Friday, November 29, 2013

OpenStack 11/30/2013 (a.m.)

  • Visions of endless conversations between different people's bots with no human participation. Then a human being reads a reply and files a libel lawsuit against the human whose bot posted the reply. Can the defendant obtain dismissal on grounds that she did not write the message herself; her Google autoresponder did and therefore if anyone is liable it is Google?  Our Brave New (technological) World does and will pose many novel legal issues. My favorite so far: Assume that genetics have progressed to the point that unknown to Bill Gates, someone steals a bit of his DNA and implants it in a mother-to-be's egg. Is Bill Gates as the biological father liable for child support? Is that child an heir to Bill Gates' fortune? The current state of law in the U.S. would suggest that the answer to both questions is almost certainly "yes." The child itself is blameless and Bill Gates is his biological father.

    Tags: social media, Google, autoresponder-bot

    • Overwhelmed by social media? Google may have patented a solution for you, in the form of software that mimics the types of responses you make to update messages on various social networks.

      The patent, by Ashish Bhatia representing Google, describes a comprehensive social media bot, providing suitable yet seemingly personalized responses on social media platforms.

      Essentially, the program analyzes the messages a user makes through social networks, email, text messaging, microblogging, and other systems. Then, the program offers suggestions for responses, where the original messages are displayed, with information about others reactions to the same messages, and then the user can send the suggested messages in response to those users. The more the user utilizes the program and uses the responses, the more the bot can narrow down the types of responses you make.

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, Tor, IETF, internet, internet freedom, digital-privacy

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OpenStack 11/21/2013 (a.m.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

OpenStack 11/19/2013 (a.m.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

OpenStack 11/17/2013 (p.m.)

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

OpenStack 11/15/2013 (a.m.)

  • The text is leaked for the latest secretly negotiated atrocity against the Open Web and FOSS, and against much more. Note that in the U.S., treaties bypass review by the House of Representatives, needing approval only of the Senate for ratification. 

    Tags: TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaked-docs, Wikileaks

    • Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.
    • The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. Read full press release here

      Download the full secret TPP treaty IP chapter as a PDF here

      WikiLeaks Release of Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

      Advanced Intellectual Property Chapter for All 12 Nations with Negotiating Positions (August 30 2013 consolidated bracketed negotiating text)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, November 08, 2013

OpenStack 11/09/2013 (a.m.)

  • Perhaps the best article about Google that I've ever read. The author describes the many insidious methods and requirements that Google uses to dominate and totally control the Android Open Source Project, and the incredible Android ecosystem that has grown up around that oss project. This is a must read! Intro: "Six years ago, in November 2007, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) was announced. The original iPhone came out just a few months earlier, capturing people's imaginations and ushering in the modern smartphone era. While Google was an app partner for the original iPhone, it could see what a future of unchecked iPhone competition would be like. Vic Gundotra, recalling Andy Rubin's initial pitch for Android, stated: He argued that if Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice. Google was terrified that Apple would end up ruling the mobile space. So, to help in the fight against the iPhone at a time when Google had no mobile foothold whatsoever, Android was launched as an open source project. In that era, Google had nothing, so any adoption—any shred of market share—was welcome. Google decided to give Android away for free and use it as a trojan horse for Google services. The thinking went that if Google Search was one day locked out of the iPhone, people would stop using Google Search on the desktop. Android was the "moat" around the Google Search "castle"—it would exist to protect Google's online properties in the mobile world."

    Tags: AOSP, Android-Google, Google

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Monday, November 04, 2013

OpenStack 11/05/2013 (a.m.)

  • Excellent article explaining the CPU war for the future of computing, as Intel and ARM square off.  Intel's x86 architecture dominates the era of client/server computing, with their famed WinTel alliance monopolizing desktop, notebook and server implementations.  But Microsoft was a no show with the merging mobile computing market, and now ARM is in position transition from their mobile dominance to challenge the desktop -notebook - server markets.   WinTel lost their shot at the mobile computing market, and now their legacy platforms are in play.  Good article!!! Well worth the read time  ................

    Tags: OpenWeb, WinTel, Intel-ARM, x86-ARM, CPU-GPU

    • Intel wants x86 to conquer all computing spaces -- including mobile -- and is trying to leverage its process lead to make that happen.  However, it's been slowed by a lack of inclusion of 4G cellular modems on-die and difficulties adapting to the mobile market's low component prices.  ARM, meanwhile, wants a piece of the PC and server markets, but has received a lukewarm response from consumers due to software compatibility concerns.

      The disappointing sales of (x86) tablet products using Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 and the flop of Windows RT (ARM) product in general somewhat unexpectedly had the net result of being a driver to maintain the status quo, allowing neither company to gain much ground.  For Intel, its partnership with Microsoft (the historic "Wintel" combo) has damaged its mobile efforts, as Windows 8 flopped in the tablet market.  Likewise ARM's efforts to score PC market share were stifled by the flop of Windows RT, which led to OEMs killing off ARM-based laptops and convertibles.
    • Both companies seem to have learned their lesson and are migrating away from Windows towards other platforms -- in ARM's case Chromebooks, and in Intel's case Android tablets/smartphones.

      But suffice it to say, ARM Holdings and Intel are still very much bitter enemies from a sales perspective.
    • III. Profit vs. Risk -- Understanding the Modern CPU Food Chain
      • Whether it's tablets or PCs, the processor is still one of the most expensive components onboard.  Aside from the discrete GPU -- if a device has one -- the CPU has the greatest earning potential for a large company like Intel because the CPU is the most complex component.

        Other components like the power supply or memory tend to either be lower margin or have more competitors.  The display, memory, and storage components are all sensitive to process, but see profit split between different parties (e.g. the company who makes the DRAM chips and the company who sells the stick of DRAM) and are primarily dependent on process technology.

        CPUs and GPUs remain the toughest product to make, as it's not enough to simply have the best process, you must also have the best architecture and the best optimization of that architecture for the space you're competing in.

        There's essentially five points of potential profit on the processor food chain:
        1. [CPU] Fabrication
        2. [CPU] Architecture design
        3. [CPU] Optimization
        4. OEM
        5. OS platform
        Of these, the fabrication/OS point is the most profitable (but is dependent on the number of OEM adopters).  The second most profitable niche is optimization (which again is dependent on OEM adopter market share), followed by OEM markups.  In terms of expense, fabrication and operating system designs requires the greatest capital investment and the highest risk.
      • In terms of difficulty/risk, the fabrication and operating system are the most difficult/risky points.  Hence in terms of combined risk, cost, and profitability the ranking of which points are "best" is arguably:
        1. Optimization
        2. Architecture design
        3. OS platfrom
        4. OEM
        5. Fabrication
        ...with the fabrication point being last largely because it's so high risk.

        In other words, the last thing Intel wants is to settle into a niche of playing fabs for everybody else's product, as that's an unsound approach.  If you can't keep up in terms of chip design, you typically spin off your fabs and opt for a different architecture direction -- just look at Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (AMDspinoff of GlobalFoundries and upcoming ARM product to see that.
    • IV. Top Firms' Role on That Food Chain
    • Apple has seen unbelievable profits due to this fundamental premise.  It controls the two most desirable points on the food chain -- OS and optimization -- while sharing some profit with its architecture designer (ARM Holdings) and a bit with the fabricator (Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930)).  By choosing to play operating system maker, too, it adds to its profits, but also its risk.  Note that nearly every other first-party exclusive smartphone platform has failed or is about to fail (i.e. BlackBerry, Ltd. (TSE:BB) and the now-dead Palm).
    • Intel controls points 1, 2, and 5, currently, on the food chain.  Compared to Apple, Intel's points of control offer less risk, but also slightly less profitability. Its architecture control may be at risk, but even so, it's currently the top in its most risky/expensive point of control (fabrication), where as Apple's most risky/expensive point of control (OS development) is much less of a clear leader (as Android has surpassed Apple in market share).  Hence Apple might be a better short-term investment, but Intel certainly appears a better long-term investment.
    • Samsung is another top company in terms of market dominance and profit.  It occupies points 1, 3, 4, and 5 -- sometimes.  Sometimes Samsung's devices use third-party optimization firms like Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) and NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA), which hurts profitability by removing one of the most profitable roles.  But Samsung makes up for this by being one of the largest and most successful third party manufacturers.
    • Microsoft enjoys a lot of profit due to its OS dominance, as does Google Inc. (GOOG); but both companies are limited in controlling only one point which they monetize in different ways (Microsoft by direct sales; Google by giving away OS product for free in return for web services market share and by proxy search advertising revenue).
    • Qualcomm and NVIDIA are also quite profitable operating solely as optimizers, as is ARM Holdings who serves as architecture maker to Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Apple, and Samsung.
    • V. Four Scenarios in the x86 vs. ARM Competition
    • Scenario one is that x86 proves dominant in the mobile space, assuming a comparable process.
    • second scenario is that x86 and ARM are roughly tied, assuming a comparable process.
    • third scenario is that x86 is inferior to ARM at a comparable process, but comparable or superior to ARM when the x86 chip is built using a superior process.  From the benchmarks I've seen to date, I personally believe this is most likely.
    • fourth scenario is that x86 is so drastically inferior to ARM architecturally that a process lead by Intel can't make up for it.
    • This is perhaps the most interesting scenario, in the sense of thinking of how Intel would react, if not overly likely.  If Intel were faced with this scenario, I believe Intel would simply bite the bullet and start making ARM chips, leveraging its process lead to become the dominant ARM chipmaker.  To make up for the revenue it lost, paying licensing fees to ARM Holdings, it could focus its efforts in the OS space (it's Tizen Linux OS project with Samsung hints at that).  Or it could look to make up for lost revenue by expanding its production of other basic process-sensitive components (e.g. DRAM).  I think this would be Intel's best and most likely option in this scenario.
    • VI. Why Intel is Unlikely to Play Fab For ARM Chipmakers (Even if ARM is Better)
    • From Intel's point of view, there is an entrenched, but declining market for x86 chips because of Windows, and Intel will continue to support Atom chips (which will be required to run Windows 8 tablets), but growth on desktops will come from 64 bit desktop/server class non-Windows ARM devices - Chromebooks, Android laptops, possibly Apple's desktop products as well given they are going 64 bit ARM for their future iPhones. Even Windows has been trying to transition (unsuccessfully) to ARM. Again, the Windows server market is tied to x86, but Linux and FreeBSD servers will run on ARM as well, and ARM will take a chunk out of the server market when a decent 64bit ARM server chip is available as a result.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, November 01, 2013

OpenStack 11/02/2013 (a.m.)

  • I was looking for an answer to a problem Marbux had presented, and found this interesting article.  The issue was that of the upcoming conversion of the Note Case Pro (NCP) layout engine to the WebKit layout engine, and what to do about the NCP document format. My initial reaction was to encode the legacy NCP document format in XML, and run an XSLT to a universal pivot format like TEI-XML.  From there, the TEI-XML community would provide all the XSLT transformation routines for conversion to ODF, OOXML, XHTML, ePUB and HTML/CSS. Researching the problems one might encounter with this approach, I found this article.  Fascinating stuff. My take away is that TEI-XML would not be as effective a "universal pivot point" as XHTML.  Or perhaps, if NCP really wants to get aggressive; IDML - InDesign Markup Language. As an after thought, i was thinking that an alternative title to this article might have been, "Working with Web as the Center of Everything".

    Tags: OpenWeb, XML, XHTML-CSS, HTML5-CSS3-JavaScript, IDML

    • Challenges: Some Ugly Truths

      The challenges of building—and living with—an XML workflow are clear enough. The return on investment is a long-term proposition.

      Regardless of the benefits XML may provide, the starting reality is that it represents a very different way of doing things than the one we are familiar with. The Word Processing and Desktop Publishing paradigm, based on the promise of onscreen, WYSIWYG layout, is so dominant as to be practically inescapable. It has proven really hard to get from here to there, no matter how attractive XML might be on paper.

      A considerable amount of organizational effort and labour must be expended up front in order to realize the benefits. This is why XML is often referred to as an “investment”: you sink a bunch of time and money up front, and realize the benefits—greater flexibility, multiple output options, searching and indexing, and general futureproofing—later, over the long haul. It is not a short-term return proposition.

      And, of course, the returns you are able to realize from your XML investment are commensurate with what you put in up front: fine-grained, semantically rich tagging is going to give you more potential for searchability and recombination than a looser, more general-purpose approach, but it sure costs more. For instance, the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is the grand example of pouring enormous amounts of energy into the up-front tagging, with a very open-ended set of possibilities down the line. TEI helpfully defines a level to which most of us do not have to aspire.[5]

      But understanding this on a theoretical level is only part of the challenge. There are many practical issues that must be addressed. Software and labour are two of the most critical. How do you get the content into XML in the first place? Unfortunately, despite two decades of people doing SGML and XML, this remains an ugly question.

    • Practical Challenges

      In 2009, there is still no truly likeable—let alone standard—editing and authoring software for XML. For many (myself included), the high-water mark here was Adobe’s FrameMaker, substantially developed by the late 1990s. With no substantial market for it, it is relegated today mostly to the tech writing industry, unavailable for the Mac, and just far enough afield from the kinds of tools we use today that its adoption represents a significant hurdle. And FrameMaker was the best of the breed; most of the other software in decent circulation are programmers’ tools—the sort of things that, as Michael Tamblyn pointed out, encourage editors to drink at their desks.

      The labour question represents a stumbling block as well. The skill-sets and mind-sets that effective XML editors need have limited overlap with those needed by literary and more traditional production editors. The need to think of documents as machine-readable databases is not something that comes naturally to folks steeped in literary culture. In combination with the sheer time and effort that rich tagging requires, many publishers simply outsource the tagging to India, drawing a division of labour that spans oceans, to put it mildly.

      Once you have XML content, then what do you do with it? How do you produce books from it? Presumably, you need to be able to produce print output as well as digital formats. But while the latter are new enough to be generally XML-friendly (e-book formats being largely XML based, for instance), there aren’t any straightforward, standard ways of moving XML content into the kind of print production environments we are used to seeing. This isn’t to say that there aren’t ways of getting print—even very high-quality print—output from XML, just that most of them involve replacing your prepress staff with Java programmers.

    • Why does this have to be so hard?

      It’s not that XML is new, or immature, or untested. Remember that the basics have been around, and in production, since the early 1980s at least. But we have to take account of a substantial and long-running cultural disconnect between traditional editorial and production processes (the ones most of us know intimately) and the ways computing people have approached things.

      Interestingly, this cultural divide looked rather different in the 1970s, when publishers were looking at how to move to digital typesetting. Back then, printers and software developers could speak the same language. But that was before the ascendancy of the Desktop Publishing paradigm, which computerized the publishing industry while at the same time isolating it culturally. Those of us who learned how to do things the Quark way or the Adobe way had little in common with people who programmed databases or document-management systems. Desktop publishing technology isolated us in a smooth, self-contained universe of toolbars, grid lines, and laser proofs.

      So, now that the reasons to get with this program, XML, loom large, how can we bridge this long-standing divide?

    • Using the Web as a Production Platform

      The answer, I think, is right in front of you. The bridge is the Web, a technology and platform that is fundamentally based on XML, and which many publishers are by now comfortably familiar with. Perhaps not entirely comfortably, but at least most publishers are already working with the Web; they already either know or have on staff people who understand it and can work with it.

      The foundation of our argument is this: rather than looking at jumping to XML in its full, industrial complexity, which seems to be what the O'Reilly-backed StartWithXML initiative[6] is suggesting, publishers instead leverage existing tools and technologies—starting with the Web—as a means of getting XML workflows in place. This means making small investments and working with known tools rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on XML software and rarefied consultants. It means re-thinking how the existing pieces of the production toolchain fit together; re-thinking the existing roles of software components already in use. It means, fundamentally, taking the Web seriously as a content platform, rather than thinking of it as something you need to get content out to, somehow. If nothing else, the Web represents an opportunity to think about editorial and production from outside the shrink-wrapped Desktop Publishing paradigm.

    • Is the Web made of Real XML?

      At this point some predictable objections can be heard: wait a moment, the Web isn’t really made out of XML; the HTML that makes up most of the Web is at best the bastard child of SGML, and it is far too flaky/unstructured/underpowered to be taken seriously.

      We counter by arguing that although HTML on the Web exists in a staggering array of different incarnations, and that the majority of it is indeed an unstructured mess, this does not undermine the general principle that basic, ubiquitous Web technologies can make a solid platform for content management, editorial process, and production workflow.

    • With the advent of a published XML standard in the late 1990s came the W3C’s adoption of XHTML: the realization of the Web’s native content markup as a proper XML document type. Today, its acceptance is almost ubiquitous, even while the majority of actual content out there may not be strictly conforming. The more important point is that most contemporary Web software, from browsers to authoring tools to content management systems (from blogs to enterprise systems), are capable of working with clean, valid XHTML. Or, to put the argument the other way around, clean, valid XHTML content plays absolutely seamlessly with everything else on the Web.[7]
    • The objection which follows, then, will be that even if we grant that XHTML is a real XML document type, that it is underpowered for “serious” content because it is almost entirely presentation (formatting) oriented; it lacks any semantic depth. In XHTML, a paragraph is a paragraph is a paragraph, as opposed to a section or an epigraph or a summary.
    • It is worth pausing for a moment to consider the role of XHTML in the ePub standard for ebook content. An ePub file is, anatomically, a simply disguised zip archive. Inside the zip archive are a few standard component parts: there are specialized files that declare metadata about the book, and about the format of the book. And then there is the book’s content, represented in XHTML. An ePub book is a Web page in a wrapper.
    • So there is an argument for recalling the 80:20 rule here. If XHTML can provide 80% of the value with just 20% of the investment, then what exactly is the business case for spending the other 80% to achieve that last 20% of value? We suspect the ratio is actually quite a bit steeper than 80:20 for most publishers.
    • Furthermore, just to get technical for a moment, XHTML is extensible in a fairly straightforward way, through the common “class” attribute on each element. Web developers have long leveraged this kind of extensibility in the elaboration of “microformats” for semantic-web applications.[10] There is no reason why publishers shouldn’t think to use XHTML’s simple extensibility in a similar way for their own ends.
    • XHTML, on the other hand, is supported by a vast array of quotidian software, starting with the ubiquitous Web browser. For this very reason, XHTML is in fact employed as a component part of several more specialized document types (ONIX and ePub among them).
    • Why re-invent a general-purpose prose representation when XHTML already does the job?
    • n contrast, more “serious” XML document types like DocBook[8] or DITA-derived schemas[9] are capable of making semantic distinctions about content chunks at a fine level of granularity and with a high degree of specificity.
      • To sum up the general argument: the Web as it already exists presents incredible value to publishers, as a platform for doing XML content management with existing (and often free) tools, and without having to go blindly into the unknown. At this point, we can offer a few design guidelines:

        • prefer existing and/or ubiquitous tools over specialized ones wherever possible;
        • prefer free software over proprietary systems where possible;
        • prefer simple tools controlled and coordinated by human beings over fully automated (and therefore complex) systems;
        • play to our strengths: use Web software for storing and managing content, use layout software for layout, and keep editors and production people in charge of their own domains.
    • Putting the Pieces Together: A Prototype
    • At the SFU Master of Publishing Program, we have been chipping away at this general line of thinking for a few years. Over that time, Web content management systems have been getting more and more sophisticated, all the while getting more streamlined and easier to use. (NB: if you have a blog, you have a Web content management system.) The Web is beginning to be recognized as a writing and editing environment used by millions of people. And the ways in which content is represented, stored, and exchanged online have become increasingly robust and standardized.
    • The missing piece of the puzzle has been print production: how can we move content from its malleable, fluid form on line into the kind of high-quality print production environments we’ve come to expect after two decades of Desktop Publishing?
    • Anyone who has tried to print Web content knows that the existing methods leave much to be desired (hyphenation and justification, for starters). In the absence of decent tools for this, most publishers quite naturally think of producing the print content first, and then think about how to get material onto the Web for various purposes. So we tend to export from Word, or from Adobe, as something of an afterthought.
    • While this sort of works, it isn’t elegant, and it completely ignores the considerable advantages of Web-based content management.
    • Content managed online is stored in one central location, accessible simultaneously to everyone in your firm, available anywhere you have an Internet connection, and usually exists in a much more fluid format than Word files. If only we could manage the editorial flow online, and then go to print formats at the end, instead of the other way around. At SFU, we made several attempts to make this work by way of the supposed “XML import” capabilities of various Desktop Publishing tools, without much success.[12]
    • In the winter of 2009, Adobe solved this part of the problem for us with the introduction of its Creative Suite 4. What CS4 offers is the option of a complete XML representation of an InDesign document: what Adobe calls IDML (InDesign Markup Language).
    • The IDML file format is—like ePub—a simply disguised zip archive that, when unpacked, reveals a cluster of XML files that represent all the different facets of an InDesign document: layout spreads, master pages, defined styles, colours, and of course, the content.
    • IDML is a well thought-out XML standard that achieves two very different goals simultaneously: it preserves all of the information that InDesign needs to do what it does; and it is broken up in a way that makes it possible for mere mortals (or at least our Master of Publishing students) to work with it.
    • We would take clean XHTML content, transform it to IDML-marked content, and merge that with nicely designed templates in InDesign.
    • What this represented to us in concrete terms was the ability to take Web-based content and move it into InDesign in a straightforward way, thus bridging Web and print production environments using existing tools and skillsets, with a little added help from free software.
    • The result is an almost push-button publication workflow, which results in a nice, familiar InDesign document that fits straight into the way publishers actually do production.
    • Tracing the steps

      To begin with, we worked backwards, moving the book content back to clean XHTML.

    • The simplest method for this conversion—and if you want to create Web content, this is an excellent route—was to use Adobe’s “Export to Digital Editions” option, which creates an ePub file.
    • Recall that ePub is just XHTML in a wrapper, so within the ePub file was a relatively clean XHTML document. It was somewhat cleaner (that is, the XHTML tagging was simpler and less cluttered) than InDesign’s other Web-oriented exports, possibly because Digital Editions is a well understood target, compared with somebody’s website.
    • In order to achieve our target of clean XHTML, we needed to do some editing; the XHTML produced by InDesign’s “Digital Editions” export was presentation-oriented. For instance, bulleted list items were tagged as paragraphs, with a class attribute identifying them as list items. Using the search-and-replace function, we converted such structures to proper XHTML list and list-item elements. Our guiding principle was to make the XHTML as straightforward as possible, not dependent on any particular software to interpret it.
    • We broke the book’s content into individual chapter files; each chapter could then carry its own basic metadata, and the pages conveniently fit our Web content management system (which is actually just a wiki). We assembled a dynamically generated table of contents for the 12 chapters, and created a cover page. Essentially, the book was entirely Web-based at this point.
    • When the book chapters are viewed online, they are formatted via a CSS2 stylesheet that defines a main column for content as well as dedicating screen real estate for navigational elements. We then created a second template to render the content for exporting; this was essentially a bare-bones version of the book with no navigation and minimal styling. Pages (or even the entire book) can be exported (via the “Save As...” function in a Web browser) for use in either print production or ebook conversion. At this point, we required no skills beyond those of any decent Web designer.
    • Integrating with CS4 for Print

      Adobe’s IDML language defines elements specific to InDesign; there is nothing in the language that looks remotely like XHTML. So a mechanical transformation step is needed to convert the XHTML content into something InDesign can use. This is not as hard as it might seem.

    • Both XHTML and IDML are composed of straightforward, well-documented structures, and so transformation from one to the other is, as they say, “trivial.” We chose to use XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transforms) to do the work. XSLT is part of the overall XML specification, and thus is very well supported in a wide variety of tools. Our prototype used a scripting engine called xsltproc, a nearly ubiquitous piece of software that we found already installed as part of Mac OS X (contemporary Linux distributions also have this as a standard tool), though any XSLT processor would work.
    • In other words, we don’t need to buy InCopy, because we just replaced it with the Web. Our wiki is now plugged directly into our InDesign layout. It even automatically updates the InDesign document when the content changes. Credit is due at this point to Adobe: this integration is possible because of the open file format in the Creative Suite 4.
    • We wrote an XSLT transformation script[18] that converted the XHTML content from the Web into an InCopy ICML file. The script itself is less than 500 lines long, and was written and debugged over a period of about a week by amateurs (again, the people named at the start of this article). The script runs in a couple of seconds, and the resulting .icml file can then be “placed” directly into an InDesign template. The ICML file references an InDesign stylesheet, so the template file can be set up with a house-styled layout, master pages, and stylesheet definitions for paragraphs and character ranges.
    • The result is very simple and easy to use. Our demonstration requires that a production editor run the XSLT transformation script manually, but there is no reason why this couldn’t be built directly into the Web content management system so that exporting the content to print ran the transformation automatically. The resulting file would then be “placed” in InDesign and proofed.
    • It should be noted that the Book Publishing 1 proof-of-concept was artificially complex; we began with a book laid out in InDesign and ended up with a look-alike book laid out in InDesign. But next time—for instance, when we publish Book Publishing 2—we can begin the process with the content on the Web, and keep it there throughout the editorial process. The book’s content could potentially be written and edited entirely online, as Web content, and then automatically poured into an InDesign template at proof time. “Just in time,” as they say.

      This represents an entirely new way of thinking of book production. With a Web-first orientation, it makes little sense to think of the book as “in print” or “out of print”—the book is simply available, in the first place online; in the second place in derivative digital formats; and third, but really not much more difficult, in print-ready format, via the usual InDesign CS print production system publishers are already familiar with.

    • Creating Ebook Files

      Creating electronic versions from XHTML source is vastly simpler than trying to generate these out of the existing print process. The ePub version is extremely easy to generate; so is online marketing copy or excerpts for the Web, since the content begins life Web-native.

    • Since an ePub file is essentially XHTML content in a special wrapper, all that is required is that we properly “wrap” our XHTML content. Ideally, the content in an ePub file is broken into chapters (as ours was) and a table of contents file is generated in order to allow easy navigation within an ebook reader. We used Julian Smart’s free tool eCub[19] to simply and automatically generate the ePub wrapper and the table of contents. The only custom development we did was to create a CSS stylesheet for the ebook so that headings and paragraph indents looked the way we wanted. Starting with XHTML content, creating ePub is almost too easy.
    • today, we are able to put the process together using nothing but standard, relatively ubiquitous Web tools: the Web itself as an editing and content management environment, standard Web scripting tools for the conversion process, and the well-documented IDML file format to integrate the layout tool.
    • Our project demonstrates that Web technologies are indeed good enough to use in an XML-oriented workflow; more specialized and expensive options are not necessarily required. For massive-scale enterprise publishing, this approach may not offer enough flexibility, and the challenge of adding and extracting extra semantic richness may prove more trouble than it's worth.
    • But for smaller firms who are looking at the straightforward benefits of XML-based processes—single source publishing, online content and workflow management, open and accessible archive formats, greater online discoverability—here is a way forward.
    • Rather than a public-facing website, our system relies on the Web as a content management platform—of course a public face could easily be added.
    • The final piece of our puzzle, the ability to integrate print production, was made possible by Adobe's release of InDesign with an open XML file format. Since the Web's XHTML is also XML, is can be easily and confidently transformed to the InDesign format.
    • Such a workflow—beginning with the Web and exporting to print—is surely more in line with the way we will do business in the 21st century, where the Web is the default platform for reaching audiences, developing content, and putting the pieces together. It is time, we suggest, for publishers to re-orient their operations and start with the Web.

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