01 Aug 2017 by Luca Filigheddu

How to create an HPub


So you want to use HPub to publish your digital publication. Good choice as you’re likely to benefit from design versatility! However, there’s not a lot of material out there on how to create an HPub so here is a comprehensive beginner’s guide for you.


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To create an HPub, you will need some components:

  • Adobe InDesign - Where you will design your digital magazine
  • An export plugin - Integrate with InDesign to help you export your digital magazine into HTML5 and HPub files

The process above basically outlines the process before you will create an HPub file. But to help you understand how to create HPub files, we have to know what exactly is HPub.

HPub definition and background

HPub stands for HTML Publication. From the name itself, you can tell that it’s basically a digital publication, but instead of a static PDF, the publication is built in an HTML format. HPub is a file format that allows you to easily package and publish rich digital content such as digital magazines. You can think of it as a kind of advanced compressed ZIP file that contains a mini website.

Since attractive visuals and dynamic content are important factors to a digital magazine’s success, HPub is becoming the format of choice for digital magazine publishers. It supports pixel-perfect and flexible, reflowable publications. It’s also simple to manage for both authors and parsers or those that read code.

HPub technical specifications

An HPub file is basically a regular ZIP file. The only difference in appearance is it has an “.hpub” extension. However, it is also possible to have a non-zipped HPub.

Another specification of HPub is that its contents’ format need to be HTML5. As you know, HTML5 is the language used to present content online and websites and even many of today’s mobile apps are made from them.

Within the HPub, there also has to be a file named “book.json”. Remember that the name has to be spelled correctly and it’s also case-sensitive. We will discuss more about what will be inside this file later. All you have to know now is that it has to exist inside the HPub along with the HTML5 files.

Finally, all assets such as videos, images, javascript, CSS files etc. should be included within the HPub package and referenced by the HTML5 files. You can also include an index.html which can be used for navigation.

HPub’s pros and cons

HPub gives you the flexibility to define your publication’s structure. Since it’s also HTML5-based, all technical benefits of the web can be used to create your digital magazine. Web developers won’t have difficulties in developing the publication since it is essentially a microsite packaged into a ZIP file. Another benefit is that it can be accessed by a web browser.

On the other hand, HPub has little documentation as it is not an official standard (although the fact that it’s not standard allows you more flexibility in designing the publication’s structure). There also could be viewer application maintenance and cost concerns, and it’s not supported by e-readers.

Steps to create an HPub file

So you already have your files designed in Adobe InDesign and you already have the export plugin (such as In5) installed. Here are the next steps:

  1. Be sure to re-open Adobe InDesign once you finish installing the In5 plugin. It is the In5 plugin that will turn your files into an HPub.
  2. Open the publication file that you want to be exported into HPub
  3. Once the file is open, go to File dropdown and select Export HTML5 with In5
  4. The in5 export dialog will open up where you can further customize the HTML output such as page formats, text rendering and navigation. Input your preferences.
  5. In the Output dropdown, select the Baker Framework (HPUB) optionClick OK to export the document.

Note: In step 5, choosing the Baker Framework option creates an HTML file for each page in your InDesign document. It generates an index.html file with thumbnail images for each page whereas the default web option would just yield a single web page file. The Baker Framework option also creates the book.json file we mentioned earlier.


Once you have your HPub files, you can further process them into newsstand apps or standalone publications or upload them to digital publishing platforms such as Paperlit and place them directly into an app container which streamlining the cross-platform publishing process. This will circumvent the need for more coding or expensive software.


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Posted in hpub

Luca Filigheddu

Luca Filigheddu

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