Interface 2003

Electronic books for experts, dummies, and users.
Zdenek Hlavka, (Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin),


The beauty of electronic books lies in the wide range of formats which allow different views of just one text. The user chooses freely the format which best suits his needs. An example is, e.g., a choice between the PDF and HTML version: PDF typically features much better typesetting whereas viewing HTML doesn't require downloading all of the document. Further, users should have the possibility to choose from online, CD, or download version of the book. The producer's challenge of preparing all of the above versions or their combinations from single document source might be further complicated by some additional requirements on `special' features accompanying the e-book such as audio, video, or software components.

It is hard to decide which type of electronic books is the best one, but there is clearly a need for a system which allows production of all of them.

MD*Book manages many output formats automatically. It is based on LaTEX and on free translation programs such as pdflatex and latex2html. In its simplest form, it runs under Linux and it has only command-line interface which offers many possiblities of influencing the behavior of the system. On the other hand, some people who don't care about understanding the system or prefer more colorful graphical user interface might appreciate MD*Book online at Here, your LaTEX source can be converted into an electronic book only by clicking on few buttons.

The inclusion of computing components is currently based on the XploRe Client/Server technology, but other computing environments could be included by adding new sets of LaTEX commands. Another example of MD*Book flexibility is the new MD*Booklet format whose many faces can be appreciated at

It is not clear which of the current formats (such as Open eBook or Adobe eBook) will become the standard in the next decade, but MD*Book is a tool that can adapt and survive.

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