Publishing Working Group Charter

The mission of the Publishing Working Group is to enable all Web Publications (see below) — with all their specificities and traditions — to become first-class entities on the Web. The WG will provide the necessary technologies on the Open Web Platform to make the combination of traditional publishing and the Web complete in terms of accessibility, usability, portability, distribution, archiving, offline access, and reliable cross referencing.

Join the Publishing Working Group.

Start date 12 June, 2017
End date 1 July, 2020
Chairs Garth Conboy (Google) and Tzviya Siegman (John Wiley & Sons., Inc.)
Team Contacts Ivan Herman (0.4 FTE)
Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: 1-hour calls will be held weekly.
Face-to-face: We will meet during the W3C's annual Technical Plenary week; additional face-to-face meetings may be scheduled by consent of the participants, usually no more than 3 per year.
(See also the section on communications for further details.)


Publications, from magazine articles to product documentation, from electronic books to scholarly journal articles, are increasingly present on the Web. While following the traditions of the publishing world in terms of typesetting, layout, ergonomics, and usage patterns, the Web brings a new level of pervasive accessibility, internationalization, addressability, and interconnectedness to these publications. However, the combination of traditional publishing and the Web is not yet perfect: the “Web Publications Use Cases and Requirements” document, published by the Digital Publishing Interest Group, lists a number of use cases and requirements for publications on the Web.

It is the goal of the Publishing Working Group to provide, in concert with other W3C Groups as outlined in Section 4.1, the necessary technologies on the Open Web Platform to make the combination of traditional publishing and the Web complete in terms of the readers’ needs, portability, distribution, archiving, offline access, or reliable cross referencing. In short, all publications—with all their specificities and traditions—should become first-class entities on the Web, as Web Publications.

A Web Publication (WP) is a collection of one or more constituent resources, organized together in a uniquely identifiable grouping that may be presented using standard Open Web Platform technologies. The act of publishing involves obtaining resources and organizing them into a publication, which must be “manifested” by having files on a Web server. Thus the publisher provides an origin for the WP, and a URL that can uniquely identify that (FRBR) manifestation. The detailed requirements have already been documented elsewhere, the most important and high-level characteristics that must be translated into specifications are:

EPUB has become one of the fundamental technologies for the global publishing ecosystem (see the separate document, published by the W3C Publishing Business Group, for more details and background). It is the preferred format for a broad range of types of publications, not only for distribution but increasingly also for authoring and production workflows. As part of the work on Web Publications, described in this charter, it is essential that a next generation of EPUB, currently referred to as EPUB 4, retain the specificity, portability, predictability, accessibility, and internationalization required by the publishing ecosystem while benefitting from the improved features and functionalities offered by Packaged Web Publications. EPUB 4 should not be in conflict with Web Publications; it should be a type of Web Publication that provides the predictability and interoperability that this ecosystem has come to rely on.


The WG will specify Web Publications and identify what they need the underlying Web platform to provide. It will build upon existing platform technologies specified by other groups, where available, seeking to fill gaps by assuring that the unique requirements of Web Publications are addressed by features (including optional features) or extension points in those specifications.

In particular, the WG will make normative Recommendations for Web Publications; Packaged Web Publications; EPUB 4; and DPUB-ARIA 2.0, as described in Deliverables below.

Recommendation-track deliverables will contain mechanisms to make Web Publications accessible to a broad range of readers with different needs and capabilities. This includes general Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Web Accessiblity Initiative (WAI) requirements of the W3C as well as requirements for international readers using different scripts and document formats. Profiles of Web Publications may be defined with more stringent accessibility requirements.

Out of Scope

The following features are out of scope, and will not be addressed by this Working group.

  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) features for Web Publications.
  • New metadata vocabularies.
  • New document identification schemes (i.e., alternatives to DOI or ISBN).
  • Maintenance of EPUB 3 (and previous versions of EPUB) (done in the separate EPUB 3 Community Group).

Success Criteria

In order to advance to Proposed Recommendation, each specification is expected to have at least two independent implementations of each of feature defined in the specification.

Each specification should contain a section detailing any known security or privacy implications for implementers, Web authors, and end users.

Each specification should contain a section describing: known impacts on accessibility for users with disabilities; ways the specification features address those impacts; and recommendations for minimizing accessibility problems in implementation.

Testing plans for each specification should be provided, starting from the earliest drafts.


More detailed milestones and updated publication schedules are available on the group publication status page.

To facilitate timely progress on the Recommendation track and for the sake of maintainability the Working Group may, based on consensus in the Working Group, split or merge its deliverables.

Recommendation-track Deliverables

The Working Group will deliver the following W3C normative specifications (titles of the documents are provisional; some documents listed below may be grouped into one document or split into several, constituent documents):

Web Publications

This specification defines a Web Resource representing a collection of one or more constituent Web Resources, organized together in a uniquely identifiable grouping that may be presented using standard Open Web Platform technologies. A Web Publication may represent a journal or magazine article, an in-house documentation, or a digital book. It provides a standard to access information pertinent for the collection as a whole and that may be usable for the proper presentation of the publication.

Packaged Web Publications

This specification defines a way to combine the resources of a Web Publication into a distributable file using a packaging format. Note that if the Packaging on the Web work leads to a W3C Recommendation and fulfills all the requirements for Packaged Web Publications, publishing this deliverable may become unnecessary.


This specification defines a functional profile of the general idea of Packaged Web Publications that may deliver a higher degree of comprehensive accessibility capabilities and reliability. This specification should generally be a functional superset of EPUB 3.1. Functional round-tripping to/from EPUB 3.1 considered highly desirable.

DPUB-ARIA Module 2.0

This specification extends the DPUB-ARIA Module 1.0 specification, adding terms for a more complete coverage of publication-related terms. Its primary input is the full set of terms defined by the EPUB 3 Structural Semantics Vocabulary but other, similar vocabularies will also be considered.

Other Deliverables

Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination (Working Group Note)

This document will describe the requirements for pagination and layout of publications that use the Latin script, based on the tradition of print book design and composition. These principles can inform the pagination of digital content as well, and serve as a reference for the CSS Working Group and other interested parties.

This deliverable draws upon a previous version of this document, published by the Digital Publishing Interest Group.

Other non-normative documents may also be created such as:

  • Use case and requirement documents.
  • Test suites and implementation reports for the specification.
  • Primers or Best Practice documents to support content authors and application developers.

The group should also contribute to the ongoing work to newer releases of WCAG to ensure the inclusion of publication-specific features.


The group’s Publication Status document provides current data about all of the group’s specifications. Although the group expects all of its active deliverables to progress during this charter period, the charter does not include detailed milestone data for each specification because such data is speculative and easily becomes out of date. The Working Group does expect the following to occur:

  • Face-to-face meeting, June 22-23, 2017, New York City, NY, USA.
  • Face-to-face meeting at the W3C TPAC meeting, week of November 6, Burlingame, CA, USA.
  • WP:
    • First Public Working Draft (FPWD): Q4 2017.
    • Candidate Recommendation (CR): Q1 2019.
    • Recommendation (REC): Q2 2020.
  • PWP:
    • First Public Working Draft (FPWD): Q4 2017.
    • Candidate Recommendation (CR): Q1 2019.
    • Recommendation (REC): Q2 2020.
  • EPUB 4:
    • First Public Working Draft (FPWD): Q1 2018.
    • Candidate Recommendation (CR): Q1 2019.
    • Recommendation (REC): Q2 2020.
    • First Public Working Draft (FPWD): Q1 2018.
    • Candidate Recommendation (CR): Q4 2018.
    • Recommendation (REC): Q4 2019.
The timeline of the deliverables
Major milestones (figure also available as a PNG image)


For all specifications, this Working Group will seek horizontal review for accessibility (via the Accessible Platform Architectures WG), internationalization (via the Internationalization WG), performance (via the Web Performance WG), privacy (via the Privacy IG), security (via the Web Security IG), and with the Technical Architecture Group (TAG). Invitation for review must be issued during each major standards-track document transition, including FPWD and at least 3 months before CR, and should be issued when major changes occur in a specification.

Additional technical coordination with the following Groups will be made, per the W3C Process Document:

W3C Groups

Web Platform Working Group

This group develops and/or maintains a number of specifications that may be fundamental for the specification and/or the implementation of Web Publications. Examples are:

  • Web App Manifests, that may be the basis for specifying table of content, metadata, etc., provided by a Web Publication.
  • Service Workers, that may become the fundamental building block for the implementation and testing of Web Applications.
  • Packaging on the Web (jointly developed with the Technical Architecture Group) may provide a way of packaging for the purpose of Packaged Web Publications.
CSS Working Group

New CSS features may be needed to support web publications. Such features would be specified in the CSS Working Group, with the Publishing Working Group providing use cases, requirements, and examples. The Publishing Working Group would also help the CSS WG with the development and testing of new and existing CSS functionality that is of interest to the publishing community. The group will designate liaisons to work with the CSS WG on issues as needed. Liaisons will ideally be part of both groups.

Web Application Security Working Group

Porting a Web Publication, hosting the publication at some other origin, may raise security issues. The Publishing Working Group will have to work closely with the Web Application Security WG to ensure that the approaches developed by that Working Group are adopted by Web Publication, and any additional work done by the Publication Working Group are in line with general Web Application Security.

Accessible Rich Internet Applications WG

This Working Group is responsible for the development of ARIA; the development of DPUB-ARIA Module 2.0 should be done in close cooperation with the further development of ARIA in general.

Accessibility Guidelines Working Group

The Publishing Working Group will work with the AG Working Group to address digital publishing use cases in accessibility guidelines, and develop techniques to implement accessibility features in web publications. The group will designate liaisons to work with the AG on issues as needed. Liaisons will ideally be members of both groups.

EPUB 3 Community Group

While working on EPUB 3-related projects, the EPUB 3 Community Group may surface technical concerns, requirements, and issues that are also relevant to the work of the Publishing Working Group. The two groups will coordinate to ensure that such issues are taken into account by the Publishing Working Group.

Publishing Business Group

The mission of the Publishing Business Group is to foster ongoing participation by members of the publishing industry and overall ecosystem in the development of the Web for publishing, and to serve as a conduit for feedback between the publishing ecosystem and W3C. In doing so, technical or business requirements may come up that are also relevant to the work of the Publishing Working Group. The two groups will formally cooperate to ensure that such issues are taken into account by the Publishing Working Group.

External Organizations

Book Industry Study Group (BISG)

This group currently maintains the EPUB 3 Support Grid, which provides information and reading-system support for EPUB 3. This tool may be extended to track support for WP in general and EPUB 4 in particular.


EDRLab, acting as the European headquarter of the Readium Foundation, is actively working on the ReadiumJS, Readium SDK and Readium-2 projects. The latter is especially interesting as a future reference implementation of PWP and EPUB 4.

Input Documents

The following documents will be considered by the Working Group as inputs to the specifications to be developed. The Working Group will identify requirements that are not yet fully covered by the current environments based on the Open Web Platform, that therefore need further work, while re-using existing technologies developed by other Working Groups to the extent possible. The Working Group should not reinvent technologies that have been, or are being developed elsewhere in W3C Working Groups, and should seek instead further cooperation with the relevant groups.

The following documents provide inputs for non-normative work:



To be successful, this Working Group is expected to have 6 or more active participants for its duration, including representatives from key implementers and users (e.g., publishers, authors) of this specification, and active Editors and Test Leads for each specification. The Chairs, specification Editors, and Test Leads are expected to contribute 4 hours per week towards the Working Group. There is no minimum requirement for other Participants.

The group encourages questions, comments and issues on its public mailing lists and document repositories, as described in Communication.

The group also welcomes non-Members to contribute technical submissions for consideration upon their agreement to the terms of the W3C Patent Policy. Chairs and Team contacts may also contact these contributors to encourage them to join the Working Group to make their licensing commitment easier.


Technical discussions for this Working Group are conducted in public: the meeting minutes from teleconference and face-to-face meetings will be archived for public review, and technical discussions and issue tracking will be conducted in a manner that can be both read and written to by the general public. Working Drafts and Editor’s Drafts of specifications will be developed on a public repository, and the drafts may permit direct public contribution requests. The meetings themselves are not open to public participation, however.

Information about the group (including details about deliverables, issues, actions, status, participants, and meetings) will be available from the Publishing Working Group home page.

Most Publishing Working Group teleconferences will focus on discussion of particular specifications. The calls will be conducted on a weekly basis.

This group primarily conducts its technical work on the public mailing list (archive), and through GitHub repositories and issues. These, but also tools like IRC channels and possibly other communication technologies should make asynchronous work possible. The decision policy adopted by the group is defined to allow this.

The public is invited to review, discuss and contribute to this work.

The group may use a Member-confidential mailing list for administrative purposes and, at the discretion of the Chairs and members of the group, for member-only discussions in special cases when a participant requests such a discussion.

Decision Policy

This group will seek to make decisions through consensus and due process, per the W3C Process Document (section 3.3). Typically, an editor or other participant makes an initial proposal, which is then refined in discussion with members of the group and other reviewers. Consensus emerges with little formal voting being required.

However, if a decision is necessary for timely progress, but consensus is not achieved after careful consideration of the range of views presented, the Chairs may call for a group vote, recording a decision along with any objections.

To afford asynchronous decisions and organizational deliberation, any resolution (including publication decisions) taken in a face-to-face meeting or teleconference will be considered provisional. A call for consensus (CfC) will be issued for all resolutions (for example, via email and/or web-based survey), with a response period from one week to 10 working days, depending on the chair's evaluation of the group consensus on the issue. If no objections are raised on the mailing list by the end of the response period, the resolution will be considered to have obtained consensus as a resolution of the Working Group.

All decisions made by the group should be considered resolved unless and until new information becomes available, or unless reopened at the discretion of the Chairs or the Director.

This charter is written in accordance with the W3C Process Document (Section 3.4, Votes). It includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis. For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.


This Working Group will use the W3C Software and Document license for all its deliverables.

About this Charter

This charter has been created according to section 5.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.