eBooks: Great Expectations Workshop, first day

Yesterday was the first day of the W3C workshop on eBooks and W3C. This is one of those workshops where the value is not only to engage in technical discussion about use case and requirements, but also to bring together communities. The Digital Publishing community –the eBook publishing community, specifically– has been one of the most significant consumer of W3C’s technologies in the past years, and the international standard it developed (ePub, developed by IDPF) has been driving the community’s development. Although ePub is largely based on a number of W3C technologies, primarily of the OWP, there has never been close enough contacts between that community and W3C. It is to improve this situation that IDPF, BISG, and W3C decided jointly to set up this workshop in New York City.

It is not the goal of such a workshop to provide technical solutions to all matters arising. The goal at hand is to define a road map that would help future development. The first day concentrated primarily on issues around OWP (CSS, HTML, but also MathML), i.e., how these technologies are used by electronic books and, chiefly, what features are missing from the W3C specifications and how to add them. There were issues like pagination control, high level typography requirements, application caching, Ruby, or writing modes, just to name a few. It was agreed that there is a need for the publishing industry at large to get their voice heard at W3C, so that Working Groups can take the requirements of this community into account. Testing of various OWP features was also mentioned as one of the areas where, for example, W3C and IDPF should cooperate much more closely than before. How that cooperation will be done is still to be discussed; the important point is the recognition that a cooperation is needed between W3C and the community that is probably the biggest user today of the OWP, aside from traditional browsers.

The discussions will continue today, addressing other issues, such as accessibility, DRM, or metadata, undoubtedly leading to further points of cooperation. See the raw minutes of the first day.