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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding W3C and IDPF
Exploring Plans to Combine
May 2016

This public document accompanies the press release "World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Explore Plans to Combine" issued on 10 May, 2016, following Berners-Lee's keynote address at IDPF DigiCon event in which he presented a vision for the future of publishing on the Web.

About W3C

What is W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international standards organization that develops the technical standards and guidelines for the Web. W3C was founded in 1994 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, and Director of the W3C. Dr. Jeff Jaffe is the CEO of the W3C. Together they guide the W3C in its mission “to lead the Web to its full potential.”

For more than 20 years, W3C has developed new standards so that the Web works on different devices, in different languages, for people of all abilities, and will meet the needs of diverse industries.

How W3C works

As a technical standards consortium, W3C is a membership organization with representatives from business and industry, academia, governments and non-profit organizations. Its 412 Members, together with W3C staff, lead the technical work and determine the direction for new work on the Web. W3C staff are affiliated with one of four host organizations as part of a joint consortium among MIT, ERCIM, Keio University and Beihang University.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW, Founder of the W3C and its Director, is the lead technical architect at W3C. His responsibilities include assessing consensus within W3C for architectural choices, publication of technical reports, chartering new Groups, appointing group Chairs, "tie-breaker" for appeal of a Working Group decision and deciding on the outcome of formal objections.

About IDPF

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is the global trade and standards organization dedicated to the development and promotion of electronic publishing and digital content consumption. IDPF's 300+ members include publishers, technology firms, other industry associations, and government and educational organizations. IDPF is the developer of the EPUB standard format for interchange and distribution of digital publications. http://idpf.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history and current status of collaborations between W3C and IDPF?

W3C and the IDPF have been collaborating for many years, with a formal liaison that helped guide IDPF’s adoption of HTML5 and especially CSS 3 during the development of EPUB 3. Throughout this period the primary use case for EPUB remained non-Web-based (e.g. off-line) use. It has become clear that Web-technology-based publications need to exist both online and offline, and that there was a desire for seamless transition between these states. The Digital Publishing Interest Group Note on Portable Web Publications expands on this.

What activities does the IDPF currently take on?

EPUB standards development, an annual public conference, and liaisons with other industry fora. These are all within W3C’s mission. We anticipate continuing an annual conference that engages the publishing community most of whom are not yet IDPF or W3C members.

Why are W3C and IDPF considering combining?

The strategic convergence of the EPUB platform to the Open Web Platform creates an opportunity for W3C to accelerate and enhance the technologies with the full participation of the digital publishing community as well as the core web platform developers.

Will the IDPF standards become W3C Recommendations? Will W3C maintain them?

We have no plans to move existing IDPF standards to the Recommendation track. The current plan of IDPF is to publish any new version of EPUB3 (i.e., EPUB3.1) before the end of 2016. W3C would host those existing IDPF documents on the Web and they will become part of the input corpus for further Web platform enhancements that would also support digital publishing.

How will Digital Publishing influence the work of other Working Groups?

The Digital Publishing Interest Group has already been coordinating with the CSS Working Group, the ARIA Working Group, and the Web Platform Working Group to share requirements. We expect interaction to increase including other Working Groups as more of the digital publishing community works within W3C.

Are there technologies for digital publishing that are not covered by current W3C Working groups?

Yes. The additional areas of development are highlighted in the Digital Publishing Interest Group’s Portable Web Publications (PWP) Note. The high level technical objective is to specify a portable publication format that identifies a collection of web resources as one conceptual unit on the Web, with all the components that are necessary so that the collection can be handled by traditional Web browsers as well as hybrid applications and specialized eReaders, both online and offline.

Beyond the PWP proper, a number of additional work items will be needed. These may include an extended Object Model (on top of current DOM-s) to handle PWP programmatically; new types of interaction models, transition rules among pages, etc, for highly visual contents like cartoons or children’s books; standards for the creation and specification of indexes, glossaries and other, auxiliary information.

Will W3C standardize DRM for digital publishing?

We have no plans to do so. Current DRM implementations in the publishing world, though relying on W3C specifications like XML Encryption or XML Signature, are based on particular business models and corresponding protocols. These protocols have not been the subject of any standardization at IDPF. The Encrypted Media Extension EME work is targeted for streaming media.

Is the scope of this activity only for electronic books?

No. It is a widely held misconception that EPUB is for electronic books only. Although it is correct that the book publishing industry has been the most important user community for EPUB, the same technology is being used for, e.g., online journals and magazines on the Web, as well as electronic documents in general. Thus it is the intention of both IDPF and W3C to continue to promote the adoption of EPUB and the Open Web Platform.

Will specialized e-readers go away and browsers be used for all ebooks?

EPUB content is already based on HTML5 and CSS. That content will continue to be readable on the range of devices that exist today and on other devices that use the Open Web Platform.

Media Contact

Send media enquiries to Karen Myers, W3C, <w3t-pr@w3.org> or

Sarah Hilderley, IDPF Director of Communications, <presscontact@idpf.org>