14 Replies Latest reply: Jun 13, 2013 4:54 PM by Cliff Wootton
Gerben Wierda Level 1 (135 points)

This has been driving me nuts. I have a course book project that has a lot of graphics, especially diagrams.


First I tried iBooks Author. iBooks Author, however, forcefully changes every diagram (which I can provide in vector PDF or SVG or in any high resolution) to something that is low resolution pixel based image (even does this with PDF export). They become pixelated, the labels become unreadable. Using widgets in iBooks Author sofar has not been a solution. No way to get something that is usable for the reader. I have spent countless hours with all kinds of mechanisms to get this right (up to buying an HTML5 editor and trying to create HTML5 widgets for this). I gave up on iBooks Author/iBooks. Here I am with my 40,000 words and hundreds of images already created. Now what?


I moved to Pages expecting it to be a decent production app for this kind of thing. I cannot offer a book that lets a reader zoom in and such, so I must go back to producing something that needs to be printed. Fine. I can live with that. So I buy Pages.


I found out soon there is no decent book template. Fine, I try to create my own. So, I start out with a landscape A4 blank document,set it up to three columns and correct margins. I create a 'first page is different'  layout for the section (but that turns out only to be valid for the headers and footers, not the entire page) and a Section Header level 1. And then I started looking for automatic chapter (section) numbering and using that in a footnote. Say, the same way the Pages '09 Manual is showing it. (And any other Apple Manual). Now I find out Pages is unable to do this. I have to do Chapter numbering by hand. I don't believe this. I have a Word Processing application that cannot do automatic section/chapter numbering! Yes, there are (lame) workarounds with using lists, but these numbers do not end up in the ToC and you cannot have a number after a string, like in "Chapter 1". I can't let listed items stick out on the left. OK, I decide to follow Apple's restrictions. Sections/chapters/etc without numbers. Fine.


Next attempt: placing images and text boxes. In my to-be-template document I want a standard floating text box white text on grey with some text here and there (lik ein iBooks Author). I create that and make it the default textbox layout as explained in the manual. I remove the text object. Now, I do the same for images. I drop an image. Hmm, how do I add a caption (that is a property of an image placeholder in iBooks Author). No such luck. I have to add a text box for the caption and group them by hand. Fine. Now, how do I get references ("view 2.1.2") in my captions so I can point back to them later in the text? Answer: you can't. And even more funny: as soon as you set the just created group as the default for images, the box layout changes from your caption layout to the default text box layout created earlier. In other words: there is one global text box layout default and as soon as you have a group for an image, the image canot have its own default caption format anymore, it follows the global default. Funnier still, add another image to the document: no caption box. Hence, you painstakingly have to create a caption box for each image and group with the image, manage references by hand, etc.


Conclusion: Pages is nice for company brochures, stationary and such. Not good enough for a large book project that requires references, etc.. It is a big disappointment. I wished I had not spent the money.


Note, I do spend decent time in reading the manual, looking for answers and the web and such. But the whole thing has turned into one big waste of productivity.


What am I to do? I will definitely not use Word for projects of this size because Microsoft's engine is so broken that the risk of corrupted documents with unreparable andunexpected layout behaviour is enormous. I have been hurt by that in the past too much. I dislike Word very much. It produces ugly documents and often documents become almost impossible to layout because of some internal chaos in the document format.


Back to TeX? That won't give me floating objects with text wrapping around it, last time I looked. It must be possible (TeX can do anything), but it will be painfully complicated to get it to work.


Any other option?

  • Tom Gewecke Level 9 (76,425 points)

    Gerben Wierda wrote:


    Any other option?


    I think Apple probably uses InDesign for its manuals.  Have you looked at that?

  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 (34,045 points)

    Not probably, it does.


    A4 is an odd size for a book. Only one architects usually favor.



  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 (34,045 points)

    You seem to be struggling with general formatting issues, most of which there is a method to do them.


    You have listed far to many for me to go through them all.


    The question is why are you trying to format this all yourself? Are you self publishing?


    Most publishers do not want amateur authors doing layout, for several reasons, not least because they usually get it wrong.


    You need to work back from the end production and fit the methods and tools to that.


    Have you discussed this with your printer/publisher, assuming you are going to a commercially printed book?


    If it is going to be digital then you will have to look at what will do that for you and in which of the several formats.


    If you require that it meets all formats, then you really need to look at doing it in Indesign, preferrably with a designer who knows what they are doing.



  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 (135 points)

    €900 for InDesign. That is a bit expensive.


    And no, there is no need to assume I do not know what I am doing, design-wise. I also need to be able to self-publish this (at least initially, as it will be distributed to a small set of people.


    And, yes, I am an architect (though not for the physical stuff).

  • VikingOSX Level 6 (14,370 points)



    It would seem to me that you have already exceeded 900 euro in lost productive time. With each passing day of frustration, if InDesign is the correct solution tool for you, then perhaps it also illustrates a path to cost recovery.

  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 (34,045 points)



    I apologise for making assumptions, but as a designer I work around problems and none of the above seem insuperable.


    I am heading off to Sydney for 10 days and can't answer all the items in detail now.


    If you could break them down into a clear itemised list of problems I'll see if I can supply an answer to each.


    You have not said however what the final result will be and how you intend to distribute it. That still is the heart of how you should handle it.



  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 (135 points)

    The problem is that I want to have the following in a combination:

    1. A large document (think 80,000 words, 200 diagrams), non-finction/educational book
    2. Links back from the text to earlier diagrams (numbered diagrams with automatically changing  references when new diagrams are included) and sections and as much as possible of other 'word processing' standards like bookmarks, links, index, table of contents)
    3. Nice design (I looked at alternatives like Mellel and for instance frankly disliked the ugly Word-like typesetting it produces, I prefer TeX-quality typesetting, if at all justified, then with protrusion). I would like to produce nice and a bit playful layout too (e.g. sparingly some text boxes with tips where the columns flow around, location of the floating images a bit playfully but largely sedately arranged wrt the columns)
    4. Since my diagrams must sometimes be large, the book will be A4 so that I can go up to A4 in size of the diagrams. This was why I had looked into iBooks first, I though that would give me the option to put really large diagrams in HTML5/Canvas/CSS widgets with SVG images, but that does not work because iBooks does not support vector images and limits the interaction of the widgets)
    5. Given that large diagram demand and the fact that the largest of these diagrams tend to be more wide than high, and since I want the text to remain more easily readable (not page-wide lines), I have opted for a A4 landscape 3 column layout. That makes the text columns more easily digestible and makes reading on a large landscape computer screen a possibility, but that means that the images (except for the smallest) must be floating, preferably anchored.
    6. My diagrams are vector images, PDF. They need to stay in vector format during the workflow so that a PDF export will still have vector-based images (and there go quite another set of tools, that all translate it internally to (often low-res) pixel based images).
    7. Distribution in PDF to a closed group must be possible
    8. I have been working on self-publishing via the iBookStore (under the assumption that iBook's widgets would give me what I need). Since that is now the case, I have not decided on publishing yet. I probably will see if I can get a publisher.
    9. Affordable. I do not have €900 to spend on a professional program. This is not a commercial venture, it is more something that must be seen as a serious hobby.

    Since iBooks is out and since ePUB only handles inline images, I have reverted to paper/PDF. GIven the size of the diagrams (that become unreadable if too small) I need A4.


    Currently, I think TeX is my best option. However, I think combining the three column layout with images wider than the columns is a challenge. And with TeX, the slight playfulness of the layout is out too. But the text will look gorgeous.

  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 (135 points)

    I have been looking at InDesign CS6. I downloaded the 30-day trial, looked at a decent set of educational videos. It seems InDesign indeed fits my requirements. Very funny was that if I dropped a PDF on a page it looked pixelated with a low resolution, but when I exported to PDF, it is nice vector-based and perfect. This was a display setting.


    I think InDesign fits all my needs. I just need to find out a few things how to do them (like at this stage I wonder about the differences between a master and a template.


    I also downloaded QuarkXPress 9 for a trial, but did not go ahead. I did not like the wording of the EULA that much and then the istaller was going to install something that required a reboot and the uninstall instructions just tell you to remove the app. That can't be right and I'm not going to install some daemon that will live there for ever and there is no way to get rid of it.

  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 (34,045 points)

    A Master is a predesigned layout for a page/pair of pages within a document.


    A template is a predesigned document, which can also contain masters.



  • Cliff Wootton Level 1 (0 points)

    >>>A4 is an odd size for a book. Only one architects usually favor.

    Not to be picky or anything but A4 is used for everything in the UK & Europe.  In fact its rare to find *ANY* other size of paper here in this part of the world unless its a derivative of A4.  A0 - A6 sizes are commonly available.  If you fold A4 in half, you get A5.  If you join two sheets of A4, you get A3 etc.


    However, it raises an interesting question about what is a good standardised size to publish large format books for consumption worldwide.


    Since a lot of software we use is made in the USA, we would expect to find the US standard paper sizes built in as templates and selected as defaults. But that's not appropriate everywhere either.  What do you use in Australia as a default standard page size?  And do you expect large format books to be localised so they sit nicely on the bookshelf without sticking out.


    Going back to the original question about SVG images in Page.  I'm just now working on the text of an instruction book which has the same issues with wanting to import SVG images.  I had to resort to hand editing the EPUB export files to insert the right SVG markup.  In Pages I put in a placeholder that was visible in the EPUB XML files and then looked for that and inserted the SVG content by hand.  OK, I still need to mess with the scaling and viewporting but I can see a portion of my SVG image in iBooks reader on the iPad and it looks like it rendered correctly.  Here are the steps (I hope I didn't leave any out):


    1. Edit your image in Illustrator


    2. Save as an SVG (not SVG compressed).


    3. You may need to try different options.  I went with SVG fonts and CSS applied at the style elements level.  Open the advanced options in the Illustrator export dialog and try a few different things to optimise your reading experience.


    4. In Pages, export the EPUB of your book.


    5. Get info on the file and uncheck the box that hides the file extension.


    6. In the Finder you'll see the file is marked as *.epub


    7. Change the file extension to .zip


    8. Uncompress the Zip file to get the EPUB files in a folder that you can open and mess with.


    9. Explore that folder to locate the XHML file for the chapter you want to embed the image in.  It lives in the OPS subfolder.


    10. Pressing the space bar while the chapter is selected will quick look it in the Finder.  This is useful later to check you did it right.


    11. Open the XHML file in TextWrangler


    12. Replace every occurence of an '<' character with '\r<' to place a new line in front of every tag.  This clobbers the format of the first few lines so manually remove the extra line breaks from the first few lines to prevent an XML parse error.  Compare with an unchanged version of the file.  You can leave subsequent line breaks in, iBooks doesn't seem to care but it does make the file a bit bigger.


    13. Scroll down until you see the place holder where you wanted to insert your SVG.


    14. Replace the contents of the <p class="s4"></p> element.  Leave the <p> element intact though.


    15. Pages uses these <divs> as image containers so put one inside the <p></p> tag:

    <div style="display:inline-block;vertical-align:baseline;width:50.127%;"></div>


    16. Open your SVG File in TextWrangler.


    17. Copy the <svg></svg> container to the clipboard.  DO NOT copy the XML header.


    18. Back inside the <div> block in the chapter document, paste your <svg> code inline.  There may be a way to include it from an external file but I haven't found out the syntax yet.


    19. Pay special attention to the height, width and viewbox values.  You may need to mess with these to get it to look right in the iBooks reader.


    20. Save the XHTML file.  You can use the space bar trick in the Finder to QuickLook the file to see if its OK.


    21. Recompress the folder to create a new ZIP archive.


    22. Change the file extension to epub instead of zip.


    23. Load it into your iPad with BookProofer.


    24. Open the book on the iPad and check the image.


    OK, it looks fine but might need its viewbox altered to stop it getting cropped.


    Double tapping to zoom the image does not work properly.  I'll file a bug report about that when I've worked on this a bit more.


    The next major book I want to do will have lots of animations and those do need to be in SVG format so I can use JavaScript on them to bring them to life.  This is all way much harder than it needs to be.


    I also have a long and problem strewn history with Word.  I wouldn't trust it either for making EPUBs.  I used InDesign to create a book a few years ago which I am now trying to convert to iBooks format and in the end I had to go through a convoluted export to PDF, convert to RTF and then import to Pages.  I don't think Pages is up to doing a big technical book project either.  InDesign might be useful but is intended for creating paged paper books and the eBook support is a bolt on.  I want to build eBooks without all the additional baggage from a pBook format.  The fork point for me is the output of the manuscript writing and the layout is independant for both eBooks and pBooks.


    Actually the best approach I found for large reference manuals was back in 1999 when I used HyperCard to create a JavaScript reference book from a database.  As a book, it was way too big.  It would have been better if we just shipped it as a CD-ROM with a supporting booklet or now as an EPUB.  The workflow process was pretty straightforward:


    HyperCard -> DocBook -> XSLT -> (RTF, HTML, PDF, Print)


    Amazingly it still works great in an iPad even though it was made nearly 14 years ago.  I couldn't possibly have made that book in a word processor.  The manuscript was 3500 pages long to start with.  Internally there were more than 100 thousand cross links.


    In fact, none of the 'simple' word processors are great for big technical book writing jobs because they mainly concentrate on single document projects.  The last couple of big books I did (for Focal Press), had upwards of 50 individual chapter/appendix documents.  You can wrap workflow scripts around your word processor to add some leverage. See my book on Developing Quality Metadata for how to do that with Word & Illustrator.  In the end though, we need our workflow to do so much else that would help us produce EPUBs and iBooks on a large scale that I'm working out a design for an Authors Workbench application that I can use to augment my word processors with.  Once I get a couple of hand cranked projects out through the iBookstore, I'll know what I need it to do.  Then I can build the 'Book Factory'.


    Well, that's it for now.  I hope this helps someone with SVG in iBooks.  I have a feeling I'm going to be working on this a lot in the next few months.

  • Cliff Wootton Level 1 (0 points)

    If you can get some accreditation as a teacher or student, the educational pricing for Adobe CS6 is much more affordable.  You need to show them a current valid ID card for you as a lecturer or student to qualify.  The last time I looked, CS6 Master Suite was discounted by 80%.  I hope they still offer that as a perpetual license now they changed their licensing for Creative Cloud but I think it's still there.  That would give you InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop as well as the rest of the tools for about half the cost of InDesign at full retail.  Maybe if you offer to teach a short course at a local school or college you could qualify if you aren't already in education professionally.

  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 (34,045 points)

    A4 is used for letters, brochures, annual reports etc and as I said Architects favor it for book sizes but it is really unwieldy for everything else.


    A manual should be more a paperback size, A5 being close.


    Consider that most publications to do with computing these days never appear on paper, so the consideration should be what appears best on screen for a computer or iPad.


    True that eBooks are a bolt-on for Indesign, Quark Xpress etc, but that is also true for Pages which has all sorts of problems with exporting to epubs.


    iBooks Author, which is very similar to Pages, is the best bet for electronic publications if it weren't for Apple's insistence that we all sign up with the US Tax system to publish.



  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 (135 points)

    Interesting that this discussion resurfaced. Anyway, the book — called Mastering ArchiMate — was created in InDesign CS6 and launched October 2012: http://bit.ly/UYxWNm (PDF download). Many readers read it on the iPad as PDF. I ended up using a A4 portrait 2-column layout. If curious: you can have a look to see if I knew what I was doing . The A4 format is not really handy for print distribution (it is not widely supported), though I have found a decent internet print shop for it.


    BTW, I noticed they upgraded iBooks and iBooks Author. Did not look like they actually made it resolution independent yet.

  • Cliff Wootton Level 1 (0 points)

    Nice job on your book.  You must have worked hard on that.  Hope you are pleased with the result.


    >>> Interesting that this discussion resurfaced.


    I was looking for a solution for how to do SVG images in Pages.  Mr Google led me to this discussion thread.  In the end I came up with a way to solve it myself but some of the other commentary was interesting and inspired me to pluck up courage enough to follow it up.  Was also interested to find out about page sizes.


    Whilst completely respecting Peter's opinions, I have quite a few large format books in my library.  Not all on architecture.  Some of them are on photography and graphic design and a lot of them are maintenance manuals or tech pubs that I've produced for clients.  Possibly my most treasured large format books are by Edwarde Tufte on information visualisation.


    Most of my computer reference books are a good deal larger than A5.  I tried that paper size on a couple of projects but the page width is too narrow to accomodate code listings comfortably.  I guess that's why computing books are a bit wider and taller than A5.  Its a nice compact size for some books though.  I like 7 x 9.5 inches for books on computing and digital video because it gives you a nice margin for call outs and icons etc.


    I'm hoping that the popularity of eBooks isn't going to be the death of paper books.  I think it was Isaac Asimov who once said (and I couldn't find the exact quote):


    "Lets invent a way of conveying information that allows for random access, continuing where you left off, being able to bookmark, annotate and read in the bath.  I know.  Let's call it a book."


    I like both electronic and paper.  They both work for me.  I often find the thing I need quite by accident when I am flicking through the pages of a paper book. Based on using the index to search for what I thought I was looking for, the solution that was most appropriate is often *not* what I thought I was searching for.  The serendipity factor solves problems like that with a pBook. You just don't get that effect with an eBook because the search hyperlink takes you straight to the matching text.  You see nothing else on the way to it.  However, an eBook is electronically searchable to a much finer grain than you could reasonably index in a pBook.  I know there is some work going on to try and integrate the two mediums together.  Maybe embedding QR codes in the pBook would work but its not the most elegant solution.


    Anyway I don't see them being mutually exclusive and I'm interested in pushing the envelope to see what I can do with them creatively.  What I do find interesting is that whether I am building desktop apps, mobile apps, interactive TV content, iTunes Extras, online help pages, web pages, eBooks or pBooks I end up using the same kind of assets (HTML 5, JavaScript and CSS) and the same Adobe toolkit.  The scaffolding is the same but the presentation is subtly different for all of these different platforms.  The convergence is interesting.


    I reserve judgement on Pages vs iBooks Author vs other as yet unavailable tools being the best for making eBooks.  I haven't found anything that does a great job with EPUB and the people I met at the IDPF expressed the same opinion when I spoke to them a few months ago.  But it is still early days.


    For today, I can get my project done with Pages.  But let's keep trying other new things while we learn more about this new medium.