HTML export formatting and usability

I finally got everything to work with my Pressbooks installation. All export features are available, and I do not get any error messages (so far). I created a very basic 3 page book and exported it for HTML and XHTML (to see the difference). In both case, the final result is a single HTML page with very basic formatting and not interactive elements. I was expecting something that looks like the Web book experience: With each chapter/section being it’s own page and having the interactivity (H5P content) available. Did I miss something in the installation process or was it wishful thinking on my part?

Did you install, H5P plugin and network enable and did you build some element of H5P in the book ?

If you have done that, you will see them in the web book.

Yes, I installed H5P and added a couple of interactivity elements. Everything works well in the Web version of the book. It’s when I export the book as HTML that it’s a really underwhelming experience. The interactivity elements are replaced with a text message in a box that says that the interactivity has been removed but offers a link to the Web page. The thing that strikes me as really odd is the fact that the whole book is in 1 HTML page and the images are sources from the Web book. This is fine for a small book, but anything of substance (50+ pages) would be really hard to navigate as a single HTML page. I was really hoping for a self-contained export series of files That could be hosted anywhere.

I believe HTML book is stripped down version, it is unfair to expect them to work with full functionality of pressbook.

What are you trying to achieve with HTML book, when you can just share the url of the book.

This is really just a rough test. I added a few H5P widgets and images. Works very well as a Web book:

But when you export it as HTML this is what you get:

I was hoping the export feature would create a series of files with the content of the book all included. This way, it can be hosted somewhere else or given out on a CD or USB drive, in the same way as a PDF export produces a portable file.

My understanding is that you can not have pressbooks experience in HTML book. Use pressbooks webbook to get that experience or share ebooks files.

I am just curios do people still use CD and USB ?

I get your point. I’m was just giving some examples of distribution methods. I’m basically trying to compare various ebook publishing methods, and others such as Kotobee and 3D Issue will produce HTML packages which turn the ebook into a portable ebook that can be hosted anywhere. I guess Pressbooks is a distribution platform already, so you wouldn’t need to have your ebook hosted elsewhere.

If you are publishing Non-DRM books, pressbook webbook can be great tool with awesome reading experience on the mobile browser with interactivity.

If you go through this link, you will have good understanding of pressbooks.

Thanks. I do realize now that Pressbooks a nice tool to produce Web-based ebooks and static books of all kinds, but if you export in any format, you will lose the interactivity, even though, EPUB3 and many e-readers should be able to handle JS (Apple iBooks, Chrome Readium being 2 examples). Is there any way to export into EPUB3 format and keep the interactive features?

Only the developers @ned and @dac.chartrand can answer whether the interactive elements are exported in epub3.

Thanks John. I’ll wait for @ned and @dac.chartran to return from vacation to continue the discussion. I appreciate your input. - Stephan


XHTML is a raw archiving format. We use it to generate PDFs but for all practical purposes it should be considered an intermediary transform mechanism.

HTMLBook is the same idea. It follows this standard:

The Webbook is the URL to your book. Responsive design, mobile friendly, and (most importantly) on the web.

Some offline features could of the Webbook be improved by using service workers but this is not currently on our roadmap. Smartphone focused, I don’t think service workers would help with CD or USB distribution.

In theory, if you put JavaScript, inline, and you are a super admin, your EPUB3 will contain it. In practice we are waiting for this bug to be fixed:


Quick note in addition to @dac.chartrand’s response. I think you are particularly interested in distributing the book in alternative formats with the H5P content included? @SteelWagstaff may have more information about this but it’s our understanding that H5P does not support their interactive content in any formats other than on the web (so, no EPUB3 etc.). We at Pressbooks have not made any efforts to do this given that it’s not supported upstream by H5P.

That’s my understanding as well, @ned. @sbeauchesne – like you, I’d love to be able to include interactive elements in ePUB exports as well, especially since EPUB readers (largely based on Readium) have made impressive strides in permitting and supporting interaction in that format. One problem I see is that EPUBs are still (and will likely always remain) far behind the web in terms of what kinds of interactions they permit. For example, the EPUB 3.1 specification (released in January 2017) states that “EPUB 3 does not require scripting support in Reading Systems, and scripting might be disabled for security reasons.” While there is a spec for EPUB scriptable components, and a (really interesting) draft specification for something called EDUPUB (EPUB for Education – last updated in early 2016), I don’t know the current status of these efforts, nor what the current thinking is around standards-based ways to build interactivity into EPUBs. The most knowledgeable person I’ve spoken with on the topic is Markus Gylling, now of IMS Global, if you were looking to explore the topic further.

1 Like

Here’s the standard line (from Tom Arild Jakobsen, formerly of Joubel AS, the makers of H5P) about whether you can use H5P in EPUBs: “No sorry, it’s not possible. H5P depends on some backend and database support from a server.” (source). A few years ago I read about someone putting H5P activities into an EPUB3 file, but have never seen what they made so don’t know if they actually did it or what it looked like.

1 Like

Thank you all for your responses. I think that I will continue to look for an offline solution, but for an online solution, Pressbooks seems like a really good one.

If you do find one, we’d be interested to hear of it!

Yes–I’d love to know more about what you discover re: authoring tools that make good offline solutions for interactive content. We’d be very very interested. You might want to look into Learning Equality (a great nonprofit based in San Diego) and their Kolibri product: