Latest Updates to the Pressbooks System

By Zoe Wake Hyde

If you’ve ever tried a new feature in Pressbooks, you know that we’re always trying to improve our system and make it work for you, our users. But what you might not know is that behind the scenes, we’re making regular updates and changes, many of which you won’t ever notice. These updates range from technical and infrastructure changes (that even I don’t fully understand, but our developer knows what he’s doing!), to bug fixes, to small improvements that keep the whole Pressbooks system evolving.

While we don’t usually advertise these changes unless they have a direct impact on our users, our most recent release included a couple of these smaller improvements that we thought we would use to highlight the ongoing work we do to make Pressbooks even better.

Language Support

If you’ve ever worked on a book in a language other than English, you know that Pressbooks supports a wide range of languages out of the box, but some require extra font support for non-Latin alphabets. Currently, we support 15 different alphabets, and the most recent addition to the family is support for Canadian Indigenous syllabics, which are used for the Chipewyan, Inuktitut, Plains Cree, Cree, Moose Cree, Slave, Northern Cree, Naskapi, Swampy Cree, Southern East Cree, and Ojibwa languages.

We’re particularly excited about this addition for two reasons; we’re a Canadian based organisation, so are pleased to show some local pride, and we also have a strong user base in the education sector, so we know this addition will open up new opportunities for educators working with indigenous languages and communities.

Many of our language support options have come in response to users’ specific needs, so if you would like to work in a language that isn’t currently supported, let us know and we will do our best to add it to the list. Email us at support@pressbooks.com.

Comments

As an example of a tiny change that you might not notice unless it’s pointed out to you, the comments column on the Organize page will now be hidden if comments are disabled. Simple, but sensible!

Pressbooks WXR Imports

The Pressbooks WXR import option allows users to import a Pressbooks-specific file, creating an exact copy of all or part of an existing book. This is useful for moving a book to a new URL, adding duplicate content to a series of books (e.g. front and back matter), creating box sets and for remixing and revising openly licensed educational content.

Our latest release sees a handful of improvements to how these imports are handled:

  • Imported content can be set to published status instead of draft
  • Front matter, chapter, and back matter types will now be retained
  • Empty front matter, chapters, and back matter will now be included in the import
  • Title display and export settings will now be retained for each part, chapter or section
  • The import process will now display the different content types instead of labeling all content as chapters

New Theme Options Available with Asimov

Finally, there’s one last (and more significant) change to share. A few months ago we released the first of our revamped themes — Clarke — and the exciting new PDF theme options that come along with it. We’re pleased to announce that the new options are now also available in Asimov. You can read about the changes in our guide. As with Clarke, we appreciate any feedback you have as you play around with the new options.

We are planning to move forward with more theme conversions in the coming months, which will also be accompanied by some exciting new features, and even more options to let you easily customise your books. Watch this space!


Zoe Wake Hyde is a publishing innovation & technology whiz and mans the Pressbooks support desk. If you email us with a question, you’ll probably run into her! Watch out for her regular posts on the Pressbooks blog, giving advice on updates, new features and common formatting challenges.

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