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Finally — an XML Markup Solution for Design-Based Publishers: Introducing the PRISM
Balisage: The Markup Conference 2012
August 7 - 10, 2012
In the Beginning
When publishing moved from linotype to computer assisted composition, the publishing
split into two different and distinct worlds. On one side publishers developed and
adopted structured markup technologies. But another major sector of publishing focused
on moving publications to new levels of layout and design. Each faction had a very
different philosophy. Each nurtured the development of very different publishing
tool sets and hence distinctly different skillsets and workflows.
In one world, the world of content-based publishing, the content is the whole point
of publishing. Technical publishing is a prime example of content-based publishing.
Technical publishing encompasses technical documentation such as maintenance and operational
technical manuals as well as reference publishing such as legal publishing, financial
reports and product information along with content that is assembled from databases
such as course catalogs, racing forms and even television show guides. Content-based
publications are often quite lengthy, being made up of hundreds and often thousands
of pages of highly structured content.
Another characteristic of a content-based publication is that it can be formatted
automatically by applying style sheets or templates. Style sheets are designed to
enable a reader to quickly access information in lengthy publications. Publishers
with large volumes of structured content adopted publishing tools and systems based
on ISO 8879:SGML and later on W3C's XML markup language. Content could be created
in XML first, stored in XML content management systems that were modeled on the XML
document structure. Content could then be assembled from the XML content repositories
and the layout and styling were automated through the use of high-speed computerized
pagination engines. Docbook, adapted for the encoding of Balisage papers, is an example
of one such structured markup specification.
Content: Content-Based Publications
Content-based publications are highly structured and can be formatted through the
application of style sheets or templates.
For many years, I worked in the world of content-based publishing. As an employee
of Datalogics, I was involved in early SGML designs and pioneering SGML implementations
for the US Air Force (ATOS), ATA 100 SGML tagging for aircraft maintenance manuals
and served as chairperson for the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) J2008 SGML
Specification. While deeply engaged in technical and reference publishing projects,
I could not imagine why all publishers didn't standardize their content so they could
reap the benefits that implementing structured-markup based systems could provide.
And my guess is that many Balisage delegates maintain that same perspective.
Until 2003, I worked almost exclusively in the world of content-based publishing.
Then in 2003 I joined the staff of IDEAlliance. My first assignments moved me into
magazine publishing and advertising. This was a very different place for me. The
tools were not at all familiar. I began working with "creatives" who developed a
concept and design for everything they published. Once the creative specifications
were established, content creation began. Writers were given assignments and photographers
set up shoots to illustrate the concepts and complement the design. And suprisingly,
other than a few standard "department" assignments such as book and movie reviews,
content was relatively free flowing.
Design: Design-Based Publications
Design-based publications are often unique creations and standardizing structure is
I had entered the twilight zone, the very different world of publishing that based
on design not content. Most magazines fall into this category along with highly designed
books such as cook books, travel books and other "coffee table" books. For this type
of publishing, design comes first. Here the Art Director rules. Standard style sheets
that would give each issue the same look month after month would simply not do. And
because design comes first, content structures cannot be effectively standardized
either. Hence, very few publishers of design-based publications have adopted "XML-first"
workflows. And in fact until recently very few members of this community employed
XML at all. Process automation has been held to the minimum as well. In this world
publishing technology is focused on enabling design.
The iPad Impact
In April 2010, the design-based publishing world was rocked when the iPad became the
first of many new digital publishing platforms for magazine publishers. Publishers
had only 80 days to figure out how to publish magazines in print and on the iPad simultaneously.
Additionally they were challenged to move from the 2D to the 3D world of articles
and advertising enhanced by slideshows, videos and highly interactive content. And
the iPad was only the beginning. Nearly 2 years later we have a wide array of tablet
devices available as new publishing platforms.
Until the tablet-publishing tsunami hit, design-based publications were able to justify
their labor-intensive design-based publication process. But the challenge of producing
well-designed publications, not only in print, but on a growing number of digital
devices with different resolutions, aspect ratios and sizes soon became overwhelming.
Finally it became clear that in order to publish simultaneously in print and across
all a range of diverse mobile platforms with different aspect ratios, sizes and op
systems, workflows must shift to a model where a platform agnostic content, an XML
source format, is used feed all platforms and designs. The challenge for magazine
publishers was to figure out how to leverage the benefits realized from the XML-First
publishing model while protecting the seminal importance of high-quality design.
About the nextPub Initiative
nextPub, the publishing industry's technology incubator, was launched in 2010 by IDEAlliance
and is supported by the Magazine Media Association, the 4A's/Ad-ID and the Japanese
Magazine Publishing Association. nextPub enables publishers to engage directly with
their industry peers and leading publishing technologists to foster the development
of next-generation design-based publishing tools by embracing emerging technologies,
developing best practices and establishing new industry specifications to serve as
the foundation for tomorrow's publishing workflows.
When the nextPub Initiative began, the immediate goal was to make multi-channel publishing
both simple and efficient. That is, to meet the iPad challenge. But as the Working
Group explored standards and technologies, strategists began to envision monetizing
content beyond today's publishing channels by utilizing a "Dynamic Content Architecture"
from which additional publishing channels can emerge when new content collections
are assembled based on topics from across magazines or based on personal preferences
as foreshadowed by the Flipboard, Pulse or Zite models.
Over the past 2 years, the nextPub Initiative has developed a major set of new specifications
to serve as the next generation for design-based publishing. These specifications
are based on the following assumptions:
We have come to believe the Source is the Solution. We must capture and store platform-agnostic
content as early as possible. For design-based publications, this will likely not
mean XML First, but it certainly implies XML Early.
Since design-based content cannot be highly structured,
We must foster the development of new dynamic display/layout technologies that enable
simultaneous design for multiple publishing platforms and automatic content layout
capabilities supporting high-quality design aesthetics
The nextPub Design-Based Publishing Model
nextPub Publishing Model is based on digital capture and management of all content
and associated rich media. Source content must be semantically rich enough to enable
the publisher to select content and automate layout and delivery to a wide variety
of publishing platform in platform-native formats. To support the nextPub publishing
model, the Working Group has developed the PRISM Source Vocabulary (PSV) Specification.
PSV has been designed to support today's issue-based publications as well as to enable
publishers to aggregate content in new ways to create new digital content channels
that extend beyond the traditional publication models.
The PRISM Source Vocabulary (PSV) Specification, defines a framework of robust metadata
elements and controlled vocabularies that can be used to configure federated source
content / rich media repositories. Metadata fields and values used in this specification
are drawn from the IDEAlliance PRISM 3.0 Metadata and Controlled Vocabulary Specifications.
In order to future-proof content, nextPub recommends encoding content using HTML5
tagging enhanced with PRISM-based class semantics.
Model: nextPub Design-Based Publishing Model
The nextPub Publishing Model is based on digital capture and management of all content
and associated rich media.
About the PRISM Source Vocabulary (PSV)
When designing the PRISM Source Vocabulary, the nextPub Working Group was committed
to build on existing publishing infrastructures. This meant basing our work on the
PRISM (Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata) Specification which
is already in wide use by design-based publishers. Since most major magazine publishers
have implemented today's publishing systems based on this robust IDEAlliance metadata
specification, it was deemed to be the ideal starting point to build on for the future.
nextPub was also committed to leveraging emerging technologies. Most of the current
publishing systems based on PRISM use an XHTML-based content coding scheme that publishers
to deliver content to aggregators. But the nextPub Working Group found great limitations
in remaining with XHTML and great opportunity to move to HTML5, a semantically-based
Vocabulary for HTML and XML /[HTML5/]. HTML5, working in conjunction with CSS3 and
JS, provided the support for rich media and interactivity that design-based publishers
require for the future.
Foundation: The PSV Foundation
PSV is based on PRISM 3.0 metadata and HTML5 enhanced with PRISM semantics
While some from the content-based publishing world may question the use of HTML5 for
encoding magazine article content based on what they view as a limited functionality
due to the high degree of structural flexibility and limited hierarchy of HTML5, it
is that very flexibility plus the ability to carry semantics on any structure tag
that makes HTML5 a perfect fit for design-based content. Because of the high variability
of content developed as part of a creative design process, the magic of the dynamic
c5 ontent architecture is in the metadata not in the XML structured tagging. In addition
PSV adds PRISM semantics to the HTML5 to enhance functionality.
A Flexible Framework
Another principle behind the design of PSV was the requirement for flexibility. Each
publisher has their own business models and publishing strategies. So a single, rigidly
defined framework will not work for anyone. Rather, the PSV design provides a framework
and the building blocks required to implement a dynamic publishing system that can
easily be tailored for the business requirements of each publisher. By selecting
appropriate PSV metadata building blocks, a publisher can build a federated digital
content repository that satisfies their unique business requirements and strategies.
And the publisher is free to use any conformant HTML5 to semantically encode source
PSV's modular design provides the building blocks for a publisher to implement a dynamic,
cross-platform publishing system. PSV can easily be tailored for the business requirements
of each publisher. Blocks shown in dark colors are required. These blocks are minimal
and include a unique ID for the content object, a specification of the content type
(or object type) and of course the HTML5-encoded content.
BuildingBlocks: PSV Building Blocks
PSV is flexible framework of building blocks
About Content Types
PSV states that an article is the basic unit of content storage. But it is important
to note that we are referring to a generic article rather than a physical article
of a magazine. In the early days of PRISM, it could be assumed the unit was an
article of a magazine, journal or other serial publication. Now, expanding the scope
to cover the broader publishing use cases, the unit-of-content is not so obvious.
This is particularly true when advertising material, blog or book content is added
to the scope. In order to refine what we mean by the generic term article, the PRISM
Content Type Controlled Vocabulary has been developed. A content type identifies
the highest-level indicator of the nature of the asset that is tagged. Some content
types that describe the unit-of-storage include an advertisement, article, blog entry,
book chapter, cover, masthead, introduction and navigational aid.
About Where Used Metadata
The Where Used metadata block allows for usage tracking. Many companies that you
think of as magazine publishers are really media companies that own television shows,
websites and book content channels. So tracking usage is critical. Key metadata
choices for the publisher include tracking content usage by the publication name,
its ISBN, ISSN, product code and issue name. PSV allows for tracking the platform
and even the device where the content was published. PSV also allows for tracking
the section or page of the publication where the content appeared. Altogether, PSV
offers nearly 40 optional fields to describe where content was used.
About Usage Rights
When publishing content across platforms and publication titles, the publisher's right
to use the content is not always guaranteed. This is especially true when content
is enhanced with images and videos. The Usage Rights metadata block provides optional
metadata fields that can be used by publishers to track usage rights of content in
a repository. The 15 optional metadata fields in this block are based on the PRISM
Usage Rights Metadata Specification -/[PRISMURMS/]
Inside Each Metadata Building Block
Each of the PSV metadata building blocks is made up of PRISM 3.0 metadata fields.
Again the design is flexible so each publisher can select the fields that they need
to use to manage and assemble content from a PSV repository. All possible metadata
fields for each building block are doucumented in the PSV Specification. For example
the description metadata includes fields such as dc:subject, prism:publicationName
Description: PSV Description Metadata
The description block is made up of 25 metadata fields
HTML5 for Content Encoding
The HTML5 Body is one of the required PSV building blocks and is used to encode content.
Unlike EPUB3, PSV makes no extensions to HTML5 and has no restrictions. PSV recommends
that the new HTML5 <article tag be used as the root element for any content unit.
According to the latest HTML5 Draft, "The article element represents a section of
a page that consists of a composition that forms an independent part of a document,
page, or site. This could be a forum post, a magazine or newspaper article, a Web
log entry, a user-submitted comment, or any other independent item of content." PSV
also recommends using a number of the other new HTML5 tags including <section, <nav
and <aside that are representative of general magazine article structures.
To enable semantic content encoding, HTML5 has added a "class" attribute on every
element. PSV recommends a number of PRISM semantic classes that you can use to qualify
any HTML5 element. Examples include box, caption, dateline, credit, and pull quote.
<p>WE TALK ALL THE TIME ABOUT HOW TO SET THE RIGHT TONE FOR OUR PLAYERS</p>
Appendix A. References
THE PSV 1.0 DOCUMENTATION PACKAGE
The IDEAlliance nextPub Initiative has developed a series of specifications collectively
known as the PRISM Source Vocabulary or PSV. The use case for PSV is to encode semantically
rich content for assembly, transformation and delivery to any platform. This Specification
is made up of a modular documentation package that builds on PRISM 3.0 and HTML5.
Over time new modules may be added to the documentation package. The documentation
package for the nextPub PRISM Source Vocabulary Specification consists of:
THE PRISM DOCUMENTATION PACKAGE:
Because PSV is built on PRISM 3.0, there is a close relationship between the two specifications.
In fact, access to the PRISM 3.0 Documentation Package is critical to the implementation
of PSV. The PRISM 3.0 Documentation Package consists of:
GENERAL PRISM DOCUMENTATION
This is a set of general or overview documents that apply to PRISM.
PRISM METADATA SPECIFICATIONS
This is the set of documents that outline the prism metadata fields and values by
PRISM metadata category. PRISM has modularized its metadata specification by namepace
so users may pick those modules that meet their unique business requirements without
having to implement the entire PRISM specification.
PRISM CONTROLLED VOCABULARY SPECIFICATIONS
These modules are new with PRISM 3.0. Previously both the Controlled Vocabulary Markup
and the documentation of controlled vocabularies were published as a single document.
All controlled vocabularies and their terms are documented in this publication set.
NOTE: In addition to the PSV and PRISM Specification a series of implementation guides
are provided by IDEAlliance.