So You Think You Can Code 2019 winner announcement

Our So You Think You Can Code ebook design competition returned for 2019, but this year things were a bit different. Only attendees at ebookcraft‘s workshop day in Toronto on March 18 were eligible, and they were encouraged to put all that learning to the test when remediating and designing this year’s EPUB competition file.

All competitors will be given a 25% discount to ebookcraft 2020 and the lucky grand-prize winner that we’re about to announce is going to receive a cash prize of $2,500 CDN from Rakuten Kobo, a Kobo Forma e-reader, a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, and a three-month subscription to FlightDeck courtesy of Firebrand Technologies. We’re also about to sing the winner’s praises from the (virtual) rooftops for days and days.

So without further ado, here is our video announcing the winner (transcript below):

Transcript and judges statement

The winner of the 2019 So You Think You Can Code competition is our 2018 reigning champ, Katy Mastrocola! The margin of difference between this entry and the runner-up was razor thin, but the winning entry showed a bravery and chutzpah that couldn’t be denied.

Katy, who is a Production Associate at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, folded MathML into well-thought-out HTML with the exact right amount of semantic inflection. The CSS is a tidy, tiny work of art and the numerous and complex tables are particularly well-handled. This contestant took a file with more than 1,800 EPUBCheck errors and turned it into a highly readable, very boring ebook on wood, of all topics. The tables are still boring, but they are readable. The images are still weird, but they have very nice descriptions built in.

This gruesome coding challenge was met with uncompromising stubbornness and, well, it literally paid off. Congratulations!

To next year’s competitors, some tips:

  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! (Even when it is a dry, early 1900s reference book on wood.) Check your links for link rot and URL typos, and keep your eyes out for wayward “on the facing page” and other anachronistic leftovers from a print format!

  • Make sure your figure and endnote hyperlinks are pointing to the right place. Clicking all those links is a drag, but leading a reader astray can make them put down the book for good.

  • Pop open your EPUB using Read Aloud and other text-to-speech reading tools. If you’re cringing, you’ve still got work to do!

Thank you to the ebookcraft steering committee for overseeing the competition, to the illustrious judging panel — Laura Brady, Joshua Tallent, and Monique Mongeon — for wading through and testing all the submissions, and to our generous prize sponsors, including Rakuten Kobo and Firebrand Technologies. Without their contributions, we couldn’t torture developers with terrible EPUBs in the pursuit of great ebook design.

And of course thanks to everyone who competed this year! You are all going to receive a hefty discount code to ebookcraft 2020, so we hope to see you there next year and ready to show off your e-production skills.