New Draft for Portable Web Publications has been Published

One of the results of the busy TPAC F2F meeting of the DPUB IG Interest Group (see the separate reports on TPAC for the first and second F2F days), the group just published a new version of the Portable Web Publications for the Open Web Platform (PWP) draft. This draft incorporates the discussions at the F2F meeting.

As a reminder: the PWP document describes a future vision on the relationships of Digital Publishing and the Open Web Platform. The vision can be summarized as:

Our vision for Portable Web Publications is to define a class of documents on the Web that would be part of the Digital Publishing ecosystem but would also be fully native citizens of the Open Web Platform. In this vision, the current format- and workflow-level separation between offline/portable and online (Web) document publishing is diminished to zero. These are merely two dynamic manifestations of the same publication: content authored with online use as the primary mode can easily be saved by the user for offline reading in portable document form. Content authored primarily for use as a portable document can be put online, without any need for refactoring the content. Publishers can choose to utilize either or both of these publishing modes, and users can choose either or both of these consumption modes. Essential features flow seamlessly between online and offline modes; examples include cross-references, user annotations, access to online databases, as well as licensing and rights management.

The group already had lots of discussions on this vision, and published a first version of the PWP draft before the TPAC F2F meeting. That version already included a series of terms establishing the notion of Portable Web Documents and also outlined an draft architecture for PWP readers based on Service Workers. The major changes of the new draft (beyond editorial changes) include a better description of that architecture, a reinforced view and role for manifests and, mainly, a completely re-written section on addressing and identification.

The updated section makes a difference between the role of identifiers (e.g., ISBN, DOI, etc.) and locators (or addresses) on the Web, typically an HTTP(S) URL. While the former is a stable identification of the publication, the latter may change when, e.g., the publication is copied, made private, etc. Defining identifiers is beyond the scope of the Interest Group (and indeed of W3C in general); the goal is to further specify the usage patterns around locators, i.e., URL-s. The section looks at the issue of what an HTTP GET would return for such a URL, and what the URL structure of the constituent resources are (remember that a Web Publication being defined as a set of Web Resources with its own identity). All these notions will need further refinements (and the IG has recently set up a task force to look into the details) but the new draft gives a better direction to explore.

As always, issues and comments are welcome on the new document. The preferred way is to use the github issue tracker but, alternatively, mails can be sent to the IG’s mailing list.

(Original blog was published in the Digital Publishing Activity Blog)