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I would like to create an online web document consisting of HTML files, image files, and PDF files. I want the document to be directly viewable in browsers with no plugin or special server support.

I am wondering whether epub software, such as Sigil, could be a good way to create such a document. Sigil has good editing tools and can manage a collection of files, but I would need a way to export the files in a form suitable for use on a web server. I do not want to use anything complicated like a content management system.

Is this a feasible approach, and how can the epub file be converted to a file tree for the web server?

  • How do you envision a document to contain a PDF file? An Epub file has not provision for PDF content. Don't forget that not all browsers support viewing PDF data in the browser. – Anthon Jun 14 '16 at 20:17
  • I want a link to the PDF file to make the file available. I do not care whether the PDF is displayed inline or downloaded by the browser. By the way, Sigil allows embedding any kind of file, although it does not understand linking to files of types it does not understand, so I must create the link in HTML by hand. Also, iBooks understands links to embedded PDF files and displays them as an overlay. I would not be surprised that this is non-standard behavior, but I was pleasantly surprised that it worked. – Alan Snyder Jun 15 '16 at 21:56
  • If you want an HTML web page to contain a viewable PDF, you would have to embed a PDF reader in that webpage, and the browser would handle reading the PDF. Or you could just LINK TO the PDF and have the OS handle reading the PDF. – Bulrush Jun 28 '16 at 15:01
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SIGIL is probably not your best tool for creating static HTML files although it's not impossible.

The main goal of sigil is to produce an epub file, and to read an epub in the browser, you'd need to install a special extension (Readium).

If you get down to it, epubs solve a navigation problem -- of flipping between chapters and of creating a TOC.

On the other hand, an epub is just a zip of html files and some extra navigation stuff. I build my epub files in another way (Docbook XML --> static HTML --> EPUB) -- but when testing/editing, I view each chapter and the table of contents web page in a browser.

I don't know if Sigil has a button to turn your files into an epub file, but my guess is that at some point, the chapters and TOC exist as HTML files. Even if they don't, you could simply rename the .epub to .zip and then unzip.

The file tree for epubs are fairly standard; here's what's generally inside.

  • OEBPS

    • 1.html
    • toc.html
    • 2.html
    • my.css
    • images/
  • META-INF (navigation stuff and metadata inside)

You could just ftp the oepbs directory to your website and you'd have all the static pages there (you might need to rename the toc.html to index.html so that's the default view. An index file in ebook usually doesn't refer to the TOC but the subject index at the end of the book.

So SIGIL could probably get the job done (and is especially recommended if you are using internal links between web pages), but a simple html editor would work just as well. (Heck, even MS Word to HTML could do the job, although you'd have to live with ugly code).

  • Thanks for the tips. I think I will give that a try. Indeed I have links between pages and images, and that is one of the reasons Sigil looks interesting. A truly simple HTML editor lacks the concept of a tree of related files. – Alan Snyder Jun 15 '16 at 21:51
  • I have tried this approach and it works. It is easy to write a script to extract the files and remove the ones I do not need. The only issue is that Sigil apparently does not keep track of which files have changed, so that each time the ebook is saved every file gets a new timestamp in the ZIP representation. The result is that FTP mirroring is not useful. – Alan Snyder Jun 17 '16 at 2:02

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