Recollections of Wartime

16 September 2013

ePub3,  Fixed layout, AZARDI, Demonstration Books

This is a demonstration ePub3 fixed layout book with a difference. With many differences. It is a digital content archive book which shows valuable archive documents and photographs in a way not possible in print books, if your reader lets you expand images.

This is a demonstration ePub3 fixed layout book with a difference. With many differences. We can be grateful that in this digital age content that which would have been invisible and impossible to access can now be made alive for all (who are interested).

Recollections of War is a "digital content archive" book which shows valuable archive documents and photographs with detail that is not possible in print books, and controlled presentation that cannot be easily replicated on a web site. More importantly it give a positive and personal narrative on the events and effects of those events in a very personal manner.

Recollections of Wartime contains the full World War II flight-log of Flight lieutenant Kenneth Pipe (AKA Dad!) with some supporting images. There is also two narrative sections of his experience on being blown out of his Lancaster bomber and then as a prisoner-of-war in Stalag Luft III and other places. Anyone interested in WW2 history will find this an unusual, different and original information gold-nugget.

The Lancaster crew. Dad is in the centre. The others didn't survive the war. Unfortunately we don't have the names of all those in the picture.

A Little Background

The title spread shows the tented conditions in the African theatre and Dads MBE, DFC and Caterpillar Club badge.

Dad spent his first years in the War as an Observer (that is British down-talk for Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Front Gunner) on Wellington bombers serving in the Western Desert campaign in Africa, flying out of Kabrit near Suez in 70 Squadron. He was transferred to the UK in 1942 and moved to Lancasters bombing over Europe in 115 Squadron.

His Lancaster was shot down on the 22 September 1943, and he free-fell nearly 20,000 feet to just above the treeline before pulling the ripcord on his 'chute and falling into the trees. He then spent the remainder of the War in Stalag Luft III and other prison camps. For that little experience he earned a Caterpillar Club badge (awarded to people whose lives are saved by parachute), a medal or two, and a broken back that plagued him for the rest of his life.

What makes this book interesting (to those interested in history) is how the narrative story picks up immediately from the "Missing in Action" line in the Flight Log from Page 81.


The book is distributed at no charge but it is Copyright and cannot be dismantled nor the pictures or text used without permission.

Nearly all the images in the book are being shown for the first time. There are some that have been sourced from Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. These have source credits. All other images are Copyright John Pipe who should be contacted for use in any other context.

Demonstration Features

Archive Content Presentation Container

Even in war there is something ordinary. Three end-of-the-year bombing missions and then a special Christmas menu in the middle of the North African desert. It's difficult to believe life can be stranger than this! It makes the Hunger Games seem like a movie!

One of the intentions of this book demonstrates the capabilities of an ePub3 fixed layout book as a archive content presentation container as well as an e-book. The continous pages of the log file, presented as separate fixed layout pages is exciting, especially the ability to zoom both the logs and associated images.

The main ePub3 is landscape locked with fixed layout pages because this is the orientation and presentation that best fits the content. The narrative portions of the content are reflowable in IDPF fixed layout conforming reading systems that respond to fixed-layout spine properties. At present that means AZARDI.

There is discussion on whether ePub3 is suitable as an archive format. The answer is it's not. It has too many quirks and reader oriented tag-rules to be useful as a future-proof archive format. It is a great archive content presentation format however.

Stick to a quality controlled grammar like IGP:FoundationXHTML and then the content definitely does have future value. EPub3 is a deliver format. It will never be an archive format because of the cool, clear fact it is defined by a trade organization that has commercial reading systems and NOT content value at the front of the agenda.

Explorable Image Galleys with content context can be combined with the archive narrative to give a new and personal historical context to recent historical events. It's history alive, with real people, in real situations personalized in a way the 'news' can never give.

Design Profiles for Cross Platform Publishing

iBooks partial implementation of the ePub3 specification rather obviously doesn't work. We are sorry that we haven't done a "Recollections of Wartime" iBooks compromise dumb down.


Visionary Forecast

This raises is an important point. ePub3 will be more about the diaspora of digital content that has any complexity of presentation, interactivity or multimedia rather than reading system conformance.

Reading Systems and devices will all have different capability sets which will probably be predominantly iBooks feature clones.

This further highlights the need for a new format such as E0 (ePub Zero) that puts the features in the content not the reading system.

However everyone knows that HTML5 is moving faster than a rocket, and the concept of a book is being redefined faster than publishers can follow, let-alone implement. Digital publishing in 2013 is like falling unconcious out of a bomber at 20,000 feet!

Get it While It's In Freefall!

Download Recollections of Wartime here.

It's a full ePub3 fixed layout spec ePub3 with mixed reflowing and fixed layout pages. You will have to use AZARDI to explore this amazing historical and personal digital document.

You can download AZARDI right here.

And in Conclusion

I can't end this post without a sign-off to Dad and Mum. No one could ask for or expect better parents. Their life experiences, both coming from abject poverty to respectable "middle-class-dom", and giving four ungrateful boys everything we needed or while teaching us sub-concious lessons we "so called" baby boomer generation children can never shake.

When Mum asked brother John, a few years before she died, "what is the best thing Dad and I did for you boys" (as parents cruelly do from time to time) he replied after just a moment of thinking "You have given us a very high sense of morality". Mum was so proud and thrilled by that answer. It wasn't something they had conciously set out to deliver. The answer was totally unexpected. It was just part of the family package. It is difficult to think of a higher gift parents can give to their children. A no-compromise sense of right and wrong, good and bad without any colourature. Just be a good person.

Dad had so many "boring quotes" he would never stop repeating. The one that jabs into my mind everytime I feel a bit 2013 is "If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well". You just don't see, hear or feel that so-much anymore. He meant it, expected it and always did it.

Don't bullshit. Don't play games. Get the job done. Don't Tweet too much yabber. Create amazing new things. And never, ever jump out of a plane from 20,000 feet. Unconcious!

Posted by Richard Pipe