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Genii Weblog

Reflowable - a word to remember

Tue 27 Sep 2011, 09:11 AM



by Ben Langhinrichs
One question has come up frequently since I started talking about ePub support in Midas and our other products. 

Why?

It is a fair question which could be answered in a number of ways, but the simple answer is:

Reflowable

But is "reflowable" a real word? What does it mean, and why does it matter? If you look at Reflowable document on Wikipedia, there is an extensive discuss, but the first bit says:
A reflowable document is a type of electronic document that can adapt its presentation to the output device. Typical desktop publishing (DTP) output formats like PostScript or PDF are page-oriented, so are not generally reflowable (but see discussion below for PDF), whereas the world wide web standard, HTML is a reflowable format.

In short, reflowable means that the text will adjust to the size of the display available. A few years ago, PDF was the best solution for distributing content. It allows fairly good control over the look and feel to the reader, and it was assumed that people all had screens big enough to view the page. But recently, that latter assumption has been severely challenged. People may be viewing your content on a huge, dedicated monitor or on a tiny cellphone screen. That PDF which worked before is a pain in the neck on a small screen, where scrolling around becomes the only way to read the content. The reason is that PDF is not reflowable. It is page-oriented and fixed positionally. (Note: there have been recent changes to make it pseudo-reflowable and easier to extract to a reflowable format)

If you want content that works on a variety of different device sizes, consider ePub. In the Wikipedia article under, it goes on to say:
ePUB is a simple reflowable format that allows a single column with inline images, in many ways similar to a stripped-down HTML.

That's what reflowable means, and that's why we are supporting it.

Copyright 2011 Genii Software Ltd.

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