Categories
Apple

Apple Deprecates iBooks Author

Apple has been a presence in Education for a majority of its existence. Over the years they have provided educational discounts for Macs, iPads, and other Apple hardware. They give discounts on software, and even allow third-parties to office bulk discounts in the iOS and Mac App Store. One of the things that they wanted to do was be able to provide a simple tool for creating rich interactive books. These could be any type of books, but textbooks were the primary market. And who uses textbooks the most, education.

The tool that Apple introduced was called iBooks Author. iBooks Author is a tool that allowed you to create these rich books, but they were in a proprietary format that was exclusive to Apple’s platforms. iBooks Author allows you to include video, images, table of contents, and more.

iBooks Author is now officially deprecated. Per an email to iBooks Author users:

Thank you for being a member of the iBooks Author community. We have some news to share with you about the future of book creation.

Two years ago we brought book creation into Pages. With key features such as the ability to work on iPad, collaborate with others on a shared book, draw with Apple Pencil, and more, Pages is a great platform for making books.

As we focus our efforts on Pages, iBooks Author will no longer be updated and will soon be removed from the Mac App Store. You can continue to use iBooks Author on macOS 10.15 and earlier, and books previously published to Apple Books will remain available. If you have iBooks Author books you’d like to import into Pages for further editing, we have a book import feature coming to Pages soon.

Important Phrases

There are two important phrases that I want to highlight. First “You can continue to use iBooks Author on macOS 10.15 and earlier”. This phrase indicates, at least to me, that iBooks Author will not work on macOS 10.16. It is possible that it will work, but may stop working and if that happens, there will be no support.

The second phrase to highlight is “If you have iBooks Author books you’d like to import into Pages for further editing, we have a book import feature coming to Pages soon”. This is a good move. Once available, it will help users be able to keep updating their existing iBooks Author books, albeit in a new editor. As far as we know now, when you import an iBooks Author book into Pages, it will become a Pages document and you will not be able to publish them as iBooks Author books.

Closing Thoughts

This is not a real surprise. Apple’s iBooks format did not take off as a way of publishing. While the tool was easy enough to use, it was proprietary to Apple’s platforms and no other vendors were going to try and read the books. Furthermore, there was never an iBooks Author app on iOS, so you could not create books on the device you were going to read them on. You could preview them on device, but not create or edit them. Additionally, there was no way that Apple would move iBooks Author to iCloud for collaboration and sharing. That would be too much work for not much result.

I did not mind using the app to create books, however, even I stopped using it to publish my books in 2017. Instead, like so many others, I moved to the ePub format for my books. This is a standard and if the file is DRM free, it can be used on other devices and services. It is much easier, particularly for independent authors, to be able to create a book once and use that file to upload to various stores.

Apple has created a page that will help you transition from iBooks Author to Pages for creating books. There are some limitations that I have found with Pages, but they are minor.

Overall, I think it makes senses to focus on a single application that can work across all of Apple’s platforms, and that app is Pages. One things that is not clear though, is how long the Apple iBooks will be supported by the Books app on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Categories
Apple macOS

A Shift for macOS Server

The first version of what we call macOS was released in 2001, with the release of Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah. When Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah was released, a separate version called Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah Server was also released. At the time of its release the landscape of servers, and their utility, was entirely different from today’s landscape. Back then, high speed internet was generally limited to large companies and home users typically had dial-up, ISDN, or possibly even slow DSL connections. The roll out of cable-based internet was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Mobile internet was not even on the horizon for many users. That would come a half dozen years later with the release of the iPhone. Today’s internet landscape is vastly different. Mobile broadband as well as home broadband are more common than before. Of course there are some exceptions, but having high speed internet is the norm in many places.

The server portion of macOS has seen its share of changes over the years. At first, the Server version was a separate installation and had its own pricing structure. As time progressed, the features of macOS Server increased. As the feature set increased, the pricing of macOS Server has decreased. Initially, Server came in two versions, a 10-client and Unlimited Client versions. With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the unlimited version was the only one released. Its price was reduced to the price of $499, which was the original cost of the 10-client version. This is down from $999.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion completely changed the server paradigm on the Mac. Instead of being a different version, the entire Server application was released as an application. The price was reduced again to $49.99. This was a substantial reduction from the previous price, a 90% price drop. With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple reduced the price even further to $19.99 for the app. This has been the pricer new purchases, but for the last few versions if you previously purchased macOS Server, each new version was a free upgrade.

macOS Server has had a standard set of services that it has provided, with a few additions over the years. The set of all services that macOS Server has provided over the years is as follows:

  • Caching Server
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • File Sharing
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • NetInstall
  • Open Directory
  • Profile Manager
  • Software Update Server
  • VPN
  • Websites
  • Wiki
  • Xcode
  • Xsan

With macOS High Sierra (10.13), Apple moved a couple of these services to the core operating system itself. Caching Server and File Sharing were both integrated into macOS itself. Xcode Server was also removed from macOS Server and that service was integrated into Xcode 9, and its core functionality changed. Xcode Server removed the ability to host code repositories, instead relying on services like GitHub to do this for users. Apple has unveiled some new information about the future of its macOS Server application, specifically what the spring update to macOS Server will bring to those who use macOS Server.

macOS Server is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network. As a result, some changes are coming in how Server works. A number of services will be deprecated, and will be hidden on new installations of an update to macOS Server coming in spring 2018. If you’ve already configured one of these services, you’ll still be able to use it in the spring 2018 macOS Server update.

These deprecated services will be removed in a future release of macOS Server, so those depending on them should consider alternatives, including hosted services.

The list of deprecated services include:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • NetInstall
  • VPN
  • Websites
  • Wiki

Apple does provide a list of alternatives for each of the deprecated services, within the support article. These alternatives will require a bit more knowledge, and more likely more configuration, over the graphical interface provided by the Server application. This change will have the biggest impact on small and medium businesses who rely on macOS Server to be able to run their custom applications. It is not impossible to continue to use macOS to host these, it just will not be a elegant to do so.

The deprecation of these services leaves only a few remaining services. These service are:

  • Open Directory
  • Profile Manager
  • Xsan

That is all that remains of macOS Server with the next update in the spring. If you have any of the deprecated services already configured, these will still be available to be managed. Profile Manager, and by extension Open Directory, are still areas which Apple can differentiate themselves and management of macOS and iOS devices is an area that Apple still feels is very important. I think the writing was on the wall for macOS Server after the Software Update Service was officially deprecated. If one of the features that many institutions relied on was being deprecated, what about the other services.

The removal of Calendar, Contacts, DHCP, DNS, Mail, Messages, Net Install, VPN, and Wiki, honestly all make sense. The usage of these services by individuals and small businesses is probably very small. These services were big and much needed 15 years ago, but are not necessary today. The one that I would like Apple to keep is Websites, only because I tend to do some web development on my Macs. With the removal of Websites, packages like XAMPP are likely to become even more heavily used by developers.

As the article states, “These deprecated services will be removed in a future release of macOS Server”. It is my guess that these services will be removed in the version of Server that corresponds with the next version of macOS. Like macOS Server 6.0 that is paired with macOS 10.14. It is entirely possible that these remaining services will be integrated directly into macOS itself and activated similarly to how Caching Server is activated, through System Preferences, however since these services still require a bit of advanced knowledge, these are more likely to still be configured by a separate, albeit a much smaller, application. It is possible that Apple may even reduce the price further, to $9.99 or possibly even free. I know I am interested in seeing how macOS Server 6 is under the next version of macOS.

Source: apple.com.