The Baker ebook framework

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The Baker ebook framework

Recently I blogged about exporting to html5 from InDesign using the in5 plugin. Looking through the various options that this plug-in gave me was an output option to something called the Baker framework.

The Baker framework logo

The Baker framework logo

This was not something I had come across before, so I thought I would look it up and see what it was all about. The Baker framework is an html5 ebook framework, specifically designed for publishing ebooks on iOS devices, using open web standards. Since these devices use the webkit rendering engine you can add audio, video, and animations within your ebook pages. Leveraging CSS3 you can change your layout in a responsive way, so that your ebook works in portrait or landscape modes. The framework itself is open source, using the BSD license.

This framework is based upon the HPub specification (html publication), and is specifically designed for creating rich content books with a simple specification. Looking over the example you get when you download Baker, I must say the whole structure is much simpler than the epub structure. Here is a simple example that I created by exporting from InDesign using the in5 plugin…

Baker book

Baker book

All the pages are controlled by a simple json file. Again much simpler than the epub specification. The order of the pages can be seen inside the json file (book.json). All-in-all a very nice setup. Since this is for iOS devices, this means that the current details are mac-based.

Also, you can download an Xcode project, which opens up Xcode and then you publish your book out properly. Since Xcode only exists on a Mac, you therefore can (at the moment) only create output for newsstand using a Mac. The files of course can be created anywhere as they are only html5, json, javascript, images, etc and thus could be setup using any IDE that you are comfortable with.

It is the final output that has to be done on the Mac (as far as I can see). Reading the documentation it looks like you can package your HPub book as either a newsstand publication or as a standalone app. Both ways, however, require you to use Xcode, and thus do your publishing on a Mac.

I must say that I really like this idea, and the code and file/folder structure is really simple and logical. It is html5-based and you can add all sorts of stuff with CSS3 and JavaScript. I definitely plan to play around more with this framework.