Trying not to get too technical... (apologies if it is)
I made a page herehttp://www.ebookapprentice.com/compiler/which kinda summarizes different HTML compilers
Basically there seem to be three approaches
1. "True Compilers based on Internet Explorer's display engine"
Basically this is what Activ E-Book Compiler is, and basically most/all of the better-quality competition (i.e. the compilers priced from $50 to $200+).
The way this works is there a DLL component of Internet Explorer, which is actually the part of IE responsible for reading HTML (and other files) and displaying on the screen.
Basically what Activ E-Book Compiler (and the competition too) is create a Windows program that uses this DLL to display the content.
This is simplified, but if you look at Activ E-Book Compiler, you'll see 3 bits
i. The compiler itself - this is written by us
ii. In The E-Book, the frame, menus, toolbars, search function etc. Again written by us.
iii. The part of the E-Book showing the HTML. This is (mostly) coming from Microsoft's DLL.
Basically the big advantage of this approach is a high level of compatibility with IE
The only disadvantage is there is no equivalent DLL in Netscape. If you have Netscape **only** this approach can't work.
Fortunately though, a lot of Netscape users, have this DLL lying around on their system. Because it comes pre-installed with most versions of Windows, and most Microsoft apps.
The other approaches tried by some compilers:
3. "Other HTML Compilers". There are some compilers which are basically a glorified version of WINZIP. What they do is they ZIP up all the HTML files, and when you run the E-Book, they unzip the files, and kick off the user's default browser.
Good compatiblity by no security, no search, no icon customization, no splash screen, etc. Also tend to be messy as stuff easily gets left behind,
Most of the sub-$50 compilers that I've seen (except Activ E-Book Compiler) are kinda like this.
Basically none of the solutions are perfect. I think solution #1 is the best long-term compromise.
Over time, more people will have the DLL pre-installed on their system, as they install new versions of Windows, or new versions of Office, or simply get new PCs. About 90% of people with PCs can run these E-Books right now, and this is increasing (and will continue to) .
Hope this helps, without too much techno-mumbo-jumbo
Ask if you have questions
(Edited by EBookCompiler at 1:45 am on Nov. 28, 2000)