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Adding user interactive text blocks for eBook

Community Beginner ,
May 08, 2024 May 08, 2024

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I have two instruction books that I have done in InDesign and both have many assignments that would require the user to enter answers in the eBook.  Right now I have the layout with just an underscore __ showing where to enter the answers.  But I need to be able to allow the user of the eBook to enter text and or numbers at these points.  How exactly would I do that with ID so the exported epub book has that capability?  I assume it's very obvious but I'm not finding any info for this in the Help or tutorials.

 

Thanks very much.

 

J D Thomas
ThomaStudios

 

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EPUB , How to

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Community Expert ,
May 08, 2024 May 08, 2024

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I'm not sure any standard e-book format supports such a feature. There are some interactive features for EPUB, but they're tricky to implement and export, and then completely dependent on the reader used (no two EPUB readers being quite the same).

 

I don't think what you're attempting can be done outside of an interactive web page (or a custom lesson/learning app).


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Expert ,
May 08, 2024 May 08, 2024

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I'm happy to be proven wrong but there's no way I know of to do this with EPUB.

What you need is an app or a custom website.

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Community Beginner ,
May 09, 2024 May 09, 2024

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Did something similar with an epub starting out in indesign, exported as FXL as that supports more of the enhanced elements you mention. Then after that everything was customized manually. It was primarily used with readium as that was open and what the client wanted. Had the ability to choose items from dropdown, submit it and get a green for correct and red for not. But it was a lot of customization, audio, video, submitting, dropdown menus, drag and drop and more, it was meant as an interactive textbook. Again though, everything was tested and created for the readium platform. So you are limited with the platforms that would support it. Apple ibooks does support some other interactivity as well, touch and get a sound to play, animations, etc, but again a fixed layout version, locked to an orientation that best suits the content is best. 

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Community Beginner ,
May 09, 2024 May 09, 2024

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Thanks for the suggestion.  What is FXL?  I don't see that option for exporting from ID.

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Community Expert ,
May 09, 2024 May 09, 2024

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EPUB, Fixed Layout.

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Community Expert ,
May 09, 2024 May 09, 2024

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Just to clarify — you are aiming at a product/ion that will only work under the most delicate of circumstances, with 100% voluntary cooperation from all users, and will nonetheless garner plenty of two- or three-star reviews (or their institutional equivalent) because "This did not work on my son's iPhone." — or some general combination of those results and outcome.

 

FXL may be "better suited" to your project than reflowable... but fixed-page EPUB is an obsolete, difficult format that brings with it many problems, starting with scalability and adaptability to a variety of devices and readers. It is also highly resistant to "fixes" and tweaking, which your overall concept may need as it's very much an outlier on how interactive features work.

 

If you select some one EPUB reader that works with these features, you are bound to it (and very likely few others, sometimes not even the same reader on different platforms). Every single one of your user/readers must find, download and install this specific reader... in a world of users that have only a vague idea there are different readers and will persist in belieiving that any EPUB reader is the same thing.

 

(Just an aside, but this is maddeningly prevalent in the PDF world as well. We often see designers who create elaborate interactive/multimedia PDFs... and then are bewildered why it doesn't work on their iPhone browser or tablet or work computer that are using generic or third-party PDF readers. The chaos of the EPUB world, driven by amateurs and small code shops, makes this look orderly.)

 

I am also unclear on your user model. So a user can enter their answers. Who then can read them, except another person handed that same device/reader/copy of the book? There is no way, to the best of my knowledge, to transfer or record that information beyond that scope. Does that functional model serve your purposes?

 

I'm not at all knocking your ideas or efforts. I just think you might be in that category of folks with a vague understanding of interactive technology, that it's "all the same thing" and "any sort of e-book" works the way you once saw an interactive learning app or website work. The medium is by no means that homogenous.

 

I would put tremendous focus on finding a solution that works in any way — a one-question test 'book' — on any reader you can find that any test subject you send the sample to can find, download, install and use. To put further effort into the overall concept before you find a working technical platform will be wasted.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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