Portable Web Publications

Ivan Herman, W3C

EPUB Summit, Bordeaux, France


Portable Web Publications

Ivan Herman, W3C

EPUB Summit


These Slides are Available on the Web

See: http://www.w3.org/2016/Talks/EPUBSummit-IH/

(Slides are in HTML)

About W3C: “Leading the Web to its Full Potential”

Photo of Tim Berners-Lee
LeFevre communications, 2001

Digital Publishing Interest Group (DPUB IG) Origins

DPUB IG Mission

See our website for more detail.

Some results of the past two years

Layout and styling

Screen dump of the latinreq document

Priorities for CSS

Screen dumps of the CSS Priorities' document

Content and markup

Content and markup: DPUB ARIA module

Screen dump of the DPUB ARIA document
<section role="doc-appendix">
  <h1>Appendix A. Historical Timeline</h1>


Annotatated medieval manuscript
  • The group published an “Annotation Use Cases” document
  • Activity and work has shifted to the Web Annotations Working Group, which develops:
    • a standard data model and serialization in JSON to describe and mantain annotations (for all forms of Web Documents)
    • a protocol to exchange annotations between an annotation client and a server

Note on DPUB Accessibility

Screen dump of the Accessibility Note
  • How do W3C guidelines (e.g., WCAG, UAAG) apply to Digital Publishing
  • Identifies areas that are not yet addressed, e.g.:
    • authoring packaged documents
    • pagination
    • phonetic spelling of jargon terms
  • Lists future work, e.g., issues around notes, mathematics,…

Major work coming up: Portable Web Publications (PWP)

The main message:

Digital Publishing
Web Publishing!

put it another way…

Web Publishing
Digital Publishing!

What does this mean?

Portable Web Publication at a glance

Separation between publishing “online”, as Web sites, and offline and/or packaged should be diminished to zero

What does this mean?

Portable Web Publication at a glance

ibta arabia

For example: book in a browser

Joseph Reagle's book as a web page
Extract of Joseph Reagle’s Book
  • On a desktop I may want to read a book just like a Web page:
    • easily follow a link “out” of the book
    • create bookmarks to “within” a page in a book
    • use useful plugins and tools that my browser may have
    • create annotations
    • sometimes I may need the computing power of my desk-top for, e.g., interactive 3D content

For example: book in a browser

Joseph Reagle's book as an ebook in reader
Extract of Joseph Reagle’s Book as ePUB
  • But, at other times, I may also want to use a dedicated reader device or software to read the book on the beach…
  • All these on the same book (not conversions from one format to the other)!

For example: I may not be online…

Person sitting in a station with a mobile in hand
Bryan Ong, Flickr
  • I may find an article on the Web that I want to review, annotate, etc., while commuting home on a train
  • I want the results of the annotations to be back online, when I am back on the Internet
    • note: some browsers have an “archiving” possibility, but they are not interoperable

For example: scholarly publishing

Screen dump of an article on F1000
Screen dump of an article “Sub-strains of Drosophila Canton-S…” on F1000
  • Paper may be published on-line, but people may want to download it for offline use
  • The format of the paper should be adaptable to reading environment
    • no two column, fixed layout file that cannot be handled on an my iPad…
  • The “paper” may also contain video, audio, data, programs…
    • scholarly publishing is not text only any more!

For example: educational publications

University hall with students, most of them with a tablet
Merrill College of Journalism, Flickr

Synergy effects of convergence

Advantage for the publishers‘ community

Photo of a bookshelf with lots of technical books
Jeffrey Zeldman, Flickr
  • Publishers want to do what they know better: produce, edit, curate, etc, content
  • Publishers are not technology companies, nor do they intend to be; they should rely on the vibrant Web developers’ community!

Advantage for the Web community

image of a medieval manuscript
Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid, University of British Columbia
  • Publishers have experience in:
    • ergonomics, typography, aesthetics…
    • publishing long texts, with the right readability and structure
  • Workflow for producing complex content

How do we get there? (Technically)

Moyan Brenn, Flickr

Warning: everything I say is subject to change!

Catherine Kolodziej, Flickr

Technical Challenge: Fundamental Terminology

What is a Portable Web Publication?

What kinds of documents are we talking about?

What kinds of documents are we not talking about?

But there are of course differences

Envisioned “states” of a Portable Web Publication

Online Offline
Packed PWP as one archive on a server PWP as one archive on a local disc
Unpacked PWP spread over several files on a server PWP spread over several files on a local disc

Technical challenge: an overall architecture to handle PWP-s

Envisioned architecture:
a “PWP Processor”

Envisioned architecture:
unpacked state

Document consumed through the Web in a traditional way

Envisioned architecture:
cached state

Document consumed through a Service Worker, possibly cached

Envisioned architecture:
packed state

Document consumed through a Service Worker, possibly unpacked

Envisioned architecture:
packed state

Document consumed through a Service Worker, possibly unpacked


Is this approach at all feasible?

Advances in modern browsers

Advances in modern browsers

Work in progress

A PWP Processor could be implemented in such modern browsers

Not only a wild idea…

Technical challenge: addressing, identification

Is it "addressing" or is it "identification"?

Is it "addressing" or is it "identification"?

Three layers of addressing

  1. Locator for the PWP itself:
  2. Locating a resource within a PWP:
  3. Locating a target within a resource:

Locating the different PWP “states”

Canonical locators

The PWP Processor can take care of the rest…


Technical challenge: presentation control
(a.k.a. Personalization)

How do we get there? (Practically)

Moyan Brenn, Flickr

IDPF, W3C, and others

DPUB IG and Portable Web Publications

screen dump of the PWP draft

But what about

PWP vs. EPUB3.1

Many (most?) things are the same!

PWP and future EPUB-s

PWP and future EPUB-s

To be discussed!

Some references

Latest PWP Official Draft:
PWP Editors’ draft:
PWP Issue list:

Thank you for your attention!

This presentation:
A companion, a bit more technical, presentation
My contact: