W3C Printing workshop Minutes 25th April `96

by Håkon Lie

The main outcome of the workshop is an agreement to form a working group on fonts and a mailing list for people to jointly discuss printing issues. All attendees will be placed on this list while people are expected to email Chris Lilley if they want to be part of the W3C font working group.


Dave Raggett opened the workshop by sketching the issues involved. There is a general feeling that the web has an enormous potential for printing. How can W3C help? We have done work in HTML, style sheets, PICS, HTTP. What are the missing pieces? Should we establish working groups for printing and/or fonts?

Each participating organization presented themselves:

AGFA (Alan Ristow): Agfa produces high-end publishing equipment, scanners etc. Interested in standards, e.g. ICC. Font issues remains to be solved on the web. Concerned about intellectual property rights, payment schemes (where end users don't pay), performance and caching. Agfa agrees with Adobe/Apple/Microsoft: fonts should be embedded in documents. Further, we need to do subsetting.

HEWLETT-PACKARD (Tim Campbell): Hewlett-Packard has 5 position papers in this workshop. We would like to discuss:

TEKTRONIX (John Thomas): Tektronix has introduced a printer that serves web pages for administration. More than 3 pages of information is too much on the screen and needs to be printed. Alas, images show up poorly on the printed page, and it's frustrating to follow separate links and print separately. Rather, a webcrawler should fetch several documents and print them together. Unfollowed links should end up in the bibliography. This would be a competitive advantage for browsers! Fractal image formats may enhance printing since compressed images can be scaled up without pixel-replication. Web connectivity should go into the printer.


Three areas of interest:

FAST FORWARD TECHNOLOGIES (Leslie Cuff): Fast Forward Technologies is a company supporting information technology as a means to diversify the rural economy. To do printing on the web, we need need a flexible mechanism for identifying the 'boundary layer' of a hypertext. Links have a measure of the 'length' associated with their traversal. This length would be context sensitive, alas, so it's not a trivial job. Link length combined with a default ordering and traversal algorithm would be a way to specify the structure of a collection as a target for printing.

ADOBE (Stephen Zilles): Adobe has long experience in the area of printing. Our solutions solve problems on paper, but not always on the screen. Among our interests are:

FUTURETENSE (BC Krishna): We have been developing a Java-based publishing system that can coexist with HTML. The Java applet can download fonts etc. We are concerned about the same issues as previous speakers: fonts, portability, separation of content and form etc. What does it mean to embed a font in a semantic document? We are also interested in cross-media publishing (Transcoding!), which should be easy/possible in both directions. Ahead, We will see many print buttons and each of them will have a different function.

LEXMARK (Don Wright): Most of our issues have been raised by previous speakers. The solutions have to be open industry standards. We need a plan attack these high priority issues: print quality, fonts, page layout, paper vs. "glass".

IBM PRINTING SYSTEMS (Roger deBry): We are working on print server and print management systems. In the past, we have collaborated with MIT/Athena on these issues. What what functions can one offload from browsers? Let the print server do the job!

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (Spencer Thomas): While previous speakers have problems, we have solutions! JSTOR is working on digitizing archives for online presentation, printing etc. We have close to 1M pages online, with 100k pages being added per month. Publishers are interested in faithful replications. Libraries no longer need to keep paper on expensive shelf space. Our process includes: 600dpi scanning (close to human visual resolution) index generation, OCR. The system combines images and indexing.

HARLEQUIN (Sumner Saitz): We are a geographically distributed company that have products in several relevant area: lisp development, implementation of the Dylan programming language, high-end PostScript RIPS, WebMaker: a FrameMaker to HTML conversion system. Our customers are interested in structured documents and printing.

BOOKMAKER (Hal Schectman): Our product can print booklets from web pages etc. The scaled down booklet format is often more useful than a stack of paper.

BITSTREAM (John Collens?): Bitstream is a supplier of fonts, and font technology. We have gone through a process from closed to open systems; we would like to work with any format, coding system and platform. TrueDoc solves may of these problems: it captures the shape of the font and transports it to the viewer. There, the format is unpacked and the font is usable on an output device. We want to make the tools to realize this available.

MICROSOFT (Steve Waters): Microsoft has changed w.r.t. standards. These days, we are happy to work with W3C and other organizations. Printing on the Web today is a crutch that will not withstand? the expected attention. Many of the problems can be solved on the browser side, but most will need to happen on the author side. There will be no single solution to all printing problems, but HTML should cover 100% of the needs of 80% of the people. HTML is evolving into a "container" language for text, graphics, multimedia and active applets. Style sheets can help solve problems, we can have on different style sheets for different devices. There is plenty of "low fruit" out there. Specifically, we would like to see an HTML tag that can tell us where font resources are available. Also, we will present a proposed color standard (sRGB) that is a result of collaboration with HP.

MONOTYPE TYPOGRAPHY (Brian Kraimer): We are especially interested in font issues, and want a clear indication of where and how these issue will develop.

KODAK (Terry Lund): Kodak are interested in all issues that have been raised. We want to deliver printing solutions for web servers, also we have digital cameras. One issue: more image systems should be hierarchical!

XEROX (Jim Thornton): Xerox Parc has a long tradition of work in high-quality & high-speed printing. In general, the printer should do more of the work than what is the case today.

CSS was presented by Hakon Lie

CSS [1] is a simple style sheet mechanism that allows authors and readers to attach stylistic information to HTML documents. The first generation -- CSS1 -- is focused on glass devices but better support for printing should and will be added. A CSS-based proposal on frames [2] for layout will be extended to support multi-page documents.

[1] http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Style/css
[2] http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/WD-layout.html

Q: what is the status of commercial implementations

A: W3C has announced Web Style Sheets with wide industry backing. Microsoft has announced browser support, and Spyglass will put support into their toolkit. We invite and expect other companies to follow.

HTTP presented by Henrik Frystyk Nielsen

HTTP 1.0 was not designed for the Web of today. The next time it has to be right!

http 1.1 will include

Deployment of HTTP 1.1 is urgent

Content negotiation was explained, HTTP 1.2 will support content negotiation.

Q: when will content negotiation be discussed/designed?

A: Discussions take place on the IETF mailing lists, and the design should be ready by the end of the summer.

Q: what's the status of URNs

A: Nobody wants to discuss it, it's a technical as well as a social problem

Q: Isn't persistent connections a browser -- not a protocol -- issue?

A: No, it's also a protocol issue.

Standard Color Model for RGB

Matthew Anderson (Microsoft) and Ricardo Motta (HP) presented the sRGB proposal. sRGB is a standard color space that will make it possible to reproduce colors in a predictable manner on the Web.

After lunch, the workshop was split into two groups after lunch:

  1. Fonts
  2. CSS/HTML and Document Collection


Leader: John Thomas

Problem statement: how to extend CSS and/or HTML to address the needs of HQ printing on the Web

CSS1 covers: fonts, colors, spacing. For printing the following requirements were suggested:

     better color support
     text flow
    *conditional info
     environmental information
     hires graphics
     better font support
     rotated text
    *alternative urls
     change bars
    *scripting hooks for printing

An asterix indicates that the requirement is special to printing.

Stephen Waters: Let's start a W3C printing Editorial Review Board (ERB)

Hakon Lie: ERBs mostly dal with proposed specifications, will there be such documents for printing?

Document Collection:

Problem statements: How to identify related pages. How to print related web pages.

A "master page" could be useful. Note that "master page" is used differently here than in the style sheets discussions. Perhaps a "book page" is a better term?

Keith Corbett: A Metadata proposal exists, have it pushed through the IETF!

Font discussion group

We started with Stephen Zilles presenting some idea describing the goals. The notes below are taken from the flip charts ...

Definition of the Problem

We spent the last part of our time identifying areas to be tackled by a font working group:

It was agreed that people could mail Chris Lilley to get themselves put on a mailing list for a W3C font working group. You can contact Chris at: Chris.Lilley@sophia.inria.fr.

In the last presentation, Andrew Mutz? (HP) presented a proposal to add output device characteristics to HTTP content negotiation, e.g.:

 Accept-display: paper/*; q=0.5, paper/color/USLetter/best
 Content-Display: paper/color;

Håkon Lie, Apr 29 - May 5, 1996