Scope and Goals of the Publishing Working Group

Scope and Goals of the Publishing Working Group

What is a web publication? How is it different from a web site or a web app? Why do we need new standards, when the web is already full of publications? The Publishing Working Group (PWG) is continuing to address these questions in the Web Publications (WP) spec, but with a new, narrower focus. What makes many types of publications different from other web content is that there is a defined order to the content—chapter two always comes after chapter one. A publication is also a single logical entity that may be built from numerous web resources. The web is good about defining metadata for a single page, but not so good with metadata about a collection of pages. So PWG is focusing on two things: how to define an ordered sequence of web resources, and how to express metadata about that collection of resources.

Details of what information is needed vary depending on the type of publication. We intend to work in a very modular fashion, building from that common foundation but with extensions to meet the needs of a particular segment of the industry. Our first module will be devoted to audiobooks, which have a huge audience, but no standard to describe how to package and distribute them. Audio publishers right now are forced to shuffle around spreadsheets and loose MP3 files! We expect to deliver a First Public Working Draft for audiobooks within the next several weeks. The Audiobooks Explainer outlines our plans.

Of course, publications are designed to be consumed, and the nature of publications places special demands on the user agent. It should remember where you stopped reading; it should allow you to customize the display. We are going to move those descriptions of affordances, user agent behaviors, and use cases to our Use Cases and Requirements document.

We are updating our milestones and deliverables timeline to reflect this change in focus. Look for changes to the main WP spec and the WP Explainer in the next few days. And please join us in helping to build the future of publications.

Thanks to Wendy Reid and Dave Cramer for editing this post!