Article from Issue 241/2020

Graham checks out Sigil, Dragonfly Reverb, LabPlot 2.8, Node-RED, batufo, rg3d, and much more.

Ebook editor


Online book sellers and the self-publishing revolution have changed the publishing landscape for book authors. No longer are the keys to the printing press held by the few, and success is no longer limited to those with a publishing agent and book deal. In the 21st century, anyone can publish anything. There are obvious negatives, too; there's a lot of rubbish out there, and the ratio between poverty and success is similar to that of winning the lottery. But it is possible, and success can be measured in many different ways.

There are a few things you need if you're going to publish your own book, apart from the talent, drive, and commitment to write the thing in the first place. The first is a decent writing environment. This is a tough one because every writer is different. Some will write notes on paper, while others will use Emacs Org mode. But either way, Linux is equipped with plenty of options. The only potential omission is that there isn't a writer's "IDE" that can incorporate and organize your notes, pages, files, jottings, outlines, characters, and the layers of minutiae that typically come together to form a book. A few years ago, there was a preview version for Linux of the excellent, and proprietary, Scrivener, a tool that encompasses everything from note collation and organization through to ebook publishing. But Scrivener's developers have seemingly abandoned the Linux version in favor of its macOS and Windows users, leaving us without a decent ebook generator.

This is where Sigil can help. Sigil is not an all-encompassing book writing tool like Scrivener, but it does give you hands-on access to the tools and protocols that will turn your already written words into an ebook you can publish and sell. The amazing calibre ebook manager can do this too, but calibre does little more than compile a collection of files into a single file. Sigil, on the other hand, offers an XHTML editor for the content, Python plugins for your own macros, the ubiquitous output preview, and all kinds of tools to help you carve your raw words into something that will work on a Kindle.

The editor has a tabbed view for open files and includes toolbars for all the common markup, along with a clips pane that lists the most common elements. It operates very much like an old-fashioned HTML editor, which isn't a bad way to think about the ePub publishing format – simple HTML and a handful of stylesheets. You can create an index, manage the table of contents, edit the stylesheets, and validate the syntax. You can then generate an ePub from your work and save this as a checkpoint so you can compare it against further edits you might make. It can still be intimidating to use, but you can also learn from others by opening other EPUB files in Sigil to see how they're put together. Either way, Sigil covers all the technical aspects of putting an ebook together and is the last step between your book only existing on your Linux machine and world domination.

Project Website

1. Tabbed view: Work on more than one chapter at once. 2. Formatting tools: Just like an old-school HTML editor, Sigil gives quick access to every indent and alignment element. 3. Spellcheck: Keep checking your spelling, because errors will continue to creep through. 4. Plugins: Use Python to filter and process your own text files. 5. Preview: An integrated ebook reader lets you see what your book will look like. 6. Table of contents: Add pages to the table of contents and preview what it's going to look like. 7. Editor: Here's where you tweak your XHTML to look good. 8. Clips: Quickly access common elements to add and view within your book. 9. File organizer: Sigil is a little like an IDE for all the files that go into an ebook.

Audio effects

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More