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Re: Proposal: PDF alternative using HTML (ZIP/GZIP)

From: Craig Francis <craig.francis@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2016 17:12:01 +0000
Cc: Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>, W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <DC86AD1D-EB4F-490A-99A1-BA5235C16E46@gmail.com>
To: Nick Ruffilo <nickruffilo@gmail.com>
Hi Nick,

Yes, I certainly like the ideas behind PWP, and I'm glad to see this is happening.

I just don't think it works for the original proposal, which is an alternative to PDF's, having all the benefits of HTML, but still remaining read-only files that can be emailed, and IT Departments can trust being on their computers (ref the security restrictions that can applied).

Craig




> On 21 Jan 2016, at 14:16, Nick Ruffilo <nickruffilo@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Craig,
> 
> To your point of PWP being a format that has an interaction with a server - I don't disagree, but I think that's only 1 of the two main use cases for PWP.  One of those cases is to be able to be a quality container for ebooks.  Ebooks are expected to be read in an offline mode on devices that may not have any connectivity to the internet.  In these cases, online is simply not an option - therefore the PWP must work in a 100% offline mode.  The content creator ultimately has the choice to build their PWP the way they see fit.
> 
> I imagine a significant majority of PWPs created will be "offline" assuming that popular word processors adopt it as a format.  Mainly because of the business case you brought up - an employee generating an offline-mode file for sharing and archival purposes.  But, there will be many use cases where an updateable, benefiting-from-access-to-the-internet document format is superior.
> 
> -Nick
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 7:02 AM, Craig Francis <craig.francis@gmail.com <mailto:craig.francis@gmail.com>> wrote:
> Hi Nick,
> 
> I'm glad to see that you're not trying to dilute PWP with too many use cases.
> 
> With your comment about exporting it as a HTML file, and emailing that, this is where the problems currently lie, and why I'm making this proposal.
> 
> I'm not sure which mailing lists you are subscribed to, but in summary, a HTML file on its own is a big security problem, and it's difficult to include resources (in terms of development time/tooling)... for more info, please see:
> 
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0090.html <https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0090.html>
> 
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0089.html <https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0089.html>
> 
> In regards to PWP, I feel that it is a good idea, and defiantly has its use cases.
> 
> But I suspect that file format PWP becomes to be known as, will be seen as something that has an interaction with a server, and allows for the document to be updated.
> 
> That defiantly has its uses, but as with PDF's, there are cases where it's good to know that the file sent cannot change, or communicate with an external server for any reason (instead its seen as being locked down, in a read only state, via a sand box that the browser provides).
> 
> So where you see PWP being a more versatile format than PDF, that is good, but I believe we also need a second branch which takes some of the strengths of PDF, and uses existing technology to fix some of its problems (which I hope my previous emails explain, but I am happy to discuss if not).
> 
> Craig
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On 19 Jan 2016, at 14:39, Nick Ruffilo <nickruffilo@gmail.com <mailto:nickruffilo@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> 
>> Craig,
>> 
>> These are great questions, and I hope I can address some of them.  First off - PWP - like any potential document format - is not aimed at solving all possible use cases, nor should it.  That said, we also realize that there is potentially a gap in what software capabilities are today and what might be needed for a high-quality PWP to function as smoothly as a PDF would today.
>> 
>> To speak to your specific case - the PDF sales report.  Using today's technology, you could export that sales report as an HTML file, attach that, and open that in your browser.  It can be archived, the local copy can only be changed by the user, etc,  What is not yet native in most browsers is the ability to have a package of HTML files.
>> 
>> For the case of a completely offline file - something more static - PWP completely allows for that, as long as the package is created referencing static files that can be grabbed when making the offline package.  That is completely within scope and a use case that has been considered. PWP does go one step further and let you have files that reference external resources.  This would let you keep data charts up-to-date, Make quick updates to color schemes, or pretty much anything else you may want to update.  This is a feature - and optional.
>> 
>> From my perspective - the goal for PWP is to create a package format that makes sense for the future.  PDF has specific use cases where it is amazing - it has had many years to be adopted and honed.  Outside of those use cases,  PWP hopes to cover many things that PDF does not do.  That doesn't mean that PDF will be useless, as I imagine businesses will be exporting sales reports in PDF for the next 10 years (the same way people are still using CSV when there is XLSX format...)  But I believe that PWP aims to be a more versatile format than PDF which is it's differentiation.
>> 
>> -Nick 
>> 
>> On Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 7:29 AM, Craig Francis <craig.francis@gmail.com <mailto:craig.francis@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> On 18 Jan 2016, at 20:42, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com <mailto:lrosenth@adobe.com>> wrote:
>> 
>> > Actually, Ivan is pointing out that an active work project - called PWP
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Hi Leonard,
>> 
>> And yes, good point, I completely mixed up the EUPB3 and PWP (Portable Web Publication):
>> 
>> http://www.w3.org/TR/pwp <http://www.w3.org/TR/pwp>
>> 
>> I've just read though the PWP Working Draft, and have some notes below.
>> 
>> In summary, I think it's a good idea, but I'm not sure it really focuses on the same problem (but please let me know if I've misunderstood).
>> 
>> Craig
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Just to set the tone, people like to receive PDF's for documents (e.g. sales reports) because they can be treated as an atomic document, that isn't really editable (unlike an email), and can be saved for archivable purposes (with no reliance on a website to be available to view it).
>> 
>> Another example is someone who sees a webpage with some useful content, and they want a copy of that content on their local computer (aka "Save Web Page as"), so that they don't need to rely on an internet connection, for the website to remain available (or being able to find the page again), or the content on that page to change.
>> 
>> Now there are defiantly some similarities to the problems we are trying to address, with the main focus for me being the archive format:
>> 
>> https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#package <https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#package>
>> 
>> But this seems to be a very general spec, with options to have the content unpackaged and delivered over the internet (rather than just a single file):
>> 
>> https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#state_definition <https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#state_definition>
>> 
>> In contrast, the spec seems to not really focus on being a file that can be passed around/archived (e.g. emailing a PDF), but instead a central resource which allows for copies of the document to be downloaded.
>> 
>> https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#identification <https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#identification>
>> 
>> This is useful if you want to have a central location for a document, and is kept up to date, but not so good if the primary purpose is really to have a copy that is created at one point in time, where the person who receives a copy will know that at it will stay as-is (read only).
>> 
>> This setup seems to be confirmed in the security section:
>> 
>> https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#security-models <https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#security-models>
>> 
>> So if I was to send a report to a manager with sales figures, they will want to open it on their mobile phone (a quick read before bedtime, I assume), then later save it to their desktop computer so they can compare it later to the next months report.
>> 
>> So when the Working Draft mentions things like JavaScript Service Workers:
>> 
>> https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#arch <https://www.w3.org/TR/pwp/#arch>
>> 
>> And the concept of these documents having the ability to do things (presumably allowing the content to change, perform tracking, etc), I don't think it's fundamentally the right approach to this problem.
>> 
>> But don't get me wrong, Portable Web Publications would be very good for Publications... I just don't think many businesses use PDF attachments in that way.
>> 
>> :-)
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> > On 18 Jan 2016, at 20:42, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com <mailto:lrosenth@adobe.com>> wrote:
>> >
>> > Actually, Ivan is pointing out that an active work project - called PWP (Portable Web Publication - to address the need for having a better way to publish content using web technologies both in a packaged and unpackaged form.
>> >
>> > A solution that aligns with EPUB (but would not be EPUB 3.x as we know it today) is certainly something being serious considered by various folks as part of this work.
>> >
>> > Leonard
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On 1/18/16, 12:26 PM, "Craig Francis" <craig.francis@gmail.com <mailto:craig.francis@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >
>> >> On 18 Jan 2016, at 17:13, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com <mailto:lrosenth@adobe.com>> wrote:
>> >>> So that a user browsing PDFs on the web doesn’t need anything extra.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> I think Ivan is suggesting that EPUB3 might do the same.
>> >>
>> >> I'm still not 100% convinced how well it will work (as this does depend heavily on the OS, and browsers).
>> >>
>> >> But in both cases (EPUB3, or using a ZIP to wrap up the HTML document+assets) most of the building blocks are already in place.
>> >>
>> >> Craig
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>> On 18 Jan 2016, at 17:13, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com <mailto:lrosenth@adobe.com>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> While a PDF file does need a “reader”, it should be pointed out that EVERY MAJOR browser (Safari, Chrome, Edge, FireFox) all include PDF viewing natively.  So that a user browsing PDFs on the web doesn’t need anything extra.
>> >>>
>> >>> Leonard
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> On 1/18/16, 11:43 AM, "Craig Francis" <craig.francis@gmail.com <mailto:craig.francis@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>>> On 18 Jan 2016, at 16:13, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org <mailto:ivan@w3.org>> wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>>> Yeah. That will take time. On MacOS (starting from, I believe, Mavericks) the system comes with an epub reader, so files of this kind are automatically opened much like PDF files. Yes, it is an ebook reader on the OS, but that is not much different than using a PDF reader.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> To be incorporated into browsers is a big step (and would be a big step forward) which will need additional spec work. We are kept busy:-)
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Good to know, and good point about PDF files needing a reader.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> If I could push the format in any way (more so how the software works), I would like to be able to send a document that is opened, read, and closed without it being imported into some kind of library.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Maybe some ability for email clients to open the file for a "quick look" (as per the OSX term), then optionally import.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> But I realise this is going away from the idea of using this format primarily for books.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Anyway, thanks for the heads up.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Craig
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>> On 18 Jan 2016, at 16:13, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org <mailto:ivan@w3.org>> wrote:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> On 18 Jan 2016, at 16:58, Craig Francis <craig.francis@gmail.com <mailto:craig.francis@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Hi Ivan,
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Just to follow up on this, I've been reading the spec at:
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> http://www.idpf.org/epub/30/spec/epub30-overview.html <http://www.idpf.org/epub/30/spec/epub30-overview.html>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> And it does seem pretty much what I'm after.
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> I'm not sure I like the extra meta files, but maybe they are useful (e.g. the possibility of containing multiple HTML documents, one for each language).
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> For example. A book may also consists of many chapters each in their individual files and the order is not clear. Etc.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> So really the only remaining problem is getting email clients, browsers, OS'es to be able to open these files quickly/easily... rather than just automatically importing the file into an ebook reader.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> Yeah. That will take time. On MacOS (starting from, I believe, Mavericks) the system comes with an epub reader, so files of this kind are automatically opened much like PDF files. Yes, it is an ebook reader on the OS, but that is not much different than using a PDF reader.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> To be incorporated into browsers is a big step (and would be a big step forward) which will need additional spec work. We are kept busy:-)
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> Cheers
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> Ivan
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Craig
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> On 14 Jan 2016, at 11:17, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org <mailto:ivan@w3.org>> wrote:
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> On 14 Jan 2016, at 12:05, Craig Francis <craig@craigfrancis.co.uk <mailto:craig@craigfrancis.co.uk>> wrote:
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> Thanks Ivan,
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> You are right, I normally focus more on security side of things.
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> But out of interest, EPUB3, is that likely to get the same integration as how PDFs work at the moment?
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> As in, you can email someone an EPUB3 file, and the recipient can click/tap on it to quickly view in their email client?
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> Or simply have the web browser open it, rather than needing a dedicated EPUB3 reader?
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> In theory, all this is possible but the infrastructure is not as widespread as for PDF. Eg, you need extensions for Firefox to open an epub directly.
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> So far I've really only considered EPUB as more of a format for books (which is probably my lack of understanding of the format), so I've never really thought of its use for reports, leaflets, etc (i.e. things that PDF's tend to be used for).
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> EPUB is perfectly capable of handling that out of the box.
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> Ivan
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> In the mean time I'll have a read up on the PWP group.
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> Craig
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> On 14 Jan 2016, at 10:52, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org <mailto:ivan@w3.org>> wrote:
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> Craig,
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> thanks for your note. Two comments:
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> - The format EPUB3, defined by IDPF, already does many of what you say. On a very high level, it takes a (slightly constrained) Web site and puts it into, essentially, a zip file. For many applications, this is a worthy replacement for PDF. Note that almost all the electronic books you buy today are in EPUB3 or its predecessor...
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> - The DPUB IG also looks further down the line on a stronger integration of digital publishing and the OWP:
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> http://www.w3.org/TR/pwp <http://www.w3.org/TR/pwp>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> which may lead to significant changes in the future.
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> Bottom line: this evolution is already happening!
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> I understand you come more from the security area; there may be security issues with EPUB3 or PWP which we do not fully appreciate, so any comment is welcome of course!
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> Cheers
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> Ivan
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> On 14 Jan 2016, at 11:34, Craig Francis <craig@craigfrancis.co.uk <mailto:craig@craigfrancis.co.uk>> wrote:
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Hi,
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Recently I've been thinking of some of the problems with PDF's, which are useful for creating a document that can be archived, emailed, printed, etc.
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> HTML has solutions for many of PDF's problems though, for example structured text (accessibility), ability to change layout depending on screen size (no need for small screen devices to zoom into a fixed A4 layout), can change font size, better indexing support (searching for documents), etc.
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Unfortunately you can't just email a HTML document to someone, as this causes a range of security problems, and including resources can be difficult (you can inline them, or use MHTML, but these are tricky to create).
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> So I was wondering if we could take the approach that Microsoft Word did with the docx format, Java with JAR, PHP with PHAR, etc...
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Have a new file format, associated with the browser, which is just a ZIP/GZIP file that contains an index.html file, and everything else needed for the document.
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Then from a security point of view, it can be locked down to its own little box, so no access to other files on the file system, probably no access to cookies/localstorage, no ability to connect to another host.
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> And from the users point of view, the document could be protected with a password (a feature that ZIP/GZIP provides already, and the browser can prompt for when opening).
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> So would this help with the security aspects of emailing HTML files to people (e.g. reports), and be better than PDFs?
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> Craig
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> ---
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0063.html <https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webappsec/2016Jan/0063.html>
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=575677 <https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=575677>
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1237990 <https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1237990>
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>> https://wpdev.uservoice.com/forums/257854-microsoft-edge-developer/suggestions/11443002-webpage-zip-as-alternative-to-pdf <https://wpdev.uservoice.com/forums/257854-microsoft-edge-developer/suggestions/11443002-webpage-zip-as-alternative-to-pdf>
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>> ----
>> >>>>>>>>> Ivan Herman, W3C
>> >>>>>>>>> Digital Publishing Lead
>> >>>>>>>>> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/ <http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/>
>> >>>>>>>>> mobile: +31-641044153 <tel:%2B31-641044153>
>> >>>>>>>>> ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704 <http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> ----
>> >>>>>>> Ivan Herman, W3C
>> >>>>>>> Digital Publishing Lead
>> >>>>>>> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/ <http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/>
>> >>>>>>> mobile: +31-641044153 <tel:%2B31-641044153>
>> >>>>>>> ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704 <http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> ----
>> >>>>> Ivan Herman, W3C
>> >>>>> Digital Publishing Lead
>> >>>>> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/ <http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/>
>> >>>>> mobile: +31-641044153 <tel:%2B31-641044153>
>> >>>>> ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704 <http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> -- 
>> - Nick Ruffilo
>> @NickRuffilo
>> Aer.io <http://aer.io/> an INGRAM company
>> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> - Nick Ruffilo
> @NickRuffilo
> Aer.io <http://aer.io/> an INGRAM company
> 


Received on Friday, 22 January 2016 17:12:37 UTC

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