Pressbooks Product Updates [October & November 2022]

We delivered several new features and improvements in the months of October and November. Here’s a run down of what’s new and improved in Pressbooks:

New network catalog!

One of our biggest goals this past quarter has been to provide authors and network managers with more tools for showcasing the books they’ve worked so hard to publish. To that end, we completely overhauled the existing network catalog with a focus on presenting books in a more attractive fashion, and giving visitors more tools for searching and filtering cataloged books so that they can more easily find and share what they’re looking for.

For open source/self-hosted users, this new network catalog is available via a free and open source plugin: GitHub - pressbooks/pressbooks-network-catalog: A Pressbooks plugin which provides an improved catalog for the Pressbooks Aldine theme. Once you’ve installed and network activated the plugin, any page on your root site you’ve chosen to use the ‘catalog’ template for will display the new catalog. You can change the title and URL of catalog pages, add new preferatory/banner text, and set a custom hero image by changing the page’s featured image.

The new catalog will display all of the books listed in your network catalog. Users can use several search, filter, sorting, and pagination tools to refine and share results from your catalog:

To see a demonstration of this catalog and its several features, please see the video recording of our recent Pressbooks Spotlight session on ‘How to Publish & Showcase Your Books’: Pressbooks Spotlight: How to Publish & Showcase Your Books - YouTube

Changing network front page

We’ve also made a few other complementary changes to the Aldine theme itself. First, you can now set any page on your root site as your network front page, including the new network catalog. To change your ‘front page’, visit your network root site, click ‘Appearance’ → ‘Customize’ and choose your desired page from the dropdown menu in the new ‘Front Page Settings’ menu

Featured Books on Network Home Page

We’ve also given all network managers the ability to define ‘featured books’ which appear on the standard front page. Any book that you’ve listed in your network catalog can be set as a featured book. To use the ‘featured books’ setting, click the ‘Front Page Catalog’ option. You can set a block title and select up to four featured books.

Instead of displaying a banner with single-color book chips, the section will now display up to four book covers along with links to the book’s home pages and a call to action link to your network catalog.

Other improvements

We also released a number of smaller features, bug fixes, and other enhancements in the past few months. These include:

  • Adding support for the Khmer alphabet. To add script support for Khmer to your book and all export routines, simply click ‘Appearance’ → ‘Theme Options’ and select Khmer in the Language & Script support input field

  • improving the accessibility of input fields, editor toolbar buttons, and search field labels

  • improving export routines (fixed a few bugs affecting special characters in titles & subtitles and chapter numbering in the PDF table of contents)

  • improving how H5P results are synced and sent to the LMS

Developer notes

Recent releases of Pressbooks and all related plugins and themes now require PHP 8, as PHP 7.4 is no longer in security support. We will be working to ensure full compatibility with PHP 8.1 and 8.2 in the new year.

We also added a few new ‘health check’ API endpoints, which can be used to check your network’s database connection, Redis/cache connection, the remaining family system space, and availability of the main site, if desired. See feat: Health check endpoint by fdalcin · Pull Request #3020 · pressbooks/pressbooks · GitHub for details.

Video recordings

Our October 2022 Pressbooks Product update can be seen here: October 2022 Pressbooks Product Update - YouTube. Our recent Pressbooks Spotlight session on publishing and showcasing your books can be viewed at Pressbooks Spotlight: How to Publish & Showcase Your Books - YouTube