With our sprint previews, idea board, and various other initiatives, we’re increasing our efforts to foster and engage the Pressbooks Open Source community 1. As part of this process, we have decided to set up an Open Collective account for the Pressbooks Open Source project so that our Open Source users can, if they wish to, contribute financially to the ongoing development of Pressbooks. While we are very proud of our PressbooksEDU enterprise hosting service (and it remains the best way to provide stable, ongoing financial support to the project), we recognize that this isn’t the right option for many users, and that those who still rely on Pressbooks may want a different way to contribute. If that’s you, please consider backing us on Open Collective, with either a one-time donation or a small monthly contribution. Either way, even if you’re not in a position to contribute, we’re glad to have you in our Open Source community!
Our last sprint of Q1, running March 19–30, will focus on:
- Further bug fixes and improvements to Aldine based on user feedback
- Further bug fixes and improvements to McLuhan based on user feedback
- Development of a new version-tracking feature in McLuhan which will allow readers to compare chapters in a cloned webbook to the source book
- More improvements to Buckram and more theme conversion work
- Internal work to improve Pressbooks.com infrastructure
We’re drawing near the end of Q1 at Pressbooks! And we’ve crossed off a lot of the items on our 2018 Roadmap:
- ✔ Ensure support for H5P interactive elements with graceful fallbacks across all formats
- ✔ Ensure support for video and audio with graceful fallbacks across all formats
- ✔ Add support for multiple contributors (authors, editors, translators, etc.)
- ✔ Add custom metadata support to the Pressbooks REST API and clone tool
- ✔ Finish our new landing page theme
- ✔ Finish our new webbook theme
- ✔ Improve section heading outputs in EPUB and PDF
- ✔ Develop two new themes oriented towards textbook and OER use cases
- ✔ Add support for chapter-level cloning
- ✔ Overhaul the Organize page, prioritizing accessibility, fully responsive design, and inline and batch editing support of front matter/chapter/back matter properties
Now’s the time for us to share some of our plans for Q2. We’ve drawn from our overall roadmap for this year and we’ll be trying to address many of the top priorities and feature requests we’ve been hearing about from our clients and Open Source users.
Editing and Content
- We’ll be working to test and fully support the WP QuickLaTeX plugin, which will improve the quality of LaTeX formulas in PDF exports.
- We’ll be engaging in research and development with an eye on further mathematics support improvements across all formats.
- We’ll be working to test and fully support the TablePress plugin, which will allow more advanced table display.
- We’ll be engaging in research and development with the goal of improving to media management and image uploading, including user-facing guidance to ensure high-quality image output across all formats.
- We’ll be refining our approach for supporting the forthcoming WordPress Gutenberg editor.
- We’ll be engaging in research and development on various popular enterprise integrations for Pressbooks, including LTI and various single sign-on (SSO) methods, with the goal of ensuring that Pressbooks better supports these integrations.
Themes and Theme Design
- Based on user feedback, we’ll continue to refine the McLuhan (webbook) and Aldine (landing page) themes that we released at the end of February.
- We’ll continue to refine Buckram, our book theme component library, and we’ll continue to convert legacy themes to use Buckram and fully support the theme options that are currently available in Clarke, Jacobs, and McLuhan. This work will include updates to the open source Austen and Donham themes.
- We’ll be continuing research and development towards implementing new markup for books, based on HTMLBook.
Import, Export, and Cloning
- We’ll be testing and adding the BCcampus OpenStax Importer for Pressbooks to our recommended plugins list.
- We’ll be reviewing various implementations of Common Cartridge import and export to ensure first-class support for this format.
- We’ll be exploring ways of tracking the adoption of Open Textbooks.
- We’ll be engaging in research and development on methods of configuring default theme options and other settings for books at the network level.
- We’ll be engaging in research and development on methods for providing book-level analytics on networks where books are in subdirectories as opposed to subdomains, and exploring other types of book- and network-level analytics.
Accessibility & Inclusivity
- We’ll be working with the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) to integrate their User Interface Options tool into McLuhan and Aldine.
- We’ll be implementing other accessibility and inclusivity improvements on the front-end and back-end based on feedback from the IDRC.
If you’re planning on working on any of these items or would like to collaborate, please let us know in the forums or tweet @pressbooksdev!
Minor releases of Pressbooks, McLuhan, Aldine, and Pressbooks Publisher are now available. Among other improvements, Pressbooks 5.1.0 and McLuhan 2.1.0 improve support for interactive content in ebook and PDF exports, and Aldine 1.1.0 adds buttons to the editor to insert formatted content (page sections and calls to action).
Before you upgrade, please be sure to consult the upgrade instructions.
Full changelogs are available here:
We’ve released updates to DocRaptor for Pressbooks, Excalibur and Pressbooks Stats to indicate their compatibility with Pressbooks 5.0.2 and standardize our plugin license to GPL v3 or later. You can view the full changelogs on our documentation site:
Last summer, WooCommerce introduced a new feature in version 3.2 of their core plugin: compatibility alerts for installed add-on plugins when new versions of WooCommerce became available. By adding a line to the plugin headers of a WooCommerce add-on, developers could let users know the most recent version of WooCommerce with which they’d tested their plugin.
We really liked this idea, so Dac built a similar feature into Pressbooks 5. Now, when future updates to Pressbooks show up on the plugins page of a Pressbooks, users will see whether or not their Pressbooks-specific add-ons have been tested with the latest version:
If you develop plugins that extend Pressbooks functionality (we check for
pressbooks in the plugin slug, name, and description), you can add
Pressbooks tested up to: 5.0.0 (or whatever version string is relevant) to your plugin headers, and Pressbooks will reflect your plugin’s compatibility in the update notice. We hope this feature will give network administrators a better understanding at a glance of whether they can safely update to the latest version of Pressbooks. Of course, we still encourage thorough testing in a development or staging environment before installing a major update.
Our sprint running March 5-16 will focus on:
- Bug fixes for Pressbooks 5.0, Aldine 1.0 & McLuhan 2.0 (formerly known as Book 2.0)
We are pleased and relieved to have completed our big releases in the previous sprint, and are now planning to spend some time following up on bug reports and polishing a few edges. We will be releasing patches for Pressbooks, Aldine and McLuhan early in the sprint.
- Buckram Additions
We will also be continuing our theme development work, implementing several improvements to Buckram that we have identified in-house.
- Interactive Content
We expect to release the work we have been doing on interactive content in the second week of the sprint, with updates to Pressbooks and McLuhan which will enable this feature for all themes. This feature offers support for video, audio, whitelisted iFrame and H5P content (if the plugin is installed) across all formats, with fallbacks in place where interactive content is not supported.
- Bug fixes for Pressbooks 5.0, Aldine 1.0 & McLuhan 2.0 (formerly known as Book 2.0)
Are you working on related goals? Let us know in the Pressbooks Forum!
I’m always looking for better ways to keep track of feature suggestions from members of the Pressbooks Open Source community, which within our small and very active team can often get lost in the shuffle. Messages in Slack can fly by before we make note of them, and often threads in the forum include a number of ideas which should be evaluated as standalone feature suggestions but get lost in a broader discussion.
So, borrowing from the WP-CLI project where I first saw this implemented, I’ve created a GitHub repo for ideas from Pressbooks users. If you have an idea for Pressbooks that you’d like to suggest to our team, you can open an issue. We will evaluate your ideas on a regular basis for inclusion in our sprints and longer-term roadmap. You can check on the status of your idea by visiting the idea board.
I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges! As always we welcome feedback and discussion in the forum.