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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 result of a series of W3C workshop, 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).

As a result of the Workshop on Annotation in April, in San Francisco, USA, and after the relevant AC vote, the Annotation Working Group has also been established in August 2014. The group also took over the use cases of one of the Annotation Task Force of the Digital Publishing Interest Group, and bases part of its work on the output of the Open Annotation Community Group.

Highlights Since the Previous Advisory Committee Meeting

The Interest Group has had its  F2F meeting at the Santa Clara, CA, USA. It subsequently published final IG Notes of the Metadata and the Annotation Task Forces, and  a new version of the Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination . It also plans to publish a first draft for the Digital Publishing WAI-ARIA Module in the course of April, in cooperation with the WAI PF Working Group. Finally, a list of important W3C specification for the Publishing Industry has also been published on the W3C Wiki.

The group has also began to change its focus as a result of the publication of a white paper on EPUB-WEB, published by Markus Gylling and Ivan Herman. It is to be expected that the advancement of EPUB-WEB, which provides a long term vision for the convergence of the Web and Digital Publishing, will fundamentally influence the work of the Interest Group as well as a proposed new charter for the rechartering of the group (due to happen in fall 2015). The group plans a F2F meeting in New York, at the end of May of 2015.

As sigh for a further reinforcement of the relations with the Publishing Industry, there has been a mutual membership with IDPF: IDPF joined as a member of W3C early 2015, and W3C has joined IDPF in spring. W3C is also a funding member of the EDUPUB initiative. The activity was also represented at various events in the past period (Books in Browsers conference, ePubCraft workshop, publishers' meeting in China, Germany, and France).

The Web Annotation Working Group has started its work in fall 2015. It has published a first version of the Web Annotation Data Model, which will serve as the basis for other work items as described in the group's charter. The group has also started discussions with other Working Groups at W3C (LDP Working Group, Social Web Working Group) to maximally exploit the possible synergies that exist among those groups, and make the results of the work as interoperable as possible.

Upcoming Activity Highlights

The Digital Publishing Interest Group will have its 3rd F2F meeting in New York City, USA, at the end of May 2015, and will also have a meeting at the TPAC in Sapporo. The Activity is also busy in continuously building further relationships with the Publishing Industry at large, with participation at events, conferences (e.g., IDPF Digital Book Conference at the BookExpo America). It is due to be rechartered in the course of the summer, with a charter more focused on the vision expressed by the EPUB-WEB white paper. Work on Accessibility issues in the area of Digital Publishing will also continue, through a revision of the various WAI documents (WCAG, etc.).

The Web Annotation Working Group will have its 2nd F2F meeting in April, in San Francisco, USA, and is also planning to hold a meeting in Sapporo. The cooperation with the LDP and Social Web Working Groups will continue, with the plan to align the protocol work of the group with those to be developed by the Social Web WG.

Summary of Activity Structure:

GroupChairTeam ContactCharter
Digital Publishing Interest Group
Markus Gylling, Tzviya SiegmanIvan Herman, Thierry MichelChartered until 1 September 2015
Web Annotation Working Group
Rob Sanderson, Frederick HirschIvan Herman, Doug SchepersChartered until 1 October 2016

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

Ivan Herman, Digital Publishing Activity Lead

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