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IDPF Executive Director's Open Letter on IDPF/W3C Merger

Saturday, January 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Read also: OverDrive’s Steve Potash Moves to Block IDPF Merger with W3C
(published January 13, 2017 at PublishersWeekly.com)


By Bill McCoy (for IDPF) --

The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 was announced last month as "Greenery, symbolic of new beginnings". This struck a chord with me as the coming year promises to be a new beginning for our community which came together in 1999 as the Open EBook Forum (OEBF) to develop open standards for digital books, reinvented itself in 2005 with a broader remit when it became the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and then found mainstream success with the development of the key EPUB standard.

While I know a number of IDPF members and others in the publishing community have expressed concern at the prospect of IDPF no longer being a standalone organization, I also know that many of you share my excitement and optimism. By joining forces with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), we will continue to expand and accelerate the convergence of EPUB and the Open Web Platform in service of our mission to foster the global adoption of an open, accessible, and interoperable digital publishing ecosystem that enables innovation.

I want to congratulate the IDPF Board members and our membership as a whole for having the confidence to look forward boldly to the future. Combining with a large organization is never an easy call and "convergence" sounds great in theory but is rather more scary when the real-world implications of integrating technology roadmaps and communities must be tackled. The Board put forward a visionary plan, and you overwhelmingly endorsed it. Now it's up to all of us to make it successful.

Work continues on the specifics of implementing the planned combination, which is expected to be completed during January. There are already draft charters for the W3C Publishing Business Group and EPUB 3 Community Group. I'm confident that via an expanded Publishing@W3C activity, EPUB - and, more importantly, the community that's grown up around it - will prosper and expand. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the W3C, afforded by the combination. Stay tuned to hear more about that in the coming weeks.

It's been a singular honor to have served you as IDPF's Executive Director for the last 6 years, IDPF is a volunteer-run organization and so the credit should go to the Working Group contributors, Board members, and other team members who have shaped and pursued our mission and helped make EPUB a widely adopted global standard. Since 2011 we've launched EPUB 3, followed by EPUB 3.0.1 and now EPUB 3.1, created a comprehensive EPUB Accessibility profile, finalized modular EPUB extensions for indexes and glossaries, advanced fixed layout, and previews, and drafted modular EPUB extensions for scripted components, distributable objects, and an Educational profile and associated semantic vocabulary. We've also launched the independent Readium Foundation to develop open source software for EPUB, the EPUB Reading System Test Suite, enhanced and promoted EPUBCheck, started EPUBZone to foster out community, and collaborated in the creation of the European Digital Reading Lab. We've gained new IDPF members from around the world from all segments of the publishing industry, and the adoption of EPUB continues to grow. In 2016 we saw several major milestones in broadened support for EPUB 3, including export from Google Docs and in the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows and its Edge Browser.

I am very proud of what has been accomplished under the IDPF banner and I'm excited to be able to continue to play a role in helping our community take these accomplishments to a whole new level of success within W3C. My personal commitment to advancing our mission, and to supporting your requirements, is unflagging.

I hope you will join me and IDPF Board members on January 18 at our Open Meeting in NYC, either in person or remotely, where we'll be presenting a status update and previewing the roadmap for the year. Find out about our expanded line-up of events around the world and take part in the open Q&A about Publishing@W3C: "leading the Web to its full potential....for publishing." It's a tall order but I know that, together, we can make it happen. Thank you for your support.

--Bill McCoy, Executive Director, IDPF (01/05/2017)


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