29 December 2013
Although ePub3 itself has stopped in its tracks, AZARDI continues to exploit ePub3 for the delivery of highly interactive learning content. The complete release and feature history of AZARDI in 2013.
Although ePub3 itself has stopped in its tracks, AZARDI continues to exploit ePub3 for the delivery of highly interactive learning content.
The public face of AZARDI is the Desktop reader, but the full system, primarily designed for education and training publishers consists of AZARDI for Android and AZARDI IOS - a web app. Over all of these is the AZARDI:Content Fulfilment system that allows the controlled delivery of content to the reading systems.
2013 was the year in which AZARDI:Content Fulfilment was deployed in China, Philippines and India for the delivery of K-12 content to millions of children in their own languages. The programs are being scaled massively during 2014.
We took our time getting AZARDI using the excellent Fixed Layout specification (six months from the specification release), but had to do a much better job than Apple iBooks or Readium for our target learning markets. While we had done our own custom fixed-layout version back in December 2011 this had to be updated and extended.
Now that we have worked with K-12 publishers around the globe in multiple languages, one thing that emerged was the serious need for the book designer to be able to enforce a page scrolling mode. This was especially useful for multi-screen height, highly interactive content. With this mode we could also use @media CSS to control the presentation of the content on different size screens and orientations. One publisher even insists that this is the default opening mode for all books in their custom versions of AZARDI. Interesting! This seems to reflect the very different nature of interactive learning content presentation in various languages.
We implemented support for footnotes, notes and glossary entry pop-ups using the epub:type properties. We did this differently to Apple and avoided the irritating cartoon dialogue box. The "pop-ups" appear at the bottom of the reader viewport just like a print book. We may change this based on user feedback, but we like it.
AZARDI supports the E-book Zero (E0) format as it stands. It was modified twice to accommodate changes. From a content perspective this is every bit as competent and in many respects more powerful that ePub3. We will be picking this up again in 2014.
The native MathML power of AZARDI came to the forefront with the MathML project launched by Frederic Wang. Probably for the first time it demonstrated how MathML can be interactive in a digital presentation format such as E0 or ePub3.
We closed 2013 with the release of AZARDI International with eleven languages included. We had pressure for this from a number of users so decided it was the good thing to do.
There were nine AZARDI releases in 2013 as we followed the Mozilla release schedule and picked up new features, made changes for new features and security support.
We also made a number of changes based on customer feedback and feature requests.
If there is no number that version was skipped.
EPub3 fixed layout was released. We went a lot further than anyone else, even Readium and especially Apple.
ePub File Association with AZARDI.* .epub file association was included. We had been shy about this before but it has proven to be a great feature.
Introduced Publisher bookshelfs for the secure delivery and updating of (education) content to any desktop, in any language, anywhere.
Implemented audio and video support for books delivered to Publisher Shelves from AZARDI:Content Fulfilment.
E0 format support
MP4 and MP3. Maintenance update to keep track with Mozilla XULRunner which now supports MP4 and MP3 in Windows.
Changed the packaging directory structure for Mac computers. This was a lumpy change and required re-installation of AZARDI for the update.
More extensions for the Publisher Bookstore accounts. We refined the system so it could be easily configured for a single account for live customers.
Footnotes, notes and glossary pop-ups using epub:type properties.
Internationalization. AZARDI had already been localized into Chinese, Russian and Polish for various publishers. It was time to make it official and extend support to any language. AZARDI now has Chinese, Czech, German, Spanish, Hindi, Italian, Malay, Nepali, Polish and Russian built right in.
AZARDI is substantially specification complete, especially when looking at it from the AAP ePub3 Implementation Project requirements. We have absolutely no plans to include the strange and irrelevant extensions the IDPF have defined or have on the drawing board. So 2014 is going to be more of a refinement and extension year with more focus on E0, ALL-IN Learning Objects, Interactive MathML and SVG libraries for publishers.
AZARDI is still a bit fussy about the ePubs it receives. They need to be pretty much specification correct. We may be looking at relaxing this a little. But the real path is move to E0. Then the over-loaded specification list is no longer the enemy.
We have already implemented this in a custom version for OUP and have received some requests for this feature. This is a search across all books registered in the reader with metadata filtering. That means if you have a few hundred books registered in AZARDI you can carry out complex boolean search operations on all of the content. The final features and behaviour of this are currently being formulated.
Notes are relatively weak in the current version of AZARDI. We will be addressing this as early as possible in 2014.
We have a social video sharing version of AZARDI:Content Fulfilment for release at the end of Q1-2014. The current plan is to include WebRTC in this application to allow teachers to communicate directly with students and parents over the Internet. This has become a very strongly desired feature in the Philippines where over 60 school days can be lost a year due to Hurricanes and flooding.
AZARDI remains the most specification complete ePub2/3 reading system available anywhere. Remember Publishers it is designed for customization to your requirements.
Desktop reading is substantially different from reading on devices and requires significantly different features.
AZARDI Desktop is our feature development lead platform. It is built on Mozilla XUL-Runner, while both the mobile reading systems are built on their respective platforms.
Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people who have downloaded AZARDI and all those sites that have given links to the AZARDI site.
Posted by Richard Pipe