Building the Foundation for Content Success: Publishers Tentatively Embrace New Content Standards

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Standards Evolution
Some standards developed during the early stage of the digital print industry are no longer used in the U.S., but are still employed overseas. "TIFF is not used in this country much anymore, but it is used in Japan and the Far East," says David Q. McDowell, one of the players in the development of digital imaging standards during his 40-plus-year career at Kodak, and now a consultant. This is for a practical reason, having to do with the printing of words for their languages. Put simply, he says, "They don't have the fonts."

An industry task force is meeting later this month in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to work on the next phase of Adobe PDF/X. The committee wants to make sure that PDF/X-based software allows files with several categories of fonts to be read. "Standards development is a completely voluntary process," says McDowell, who would like industry insiders to step up and join the effort. "We need the best minds. We need to get a whole spectrum of opinion, not just printers."

Without the perfection of these workflow standards, the dream of improved digital workflow will never be realized, says Diane Kennedy, VP of publishing technology at IdeAlliance, a nonprofit membership association focused on end users in the publishing business.

Some magazines today are beginning to embrace "raw workflow" from photographers, and place the images directly into their production processes, reports Kennedy. "They're also managing photo assignments from assignment through production, archiving, and re-use, which will improve sales for stock photo agencies," she says.

One project that may be vital in the coming years is the ADSML standard—a cross-media, copy-flow enhancement specification for creatives. The idea is to enable producers of copy for, say, the online environment, to use their content files and easily repurpose them for print production or use in another medium, according to Kennedy. As Roszkiewicz points out, "Open standards will bring interoperability."

There are some other standards that publishers are keeping an eye on these days. The ISO recently announced it has approved a suite of four ebXML OASIS standards for conducting business over the Internet. The submissions from OASIS were published as ISO/TS 15000 technical specifications. The new ISO 15000 designation, titled "Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language," includes four parts, each of which corresponds to one of ebXML's standards. They are:

  • ISO 15000-1, for ebXML's Collaborative Partner Profile Agreement;
  • ISO 15000-2, for ebXML's Messaging Service Specification;
  • ISO 15000-3, for ebXML's Registry Information Model; and
  • ISO 15000-4, for ebXML's Registry Services Specification.

Since they are Internet-based, the ebXML standards are less costly to implement and use than other ebusiness standards, such as EDI. What is more, the standards are designed to let companies of any industry, size, or part of the world exchange business messages, conduct trading relationships, communicate data in common terms, and define and register business processes, ISO says. The overall objective, it says, is to make it easier for organizations to interface with others within and outside of their industry, open up new markets with less effort than before, and at the same time, cut costs and simplify processes associated with traditional document-transfer.

"ISO approval was a gratifying endorsement of both ebXML and the OASIS open-standards process," says Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of OASIS. "ISO designation makes the already widely adopted ebXML standards even more accessible—particularly for those implementing business solutions for governments, who look to ISO for assurance of long-term viability." Experts say that although the ebXML standards have been accepted by ISO, the OASIS organization will retain responsibility for maintaining and advancing them.

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