W3C will be holding a Workshop in Paris, Publishing and the Open Web Platform in September of this year, 2013.
The question we pose is essentially this:
We are seeing the Web and the Web browser interface replace proprietary tools with Web-based applications and with hosted services.
If you are a commercial publisher in the print world you deal with authors, with proofreaders, with editors, probably both in-house and out-of-house, you maybe convert Word documents to InDesign or Quark or to XML to go to print, to XHTML to go to EPUB, to PDF for other distribution, and there’s a whole workflow in place to manage all that content in so many stages. Sometimes it’s a sophisticated CMS and sometimes it’s a shelf of CD-ROM archives!
What happens when we start to use the Web for publishing? What does that mean? I don’t mean writing blog entries (such as this one) and publishing them on the Web, although that’s certainly a form of publishing. What happens if your authors work directly in a Web browser, producing XML or XHTML or even HTML? What about managing revsions, proof-reading, copy-editing, indexing? What happens if you generate PDF using CSS and either some future formatting-aware Web browser or an application on a Web server that produces PDF directly? Must users be online or can reliable off-line applications be built for publishing?
Is the Open Web Platform today powerful enough to do everything that is needed?
Based on my own background in print and publishing, in graphic design and typography, I think there are some parts missing, but the point of the Workshop is to find out where W3C can change Web technologies to make it meet the needs of publishers.
In fact, the people who bring about change are the people who work on the tools, the people who write the specifications, the people who help with testing and early adoption, the people who give us feedback.
Our Paris Workshop is one of several places where you can get involved. But it is a place where you can also influence the direction of W3C’s work in the publishing field, and hence influence the future of publishing itself. To participate, see the Web site for the Workshop; it’s open to anyone who submits a position paper.