In this series of articles I intend to explore the structure of ebooks held in the epub document format as defined by the International Digital Publishing Forum. This will include developing an understanding of the different components of epub as defined by the following standards documents: Open Publication Structure, Open Packaging Format, and Open Container Format. If you take a look at the standards you will see that, like so many documents of their type, they are formal, dry, and require further explanation - and that is what I aim to provide.
I will also create a set of C# Classes to model the different components of epub and use them to develop a range of ASP.Net samples which will illustrate the unpacking and display of an epub document.
It's in the nature of epub that it uses Zip technology to compress and package all components of a publication into a single file, normally with the .epub extension. The code samples will use a freeware tool for handling Zip files. Further, the subdivisions of an ebook into Parts, Chapters, and Sections is typically handled using XHTML documents. To work with XHTML, the examples use the easily available Tiny MCE package to display ebook contents.
If you want to run these samples on your own machine, you will need to download these tools. I'll give URLs for download at the appropriate places.
In the next article we will start by downloading a free ebook and taking a look inside it.
Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2009