e-book reader open sourced

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Something I managed to miss on RISCOSitory is that back in September, Rick Murray engaged in a little experimentation with e-books (books supplied in digital form for use on e-readers – which can be dedicated devices, or software running on phones, tablets, or normal computers). The result of his efforts, written up on his blog at the time, was an e-book reader application for RISC OS which he made available via !Store.

The focus of Rick’s attention was ‘EPUB’ (electronic publication) files, a widely used format for e-books, but not the only one – Amazon, for example, largely uses a format called MOBI (or mobipocket). EPUB files are actually containers that hold a number of different files that provide different information to the reader. One or more of those will be the actual content of the book in XHTML format, along with a CSS file to define styles so that the reader application knows how to display certain things in the content, and so on.

Rick’s reader performs a fairly simple task to allow the books to be read on the RISC OS desktop; it opens the container, and reads the XHTML file(s) while ignoring the CSS, in order to display the book content as plain text (honouring some of the basic markup elements, such as emphasis and headings) in a basic scrolling window.

For reasons best explained by Rick on the page with the download, he’s decided he won’t be doing any further work on the program, and has therefore elected to release it as open source under the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) 1.2. The program builds using recent versions of the desktop development environment (DDE) sold by RISC OS Open Ltd, but does require Rick’s modified version of DeskLib – so that can be downloaded from the same place.