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

RE: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

From: Owen Ambur <Owen.Ambur@verizon.net>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 17:19:25 -0500
To: "'eGovIG IG'" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <006201caa131$1e479e80$5ad6db80$@Ambur@verizon.net>
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_fo
rmats 

 

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
<https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Aev3E7WkLorMZGhkcGhkYjlfOXpudzNkNWZ0&hl=
en> &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
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtm&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtm&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
HTML27,700,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtml&aq=f&aqi=&
oq=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ahtml&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
PDF    26,100,000  http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Apdf&a
q=f&aqi=&oq=> &source=hp&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Apdf&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
ASP    13,100,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Aasp&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Aasp&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
TXT     2,980,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Atxt&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Atxt&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
DOC    2,310,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Adoc&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Adoc&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
XLS     1,880,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axls&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axls&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
XML    1,010,000 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axml&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Axml&aq=f&aqi=&oq= 
RDF             3,240 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en
<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3A.gov+filetype%3Ardf&aq=f&aqi=&o
q=> &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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