Vincent A Saulys' Blog
ePub as encapsulations of Websites
Tags: writing
April 07, 2021

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Websites are, at heart, a collection of html files. Dynamic frameworks like Ruby-on-Rails or Django simplify the process by which these html files are generated -- and javascript can add a heck of a lot of functionality -- but at the crux they are but a series of html pages. If you could download every one of these pages, you'd have a full website.

Many do exactly this. A scroll over to the r/datahoarders reveals people who find ways to scroll through a blog and get every last page. (they usually recommend httrack if you're curious).

The problem with this approach is that you do a lot of needless crawling of pages you'll never read and your copy isn't very portable. You'd need a computer to properly read these.

Some sites offer much better ways to hold all their pages together. Take blogs, where slate star codex fans have published a compendium of Scott's Greatest Hits or filfre the digital antiquarian where you can download ebooks of the posts by year.

Using ePub to do this is a fantastic idea. ePub is ultimately just a collection of zipped-up html files under the covers. It allows for encapsulating images too.

Unlike a series of html files, you can use this on devices meant for reading like Kindles. Unlike a PDF, it can resize and resembles an HTML getting you closer to the original form of the content.

To that end, I built an epub creator. Given a series of links, it will got and fetch them, download the summarized version (which works pretty well), and assemble it into an ePub you can then download. Of course its barebones but I've always wanted something like this to read links I come across but am too flighty to read once on a computer.

Have a look and let me know what you think.

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