The homepage of the Baker Framework website describes themselves like this:
Baker is an HTML5 based digital publication framework for publishing interactive books & magazines on iPad & iPhone using simply open web standards.
If you don’t know anything about the Baker Framework, that’s a great place to start. However, for all you digital publishing nerds, this article will tell you everything about the Baker Framework, and how you can use it for your digital publishing needs.
Baker is an Xcode open source project that allows you to turn your digital publication into an iOS application for free. Before we proceed, you might be wondering why we’d be sharing a free method to publish your digital magazine apps? While it is true that we are in the same business, MagLoft is a full-stack premium service for all your digital publishing needs, from production to distribution, and marketing to CRM.
Baker gives the DIY kids a fun tool to play around with and see if they can get their app out there for free themselves. If at any point things get too technical with Baker, feel free to jump over to MagLoft and check out our free online magazine maker to get started with your content.
The Baker Framework Community
Baker was started in 2010, when the first iPad was released. The founders were prescient enough to know that mobile publishing was going to be a huge industry, and wanted to create a tool that gave anybody the power to put their digital content out there in the form of mobile apps.
While these days the team seems to be busy keeping the platform up to date, at one point they had fairly active outreach efforts, including a blog that shared insightful content.
It’s one of these older blog posts (from 2014) that gives us a great sense of who forms the Baker community. Baker ran a poll with several questions to guess who their most loyal users were. The largest population of users identified themselves as independent developers, followed by a comparably large chunk who referred to themselves as publishers.
The largest fraction of publishers said they were looking to build a magazine for a new independent publication (as opposed to adding issues to an existing publication or working with an established publisher). Most also said that they were looking to release only digital editions.
True to their ethic of being completely transparent, they published the details of their findings, including suggestions for improvements to the platform. You can read the entire post here.
Interestingly, MagLoft features as a popular alternative when asked what other services people use (or have tried) to create their digital magazine apps.
The Baker Framework Advantage: Responsive Content
The MagLoft team is a huge fan of the Baker Framework because they led the way as far as using HTML as a content source is concerned. What this means is that you can say goodbye to those boring static PDF pages, and instead put anything that you can use in a website into your digital magazine.
The potential benefits of this are huge. To begin with, these are 100% responsive pages with reflowable content that fits the screen size of the device your reader is using, be it a tablet or a smartphone. This leads to a far superior reading experience than static pages, which can be frustrating as hell as a reader.
The other big win is that you can add pretty much any kind of interactivity you can imagine (as long as you can add it in an HTML page).This includes images, videos, audio, and much much more (MagLoft even has an option to add video games to your magazine!). This is huge when compared to the severely limited content you can add to a PDF file.
There are of course many advantages beyond this, including the fact that it’s open source and backed by a team of top quality developers. This means that you can be assured of a very active and engaging community that’ll encourage learning and information sharing.
Start Building Magazines With The Baker Framework
Our ever helpful CEO Nick has already made a playlist of videos that will come in super handy if you’re looking to publish an app using the Baker Framework.
Do keep in mind that there are fairly technical aspects of setting up a magazine using Baker. While it might be an interesting challenge for some, if you want a super simple process to set up a magazine, do have a look at MagLoft’s features and services.
For your convenience, here’s a quick overview of the high-level steps involved in creating an app with the baker framework.
You don’t need to design anything specifically for the Baker framework at all, just design for iPad and iPhone screens, and you’re good to go. Here’s where you can really let your imagination run wild, as you can add anything from text to videos to animations to audio, and more. Follow this extensive tutorial to start designing for Baker.
Baker uses the HPUB format, which is simply a compressed file containing all your HTML pages and assets, like a microsite. A book.json file specifies page order, title, URL identifier and properties of your publication. You can design your own navigation using an additional HTML file: index.html.
Finally, you’re ready to put your hard work out there for others to see. Download the Baker Framework, and after following simple instructions you’re ready to submit your app to Apple for consideration.
Apple has always been fairly strict about deciding what constitutes a truly interactive application (as opposed to just a static document, which is what a lot of magazine platforms create), so be sure to read the App Store Developer instructions carefully.
More Resources From The Baker Website
Now that you have a complete overview of what the Baker Framework is, what it does, and how you can start using it, it’s time to start taking advantage of the extensive support documentation provided by their great team.
Start by reading their detailed tutorials, covering everything from design to distribution lessons. There’s a fairly active developer community on GitHub, where you can share and learn with fellow users. And finally, you can follow their online presence on Twitter and YouTube.
There’s also a great Partner Program, which includes partners such as Twixl, Magma, and our very own MagLoft.
Go ahead and start working towards publishing your digital magazine app using the Baker Framework now!