Easily force left alignment in ePubs viewed in iBooks

1 07 2011

Finally! I figured out a much more seamless way to force the headings and any other content to be left aligned in our ePubs for iBooks.  The goal of my ePub creation is really to have a seamless process, we can’t afford the time to unpack, edit html/css, and repack files just for one document… so everything needs to be able to come straight from InDesign and be ready for viewing in iBooks.

I’m also assuming that a large proportion of users probably don’t even know how to turn off the full justification setting for iBooks.. I mean, I didn’t realise the options were in the settings on the iPad for a LONG time myself.. So, by forcing the left align on the headings at least the ePub will look and read nicer with the justification setting still turned on.

The only solution I saw on the net to solve the left-aligned problem was to edit the html of the unpacked ePub (which is a massive no for our workflow) and add a span element inside the heading tags. It got me thinking though, and the idea suddenly came to me.  Get InDesign to just do it for you.

First off, create a new character style in your master document (the one that synchronises styles between all the docs in your InDesign book). Call it something like leftAligned. Go to the bottom option, tag formatting, set it up so a is added with the class of leftAligned.  Now, in your css file (the one you use when you export your ePub files) you can have a class that looks something like:

span[class*="leftAligned"]{ text-align: left; }

* little note; just found out the span doesn’t even need to have any styles at all, oh well!

Now, to use the character style and get InDesign to do the work for you; do a find and replace for every document in your book; and what I did was search for any H1 paragraph styles, and have it apply the leftAligned character style to them. I then did it with every other heading type and the referencing paragraph styles.

When I exported to ePub and viewed in iBooks, FINALLY I saw left-aligned headings. MUCH nicer, and much easier than unpacking, editing, and repacking the ePub.





Looking at InCopy for our Study Guides

16 12 2008

Given the current situation at the University, I want to see how we can continue to improve the process we started with our Study Guides. (earlier posts explain this process, including InDesign and it’s XML features to do various things).

I thought, I might as well look at InCopy.. So.. I’ve looked at it, and I’ve been thinking. It seems like a good tool for starters, I like the whole assignment based workflow idea where multiple authors can work on pieces of a document simultaneously. However. At this time I don’t see the value in adding InCopy to the study guide process and I’m going to abort my testing on it. Unless we significantly change things, it’s not going to impact or improve our workloads in any great beneficial way as far as I can see.

To get big gains on workflow we’d need to use InCopy completely instead of MS Word, and thus we would need to either:

ONE: get our real authors to use InCopy, our lecturers would then be more directly involved in their study material creation, but the downside is I’m sure they wouldn’t have time..? We would then take the designer role and manage the content and assignments – just like a real publishing house. OR;

TWO: get InDesign Server, develop a front end which lets authors edit their content without needing InCopy. This would take time, money, money and I don’t know what else! It’d be great, extensible, but we’d need to be careful and ensure that it met our real needs and improved our processes without getting carried away.

So, where to next? Who knows.

This is what I’d do if I had unlimited skills, time, and money from the University:

Look at MS Word’s XML docx format, investigate how we can effectively (automatically) transport this structured XML content in to InDesign, or generally just a more usable XML format than straight docx.

It’d be great to have a front end where the content could then be checked out for any needed updates – checked out by Authors or Designers – then at a certain date (or manually) the server does all the work.. TOCs, tagging, footers, PDFs for print and online, XML exports, web pages to display the content as well, the whole lot.

Hrm, wouldn’t that be nice.





Style maps behaving strangely in InDesign CS4

6 11 2008

How weird, the style mapping for importing word docs to InDesign CS4 seems to be really flaky.  

I’ve done a lot of things; originally I just plonked my old SMP files in to CS4’s word import presets directory – that didn’t work.  It picked up the smp file upon import, but when I viewed the style maps all the mapping info was simply not there.  Needless to say the mapping didn’t work in the slightest after placing the word doc.

So, attempt two; I manually re-created the style maps, saved a new preset file, and placed my word doc in.  No go again – completely ignored what I’d told it to do.

So I’m wondering, ‘maybe there’s some style map conflicts’.. So I go to place the doc in again; and see that there was only minimal conflics, say 3 conflicts, when about 15 styles didn’t map – so that didn’t add up.

I checked the presets that I’d created in attempt 2, and just like attempt one, everything I’d already entered in was gone.  Weird.

So, I re-created again, attempt number 3.  I then looked at the SMP files in dreamweaver, since they’re basically just XML.  The XML had all the info in, but still the maps didn’t work as they hadn’t in attempt 1 and 2.  I decided to replace the XML with my old XML – that didn’t work either.

I dunno what’s going on with it, but it’s got issues.. until I get to the bottom of it I’m very un-impressed.





Import XML into InDesign CS3

9 05 2008

The scenario:

We have 100 odd study guides, each require the creation of an overprint PDF containing course and faculty information, as well as a barcode and item number. The overprints are printed onto an already produced cover. It saves time, money and makes sense for us really.

The problem associated with that is, no one really has time to manually create 100 pages in InDesign, and copy and paste course information and barcode information from a number of sources, yuk! Even if we did have time, I don’t like the changes or stuffing up one of the barcodes, since you can’t even read what you’ve typed or pasted in.

The solution:

Pull the course, faculty and barcode information from a Database; create a simple XML file, and import into InDesign!

How the process went:

From what I’d read on the net, I assumed that when one imports XML into InDesign, all your pages are automatically created.  Maybe I missed something but I found that I had to actually create the pages manually, which isn’t really a problem as it’s only a few mouse clicks.

The next subtle thing I found which seemed to be missing from all of the instructions and tips I read on the net, was that the pages didn’t actually take on the tagged structure of their master page!  Okay, that was easy, all I had to do was tell the pages to Over-ride their master; and once I’d done that, DELETE the content of the master page (or else the imported xml goes in to the master page as well as your normal pages).

Despite everything looking perfect the XML wouldn’t import correctly; I ended up having some data missing on a page, then it’d be on the next page; basically stuff was all over the place.  

I found out, after going around in circles for ages; that when I’d told my pages to over-ride the master page – they didn’t take on the XML structure exactly as it was on the master!!!!  They all had their tags in the wrong bloody order!

So then all I did was just adjust the order of tags in my XML source, it still made sense so that was fine with me. 

Once I’d done that.. it worked perfectly!  XML in to InDesign does work, it’s just a little bit annoying sometimes!

R