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W3C | Information and Knowledge Domain| Digital Publishing Activity

Digital Publishing Activity Statement

For centuries, book publishers have used technologies in unforeseen ways to change the world. Whole industries have risen and fallen based on their ability to adapt to change. Today’s digital publishing market is dynamic, fast-changing, and strong. eBooks compete with printed versions, and there is a wide choice of hardware and software available for eBook readers. Journals and magazines are also made available digitally on the Web or in specialized applications and, in some cases, their printed version is even abandoned in favor of a purely digital version. The formats used by eBook readers and tablets for electronic books, magazines, journals and educational resources are largely based on W3C Technologies, such as (X)HTML, CSS, SVG, SMIL, MathML, or various Web API-s. Commercial publishers also rely on W3C technologies in their back-end processing all the way from authoring through to delivering the printed or electronic product and beyond. In general one can say that the Publishing Industry is one of the largest communities relying large palette of W3C technologies.

However, the alignment of the needs of the Publishing Industry and the various W3C recommendations is not perfect. Necessary features may be missing in the W3C documents, or may be in draft only; as a result, for example, EPUB3, the standard for electronic books, introduced its own extensions to cover the needs of publishing. Technical experts of commercial publishers and retailers are not present at the various Working Groups, they do not contribute to the development of the technical solutions they depend on. As a result, requirements of the publishing industry, their use cases, implementation experiences, etc., do not necessarily reach the various technical groups at the W3C in a timely manner, and do not influence the priorities taken by those groups, and the publishing industry has difficulties to be properly informed of the latest direction and changes in the dynamic landscape of new technologies of the Open Web Platform. This leads to fragmentation, interoperability issues, and a disconnect between the Publishing Industry and, for example, the browser world.

The goal of the activity is help overcoming these problems, and to build the necessary bridges between the developers of the Open Web Platform and the Publishing Industry. Through the initiatives taken by this Activity (Workshops, Interest Groups, possibly other types of Groups), as well as an extensive network of contacts with relevant industry consortia and groups (IDPF, BISG, EDItEUR, IPTC, the Daisy Consortium, NISO, etc.) the Activity should ensure that the interests and requirements of the Publishing Industry are known to other groups within the W3C, that experts of commercial publishers take part in the technical work in those groups to move the Open Web Platform forward, and that the Publishing Industry at large is well aware of the latest directions, issues, and priorities at W3C. As a first series of steps three Workshops have been organized (in New York City, in February 2013, in Tokyo, in June 2013, and in Paris, in September 2013) and the Digital Publishing Interest Group has been set up (see also its charter).

Highlights Since the Previous Advisory Committee Meeting

The Digital Publishing Interest Group has started its work in August 2013. The mission of the Interest Group is to provide a forum for experts in the digital publishing ecosystem of electronic journals, magazines, news, or book publishing (authors, creators, publishers, news organizations, booksellers, accessibility and internationalization specialists, etc.) for technical discussions, gathering use cases and requirements to align the existing formats and technologies (e.g., for electronic books) with those used by the Open Web Platform. This interest group focuses on the publication formats of digital publications (as opposed to, e.g., the concerns on back-end processing).

The Interest Group has had its first F2F meeting at the TPAC, in Shenzhen, China, in November 2013. The IG established a number of task forces; these task forces have then been revised in early spring 2014, leading to the current structure consisting of task forces on Layout & Styling, Metadata, Content & Markup, Annotation, and Accessibility. One more task force (on Security) is currently pending whether it can be staffed or not. The Interest Group has published two Working Drafts: “Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination” and “Annotation Use Cases”, and has had continuing work on the other task forces, too.

The Activity has also organized a Workshop on Annotation in April, in San Francisco, USA. Annotation is regarded as a critical feature for a number of application and deployment areas, for example educational publishing, and this area is currently lacking standard support in browsers or ebook reading systems. The Workshop followed an Work in Progress announcement to the AC in February 2014, and the results of the Workshop are currently under review to see if a separate Working Group would be proposed to the AC on the subject.

Upcoming Activity Highlights

The Interest Group will have its second F2F meeting at the TPAC in Santa Clara, USA, in October 2013; it is expected that further working drafts, as produced by the various task forces, will be published by then. The discussions on annotations should also be rounded up, and a possible Working Group charter proposal may then be sent to the AC for review. The Activity is also busy in continuously building further relationships with the Publishing Industry at large, with participations at events, conferences (e.g., IDPF Digital Book Conference at the BookExpo America, or the Franfurt Book Fair).

Summary of Activity Structure:

GroupChairTeam ContactCharter
Digital Publishing Interest Group
(participants)
Markus Gylling, Liza DalyIvan Herman, Thierry MichelChartered until 1 September 2015
Web Annotation Working Group
(participants)
Rob Sanderson, Frederick HirschIvan Herman, Doug SchepersChartered until 1 October 2016

This Activity Statement was prepared for AC 2014 per section 5 of the W3C Process Document. Generated from group data.

Ivan Herman, Digital Publishing Activity Lead

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