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What do Web Publication User Agents Do? How Do We Test Them?

From: Dave Cramer <dauwhe@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2017 22:47:26 -0400
Message-ID: <CADxXqOy_WV08V8b+ePQCMyremmkybrmk1Yb=wPTA8c1J3AR18Q@mail.gmail.com>
To: W3C Publishing Working Group <public-publ-wg@w3.org>
Hi Everyone,

The core of the idea of a web publication was expressed in requirement 7 (
http://w3c.github.io/dpub-pwp-ucr/index.html#r_single) of our use case

“User agents must treat a Web Publication as a single logical resource with
its own URL, beyond the references to individual, constituent resources.”

But what does this mean in practice?

We've talked about the abstract manifest providing a list of primary
resources and their default ordering.  But how would you test such an
assertion? What is a user agent supposed to do with such information? This
also gets to the question of why we need web publications at all. What do
we need that the web doesn't already do?

The UCR document listed several aspects of this:

1. The scope of search should be the entire publication.

2. Personalization choices should apply to the whole publication
(Personalization is requirement 11)

3. CSS counters should operate across the entire publication.

4. Assistive technologies should treat a publication as a single unit.

I would propose that there is another fundamental, and very simple,
requirement: can you access all the primary resource content without
clicking links?

This sounds crazy in the context of the web. But this is what we have from
every ebook reading system—"turn the page" or press the "next" button, and
you can go through the entire contents, screen by screen. No hunting for
blue underlined text. No going back to a table of contents, figuring out
what the next chapter is, and clicking on a target that most likely
occupies less than 1% of the screen area.

I've mentioned earlier that I think Jeremy Keith's "Resilient Web Design"
is a great example of a book on the web today. But you have to click links
to get from chapter to chapter, and this is what makes it different than
today's ebooks. (And as I've noted before, you can get through the book in
Opera 12 without clicking links, due to UI around rel=prev/next).

I would add a few more testable assertions about a web publication:

5. A web publication user agent should remember where the user is, and
restore that state any time a user navigates back to the WP.

6. The table of contents should be available from every primary resource.
(Requirement 13)

5. A web publication should have a shareable URL.

6. A web publication should be readable while offline. (Requirement 6)

7. A web publication should allow annotations, including highlights, notes,
and bookmarks.

What else are we missing?

Received on Monday, 14 August 2017 02:47:52 UTC

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