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Re: "Scholarly HTML" and science.ai

From: Bill McCoy <bmccoy@idpf.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2015 06:41:47 -0800
Message-ID: <CADMjS0bVAP1Tr_645fVgrU=C3ncU+9WhBNWRmxQBU0QoEPV7Wg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Cc: Dave Cramer <Dave.Cramer@hbgusa.com>, Charles LaPierre <charlesl@benetech.org>, W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>

Your perspective about minimizing normative requirements to only those that
are technically absolutely necessary is of course totally valid and correct
from a pure engineering perspective. But, taken to the extreme, this would
imply that no "SHOULDs" should be in any specifications, because something
js only a SHOULD then ipso facto it's not necessary, it's really just
stating a preference, and it can't be counted on it from an IOP
perspective. Nevertheless most specifications have many "SHOULDs". Of
course, this is an evergreen debate in standards groups.

With publications, the big fly in the ointment is accessibility. We cannot
mandate that all the things that make content fully accessible are "musts",
because in some instances there may be good reasons for particular
publications not to do them. Yet we need content to be maximally
accessible, and a key value proposition for a next-generation portable
document format is that it is more naturally accessible than a sequence of
"frozen" page images. Accessibility is also a "mine canary" for content
that is more reliably machine-processable, supporting a variety of other
use cases (summarization, remixing,

We have in EPUB danced around this for a long time. There are many SHOULDs
relating to accessibility and even some MUSTS that are arguably overly
specific. For example in EPUB 3.0 we made a MUST requirement that the
Navigation Document's table of contents be complete and ordered per reading
order. This was not technically necessary but was deemed a very critical
piece of enabling accessibility.

In the big picture, arbitrary HTML+JS is legal in EPUB (as I think it
should remain in PWP) but at the same time a tangled spaghetti of HTML+JS,
that one can't do anything with except "execute" in a browser's VM, doesn't
fully deliver on the expected value proposition of portable publications.
Hence the need for additional (even if softer) normative requirements.

And for the in-process EPUB 3.1 update, the IDPF Board has asked the WG to
be even more forceful about adding normative requirements to support the
notion of an accessibility baseline, even though we know that not every
valid EPUB publication will meet the baseline, and this is in process.

EPUB 3.x is in the process of being adopted as part of a number of
accessibility mandates, so it would seem counter-productive for PWP to
reverse course and be less promotive of accessibility.

So I recommend that this group look carefully at what's going on in EPUB
3.1, including the level of normative specification of
accessibility/structure, and if there is anything there that looks out of
line for what folks think should be in a PWP that should be elevated as a
coordination issue. If that means we have to all work together to resolve
the tension about how to strongly encourage accessibility (& the
concomitant of well-structured content) while keeping the specs as pristine
as possible, let's tackle it now not wait until EPUB 3.1 is baked in 6
months time.


On Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 2:44 AM, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org> wrote:

> On 14 Dec 2015, at 20:35, Bill McCoy <bmccoy@idpf.org> wrote:
> "vernacular" may not be quite the right term but... while some of the
> proposed Scholarly HTML is arguably specific to that domain, much of it,
> such as the "hunks" stuff, seems to have nothing to do with
> scholarly-publishing-specific requirements. There also seems to be
> significant overlap with the Structural Semantics Profile [1] that has been
> developed by IDPF and the EDUPUB Alliance as part of the EPUB for Education
> initiative (aka EDUPUB) as well as the Content Structure section of the
> EDUPUB profile itself [2]. These have also been recognized as not
> necessarily learning-content-specific but valuable for any content that
> wants to be well-structured (in particular that can be assured to be
> accessible) so it's now in the process of being generalized as part of EPUB
> 3.1 [3]. The realization was that stuff that is really about making
> well-structured content - not about the vertical of education content -
> should really be part of EPUB itself (even if something is not normatively
> required to be legal EPUB it may be required to be certifiably accessible
> EPUB and thus we are thinking that for EPUB 3.1 such things should be
> SHOULDs where sensible). I don't see why it would make sense for PWP to
> reverse course on that.
> I do not think PWP would 'reverse' that, but I am not sure it should
> address that.
> At leastā€¦ there is a difference, if one think of terms of standards,
> between normative and non-normative aspects. Providing a sound set of
> 'advices' on well structured documents makes of course a lot of sense. Ie,
> having such a document is good but what I do not see is why this would be
> normative. When defining something like PWP, I believe that we should be as
> open ended as possible, and include normative requirements when it is
> technically absolutely necessary.
> Of course, 'profiles', or 'vernaculars' may be different because the idea
> is to address a specific community, a specific market.
> So I hope that we can both harmonize any redundancy between the new
> Scholarly HTML initiative and work that's gone on as part of EDUPUB, as
> well as appropriately pull out broadly useful features from both efforts
> into base specs, in the interests of maximizing accessibility and
> interoperability and minimizing bikeshedding.
> Sure. But, for the time being, the Scholarly HTML work is 'just' a
> community group, ie, it is not a formal standardization activity. EDUPUB is
> much more formal than that. It is certainly a good idea, though, to draw
> attention at the EDUPUB document to the Scholarly HTML group; I will do
> that.
> Ivan
> --Bill
> [1] http://www.idpf.org/epub/profiles/edu/structure/
> [2] http://www.idpf.org/epub/profiles/edu/spec/#h.selsibtnscc8
> [3] http://www.idpf.org/workplans/2015/epub/
> On Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 8:31 AM, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org> wrote:
>> On 14 Dec 2015, at 17:01, Cramer, Dave <Dave.Cramer@hbgusa.com> wrote:
>> On Dec 14, 2015, at 10:50 AM, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org> wrote:
>> On 14 Dec 2015, at 16:40, Charles LaPierre <charlesl@benetech.org> wrote:
>> Has anyone read about this before?  Looks interesting just trying to see
>> how this fits in with our PWP and archiving.
>> http://scholarly.vernacular.io and https://science.ai
>> Robin Berjon (one of the co-authors of that paper) has started a W3C
>> Community Group on scholarly HTML:
>> https://www.w3.org/community/scholarlyhtml/
>> it is still in its early days, but it may be very interesting on long
>> term.
>> Not sure yet how it will fit into PWP. In some sense, it may be
>> orthogonal to PWP in the sense that what it tries to do is to define an
>> HTML profile for scholarly publishing, to be used for particular use cases.
>> These profiles, obviously, would fit PWP, too, but I do not believe it
>> would create new requirements for it.
>> I think of the idea of a "vernacular" itself [1] is quite applicable. Our
>> mission is to use HTML for publications. In order to make such publications
>> more readable, more accessible, and more meaningful, we are likely to use
>> HTML in specific ways. A good example is requiring a nav file. This idea of
>> a vernacular has certainly helped me clarify my thinking on EPUB Zero as
>> defined in the Readme [2]
>> I must admit I did not know the vernacular itself, only the scholarly
>> HTML stuff.
>> Whether vernacular is necessary for PWP as a whole: I am not sure, that
>> is to be seen. I fully agree that for specific areas (like scholarly HTML)
>> defining a vernacular is probably a good idea (that is where the CG is
>> going). And there may be similar issues for defining, say, legal
>> publications. But all those are, or I believe should be, independent from
>> the general approach on PWP which should try to be as non-restrictive as
>> possibleā€¦
>> But practice will tell. In any case, it *is* an interesting document,
>> that is for sure!
>> Thanks
>> Ivan
>> Dave
>> [1] http://vernacular.io
>> [2] https://github.com/dauwhe/epub-zero/blob/gh-pages/readme.md
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>> ----
>> Ivan Herman, W3C
>> Digital Publishing Lead
>> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
>> mobile: +31-641044153
>> ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704
> --
> Bill McCoy
> Executive Director
> International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)
> email: bmccoy@idpf.org
> mobile: +1 206 353 0233
> ----
> Ivan Herman, W3C
> Digital Publishing Lead
> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
> mobile: +31-641044153
> ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704


Bill McCoy
Executive Director
International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)
email: bmccoy@idpf.org
mobile: +1 206 353 0233
Received on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 14:42:31 UTC

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