Pressbooks 2019 Q1 Roadmap

The Pressbooks team recently spent some time planning our roadmap for Q1 2019. We’ve got some exciting projects planned for the next few months. Here are some of the major improvements we’ll be working on:

Network-level improvements:

  • Better usage statistics for network managers
  • More tools for network managers to control default settings on their network, including the default theme for newly created books
  • Improved functionality for the network catalog

Improvements to import/export and cloning routines:

  • Rebuilding the ‘export’ page with progress indicators during exports, improved management of export files, and full keyboard accessibility
  • Adding support for cloning H5P activities
  • Progress indicators for cloning and import processes

Metadata and book info improvements:

  • Adding JSON-LD metadata to webbooks. This will provide more context about what comprises each book in a linked, structured format, making public books easier to find by search engines.
  • Adding metadata to webbooks to make it easier to cite them with Zotero
  • Adding ORCID support for contributors (ORCID is a persistent digital identifier for people often used in scholarly publishing)
  • Improving support for books with editors or translators as primary contributors
  • Adding a central database table of book metadata to Pressbooks networks to support planned improvements to network-level analytics

These are the big projects we have planned; as always, we’ll continue to refine and improve Pressbooks with smaller updates and bug fixes released throughout the quarter.

If you have any questions about the improvements coming this quarter, or would like to tell us what you want to see on our roadmap this year, please contact our support desk!

What’s New on PressbooksEDU: Glossary Creation, DOI Integration, and More

Happy (early) Holidays! It’s our last major release of the year, and the gifts we have to offer include a few features that we know you’ve been waiting for. Read on for details about what’s included in this release.

The New Glossary Feature

Thanks to code contributions from Brad Payne and Alex Paredes at BCcampus, you can now insert glossary terms and full glossary lists natively into your books in Pressbooks.

Individual Glossary Terms

You can create and insert tooltips for individual glossary terms directly from the content editor.

A new button on the visual editor toolbar (GL) allows you to insert a glossary shortcode for any new or existing glossary term.

A new button on the visual editor toolbar (GL) allows you to insert a glossary shortcode for any new or existing glossary term.

The shortcode links the word to a definition that opens when readers click the term in the webbook.

Using the Pressbooks glossary tool, the shortcode links the word to a definition that opens when readers click the term in the webbook.

Full Glossary Lists

Pressbooks can automatically generate a full glossary list of all glossary terms in your book.

To add the glossary:

  1. Create a new back matter chapter
  2. Select “Glossary” from the Back Matter Type menu and leave the content editor blank
  3. Click Create (or Save, for an already existing chapter)

To add the glossary: Create a new back matter chapter. Select “Glossary” from the Back Matter Type menu and leave the content editor blank.

Pressbooks generates a list of all individual glossary terms which have been marked to “Show in Glossary Lists” to create a full, alphabetized glossary.

Glossary terms with definitions

For more detailed instruction on how to use the glossary tool, check out our user guide.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Integration

Pressbooks now has dedicated metadata fields for DOI handles. Book DOIs will display in the Metadata section on the homepage of your webbook in Pressbooks.

Shows the display of the web book metadata in a Pressbooks webbook.

Chapter DOIs will display underneath the copyright license in the footer of the webbook chapter.

Chapter DOIs will display underneath the copyright license in the footer of the webbook chapter.

To insert a book DOI, go to Book Info from the left sidebar menu of your Pressbooks dashboard. Find “Digital Object Identifier (DOI)” in the General Book Information section.

Find the chapter DOI entry field in the Chapter Metadata field underneath the content editor of a specific chapter.

Webbook Table of Contents Makeover

The table of contents for your Pressbooks webbooks has been improved for accessibility and intuitive design.

The new table of contents for Pressbooks webbooks

Changes include a more obvious hierarchy of parts, chapters, and subsections, as well as improved functions for collapsing and expanding the contents of the book.

Customizable “Chapter” and “Part” Section Labels

Users can now customize the titles for the sections of the book that currently default to chapters and parts.

These section titles will display in all exports and book formats. For example, if a user preferred that parts were chapters, and chapters were sections, those terms can be changed in a book’s theme options to reflect that usage. The terms affected appear in the table of contents and section titles of a book, and can be modified in all Pressbooks themes.

Arrow points to where the customizable section heading displays in a Pressbooks PDF export.

To customize the “chapter” and “part” labels:

  1. Go to Appearance > Theme Options
  2. On the Global Options tab, find “Part and Chapter Numbers” and enable the setting to “Display part and chapter numbers.” The “Part Label” and “Chapter Label” settings will appear
  3. Choose your labels
  4. Click Save Changes

You can customize your chapter and part labels under Theme Options - Global Options.

Webbook Navigation Cues

The part and chapter terminology has been removed from navigational cues in Pressbooks webbooks. Instead, webbook navigation cues will include the title—or the short title, when available—of the next and previous sections in the book.

Pressbooks webbook navigation cues now show titles or short titles.

For example, what would have previously been Next (Chapter) will now be Next: The Third Law of Thermodynamics.

In order for any webbook to meet accessibility standards for digital texts, it is important that navigation cues include more information than just the terms next or previous.

This change, we hope, will allow users to structure their books in the way that works best for their content and students while maintaining the high standard we have at Pressbooks for the accessibility of the webbook interface.

Explicit Metadata Support for CC0 and Public Domain licenses

Pressbooks now recognizes CC0 and Public Domain licenses as clear and distinct. In earlier iterations of the license on our software, the CC0 license was not available in the dropdown menu. You can now apply this license on any book or any chapter.

CC0 license applied to the metadata of a webbook in Pressbooks.

Digital PDF Hyperlinks Enhanced for Greater Accessibility

All hyperlinked elements in the digital PDF export are now blue and underlined to make it much more evident that they are active links. All links will remain as plain text in the print PDF export, which should be used for submission to any printing service.

And More

    • Cloned image metadata. Captions, alt text, and other image metadata will now be cloned from a source book.
    • Cloning order. We were made aware of a bug that caused cloned books to order chapters in terms of chronology rather than the order in which they appear in the source book. This has been fixed, and all cloned books should replicate the order of their source.
    • New language scripts. We’ve added support for the Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, and Telugu language scripts.
    • Knight Lab Timelines. We’ve whitelisted Knight Lab Timeline so that users can embed timeline iframes into their webbooks. For more information on how to embed an iframe, check out our user guide.
    • Change book title when cloning. You can now choose a different title for the book you’re cloning directly from the cloning interface. When the new book is created, the new title will already be applied to the book without anyone needing to change it in on the Book Info page.
    • XHTML source preview. You can now easily access your book’s XHTML source view by clicking the Diagnostics link at the bottom footer of any book in Pressbooks. The XHTML view can help diagnose issues you’re having with your PDF.
    • Improved type scale for headings. The McLuhan and Jacobs themes now have heading style that are better reflective of the intended hierarchy.
    • More logical UI. You can now access the Contributors page via the Book Info page rather than the Organize page.

Have any questions about this update?


Q4 Roadmap Preview

In Q3, we added a couple new and exciting features to Pressbooks:

  • Image attributions (thanks to Brad and Alex at BCcampus)
  • New shortcodes to facilitate adding more complex content

We also released a new Open Source plugin, Pressbooks Shibboleth SSO, which provides bilateral Shibboleth SSO integration for Pressbooks networks. And we converted a few more themes to use Buckram, our theme component library, which gives us added flexibility to add new theme options for all themes.

In Q4 we’re wrapping up a few loose ends from our Q3 goals:

  • UX improvements to the webbook Table of Contents
  • UX improvements to the Export page

We’re also working on:

  • UI and UX improvements to the Theme Options page
  • Adding support for DOIs in Book Info and metadata outputs
  • Testing integration with Gutenberg, WordPress’s new editing interface
  • Continuing to convert themes and improve Buckram

As always, we’d love to hear your ideas for Pressbooks, so feel free to share them in the Pressbooks Community Forum!

Improved Internal Linking Mechanism, Removed Suggested Videos, and more

What’s New on PressbooksEDU

This week’s release brings with it a number of improvements to the default behaviors and interface of Pressbooks.

Removed Suggested Videos from Embedded YouTube Videos

YouTube videos embedded in platforms like Pressbooks naturally roll over into suggested videos once the video ends. As a platform for educational texts, we recognized the need to alter this behavior. Now, YouTube videos should end without suggested videos and revert back to the opening screen of the video when they’ve been played out.

Reduced Spam for Your Support Team

We’ve noticed a lot of spam in our support inbox lately, and we bet you have too. To mitigate this recent increase in spam, we’re ramping up anti-spam security for Pressbooks Contact Forms.

We’re using the Honeypot Method. This involves adding an extra, hidden field to the Contact Form that users won’t be able to see but bots will fill out automatically. This automatically filters your spam out from the rest of your Contact Form submissions.

Improved Internal Links in Digital PDF Exports

Users can now link to other content within the same book using absolute links. Prior to this change, absolute links, when clicked, would direct readers to the webbook. Authors would need to make all internal links relative rather than absolute in order for the content to link properly.

Now, absolute links will automatically register as relative links when placed in your chapter, and will allow users to navigate within the digital PDF itself.

Other Great News

You may notice these other changes we’re releasing this week to improve your Pressbooks experience:

    • Improved link insertion interface. We’ve enabled users to search for anchors throughout the entire book instead of just a single chapter. Previously, the link insertion interface only let you search for anchors within the chapter you were currently editing.
    • Improved fallback for authorless clone books. Previously, if a clone book’s source book had no authors, the attribution on the clone book’s cover page would say “by ,” with a blank space where the author name(s) should have been. We’ve improved how this auto-populated content accommodates authorless books.
    • Easier book creation for first-time users. Logged-in Pressbooks users can now create books from the menu of their network homepage. Previously, this functionality was only available to users who already had books in their user catalog.

Have any questions about these changes? Contact

Improvements to Cloning, Tables, Navigation, Media Metadata & More in PressbooksEDU

We’re always trying to make your Pressbooks experience better—more user-friendly, more customizable, and more enjoyable.

You can look forward to a few improvements to changes on Pressbooks, coming out today. Read on for details.

Improved Book Cloning

We’ve come a long way since we first rolled out the cloning feature for PressbooksEDU networks in August 2017. We’ve been working hard to improve it since then. Today’s update will bring you:

Cloned media. Now, when you clone a public, openly licensed book from another network or your own, all of the media files from the original book’s media will also import with the book. Previously, cloned books would only retain images. Now, videos, audio files and other media files will also come over.  

Internal links. Internal links in cloned books will now be automatically converted to point to the newly-cloned book. URLs will undergo this action as part of the cloning process, so that manual conversion isn’t necessary.

More accurate source comparison. We’ve improved the source comparison tool so that readers can more easily see the differences between the original source book and a cloned book when the user has enabled source comparison on their cloned webbook. Word counts on source books will now be more accurate too, as we’ve eliminated some of the factors affecting markup differences.

Improved source comparison in the PressbooksEDU cloning feature

Addition of TablePress

TablePress will now be available on PressbooksEDU networks.

TablePress makes it much easier to create larger, more complex tables, with more interactive functionality, such as the ability to sort by column.

To use it, activate the TablePress plugin on your book.

Adding a new table in TablePress

New Media Attributions Display Options

Pressbooks users can now format media attributions in their books in a standardized way.

You can now add more comprehensive metadata and attribution information to image files in your Media Library.

To make this information display publicly, check the Media Attributions setting under Theme Options.

With this box checked, the information will display at the end of each chapter after your body text and before your footnotes.

Shows the media attributions setting with a checkbox selected to display attributions at the end of a chapter.

This feature is helpful for users who, for example, are creating textbooks and may be using a large quantity of images from different sources, or for users who are creating open textbooks that want to easily embed the metadata for those who may clone and remix the book.

More information on this feature can be found at

Thanks to Brad Payne and Alex Paredes at BCcampus for building this feature.

Other Improvements

With this release, Pressbooks is also:

  • Fixing the icon size on collapsible chapter subsections
  • Generating a smaller cover image for the book homepage
  • Improving the design of the navigation links on the webbook for more logical navigation through front matter and back matter
  • Improving navigation links for visual clarity and accessibility by moving the cues to the bottom of the screen
  • Updating our Thema integration to Thema version 1.3.0, which includes French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese translations for subject matter categories

Have questions about these changes? Contact

More Theme Improvements on the Way!

We’ve got a big series of changes to Pressbooks book themes coming up. Depending what stage your book is in, you may want to take action. Read on for details.

Why the changes?

The Pressbooks team has been working on developing better, standardized, more user-friendly book themes for almost a year now. If you’ve been using the McLuhan, Asimov, Clarke, or Jacobs themes, you may have noticed that there are more settings available in the Theme Options than you’re used to. These improvements are part of a major project to overhaul and enhance all the book themes on Pressbooks.

We’re now expanding the number of themes these options are available on. Starting on Aug. 22, we’ll be rolling out updates to a few more themes every two weeks. The updates will improve each theme’s baseline structure, allow us to issue continuous improvements, and make it easier for you to customize your book’s design without having to know CSS.

The changes improve each theme’s available design customization options. However, they also improve the standard, overarching design of the theme. While we have made every effort to maintain all of the design elements that make each theme unique, some elements of your book may be slightly altered after it undergoes the upgrade. However, you can lock your theme to prevent these changes from affecting your book.

If you don’t want updates to the base theme to affect the layout of your book, lock your theme before Aug. 21.

Do I have to lock my theme?

No, you don’t. Locking your theme means not receiving any future updates, including bug fixes.

You should only lock your book theme if:

  • You are happy with the way your book looks, AND
  • You need to preserve the current page count of your book (ex: you have already sent a copy to the printer, or you have manually created references to specific numbers)
  • OR You want all design elements of your book to stay exactly as is in every format, regardless of current potential bugs or quirks that may be resolved by future theme updates.

This is the only notification you will get about the upcoming theme changes. We will not send further reminders. If it is important to you to maintain your exact page count or layout, we encourage you to enable theme lock now by going to Settings > Export from the left-hand menu of your book’s dashboard and checking the Lock Theme box.

Have questions about the upcoming changes? Contact