Pressbooks Product Updates [November 2021]

Hello from all of us at Pressbooks!

We released several new updates for you this past month, including major improvements to our export routines, accessibility enhancements for our reading and user admin interfaces, and fixes to make using our Results for LMS product even smoother.

Export Updates

The biggest changes we released in November were updates to the mostly behind-the-scenes processes Pressbooks uses to produce EPUB, XHTML, and PDF export files. The most exciting of these changes were the updates we made to our EPUB export process. As of our latest release, users will now see a single EPUB option in the export menu; when this option is selected, Pressbooks will produce files which conform to and are validated against the EPUB 3.2 standard. The previous EPUB 2.01 and EPUB 3 export options have been retired.

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While we were at it, we made improvements to the semantic markup used in several places in Pressbooks, especially on the title page and running headers in XHTML and PDF exports. We also simplified and improved the display of interactive elements which have been excluded from EPUB and PDF exports. The fallback content inserted for excluded elements now include anchor links which direct the reader to the specific location where the excluded element occurs, instead of simply linking to the page/chapter which contained it.

Along with these semantic changes, we released new versions of Pressbooks-book and several of our themes with minor tweaks which accompany the semantic improvements made to export formats and improve the appearance of EPUB and PDF exports.

Accessibility Improvements

As part of our broader commitment to ensuring that our software is accessible to all users, we made a number of fixes to resolve issues that emerged from our most recent comprehensive accessibility audit (performed by our friends at the Inclusive Design Research Centre).

For example, we fixed several minor parsing errors in the webbook homepage and the reading interface, added aria-labels to all nav elements in the Pressbooks web interface to further clarify their purpose for users navigating the site with assistive technology, and added secondary indicators (underlining) to links within metadata descriptions on the webbook home page.

In addition, we cleaned up and simplified the ‘Publish’ page in the book administration menu, and added a link to our recently revised guide documentation for using this feature.

Keep an eye out for additional accessibility improvements and an updated VPAT from us in 2022!

Results for LMS

We released a few minor updates for our Results for LMS product in November. First, we changed the ‘contributor’ user role name to ‘collaborator’ to match usage elsewhere in Pressbooks.

We worked with Instructure to define and produce additional contextual information to our Common Cartridge export files so that Canvas can reliably associate our LTI links with a correctly registered LTI 1.3 tool. This fixes a bug that was affecting several instructors who are using Results for LMS in their Canvas course.

We also worked with Darko Miletić to produce a new openly-licensed Moodle plugin that fixes an issue that Moodle has in automatically recognizing the correct LTI tool and creating a grade book entry for LTI links following Common Cartridge export. We’d very much like towork with Darko and others on the Moodle core team to add this functionality to a future release of Moodle.

Finally, we updated our documentation for LMS administrators and network managers who use Blackboard, and added a short video demonstrating the LTI 1.3 tool registration steps. Future documentation improvements and additional videos for other LMSes will be coming soon (thank you @ThomasWeideman!)

Upcoming Product Updates

We’ve cancelled our December monthly product update webinar due to the winter holidays, but will be resuming this monthly tradition in January. You can view the agenda for our January 27th webinar and find the Zoom link at Pressbooks Product Update Agendas - Google Docs.

More detailed release notes for the work described in this month’s product update can be found in our public GitHub repos for Pressbooks: Releases · pressbooks/pressbooks · GitHub, McLuhan [Pressbooks-book]: Releases · pressbooks/pressbooks-book · GitHub, and Aldine: Releases · pressbooks/pressbooks-aldine · GitHub.

1 Like

Since November, every eBook format we’ve exported to Kindle/Amazon is full of glitched fonts!
We’ve had to retract and unpublish 6 already published books that we’d updated in the last 4 weeks.
Before the updates, there were no glitches!
What is happening??? We are losing sales now, and have clients returning books to amazon (before we unpublished them).
Desperately yours

hi @palanshia – thanks for mentioning this. Sounds like something strange is happening in the transformation process performed by Amazon KDP. We’re investigating actively now and hope to have a fix for this soon. In the meantime, see Apostrophe problems - #5 by ThomasWeideman for some details and a potential workaround using the free tool Calibre.

What is the update status on the glitching eBooks?
I downloaded Calibre, as per “bug report” suggestion, but it distorted all of the illustrations throughout the book.
This is gone from bad to really bad. My book launch was the first of Dec and the impact on my reputation is incalculable, now two weeks into the launch and the only books that got out were glitched.
:frowning: hoping for good news today…

There seems to be another glitch happening with billing. I’ve paid for PRO for each of my 4 books formatted with PB, but for the past week none of the accounts I paid for is allowing me to add even a small jpg book cover for an ebook (size nor greater than 750k!!). Your policy states clearly: “This is a one-time charge per book that enables you to revise and export watermark-free files for that book as many times as you’d like, in perpetuity…”

I find this new glitch extremely irritating because your website (Amy Song) expressly states:

Amy Song

  • 2 years ago
  • Updated
    Pressbooks is free to try and use indefinitely, with promotional watermarks in the book files.

When you’re ready to remove the promotional watermarks from your book and publish in the ebook and print-on-demand venues, upgrade to either our EBOOK PRO ($19.99) or EBOOK+PDF PRO plan ($99).
This is a one-time charge per book that enables you to revise and export watermark-free files for that book as many times as you’d like, in perpetuity. Upgrading also unlocks the global privacy setting for your webbook and allows you to make your webbook public.
To upgrade, click on Upgrade in the Dashboard and enter your credit card information. (If you have a discount code, be sure to click Verify.) …"

Could I be re-directed to the correct thread to get an answer of some kind?
I just discovered also that PB put its watermark on my PRO-paid eBooks! That is expressly in conflict with the contract when purchasing PRO - is it the same glitch that happened when the site was updated a few weeks ago?
Any help, or re-direction, would be appreciated.