Sean Rozekrans.

Browsing.

The road to making this website into an ebook. Plus, better browser support for the new year.

For some time I have wanted to make this webpage available in some sort of offline form. While RSS was once the solution, there are now better ones. The answer may be in ebook form.

In order to successfully make an ebook version I am targeting both EPUB and and KF8 (Kindle/MOBI) ebook formats. Covering these two formats means everybody has at least one way they can freely read. I can create these books automatically because the underlying file format is HTML5, just like the website.

After doing some initial runs and learning what works and what does not in books I am still making some adjustments to make certain everything is just right. This idea is an ambitious one. I had to upgrade Antthrush specifically for the book. I also rewrote some of the automation and HTML of the site too.

Another issue, a big one, was the non‑standardised way that I use imagery on this site. This is unintentional. The way that my use of images has changed over time has caused this. Web standards changed, and later compression and high density displays changed things further.

The versions of the books I have currently each weigh in at over 200MB at present. Too large to set free as of yet. But as I work through all the files in the site and standardise images, the file size keeps going down. I still have a long way to go.

Even if I never get to put the ebook out, it has had other benefits. I have updated both Antbird and Antthrush in the process, as well as the underlying HTML of the site. If you are using a text‑based browser, everything is nicer to work with now. No more compromises.

If you are using intermediary browsers with or without graphical support, for example w3m or Emacs, you will see huge improvements too. In fact, so long as your browser supports HTML5, things should work great. Try opening this website in a version of Firefox or Opera released back in 2011 or later if you want to check.

Versions prior to Firefox 4.0 and Opera 12.0 will not work as HTML5 support was insufficient at the time.

At some point in the past few years I started to wonder what to do about the browser. It has been a long time, perhaps also 2011, that browsers have amazed me with certain new features. I am now often wondering who new browsers are for.

HTML5 is a living standard, largely because modern day browsers update themselves fast and often. But it does mean weird things happen now and again. At least in 2011 you knew. Today you can only make an educated guess at what is around the corner.

As I spend more and more time in what I will call the other browsers I am happier. Perhaps it is simply a case of getting older and yearning for the past. But on the other hand it could mean change is needed.

A big problem for browsers is that if you add support for something new, you almost always have to leave it in for good. This is perhaps why browsers take up so much more memory and processing than their older counterparts.

Of course, I am facing the same issue with my ebooks. They have to support a lot too, and are oversized as a result. But I think I can win this race.