HTML5: A Closer Look

May 3, 2011

Our technology team has been looking at the HTML5 working draft for several months now.  Here’s a quick round up of the features that will impact the publishing industry. 

Element Details Impact
<svg> <svg> allows the Scalable Vector Graphics formats to be embedded directly as part of HTML5 Pages will be lighter, thus reducing load time when we use the SVG element to draw shapes
<canvas> This feature allow users to draw any shapes/lines/strokes

The current version of Canvas supports 2D and SVG formats

Dynamic images and graphs made using Canvas make pages lighter

Application simulation exercise

Photo editing applications

<video> and <audio> Enable embedding of audio and video components along with controls HTML5 video and audio media playbacks remove the dependency on third-party plug-ins like Adobe Flash
Fonts HTML5 allows fonts which are not installed in the end user’s system to be delivered using the CSS functionality Facilitates the retention of the look and feel of the PDF in the HTML5 version
MathML Direct embedding of MathML supported Advantage for STM publishing

Enables rendering of mathematics content as text instead of graphics/images

New Parsing rules New parsing rules, which are not based on SGML Enable flexibility and compatibility
Drag and drop API Drag and drop API helps in building drag and drop functionalities Increases interactivity with published content
Geo location API Allows the user’s location to be identified Possibility of dynamically changing location names that occur in the content
CSS3 and JavaScript Cascaded Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript are supported HTML5 when combined with CSS and JavaScript offers tremendous capabilities to build different functionalities over the web
Content-Specific elements The introduction of content-specific elements, such as <article>, <footer>, <header>, <nav>, <section>, <figure>, and <figcaption> will define the structure and hierarchy of documents This will help transform content such as articles and chapters from a custom specific DTD/schema to a generic content structure

This could be a starting point for the publishing industry (at least trade publishing) to start looking at using HTML as the DTD instead of the custom/other public domain DTDs they are using at the moment

Global attributes such as spellcheck, hidden, etc. Enable formatting/rendering options for specific content/part Some of the new global attributes such as spellcheck, hidden, etc. can be utilized in a collaborative working environment
New form controls and input type attributes New form controls and input type attributes like <date>, <time>, <email>, <url>, <search>, etc. allow specific use of contents, without the need for additional scripting/controls Can add value to the collaborative working environment.

Eliminates many form validation requirements with current web form-filling

HTML5 standard  Better standards for Web 2.0 style functionalities Will enable better cross-browser compatibility and better support for ‘Web 2.0-style’ Web applications in addition to documents
Web Storage Two methods for storing data on the client side—LocalStorage and SessionStorage. Earlier this was done using cookies HTML5 enables mobile and desktop Website designers to deliver the advantages of client-side and server-side development to their users simultaneously.

Local offline storage helps in the automatic saving of end-user data

While we’re very excited about the possibilities HTML5 will bring, there are a few caveats that need to be remembered.  First and foremost, this is a working draft – the final standard may take years.  As a result, it’s still far less mature than Flash when it comes to delivering streaming videos, high-end interactivity, animations, and 3D capability.  HTML5 also offers only limited scope for DRM as compared to Flash.  The other problem with HTML5 right now is that although most browsers now support it to some extent, we are not yet at a stage where all browsers support all features.  In practice what that means is that it is not yet possible to deliver HTML5 content across all devices and channels as different browsers may not be able to handle certain aspects of that content.

All of these limitations, though, will be overcome in time.  For us, there’s no doubt that HTML5 will be of great importance to publishers; the only question is how soon. 

Naren Kumar

SVP, Production Technology – MPS Limited

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Maney Publishing Reaches 100…

March 14, 2011

…journals that is. 

Maney Publishing, with whom MPS is collaborating on a production tracking system for publishers, started publishing journals in 1998.  Going from 0 to 100 in just 13 years makes it one of the fastest growing independent journal publishers.  Seven more journals will be added to the list by the end of this year.  

To read the original press release, click here.

Congratulations to Michael Gallico and his team at Maney!


Analytics Added to MPS’ Online Proofing System

March 12, 2011

Authors and editors have been using MPS’ online proofing system for several years now to help them review their proofs faster and more easily.  Upgrades and improvements have refined the system –proofs can now be marked up online and are automatically dispatched to the next person in the production process – but until recently it was difficult to know exactly how the platform was being used, and thus how to make it as good as possible for each publisher’s authors and editors.

The introduction of a new analytics service brings critical intelligence on how people are using the platform.  A monthly report shows how many times the platform was accessed and by who – where they are from, what language they were using and so on – how it was accessed, and how many articles were downloaded. 

The statistics help both the publisher and the developer better meet the authors’ needs. For instance, a report for one large STM journal publisher showed that a significant proportion was accessing the platform using the iPhone and iPad.  This prompted the publisher to create special instructions for marking up proofs on Apple devices.  Again, another report showed that the majority of people used Internet Explorer to view the platform, while Chrome users stood at just 3%. This helps the developer decide, in consultation with the publisher, which browser to focus on when creating the optimum user experience. 

This new version of MPS’ online proofing system is available for both book and journal publishers.  For more information, please contact Senthil Swaminathan at s.senthilvelan@macmillansolutions.com.


BETT 2011

February 2, 2011

BETT, Jan 2011, London Olympia

BETT was a very busy show, easily as big and vibrant, in terms of exhibitors and visitor numbers, as in the days when the London Book Fair used to reside here.

This was a show of high technology and cutting edge teaching environments and resources providing a glimpse into the future of education delivered in a way designed to engage students’ attention.

The show encompassed all subject disciplines from pre-school to graduation along with special educational needs and CPD areas.

Education is now firmly in the hands of publishers and software companies cooperating to provide every technology, resource, and tool that any teacher could wish for.

At the Macmillan booth, the Global eWorkbook (and other products also built by MPS) attracted many educators who were looking for all-encompassing resources and platforms to allow them to do their teaching well… whilst also delivering a challenging and structured environment to allow students to learn creatively, with confidence, and be motivated to learn and explore more in a fun environment.

The early 70s saw a huge change in education with the advent of the calculator…

The late 90s saw a massive change in learning with students commonly working on laptops and using USB sticks…

This decade has seen a seismic change associated with IWBs, touch tablets, mobile devices, and networking for home and distance learning…

Education has never been so exciting. 

  

Kathy Law

European Business Development Manager


The Media as Matchmaker

November 25, 2010

Gerd Leonhard, a ‘media futurist’, was interviewed at the Future Media Days conference in Oslo.  Unlike the rather tired concepts that many of those writing or speaking on publishing’s future keep pedalling, he introduced some new, compelling ideas:

Copy vs. Access Economy

The media business used to be about selling copies of content in various formats.  No more.  It’s now all about access-based models, like subscriptions, and monetising content through that access.

Will Media Companies Make Any Money?

Yes but only by creating new values: “the value of attention and of marketing the attention”; and Seth Godin’s buzzword, curation.  Control is out and trust is in.  With the “new logic built not on scarcity but ubiquity” you need to attract rather than force people attention.

Matchmaking

Media companies are basically matchmakers between the audience and the creator.  There’s still a huge need for an industry in the middle but instead of focusing on distribution and production, these companies “need to organise the ecosystem”.

Who Pays?

There are only three possibilities:

  • I pay – the artist pays for, or at least doesn’t get reimbursed for, creating
  • You pay – the consumer pays
  • They pay – someone else – an advertiser, the tax payer, anyone who’s not the artist or consumer – pays

The ‘they pay’ option is going to become much more sophisticated and smarter.  “The trillion dollar industry of marketing and advertising will fund content”.

Watch the interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31fJnVtsLrU&feature=player_embedded

Gerard’s presentation from the conference is also definitely worth a look, download it from his site here: http://www.mediafuturist.com/2010/11/the-future-of-media-a-new-ecosystem-presentation-at-future-media-days-oslo.html


A Day in the Life of iPad vs Kindle: Day 4

November 22, 2010

The XXX Charleston Conference wound down and sadly, I must return the iPad and Kindle to our main office next week. The iPad proved to be a terrific conversation starter; I would say that I saw only 10 or so people with them. Most people were taking notes by hand, also surprising. The number of laptops in use was higher than iPads and Smartphones, but most people were writing in long hand. When I asked a few folks about it, the reason was cost. More vendors and university press people had devices, most librarians had notepads. Totally fits in with the rampant budget cuts libraries are facing, I imagine. The Kindle experiment will have to be for another day; I think I would like it for air travel, and perhaps reading in bed; however, this trip was too packed with work and I didn’t have time for leisurely reading.

Friday’s COUNTER forum, featuring an ex-MPSTechnologies employee, David Sommer (now consultant to publishing and vendor communities, incoming Chair of COUNTER, and great guy to share a beer with), was near to my heart, as MPS recently completed a survey about COUNTER stats with the library community. This forum focused on the history of COUNTER and the challenges going forward: mobile is an issue; how to count user stats on devices, as more people use them; and “per-article” or “per-chapter” effective counts. Since an overall theme of this conference was the need for libraries to buy fewer full journals and books and move toward the patron-driven, pay-per-view models, how will COUNTER…count? They have created PIRUS, which will provide a common standard for measuring online usage of individual articles. Check out http://www.projectcounter.org for more info.

The last forum I attended was with Dr. Frances Pinter, currently publisher of Bloomsbury Academic. She was calling on libraries worldwide to form consortia that buy and share books, whether hard copy or print. She believed in open source access and that can be achieved only if the cost to purchase books would be spread among thousands of libraries. She didn’t think publishers would be open to slashing their prices just to help cash-strapped libraries.

On the way home, I pulled off the side of the road to watch 23 vultures “remove” a deer that had been killed in the road. Fascinating birds. They are my favorite for sure; I love them because they clean up messes. I got out of the car and had them swooping overhead, some only a few feet above me. I’ve also developed a weird superstition involving vultures. For each one I spot on the way to or from a visit with a new customer, one vulture = $10,000 in sales. So, I figure my contacts from the Charleston conference will garner $230,000.00! Were it that easy…

Cheers from Charleston.  Rose


A Day in the Life of an iPad vs Kindle: Day 3

November 5, 2010

Typing on the iPad has gotten easy and fast; love it, as a matter of fact. I took copious notes during all forums.  Only issue after these few days is sometimes it doesn’t go landscape mode when i turn it. The keyboard is larger in landscape and i am finding it is my typing preference. I did run out of battery life during a forum and had to switch to the BB for note taking. I fixed the auto-spelling feature that was druiving me crazy; went into settings and turned it off. Duhhhhh.

(Editor’s Note: Driving was left purposely misspelled to note the irony in that last sentence – TMM)

Still haven’t really cracked the Kindle; I think I would not buy it because I am getting more services from the iPad.

A little about this conference, “Anything Goes.” Libraries are having to move away from traditional models; will vendor models change? Pay-per-view, POD, leasing? Libraries are having their budgets slashed.  Scholarly sharing off the grid with social networking is gaining steam, as well.  Publishers and librarians have to understand which areas of social media will take precedence?

Patron driven acquisition (PDA) is the buzz term. During the first forum on Wednesday, “Let them eat… Everything,” we were given clickers for real-time poll taking. Most interesting for me, the question, “Librarians, do you envision needing PPV, POD, leasing, and PDA”?  Majority answer was “yes, but will take a lot of time to implement.”

When publishers were asked the same question, the answer was , “no, too expensive to implement.”

Ouch.

During “Putting all the pieces together,” the overall tone was that there are too many platforms to choose from, and libraries are overwhelmed. Patrons want content seamlessly delivered. The goal is a unified, rationalized experience for the library patron.

More tomorrow; raining and cold and I need a nice warm meal. I’m not going to the annual meeting tonight because I have a call report about _______. Can’t tell you readers or I’d have to kill you! Trust me, I need to spend a few hours on this.

Rose  Rummel Eury

Sales Manager, MPS North America


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