Here’s the second part of the project update:
As the first in a series of explorations to evaluate how to package VLE content and resources for offline usage (or with poor connectivity), the latest developments in structured content provided an opportunity to investigate technical requirements for other formats to supplement current web delivery (and print view). This is also seen to complement work underway by the Digital Audio Project (Disabled Student Services) for synthetic voice-read course texts and DAISY format development.
Initial format evaluation [summary available on project blog] identified Mobipocket as a more feature-rich format that is already popular amongst mobile (and desktop) users. Following on from development work for that format, the open-source ePub (or Open eBook) format would follow most naturally, with many methods common to both.
As a result, the LIO contractor worked on XSLT coding from OU intermediate XML, working through all of the elements of the OU schema with the aim to provide a best-attempt approach, rather than handcrafting for each case. Refinements are expected in an iterative process, and decisions remain to be made on what ‘canned text’ for example indicates where there are activities that need to be completed online, within the narrative.
Since the initial coding work, it has however become apparent that Amazon’s purchase of the Mobipocket platform has frozen some development of client applications, and the future of the format is in question alongside Kindle (still unavailable outside US). Aside from creating a few eBook samples, development work has now been redeployed to providing ePub standard format.