Textbooks In Html

Nov 8, 2011

I came across an article yesterday that talked about how instuctors saved a university a boat load of money by creating their own online textbook. It makes perfect sense. ePub is just a subset of HTML and HTML is easy. You could just write it in markdown and compile it to HTML or ePub. Why aren’t educators doing this? Especially in the technology area, web based technologies specifically. The book that I use for an Intro to HTML course is not good. It concentrates too much on the legacy stuff, and not enough on the progressive stuff. Legacy is important; rarely do we pick up an old project that has current markup, but we as also need to stress moving forward.

An HTML based ebook written in HTML is great project. I know, so meta. The book could be community based in a git repo with the best minds in the web design industry helping to update it and make better than any one author could. You don’t have to be some specialized author to write books anymore. Self publishing is easy and open. I’d be interested in contributing to something like this. Here is my short wish list:

  1. Interactive. Text areas that allow you to edit the HTML and see how it reacts.
  2. Well designed examples. The current offerings have terribly designed examples.
  3. Browser based with a responsive design. This book should be available on any device.
  4. Downloadable in multiple formats. PDF, mobi, and ePub
  5. It should start with the basics and move right on through the box model, into CSS, and finally scripting. I’m not sure if 3 separate books make more sense. Book length would be a good indicator,