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AZARDI Online ePUB3 Reader Alpha Release

Posted by Matthew | On: Mar 13 2012
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Infogrid Pacific has announced the alpha release of AZARDI Online (AZARDI OL), their online ePUB3 reader. AZARDI OL specs describe three new features, including:

  • Support for SMIL Audio Overlays for the first time, so you can create the read-aloud function while highlighting text as it is written
  • Customization of font-family (not yet active), font-size, margins, line-height, justification, hyphenation, scrolling and paging modes with up to four visible columns, column rules and, for when you really mess it up, a nice reset to two page view
  • Support of fixed-layout ePUBs; at present this is only the AZARDI system, but they are working on full support for the IDPF fixed layout specification [Editor's note: IDPF’s fixed-layout ePUB spec is not yet final.], with support for proprietary schemes (they are also playing with Apple Fixed Layout and Kindle Fire fixed layout semi-emulators so even that content is available without the proprietary delivery frameworks).

You can run AZARDI OL on any browser, but take note of these qualifications:

Desktop Browsers. The AZARDI OL demonstration requires a standards-compliant browser with HTML5 and significant CSS-3 support. Strongly recommended: Firefox 8+, Google Chrome 16+, Safari 5.1+, Opera 11+. All Internet Explorer Browsers will work if the Google Chrome Frame plugin is installed when prompted.

Tablet Browsers. Use Scroll mode with iPad, paging does not currently work. Android browsers are erratic. The Android native browser does NOT support SVG. Some screens may not display. Android owners should install/use Mozilla Fennec for the full AZARDI OL experience.

You can see the AZARDI demo files and access AZARDI OL at the AZARDI OL Demonstration page. The demonstration books include A Christmas Carol with SMIL Audio Overlays and Siddhartha, which demonstrates presentation flexibility for different screen sizes and devices. Also note that the demonstration page includes Around the World in 28 Languages, an ePUB3 that demonstrates a wide range of alphabets and languages, including Right-to-Left.

What do you think of the latest AZARDI reader? Are you impressed by the demonstration files?

 

11 Comments

  1. FullCapsTwit says:

    I notice Azardi are not listed as a supporter of the Readium project. Is this a for-profit version of that? Offering a framework for other parties to integrate into their own systems? We know that Readium has some way to go, but if it reached it’s goals wouldn’t it negate the need for a product like this?

    Or are they going to be peddling books directly?

    I would like to see it optimizing for screen size automatically. Changing manually between amounts of columns isn’t much use. Also, it reignites the old Nook debat, allowing the readers so much control over the style of the book.

    Definitely will be good to see an implementation of IDPF fixed layout spec, but I want to see the code for the sample files. They could be doing anything.

  2. Matthew says:

    FullCapsTwit:
    Infogrid Pacific is one of the first companies to release an ePUB3 reader with AZARDI. They sell content management and eBook solutions, so I think it is fair to say that they are using AZARDI to promote their company and their solutions. An open source solution from IDPF–Readium–will certainly be welcome when is supports the full ePUB3 standard, but it isn’t close to that at this point. So at least we have AZARDI to use until Readium is ready.
    I agree with the automatic optimization for screen size. Media queries in the ePUB should allow this. I’m not sure why IGP has not created their ePUBs using media queries instead of building it into the AZARDI OL, but the reader can adjust ePUBs created without media queries to different screen sizes, so maybe that is the answer.
    Earlier, you could download the actual ePUBs from IGP directly to your computer and open them in a text editor to see how they were built. I can’t figure out how to download and open up these new files that automatically open for reading in AZARDI OL. Have you been able to do so?

  3. Richard Pipe says:

    What Matthew says is essentially correct. We already have customers using AZARDI in commercial branded versions for controlled channel content delivery. The market isn’t only trade books, it is education and training and other real content engagement. We have over 200,000 users around the world who don’t even know they are using AZARDI. It’s not about the brand, its about the content and content engagement experience for kids desperate and seriously wanting to learn and grow.

    The AZARDI Online books are not accessible because of the processing required to make them available Online on all standards compliant browsers. They are processed as JSON delivery packages for both security and cross-browser reasons. But all books are available as standard ePubs2/3s. The problem is that there are no other readers with fixed layout and SMIL capabilities, so there is an academic aspect at this stage to the process of demonstrating ePub3 books.

    Our commercial system is drag and drop your ePub2/3 into the upload system, and it becomes available online and offline. It’s that simple.

    Infogrid Pacific support the ePub2/3 specifications viciously and ferociously. We are not a member of the IDPF because we are too small to afford the fees, and our voice would never be heard in the forum over the Adobe monster control of the standard. It is better to be a practioner “with an attitude” than a victim of the standardization process. We think ePub anything it is bigger than Apple and Amazon anything, and show it. We use Mozilla for the offline reader, and pure Javasript for the online and WebApp readers. We arenot afraid to extend the capabilities beyond the standard, because it is necessary.

    The Readium project is constrained by a myopic Webkit focus, controlling corporate support, and the fact that it is a concept product, not a commercial reader for publishers. It is a yesterdays reader from concept. It sounds impressive, but their interface is a sad 2008 iPad sad surrogate in Webkit. Seriously. Is that the best they can do? Who needs paper chrome for goodness sake! They need to stop being so afraid of real digital content. That is why we decided to have up to four columns – for the technical reader we address, on a 2000+ pixel monitor. Not everyone is reading novels. IPad and Amazon do not define digital content engagement.

    We do actually use media queries in our ePub2 production system. The reason we are not pushing media queries right now is no-one else does and stupid device proprietary nonsense. Plus production facilities don’t really get it. CSS standard support in current devices is quirky- to be polite, stupid to be honest, and a packaging hell for ePub producers. Will this improve in the next 12 months? Not a chance. Marketing muscle beats quality and standards support everytime. We work in non-North American markets so can move ahead.

    A standard interface the user can control for their content engagement experience in their device/browser/screen seem like a much better choice. The brain change is that there has never been the concept of an ePub reader that handles everything from a 400px to 2000px + screen resolution until AZARDI OL. Everything else is “my device” (Apple, Amazon, Adobe), and online hysteria is focused on that. AZARDI is a personal content engagement experience. Bugger the device!

    Today we put out the first IDPF fixed layout spec samples. Our target is to make ePub2/3 available everywhere, under publisher control, whether user flow controlled or publisher fix layout controlled. Forget the reading system. Engage with the content. Will this standard be supported by Apple, Amazon and Adobe. Nope. They will all screw it around.

  4. Richard Pipe says:

    I re-read the comments on AZARDI controlling the human reading experience.

    Why do you want that? Are you so Apple conditioned to a digital content paper metaphor? How can the reader seriously decide that a silly two page paper surrogate view of content for academic, textbook, business documents, magazines, etc. is the best view for the device/content you are using!

    AZARDI OL remembers a users preferences for any document and reopens with the last settings. It is the lack of this flexibility that personally drives me crazy with iBooks and Amazon, and also significantly increases production costs. We will be introducing default layouts for screen area deprived devices like iPhone, but for real content engagement devices, the user preferences must rule.

    • Matthew says:

      Richard:
      Thank you for sharing Infogrid Pacific’s position on the ePUB3 format, AZARDI OL, and IDPF’s Readium project. I certainly made a poor surrogate in explaining what your intention with AZARDI is. I am certainly glad you have made your reader available to the public and appreciate being able to review the samples you have made available,
      Please keep us informed about the work you are doing with AZARDI.

  5. Matthew says:

    There’s more from Infogrid Pacific on the IDPF fixed layout spec and sample files here: http://infogridpacific.typepad.com/digitalpublishing/2012/03/idpf-epub3-fixed-layout-demo.html

  6. ashu says:

    Does Media overlay feacher of EPUB3 work on Ipad2?

  7. Bob Myers says:

    Excuse my cluelessness, but I cannot figure out how to start reading epubs with this online reader. Is there an “open” or “load” button hiding somewhere? When I download one of the sample files, it just downloads in the browser but does not go into reading mode. I am using Chrome under W8.

    • Matthew says:

      Bob: I believe the AZARDI Alpha online reader is a demonstration only at this point and does not allow you to open any files but those in the AZARDI demo catalog here: http://azardi.infogridpacific.com/online/

      You can download the desktop reader and open any file by adding it to your library using the add book button second from the right at the top of the reader.

  8. JianJie Guo says:

    Where can I get the source codes from?

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