Abstract

“A book is a discrete collection of text (and other media), that is designed by an author(s) as an internally complete representation of an idea, or set of ideas; emotion or set of emotions; and transmitted to readers in various formats.”

Hugh McGuire, Medium, April 2016

This document introduces Portable Web Publications, a vision for the future of digital publishing that is based on a fully native representation of documents within the Open Web Platform. Portable Web Publications achieve full convergence between online and offline/portable document publishing: publishers and users won't need to choose one or the other, but can switch between them dynamically, at will. Authors can concentrate on the way they intend to transmit their ideas and emotions, without having to deal with the specificities of a particular format.

Status of This Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document outlines a general vision and should not be considered a technical specification. Instead, its goal is to outline that vision and possible technical directions to achieve it, and reflects the discussions that occured in the Digital Publishing Interest Group. As such, some of the sections are more detailed and more mature than others. A more detailed and rigoruous specification should be done by a separated, dedicated Working Group in the future.

This document was published by the Digital Publishing Interest Group as an Editor's Draft. If you wish to make comments regarding this document, please send them to public-digipub-ig@w3.org (subscribe, archives). All comments are welcome.

Publication as an Editor's Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

This document is governed by the 1 September 2015 W3C Process Document.

1. Our Vision

Our vision for Portable Web Publications is to define a class of documents on the Web that would be part of the Digital Publishing ecosystem but would also be fully native citizens of the Open Web Platform. In this vision, the current format- and workflow-level separation between offline/portable and online (Web) document publishing is diminished to zero. These are merely two dynamic manifestations of the same publication: content authored with online use as the primary mode can easily be saved by the user for offline reading in portable document form. Content authored primarily for use as a portable document can be put online, without any need for refactoring the content. Publishers can choose to utilize either or both of these publishing modes, and users can choose either or both of these consumption modes. Essential features flow seamlessly between online and offline modes; examples include cross-references, user annotations, access to online databases, as well as licensing and rights management.

A more precise technical definition of Portable Web Publications is provided in the section 3.1 Portable Web Publications. For the sake of this introduction, it suffices to say that a Portable Web Publication is a collection of resources (e.g. pages, chapters, modules, articles) whose content is compatible with Web usage, and structured as a single, self-contained logical unit. Individual items can consist of text, images, graphics, possibly interactive mathematical or chemical formulae, as well as audio and video. These documents, by definition, have a default, linear “reading order”, however the user may choose to skip around in the content just as with a book on paper; alternatively, interactive aspects of the content may alter the reading order on behalf of the user.