Last year I got an eMail message that caught me by surprise the IDPF would like to merge with the W3C. I think that even though IDPF makes heavy use of XML, HTML5 and CSS, it is still has different goals and therefore there is no point in this merge which should better be called assimilation or being rather blunt, IDPF suicide since the IDPF is simply giving it’s assets including the EPUB3 standard to the W3C.
I know both organizations very intimatly. I have been the office manager of the W3C Israel office from 2008 until 2010. In 2012 When I established Helicon Books I became a member of the IDPF.
I have been active in the Dictionaries recomendation, EPUB version 3.01 and the EPUB 3.1 that was recently published.
Both organization have rather similar work methods and both organizations issue recomendations (note these are not standards) with similar structure. Also the IDPF rely heavily on W3C recomendations. IDPF has decided from it’s inception to use HTML and CSS, in the beginning it was subset of both, now in EPUB3.1 it is full HTML5 and CSS and in some cases the IDPF even asked the W3C to add some declerations to the CSS standard.
Even though the IDPF uses HTML and CSS it does not mean the two organizations should be one.
The IDPF deals with Digital books that although can and should be part of the the World Wide Web, it is not part of the World Wide Web, it is a replacement to printed books and thus somewhat different method of publishing.
The W3C was established to promote the web and has done a tremendous job at it. The web as we know it today wouldn’t be the same without the work of the W3C. I am proud to say that I took part in in the advance of the web in Israel while acting as the head of the Israeli W3C office acting under ISOC Israel.
There are three reasons I think this merge which I call suicide is bad for the publishing industry:
- IDPF and W3C has different goals and somewhat different types of membersץ
- W3C is a very big organization and thus our (publishers and digital books technologies companies) voice would not be heard.
- W3C membership fees are very high, thus only big organizations will afford these fees and many small and medium publishes will be out of the loop and not be able to influence the standards they use.
The IDPF board said that the same people who contributed to the EPUB recomendation will continue to do so. This can not be further from the truth for two reasons:
- The high fees charged by the W3C will prevent many organizations from taking part in the discussions. (The W3C has lower fees for IDPF members but these lower fees are valid for one year only).
- The IDPF has become a Business Group in the W3C, this is in my understanding not the same as a Working Group that is responsible for W3C recomendations.