advancing EPUB 3

I received some feedback from folks who participated in the PBG kickoff
meeting on March 13 that they were concerned that EPUB 3 received short
shrift, with almost all the agenda time going to discussing the prospective
Publishing WG charter to work on new Web Publication specifications
including an EPUB 4. 

EPUB 3 priorities are on the agenda for this coming Tuesday's call but I
wanted to address up front some issues raised by this feedback.


W3C is pursuing a three-pronged strategy for Publishing@W3C: continue to
develop and promote EPUB 3, continue to advance the Open Web Platform to
address publishing requirements, and pursue the vision to fully integrate
online/offline, packaged/distributed content models, the vision originally
called "EPUB+Web" then "Portable Web Publications (PWP)".  See slide 4 of
attached presentation (from an a11y session last week at London Book Fair).


The new Publishing WG is where the continuation of the PWP work, which has
been incubated in the W3C Digital Publishing Interest Group (IG), would
logically happen. And based on the W3C process for chartering new Working
Groups we are on a short fuse to have a draft charter moving forward for W3C
team and then W3C membership review and approval - if all goes perfectly, we
could have a kick-off meeting of the new WG in late June. And to keep the
momentum from the work to date in the DPUB IG  - and eventually deliver
something that has a positive impact for the community -  it's important
that we get rolling on this.  So the PBG co-chairs explicitly allocated the
majority of the time in our kick-off meeting to discussing this.

But make no mistake about it, the new Web Publications work, while it has
promise to create a radical improvement in the usefulness of the Open Web
Platform for publishing, is not poised to deliver production-ready
specifications. A Recommendation Track activity in W3C usually takes at
least 3 years and often longer. We need to get moving to help realize this
ambitious vision, yes, and as we kick off the activity we will need to
promote its importance and create excitement about it in order to foster
engagement. We will have (already have, in some respects) flashy prototypes
based on proposals. But none of this means that a dependable, interoperable
content format, ready to replace current and future uses of EPUB 3,  is
around the corner. It's not. A new WG is like a new baby - exciting and
promising, but not immediately useful. I was going to say "like a new
puppy". but that could give a misleading impression about how soon
usefulness is likely to arrive.

Meanwhile W3C has taken on responsibility for EPUB and EPUB 3 is in the
market and increasingly widely adopted. We are for example about to have the
world's most widely adopted operating system, Microsoft Windows, ship with
native EPUB support seamlessly integrated into its Edge browser.
Accessibility initiatives are increasingly mandating  EPUB 3 support in
education and other areas. So it's critically important that we continue to
promote, not undermine, EPUB 3 adoption. That EPUB 3.1 is not a W3C
"Recommendation" and thus its ongoing development is taking place in a
Community Group is not an indication that is has a second-class status - and
in any case EPUB is an ISO Technical Specification so it already has a de
jure status that most W3C Recommendations do not.  We also need to continue
to work on the second prong of the strategy and push for improvements in CSS
and other OWP specs. All this while also working on (eventually) realizing
the EPUB+Web vision.


Clearly it won't be easy to juggle all this work and so W3C needs to rely on
the Publishing Business Group to help guide and prioritize and to help
foster engagement. Again, EPUB 3 development is on the agenda for Tuesday's
call so I hope you will contribute to the discussion about priorities at
that level as well as continuing to make your opinions known about
big-picture issues. 





Bill McCoy

W3C Publishing Champion <> 

+1 206 353 0233


Received on Friday, 24 March 2017 14:14:14 UTC