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Status: Working Draft

Introduction to Portable Embosser Format

Today, a braille user is sometimes confronted with braille files that do not emboss correctly. To amend this, you need several skills. First you need to understand the text. This, in turn, means that you need to know braille, the languages used and (sometimes) the topic of the text. Secondly, you need knowledge about plausible character and braille encoding combinations and how to adjust your software/embosser accordingly. Depending on the differences between your current encoding combination and the intended encoding combination, this process could potentially involve hours of trial and error - if you are lucky enough to have all these skills, that is.

A common, unambiguous exchange format is needed to efficiently share braille in electronic form. There are several reasons behind the development of PEF:

What is PEF?

The Portable Embosser Format (PEF) is a data format for representing braille books, accurately and unambiguously.

PEF is a digital braille hardcopy - the PDF of braille books, if you will.

PEF can be used for braille embossing and archiving anywhere in the world, no matter where nor how it was produced. It allows new features to be added, such as ink overlay or tactile graphics, thus enabling a completely automated reproduction of advanced braille books.

PEF is built on XML, Unicode and Dublin Core. Three well known, widely used and reliable technologies.

What about ASCII braille?

Many important aspects of ASCII braille are undefined. These aspects are interpreted differently depending on the embosser and/or software used.

Furthermore, ASCII braille lacks even the most basic facilities to ensure that it is possible to identify, verify, read and store. For example:

A stray file that has been taken out of context or transferred from one computer to another can be very difficult to make sense of, even for a skilled transcriber or braille user.

Why use PEF?

PEF takes care of these problems.

Using PEF today

It is possible to use PEF today. Scripts in the Daisy Pipeline allow you to:

Simple distribution

A package file has been developed to facilitate distribution. The package file contains a PEF file, embossing software and a fully accessible web interface. It enables instant embossing of the contained PEF file on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, without any preceding software installation (Caveat: JRE 1.6 or newer must be available on the system).

Through the web interface you can:

The package file is so small* that it can be redistributed with every book. In fact, a package file containing both software and a PEF file is often smaller than the PEF file on its own.

* File size is approximately 60 kB (compressed JAR, excluding book).

Contact us

If your organization thinks that PEF is a good idea and wants to support it, let us know.

Read more about PEF in the specification or contact joel.hakansson(at)tpb.se for more information.