Publishing WG Telco, 2019-03-18: Issue management

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

A large number of leftover old issues were discussed and closed (see minutes for details). The only issue that had a longer discussion was:

Only allow embedded manifests

(Is issue 327.)

It was recognized that various security issues are better taken care of with embedded manifests, which is also the favored choice by processors. On the other hand, the audiobook discussion has already led to the resolution whereby they would need a separate manifest for audiobooks. The decision is to make the requirement of an embedded manifest a SHOULD (rather than a MUST).

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-03-11: Lightweight packaging format

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

TOC Format

The current draft is now at The document is very short: refers to the ISO ZIP standard as for the packaging file format itself. The only WPUB-specific specification is the requirement on having an entry page in HTML and/or a manifest file (defined by wpub) at the root directory. The rest of the organization depends on the author and is described in the manifest.

There are some editorial issues; the only major non-editorial issue was whether this document should be proposed as a W3C Recommendation track document or not. There are pro-s and con-s, but the current decision of the Working Group is to publish this document, eventually, as a W3C WG Note, making it clear that the ideal solution would be to use some sort of a Web Packaging specification, but this is not available today.


The telco discussed horizontal reviewing issues as well as the agenda of the upcoming F2F meeting in Cambridge, MA.

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-03-04: Audio Issues, Implementation Discussion

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-03-04: Audio Issues, Implementation Discussion

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussion.

Audio Issues

Wendy led the group through resolving several open audiobooks issues about using the type attribute in audiobooks, handling of external (non-audio) resources in audiobooks, and allowed formats for audiobooks.


Franco and Josh led a discussion about real world implementations and expected behaviors of use cases and requirements. We began with a discussion of syncing location across platforms. After much discussion, most people agreed that the approach should revolve around the URL or fragment not adjusting the content in any way.

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-02-25: TOC format in JSON, Auxiliary Media in Audiobooks

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

TOC Format

This is issue #376 on whether the current HTML based format for a TOC is the only format, or whether it is possible to simply add a TOC into the manifest directly. This discussion continued the one started on the 11th of February, but did not really conclude yet. It turned out that there may be some misunderstandings on what the current manifest format can or cannot already have, and what restrictions in an HTML based TOC it defines. It was agreed to set up a separate call to clarify these details to be able to make a more informed decision.

Auxiliary Media in Audiobooks

This is issue #322: what should happen with non-audio materials (e.g., attached PDF files) in terms of an audiobook content: can it or can’it be part of the reading order? The discussion started but not concluded yet…

Publishing WG Telco-Asia, 2019-02-07

See minutes online for a more detailed discussion.

The Publishing WG convened a meeting at a (somewhat) Asia-friendly time. Asia is a big continent with many time zones. Most of the attendees from Asia are from Japan. The general sense from Japanese publishers is that EPUB 3 is stable, and there is a strong desire to keep it that way. There is not much interest from Japan in audio books or the manifest work happening in the Publishing WG. However, there is real interest in future work on merging the Web and Publishing platforms.

The consensus from members of the group joining from Asia was that toggling the meeting time is more difficult than joining late at night. The larger concern is the language barrier. One of the things that made this meeting successful was that we had several participants who were comfortable in multiple languages. One proposal was to arrange a pre-meeting in Japanese and choose a representative who is comfortable in Japanese and English to represent the Japanese-speaking members. The chairs are working on arranging this for future meetings. Other work will occur in the parallel BD Manga CG and may ultimately come to the Working Group.

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Publishing WG Telco, 2019-02-11: Primary entry page, or not, in a package (Part 2), TOC format

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

Primary Entry Page in a Package

This was a continuation of the discussion of the last time on whether it is necessary to add a Primary Entry Page to a package or not (Issue #33). Since the last time, an additional proposal was put on github on restructuring the concepts and the document to make a better separation of among the different constituent pieces. With that, the group adopted two resolutions:

  1. Resolution #2: Restructure the document to reflect the publication structure as primary, with web publications and packaged web publications as modules
  2. Resolution #3: WP keeps PEP as a requirement, Lightweight Packaging will give the option of using the PEP or the Manifest (with rules agreed to resolve any possible duplication [start with looking for PEP, and process that first; if not present, look for standalone manifest]), but one must be present in the package.

TOC Format

This is issue #376 on whether the current HTML based format for a TOC is the only format, or whether it is possible to simply add a TOC into the manifest directly. The problem is whether the load on using HTML is too high for implementers (probably not) or authors (this is still discussed). The discussion has not concluded yet, and should be continued on the next meeting.

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Publishing WG Telco, 2019-02-04: Primary entry page, or not, in a package

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

Apart from admin issues and some publishing plans the whole meeting concentrated on Issue # on the packaging part: is it necessary to add a Primary Entry Page to a package or not. A consensus proposal was put forward prior to the meeting, summarized at the meeting by:

Either the HTML entry page or the separate JSON-LD Manifest MUST be in the package. It is not required to have both, though. The user agent MUST first look for the entry page with the name index.html if found, it MUST follow the rules as described in the WP spec to extract the Web Publication Manifest; otherwise, the user agent looks for the Web Publication Manifest with the name manifest.json to extract the Web Publication Manifest.

This resulted in a long and, so far, inconclusive discussion. The consensus proposal was based on practical considerations, providing some sort of a freedom for publishers to decide whether their publication is aimed at residing on the Web or not and avoid unnecessary content if the goal is the latter. The main opposition to this proposal came from the fact that this optionality of the Primary Entry Page would create some sort of a bifurcation between a Web oriented publication and the packages, and that would be detrimental. It was also emphasized that “optionality” is always a source of problems in practice.

At this moment no consensus has been reached; discussions to follow.

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-01-28: Packaging

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

New draft version

The group agreed to officially publish a new version of the WP draft, reflecting the scope updates. A request for TAG review should follow.


A lingering issue has been the packaging format to use for audio books and other profiles. Issue #390 has collected the immediate criteria, and there were also presentation (at a meeting in NYC) about alternatives like HEIF or the work initiated by Google on Web Packaging. The fact that ISO is working on a lightweight version of ZIP (very close to OCF), namely ISO/IEC 21320-1:2015 came to the fore, too. After some discussions the WG decision is:

PWG will adopt a light-weight version of Zip, based on ISO/IEC 21320-1:2015, with some restrictions and additions for WP.

A version of this document (based on a current Github PR) will be created as a draft soon.

It must be emphasized that this packaging is considered to be a “Light-weight” packaging format (the title is still to be decided), and it may not be appropriate for all publication formats; if and when available, the group will consider adopting more complex packaging formats, too, possibly better adapted to the very Web specific requirements.

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-01-14: Scope of the WG

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

Remembering Robin Seaman

Robin Seaman, from Benetech, passed away last week (see a separate obituary). She was a tremendous person, and will be missed. She changed the world by her devotion to accessible publishing. R.I.P.

Scope of the group’s work

As part of the explainer documents it is important to have a clear idea of the scope of the work for the WG for the second half of its chartered time. This was the main topic of the discussion.

A preliminary draft for a scope was put forward by Tzviya Siegman and Ivan Herman (Tzviya has added a section on modularity into the current explainer document, and Ivan’s documented his views as a more detailed proposal in a separate text). The overall approach is:

  • The current WP draft should concentrate on a Web Publication Manifest only (probably with a change in title).
  • The work on audio books should be in a separate, Rec-track document as its own profile, and is the main subject of work for 2019.
  • A document on packaging should be developed, aimed at Web Publications in general (the format to be decided soon).
  • The group may/should also look at other profiles as they come up (visual narrative, scholarly, educational) but not as a Rec track in this charter period.
  • The section on affordances of the current draft should migrate into either a separate Note or merged with the UCR Note

Other profiles, adoption of Web Packaging, etc, would be the subject of a possible rechartered group in 2020.

There was an overall agreement with this line of scope and work, and it was agreed that the scoping statements would be merged/added with the explainer; this is important for a TAG review of the group’s work.

There were also some further discussions on whether it is important/possible to re-base the work on the manifest on an abstract data model (Dave Cramer has written a first draft). The discussions were not fully conclusive, but a data model part may become the subject of a separate Note or be incorporated into the document on Web Publication Manifest.

Publishing WG Telco, 2019-01-07: Packaging for audio

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

There was only one topic for discussion on the call: continue the discussion on the packaging format for Web Publications in general, but with a particular focus on audio books; this was a followup of the Audio Task Force meeting in December.

As a result of that audio task force meeting a draft has been created for “OCF Lite” (temporary name). The idea was to take the EPUB 3 OCF document as a starting point, and adapt it to the WP/Audiobook needs. The approach was to remove the EPUB3 specific requirements and files, add some WP specific ones (e.g., adding a Primary Entry page in HTML, a manifest in JSON). There is a separate comment listing the main differences in the relevant github entry.

A number of issues were discussed during the call. Some main ones:

  • Whether the removal of the manifest file is a good idea or not
  • Relationship to the “original” EPUB 3 OCF file, ie, whether the document should simply refer to it and list the differences only or be a standalone document
  • Relationship to the Web Packaging Work at W3C/IETF. This is actually the most important issue; some of the comments on the call:
    • The Web Packaging spec is more “Webby”, and would solve a number of issues like security, origin, etc. However, the specification is not yet there, and it may take longer than the audiobook community can wait to get it finalized, standardized, with a relevant tools being available, etc. The audiobook spec needs a packaging approach now.
    • It would be a hard sell to ask audiobook publishers to produce HTTPS request/response pairs, turn the results into CBOR, etc, when they just want to combine a bunch of MP3 files into a file. Web Packaging may be an overkill…
    • There may be a need for several packaging formats, depending on the circumstances, media, use cases.

There may be other packaging formats out there (e.g., HEIF), though, so due diligence requires looking at those, too, before making a final decision. A separate github issue has been setup, with a life-span of two weeks, to look at this and, possibly, a final decision will be made then.