’s choice. Choice is always good, but clarity and one click away from answers is…priceless.

Let me walk you through it and then you decide if this is for you and your books.
I’m going to begin with the end and show you what it looks like first, along with a sample chapter you can read and use in iBooks to see what’s going on.

Right after this part, because this is where I spent a good deal of time. And because I think it’s cool:

I built a prototype web app that automates adding the pop-ups to your EPUBs. The app takes an EPUB page (good old HTML with some new bits in it), lets you add descriptions for characters, places, events, and then adds the code, references, and pop-up functions into the page. If all goes well you should be able to drop this into your ePub file and load it up in a reader that supports the type:epub attribute (e.g., iBooks 2.0 and higher). Screenshots and a link to the builder below.

Back to the beginning. Here’s what the pop-up glossary info looks like in iBooks—which currently supports this portion of the EPUB 3 spec:

Click for the full view: 


Click for the full view:


Here’s the working example of Seaborn I built with the web app I made. Download it and view it in iBooks or other EPUB 3 reader, or just hit this page with your iPad and click the link.  You should get an “Open in iBooks” dialog and then you’re set. 


Here’s the link andbelow ita walk-through of the app that I made to generate the EPUB with pop-ups.
Pop-up Glossary Builder app



You get to the next page, which looks like this:


When you get to the bottom of the page…



Keep in mind that this is pretty experimental right now. The parser for the nouns and phrases is very simple, and the find/replace operations don’t take into account words or phrases inside other words and phrasesso a link for “Atlantic” will also be dropped into the link for “Atlantic Ocean”.

Another thing: you will probably have to update your XML Namespace to point here: http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops

What this means is that at the top of your EPUB file you’ll see something like this: 

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>

Change the part that says xmlns: … to this:


Link structure

To make pop-up links in your EPUB files here’s what you do:

Wrap any words or phrases you want to explain in an anchor tag with epub:type=”noteref” with the href pointing to an in-document location, like this:

<a epub:type=”noteref” href=”#prax”>Prax</a>

Then, at the bottom of the page (I put mine right before the end body tag </body>) add an HTML5 <aside> tag, which supporting readers/browsers won’t show with the page.  This is where you stick your pop-up text and images:

<aside epub:type=”footnote” id=”prax”><p> <img src=”../Images/person.png” /> Praxinos (Prahx-ee-nos) was the third Wreath-wearer, King of the Seaborn, from House Alkimides. Kassandra calls him “Prax” for short.</p></aside>

Okay, that’s it for now. Let me know if you find any of this useful, how it can work better, all that stuff.  Leave a comment!

Big thank you to Liz Castro for her post on pop-ups in EPUB 3 at Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis.

Other things I was thinking about: EPUB is broken up into one file per chapter, section, or some kind of logical text break. So, you can have different text for the same word or phrase in different chapters, which allows you to reveal just enough info about a character without revealing too much and spoiling the plot or suspense. Also, wouldn’t it be nice at some point if you could turn links on or off?



Category: Books, ebook, ePub, EPUB 3 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sketch Progression in Art Rage on the iPad

I see a lot wrong with this one, but here it is anyway.  This is all done in Art Rage on the iPad.  Drawing today at lunch and saving off the work into a set of steps to show my progress–going from a really loose scribbly form and using new layers on top of it to build up the definition, working on the face, hands, background, and finally some light shadowing.

Click for the full view:

Sketching in Art Rage on the iPad

I'm putting together a tutorial for drawing and painting on the iPad, and I spent a few minutes tonight saving off the progress of a quick sketch, focusing on the use of layers in the Art Rage app on the iPad. "Layers" is a fairly common feature in the better drawing and painting apps on any platform/OS–from Photoshop, Painter, Sketchbook Pro, to Art Rage, and a batch of others.

Think of a layer as a sheet of tracing paper you can put down over your drawing to use the underlying line work to guide you–but with a lot more power, including blending modes, which I won't get into.

From left to right: a quick sketch to get down the figure in motion and not much else.  Adding a second layer, I reduce the transparency of the first and draw–or redraw–the figure with more definition, bringing out folds in the cloth and giving the face some guidelines. Creating a third layer, reducing the transparency on the second, I now use the work in first two layers to redraw the figure with even greater detail.  

Click the image for the full view:

Here's what the Art Rage UI looks like on the iPad–with the layering menu up at the bottom right.


Saltwater Witch Comic in ePub

Chapter 1 of Saltwater Witch is now available in ePub format!  Open in it iBooks, Nook, Adobe, Stanza, or any of the ePub readers out there. I will be following up with the rest of the available chapters–1 through 11 with a bit of 12.

 Saltwater Witch Chapter 1   (7.5 MB)


What I’m working on…

SeabornAppSampleHoping to submit an update to Apple this weekend. I'm working on Version 3 of the Seaborn Books and Art iPhone app, which includes bug fixes, enhancements, and an entirely new feature called "Ocean View", a set of artistic image filters that will give any photo or illustration an underwater look.  Version 3 of the Seaborn app is going live with five Ocean View filters: Shallows, Biologic, Beams, Rust, and The Tide. 

Shallows attempts to recreate that shallow-water experience of bands and rings of light.

Biologic is a tinting and blending filter that allows you to merge your photos with some of the built-in underwater images of marine flora and fauna.

Beams overlays some vertical bands of light with some contrast and tint adjustments.

Rust…never sleeps. This will significantly alter the copy of the image you run through it.  (See the examples in the workflow below).

The Tide takes a few passes to overlay a rising tide halfway across an image.

With this release the blending, alpha, color, and other values are set for each filter and can't be adjusted, but I'm already working on the next version, which will add new filters and allow greater flexibility with each–sliders for parameter values and the ability to add custom image overlays.  In version 3 the filters employ a bit of randomness with each pass, producing different results almost every time. 

Version 3 will also have built-in sharing features that allow you to post your Ocean View creations–with comments–onTwitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social platforms.  You can also email copies of your images and save to the camera roll or photo albums on your iPhone.

Here's my workflow diagram–click to view full-sized:



Seaborn app for the iPhone is out!

SeaborniPhoneAppIconThe Seaborn app for the iPad has been available for a while, and I'm working on a new version.  Apple just notified me that the iPhone version is now available!

Here are the links:

Seaborn iPhone app


Seaborn iPad app


Help me spread the word! Here's the HTML for the iPhone app:

<p><br />Seaborn <strong>iPhone</strong> app<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seaborn-books-and-art/id468260118?mt=8"><br /><span style="font-size: medium;"><img src="http://www.saltwaterwitch.com/knowledgenix/AppAvailable-iPhone.png" border="0" alt="" width="116" height="40" /></span></a></p>

Here's the HTML for the iPad app:

<p><br />Seaborn <strong>iPad</strong> app<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=393798398&mt=8"><br /><span style="font-size: medium;"><img src="http://www.saltwaterwitch.com/knowledgenix/App-iTunes-iPad.png" border="0" alt="" width="116" height="40" /></span></a></p>

Here's the main menu for the Seaborn iPhone app:



I just found this link on Guy Kawasaki's G+ stream.  Everything you need to know about starting and operating a street food business in NYC, and I was thinking there's no end to the stories that can come out of being a street vendor in the City. Meeting hundreds of people every day, some of them regulars. The protag—the owner of the food truck or pushcart–can be a retired private investigator, an alien, a vampire, an impatient classically trained chef with a love for yakitori. Think what you can do with humor, information gathering, a front for crime or the CIA, horror–a street food vendor on Sept. 11.  What if we turn this vampire/undead thing on its head and suddenly every book and magazine publisher is getting dozens of stories centered on the street food business in NYC?  That would be worth writing and submitting a couple stories itself.

Who's with me?

Start here:

Go write something!


ArtsProjektLogo I'm really excited to tell everyone that I'm in ARTSPROJEKT, "a curated platform that empowers emerging and establish artists and brands to connect, collaborate, and showcase original art, designs and ideas with fans and consumers."
–and I'm in here with a lot of extremely talented and imaginative artists.

See my store here:


I'm going to be doing all kinds of cool product designs, but to start off I have a few different iPhone and iPad cases I want everyone to hear about.  (iPad, iPhone 3G/3Gs, iPhone 4 cases).  I'll be adding new designs very soon, so check back.


I'm still putting some details together, but I'll be running a contest to win a Saltwater Witch iPhone case (iPhone 3G/3GS or 4) as well as some other cool prizes.  Stay tuned for that, too–and if you have any contest ideas or prize ideas, I'd love to hear them.

IPadCase IPhone4Case

iPad and iPhone 4 cases above.

Below there's a shot of the iPhone 3Gs case–this is a Speck® Fitted™ Hard Shell Case, really kick-ass case for your phone. Closeup of the case, "Saltwater Witch"




Seaborn iPad app available in iTunes!


Calling all iPad owners!



App_Seaborn Seaborn—the iPad app—is a book and art platform for the stories, illustrations, paintings, and author notes created by me (Chris Howard) for a collected set of my works—the novel Seaborn, the graphic novel Saltwater Witch, and Seaborn’s sequel, Sea Throne. Also included: character studies, timelines, maps, character lists, sample audio chapters of Seaborn, art portfolio, short stories, and chapters from the SF thriller Nanowhere.

Okay, that’s the formal description of the app. It’s also a discovery effort to develop the necessary components of a mobile author and artist platform.

SeabornMenu I wanted to create something that makes it convenient to get to an author’s or illustrator’s work, especially the creative side-stuff we do that doesn’t always have a home, some of which appears in our blogs, they’re slapped up on image-sharing sites, scattered across the universe. Two things I heard over and over after Seaborn hit the shelves: “I wish there was a character list included in the book”, and “how do you pronounce names like ‘Kallixene’?”

My ultimate aim is to build something that brings it all together in a place that’s always available—with the base assumption that very few of us go anywhere without a mobile device.

Be warned: version 1.0 has a couple embarrassing typoes–fixed in version 1.1, which should be ready for download in a few days.  Version 1.0 is up now.  Go get it.  Grab the update when Apple pushes it to iTunes.

I’d really like some feedback on the contents, layout, the scrolling panes for Saltwater Witch, missing features, everything.

To go along with the app, I’ve updated the Saltwater Witch comic site, moved everything over to the actual SaltwaterWitch.com site.

Here’s a set of app screenshots:


SeabornArt SWitchMain