W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-egov-ig@w3.org > February 2010

RE: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

From: <rachel.flagg@gsa.gov>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 17:57:18 -0500
To: Owen.Ambur@verizon.net
Cc: "'eGovIG IG'" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>, public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFAF75EDE0.07433119-ON852576BA.007B425F-882576BA.007E18A4@gsa.gov>
+1 to Owen's statement in a previous post".. let me assure you that I am 
going to be one ticked off taxpayer if .gov agencies continue to insist 
upon flaunting style over substance in publishing their strategic and 
performance plans (including their open gov plans)."

+1 to Brian's comment below that, if there are better ways to create PDFs, 
then we need to tell people.

So in the interest of transparent, participatory and collaborative 
government, my question to the group is this....

If you were in charge of publishing government agency strategic/OpenGovt 
plans... how would you do it?

Keep these points in mind:
 - for some agencies, old habits die hard and there will probably be a 
push to publish at least some of these plans as glossy PDFs with pretty 
pictures........ so we need to make sure that content creators are 
creating these PDFs correctly
-  the solution must be explainable in non-techie language, to help agency 
web managers convince their bosses of the "right" way to do this, so plans 
are accessible (in all ways) to the public

HOW can we do it better?
Is there ONE place that offers simple, step-by-step guidance for creating 
machine-readable PDFs, that we point out to agencies and tell them to 
follow that model?

I think we all agree that context, style and substance are all important - 
so how can we combine all those into one end product that meets all those 
needs?

Government agencies are trying really hard to get this right - what tools 
can you recommend to help agencies deliver? 

Thanks!
-Rachel

-------------------------------
Rachel Flagg 
Web Content Manager 
  and Co-Chair, Federal Web Managers Council 
Government Web Best Practices Team
Office of Citizen Services 
U.S. General Services Administration 
rachel.flagg@gsa.gov 
www.webcontent.gov - Better websites. Better government.







"Owen Ambur" <Owen.Ambur@verizon.net> 
Sent by: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
01/29/2010 02:22 PM

To
"'eGovIG IG'" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
cc

Subject
RE: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity






Brian, with reference to my separate message and the text of your draft 
cited by Dave below, I would also point out that:
 
a)      HTML is a presentation format and, thus, is about style rather 
than substance (meaning), and
b)      RDF may be “serialized” in XML:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_Description_Framework#Serialization_formats 

 
Besides XFDL, MS’s XML Paper Specification (XPS) is another XML vocabulary 
dealing with style. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML_Paper_Specification 
 
Adobe’s Mars Project is described as “an XML-friendly representation of 
PDF documents”:  http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/mars/ 
 
Owen
 
From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] 
On Behalf Of Brian Gryth
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 4:51 PM
To: Dave McAllister; Owen Ambur
Cc: eGovIG IG
Subject: Re: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity
 
Dave,
 
I apologize for the error and it has been corrected.
 
+ 1 to Owen's statements.  That is why I would suggest that we need to 
focus on educating people on the best approach to creating PDFs.  If a PDF 
can be created with the necessary raw data, metadata, or what have you 
that makes the document more machine readable than we need to tell people.
 



 
On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM, Dave McAllister <dmcallis@adobe.com> 
wrote:

Just for completeness (and since the group has heard this before.

One objection...

In this sentence, you lump a standard, PDF with two 
implementations/products.

The W3C, the Sunlight Foundation, and other open government advocates 
recommend that government's should use open standards based technologies, 
such as HTML, XML, or RDF, rather than proprietary formats, such as PDF, 
Microsoft Word or Excel, when publishing data.  

 PDF is not proprietary, it is an open International standard, ISO 32000, 
under TC171. 

Adobe products such as Acrobat and Acrobat Reader are proprietary... And 
yes, if you choose to state Acrobat here, then I’ll live with it. But I 
worked really hard to separate PDF from Adobe specification to ISO 
standard.

Thanks for the insight into the letter.

davemc 


On 1/29/10 1:10 PM, "Brian Gryth" <briangryth@gmail.com> wrote:
Hello all,
 
Thanks for the good discussion.  It has been helpful.  I have created a 
Google Doc to capture my thoughts.  It is a draft letter that I plan to 
send to member of the Colorado General Assembly concerning the school 
finance bill I identified.  The doc is viewable at 
https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Aev3E7WkLorMZGhkcGhkYjlfOXpudzNkNWZ0&hl=en 
(please let me know if you would like access to edit the doc.) 
 
As to this discussion, I think that it can best be described as the PDF+ 
approach.  As Joe has frequently and correctly pointed out, PDF use is 
persistent and this will not change.  (Adobe has been very effective in 
making their product ubiquitous.)  Replacing PDF is going to be extremely 
difficult, if not impossible.  Therefore, we need to education the 
government community on the best practices for creating PDF documents or 
the best approach to augment PDF publication. 
 
Again thank you for the information and please continue the discussion or 
help revise and improve the document I linked to above. 
 
Thanks,
Brian 
 
On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 8:29 AM, Joe Carmel <joe.carmel@comcast.net> 
wrote:
David,
 
PDF is probably the most flexible human-readable electronic format we 
humans have invented and provides one of the richest possible electronic 
formats ever devised in terms of capabilities (text, graphics, color, 
image, audio, video, forms, printability, digital signatures, metadata, 
file attachments, and archiving).  With no disrespect, it seems like the 
problem for many is that PDF is not readable and consumable with a text 
editor.  While this is true, there are several public domain and 
commercial tools that provide developers with access to PDF file contents 
(even converting page contents to XML).  Given these overwhelming benefits 
and the substantial use of the format on the human-side of the web, it’s 
very unlikely that PDF is going away.  Even if everyone stopped using it, 
there would still be over 26 million PDF files (per Google) on the web 
from the .gov sites alone.  Since the PDF format allows metadata inclusion 
and file attachments, I think getting the word out about how these and 
other features add interoperability to PDF should encourage practices that 
lead to combining human and machine readability for all electronically 
published information.
 
HTM  30,800,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtm&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

HTML27,700,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtml&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

PDF    26,100,000  
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Apdf&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

ASP    13,100,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Aasp&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

TXT     2,980,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Atxt&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

DOC    2,310,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Adoc&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

XLS     1,880,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axls&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

XML    1,010,000 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axml&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 

RDF             3,240 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ardf&aq=f&aqi=&oq=


 
Also, see http://legislink.wikispaces.com/message/view/home/14870950 for 
more tech info.
 
Joe
 
 

From: David Pullinger [mailto:David.Pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk] 
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 9:27 AM
To: chris-beer@grapevine.net.au
Cc: Kevin' 'Novak; Joe Carmel; 'Brian Gryth'; 'eGovIG IG'
Subject: Re: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

 

Chris,

 

Let me assure you that I'm not in favour of PDF for data or communication, 
the critical words were ...'those who insist on..'   Let me draw a 
comparison.  The government is not in favour of people taking drugs.  But 
we provide information to help those who do.  Our friends at Adobe should 
not draw the analogy too far as I just mean that sometimes we engage in 
harm reduction - in this case to get at good re-usable data.  

 

David

 

 

 

 

 

David Pullinger

david.pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk

Head of Digital Policy

Central Office of Information

Hercules House

7 Hercules Road

London SE1 7DU

020 7261 8513

07788 872321

 
Twitter #digigov and blogs:  www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov <
http://www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov> 

 


>>> Chris Beer <chris-beer@grapevine.net.au> 28/01/2010 12:05 >>>
Hey Brian, everyone

Wouldn't be right if I didn't pop the TF4 hat on and respond into the 
conversation ;) I already sent Brian an email offering to assist, but 
since we're doing this in list... :)

Personally and professionally,  I have issues with "data", if not any 
government information, being published in PDF formats as well as how PDF 
files are used in general, not only by Gov, but by the Private sector as 
well.

IMO The only three reasons (and only if you had to) to use PDF is a) as an 
archive snapshot of a document and b) for document control - that is - 
when you don't want a document to be altered by users such as in the case 
of a manifestation or publication of a piece of legislation, tenders etc - 
hence why you can embed digital signatures, lock them from editing, etc 
etc. and c) With accessible Smart Forms, which are actually just such a 
cool idea and so very useful as an assistive technology, and for both the 
user, and the owner - that said these all still have issues around being 
in PDF. 

The general usage, however, seems to be for anything and everything that 
can be published. Want a printable version? Download the PDF file.

Rather than focus on the pitfalls of using PDF's in the .gov.* space 
(which I'm more than happy to discuss with anyone - especially David in 
light of his comments ;) ), I'll focus on the topic at hand. I've had a 
look at the Fiscal Note Brian provided as well as the proposed Act and I'm 
a little stunned by the leap of logic in this sense.

A careful reading of the Bill reveals that throughout, information is 
required to be "posted on-line, in a downloadable format". Now if I was a 
clever Web Manager in charge of implementing my local schools requirements 
under this bill, I could quickly and easily meet these requirements 
through a CMS enabled website/database - the act of viewing a webpage is, 
by definition, downloading information. Not only that, but I could point 
at my model and highlight the fact that:

a) The data supports RDF(a), XML, StratML etc in a far more useful and 
usable format than a PDF version

b) I can send my schemas to other schools, or even the Department (who 
might want to create a centralised model) to enable consistancy of data 
formatting, not just a pretty view of the data

c) I can deliver my data in a range of open standard formats, from such as 
binary, CSV, HTML, XML, etc using very basic, free, vendor independant and 
accessible technologies

d) I can export a customisable view of this data on demand as a PDF file 
if needed... (think the export as PDF function of Google Analytics 
dashboard reports.) But I can also export it in a variety of other 
propriety formats on demand.

e) I can very easily track the usage and access of this data by the public 
through web analytics. If I track it well enough, and agressively enough, 
I can start to analyse which parts of the data are the most useful (for 
instance I might well find that visits from .edu domains (ie: teachers) 
show a marked interest in salary schedule comparisons) and I can tailor 
the solution from a push Web 1.0 model to a information on demand Web 2.0 
model.)

f) I can allow others, including other arms of Local, State and Federal 
Governments, through API's and mashups, to mix my data with other data to 
provide interesting information - like financial data mapped against 
student result averages.

A couple of other things to consider with the financial and workload 
aspects in mind, is that technically (and correct me if I am wrong) each 
and every PDF release of this data would be classed as a government 
publication and will require not only ISBN numbers etc, but entry into the 
Library of Congress or State equivalent, catalogues as well. A single 
website, being considered as an Intergrated Resource, technically would 
require only a single catalogue entry...

The Fiscal Note also reads "It is assumed that financial documents can be 
electronically converted into a portable document format (PDF) or image 
file (tiff, gif, jpg), and posted online at minimal cost, and that 
software to convert documents and software to modify websites is readily 
available at the district level."

Now thats an interesting assumption - and it is just that - an assumption. 
Considering publishing the information as HTML etc is effectively free.

These are only some initial thoughts, but you get the idea. Happy to 
discuss.

David - would love to discuss your thoughts around the standards and 
governance on PDF, but it'd probably off topic in this thread. Drop me a 
line and expand on things :)

Cheers

Chris




David Pullinger wrote: 

Both,

 

As well as separate data files, it is perfectedly possible to embed RDF(a) 
into PDF files, as other markup, and so provide access to Linked Data 
thereby...

 

We're considering whether or not to issue standards in this area so that 
those who insist on releasing information in PDF files nevertheless don't 
put a block on Linked Data.

 

David

 

 

 

 

 

David Pullinger

david.pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk

Head of Digital Policy

Central Office of Information

Hercules House

7 Hercules Road

London SE1 7DU

020 7261 8513

07788 872321

 
Twitter #digigov and blogs:  www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov <
http://www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov> 

 


>>> "Joe Carmel" <joe.carmel@comcast.net> <mailto:joe.carmel@comcast.net> 
26/01/2010 18:56 >>>
Brian,
One option to consider might be XForms (and XSLTForms in particular). 
Although I’m not familiar with the school district financial data, it 
seems like publishing an XForm on a central website and mandating that 
school districts fill it out would be easy to create, maintain, and 
implement.  The output files could then be posted centrally and/or 
locally. 
I’m working with Owen Ambur and several others on something like this for 
StratML.  Check out http://www.xmldatasets.net/XF2/stratmlxform3.xml. It’s 
still being developed but it might serve as an example.  The idea is to 
provide a way to create, import, update, display, and finally catalog 
StratML fles across the web. 
Joe

From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] 
On Behalf Of Novak, Kevin
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:13 PM
To: Brian Gryth; eGovIG IG
Subject: RE: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity
Brian,
I am here to help you.
I can provide input and opinion on the piece you are developing. I concur 
with your assessment of PDF. Other options in addition must be considered.
Kevin
From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] 
On Behalf Of Brian Gryth
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:08 PM
To: eGovIG IG
Subject: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

Good day all,

Members of the Colorado General Assembly introduced legislation recently 
that would mandate school districts to publish certain financial data in a 
down loadable format.  The bill is HB10-1036 and is available at 
http://legislink.org/us-co?HB10-1036.  This is a good thing on the 
surface.  What concerns me is the fiscal impact statement associated with 
the legislation.  The concerning part of the fiscal impact statement 
focuses on the information being released in PDF or in an image format 
(e.g. JPEG, TIFF, GIF), but does not talk about other formats.  The fiscal 
note is available at http://bit.ly/80RBiu.  As has been discussed by this 
group and in other places, PDF only publication is not the best method of 
publishing government data.

Therefore, I saw this as a perfect opportunity for some education and 
outreach.  I am planning on putting some summarized information together 
that will discuss data publication methods to sent to the bill sponsors 
and other members of the Colorado legislature.  I also plan on speaking at 
the Senate hearing for the bill as a concerned citizen.

I would appreciate the assistance of anyone wishing to help me out. Please 
feel free to e-mail me and I will share a Google Doc I will be using to 
draft the materials.

Thanks
Brian

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Wireless in partnership with MessageLabs.
On leaving the GSI this email was certified virus free.
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Received on Monday, 1 February 2010 02:50:26 GMT

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