Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 3rd Dec 2012 18:52 UTC
In the News News Corp. has just announced its iPad-only newspaper The Daily will be closed down. What do you know, a platform-specific publication fails in the internet era. I totally did not see this coming at all. Times are changing, people. Platform-specific is so 2007.
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RE[4]: Almost completely wrong
by Laurence on Tue 4th Dec 2012 12:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Almost completely wrong"
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

they've been trying to support Android for a year

I really don't get the point of "supporting a platform" for publishing purposes altogether. Isn't there such thing as PDF (Portable Document Format). That's it - platform issues solved. Sometimes people really jump over their heads to create imaginary problems for themselves.


The "portable" in PDF doesn't mean "portable" in the context you're describing.

PDF used to be a closed format (and even now, it's still proprietary). The point of PDFs wasn't that they could be read by any device. The point was a document format that would retain it's exact formatting when migrated from platform to platform (which used to be a major problem for the press industry). Thus PDFs would embed fonts and do other such tricks which, back then, were less common. It meant that rendered documents would be as "portable" as a printed page with it's formatting retained (which was the point; so that mastered documents could be shared).

This is also why PDFs are typically considered read only (they're not, you can get editors, but the point of PDFs was they're the finalised product so were not designed to be edited) and why PDFs aren't always great for accessibility (eg text doesn't wrap when zooming, like in HTML).

"Portable" in the context you're using would better served with open specifications, which I know PDF technically is these days, but the accessibility features alone makes HTML a better fit.

In fact, HTML may have many sins these days with people building entire "web apps" and such like. But the primary goal of HTML was an open document mark up for distributing text-based content; which is precisely the specification for a newspaper. So despite HTML's many faults, I genuinely cannot think of a better format to encode such publications.

Edited 2012-12-04 13:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

When publishers distribute their books / magazines / newspapers, they are usually in read-only format anyway, unless it's some really unusual interactive publication or something. So PDF is a good fit.

PDF is not proprietary for a while already:

While Adobe Systems made the PDF specification available free of charge in 1993, PDF remained a proprietary format, controlled by Adobe, until it was officially released as an open standard on July 1, 2008, and published by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 32000-1:2008. In 2008, Adobe published a Public Patent License to ISO 32000-1 granting royalty-free rights for all patents owned by Adobe that are necessary to make, use, sell and distribute PDF compliant implementations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_Document_Format


There are other good formats for publishing - DjVu for example and etc. The point was that they are not tied to one particular system.

Edited 2012-12-04 16:39 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

When publishers distribute their books / magazines / newspapers, they are usually in read-only format anyway, unless it's some really unusual interactive publication or something. So PDF is a good fit.

As I'd already said, PDF is /NOT/ a read only format. In fact I'd argue that HTML is typically more a read only format as it's generally distributed in temporary files served behind read-only HTTP protocols.

However that wouldn't be ideal for books and possibly even magazines as the end user would likely want a permanent version of those publications, unlike with papers which are subject to change daily (sometimes even more frequently). But even in the case of books, PDF isn't be best fit for accessibility reasons (again, as I'd already pointed out).

Take the Kindle, for example. It supports dynamic text sizes (much like how some web browsers do). Trying to mimic the same thing with PDFs wouldn't work because you'd end up having to scroll /and/ page turn (such is the nature of zooming static pages) which is clearly a usability faux pas.

Now I'm not saying HTML is the only solution here, but when the user doesn't care about keeping permanent issues (as is the case is online newspapers) and a publisher wants to retain ownership and allow users to control their own browsing accessibility, then it makes more sense to have a format that marks up in a similar way to HTML and using a similar distribution model to HTTP, even if that format isn't HTML/HTTP specifically.

However I still think HTML makes a lot of sense for such publications; they have hyperlinks that give readers a chance to follow related articles or read more in depth about specific issues regarding the main article. HTML supports embedded videos and audio. And HTML offers readers a chance to comment back (personally I think it's an over-rated feature, but then here I am doing just that). Any competing format for digital newspapers (and bare in mind we are just talking newspapers here; not books nor "ezines") would have to /at least/ support those features if it wants to compete with the plethora of free news sites online. Simply offering a traditional newspaper in a digital format isn't enough; not even if the digital format is presented with pretty "retina-friendly" fonts.

Edited 2012-12-04 17:25 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[5]: Almost completely wrong
by zima on Sat 8th Dec 2012 11:33 in reply to "RE[4]: Almost completely wrong"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But the primary goal of HTML was an open document mark up for distributing text-based content; which is precisely the specification for a newspaper.

I believe at the beginning HTML was used for implementing a CERN phone directory, for the benefit of physicists? ;p
Still, phonebook has similar specification.

Reply Parent Score: 2