Google Docs makes reading on mobile devices easier with EPUB exports
These files are now created with Word indexes and simplify compatibility issues for new and legacy documents.
Users of Google Docs now have a new feature available to them, as they are able to use EPUB format when they export their documents, including the ability to convert Word indexes into chapter lists that can be clicked by the viewer.
This announcement was made rather quietly, earlier this month by the team at Google Apps.
The introduction of the new Google Docs feature may have seemed like a rather quiet one, but it could represent a considerable step forward in making it possible for a spectrum of new and legacy documents to be accessible from one device to the next. Since the EPUB format has become a common format for everything from textbooks to young adult fiction novels and even academic treatises, it was a natural fit for this new feature. The format is appealing due to its ease of compatibility as well as the reliability of its hyperlinked chapter indexes created through standard word processing software such as Microsoft Word.
This format allows Google Docs to better cater to the use and exporting of longer works such as novels.
Unlike when Word documents are uploaded as a Google Doc file, viewable in GDocs, where the indexes originally created in the .doc file may not work (that is, by clicking a chapter, the viewer will not be automatically brought to that page), when it is exported as an EPUB, the chapter indexes are all completely preserved. This makes for a much more convenient reading experience and can be very important when viewing a longer document.
EPUB, itself, is based on the XML publication standard and is both free and open. Its standard was ratified by the International Digital Publishing Forum and overcomes many of the barriers and limitations presented by certain other common formats such as Adobe’s PDF which can lead to a more cumbersome reading experience, particularly when shifting from one device to the next.
It is likely that this could become a highly popular feature in Google Docs and could present a way to translate full libraries of legacy Word-based documents into a more modern and compatible cross-device format.