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Publishing Perspective 2010

By Ted Treanor, Senior Publishing Consultant

Publishing predictions for 2010 abound. As a digital publishing pioneer and visionary, Ted Treanor has been well positioned ahead of the curve, with a unique vantage point to see what’s in store for the industry. At this tipping point, publishing convergence of print and digital has collided with mainstream. Let us know what you think of these predictions.

Let’s see if 13 predictions will be lucky for publishing.

  1. New eReading devices will proliferate. The market is responding like the California gold rush.  Not only will there be new companies launching in 2010, but big electronics firms will have their products. CES will be a haven for digital reading, which will astound everyone.
  2. Pricing experimentation will take center stage.
  3. Digital sales channels both retail and distribution will grow rapidly.
  4. The ePub standard (IDPF.org) will strengthen as an international industry standard. ePub will compete with PDF for the top format for commercial content.
  5. The big surprise this year will be the number of large recognized companies that will strategically target the digital publishing eReading and content space. At least one major communications infrastructure company (possibly wireless) will stake a claim through a publishing partnership. Other prime segments will be computer manufacturers and printer manufactures.
  6. Trade associations will scramble to stay relevant in their attempt to lead members through this time of convergence of print and digital.
  7. Content workflow using XML technologies will become standard for single source production to multiple print and digital editions.
  8. Publishers will attempt to build direct relationships with their reader customers…not very successfully in 2010.
  9. Technology and services companies will further enable authors for self-publishing and in their sales goals. At least one big name author will experiment in self-publishing in 2010.
  10. eCatalogs will become a standard tool in selling content to booksellers, librarians, etc..
  11. Digital galleys will gain in popularity.
  12. E-content will be grafted into print in innovative ways.
  13. New ebook data reports and ebook directories will become ‘must-have’ resources. Gilbane Group has a series of three publishing transformation reports planned in 2010.

Follow me on Twitter @ ePubDr

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The SharePoint Backend- What are the Headaches – What are the benefits

As I pointed out in my first post (SharePoint: Without the Headaches – A Discussion of What is Available in the Cloud,) you don’t necessarily need to host SharePoint in your own organization.  Although I believe that most businesses should focus on leveraging the front end of SharePoint to its full extent, it is important for non-technical users to have an understanding of what it takes to host SharePoint and why one might want to do so.  Therefore, this post provides a discussion of what it takes to host SharePoint and the driving factors for hosting SharePoint.

 

Microsoft’s original intent was to build a tool that was easy to leverage by non-technical users.  Microsoft thought of this as the natural extension of Office to the web[1].  That being said, the complexities got away from Microsoft, and in order to leverage a number of features one needs access to the back end.

Before delving into the SharePoint back end, let me point out that many businesses hire SharePoint development staff, both permanent and on a consulting basis. I think that developing custom SharePoint code should be done only after thoroughly justifying the expense.  It is often a mistake.  Instead, organizations should clearly define their requirements and then leverage a high quality third party add-on.  I will mention some of these at the end of the post.

SharePoint is a fragile product and therefore custom code for SharePoint is very expensive to develop, test, and deploy. Furthermore, custom code often needs to be rewritten when migrating to the next release of SharePoint.  Finally, SharePoint is a rapidly growing product, and chances are good that custom code may soon become obsolete by new features in the next generation.

In my first post, I pointed out that inexpensive SharePoint hosting options are available in the cloud. These options tend to be limited.  For example, the inexpensive rentals do not provide much security, only provide WSS (not MOSS), and do not allow one to add third party add-ins.  It is possible to lease custom environments that don’t surrender to any of these limitations, but they come at a cost.  (Typically starting at $500 per month[2].)  I believe that robust MOSS offerings with third party add-ons will be available at competitive prices within two years. 

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[1] SharePoint is developed by the Office division.

[2] For example, FPWeb offers a SharePoint hosted environment with the CorasWorks Workplace Suite included starting at $495 per month.

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CMIS Use Cases

If you’re like me and have been thinking about CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services), but need some use cases to help you conceptualize it better, Laurence Hart has put together a very useful presentation. He welcomes comments.

As usual, Robin Cover has a great list of resources here.

DataDirect Announces New Release of XML Data Integration Suite

DataDirect Technologies, an operating company of Progress Software Corporation (NASDAQ- PRGS), announced the latest release of the DataDirect Data Integration Suite featuring new versions of its XML-based component technologies for data integration in traditional and service-oriented environments. Designed to meet the data transformation and aggregation needs of developers, the DataDirect Data Integration Suite contains the latest product releases of DataDirect XQuery, DataDirect XML Converters (Java and .NET) and Stylus Studio in one installation. DataDirect XQuery is an XQuery processor that enables developers to access and query XML, relational data, Web services, EDI, legacy, or a combination of data sources. New to version 4.0 is full support for the XQuery Update Facility (XUF), an extension of the XQuery language that allows making changes to data manipulated inside the XQuery. Now developers can more easily update individual XML documents, XML streams, and file collections from within their XQuery applications. The product also includes the ability to update and create Zip files, therefore supporting the OpenOffice XML format. The latest release of the DataDirect XML Converters are compatible with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 and are integrated in the Microsoft BizTalk development environment. For healthcare organizations needing to comply with the X12 electronic data interchange (EDI) standards and the latest Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) 5010 transaction definitions, the DataDirect XML Converters now include support for the HIPAA EDI dialects including 004010A1, 005010 and 005010A1 messages. Stylus Studio 2009 has a new EDI to XML module that works with DataDirect XML Converters in an interactive way. Users can now load EDI documents to view contents, test conversions, create customizations and preview XML. http://www.datadirect.com

eZ Systems Updates eZ Components

eZ Systems announced the release of eZ Components version 2008.2. This is the seventh major version of eZ Components, which is a general-purpose PHP library of over 40 components used independently or together for PHP application development. The latest versions of eZ Publish are also based on eZ Components. With eZ Components, developers can concentrate on solving customer-specific needs. The eZ Components tool set provides key application functionality, such as caching, authentication, database interaction, templates, graphs, and much more. Main improvements in this release include more features for the Document and Webdav components. The Document component, which enables you to convert documents between different formats, was already able to convert ReST to XTHML and DocBook. In this release, more formats are implemented, such as three different wiki formats (Confluence, Creole and DokuWiki), the eZ Publish XML formats, as well as reading XHTML and writing ReST. The wiki parser can easily be extended for other wiki formats. The Webdav component now supports authentication and authorization, as well as support for integrating authentication mechanisms into existing systems. In addition, it supports shared and exclusive write locks, even with custom storage back-ends. The main new development of the eZ Components 2008.2 release is the MvcTools component. The MvcTools component implements the tools for a framework. Instead of dedicating the structure of the application, it provides a dispatcher, two request parsers (one for HTTP and one for email messages through the existing Mail component), two routing methods, two view handlers (one through plain PHP scripts and one through the Template component), and a response writer for HTTP. http://ezcomponents.org

ePublishing Best Practices

As part of the review I was doing of the eBookWise-1150, I played some with their publishing tools. The device maker, eBook Technologies, Inc. (ETI), has some tools for publishers, and I tried both a batch processing tool and an interactive one. I say “played” with them because I only tried a few things, and there were many features, especially to the interactive tool. The tools looked very solid. I have also played around some with the Kindle Digital Text Platform. I do this to learn the tools, but also to keep myself honest. We advise clients on these devices and also the workflow surrounding eBook creation. Our clients don’t expect us to know every bell and whistle, but they do expect us to understand what is possible and not possible.

The more eBooks become attractive options for publishers, the more issues of publishing to multiple formats and platforms become important for publishers. Our experience so far has been that the most typical requirement for publishers is the need to produce eBooks in many different formats and not just one (this despite sensible solutions like IDPF’s EPUB format). And they need to do this efficiently. This is a practical reality of the marketplace today as no one eBook format has won the format war, no one channel is dominating sales, and indeed no one channel is typically worth doing on its own. The revenues simply are not there yet. (Indeed, even if you decide that you will only do, say, PDF-based eBooks, the similarities from one channel to the next end with the PDF extension, necessitating technologies like codeMantra’s Universal PDF).

Adobe is one of the vendors supporting EPUB, and their Digital Editions developer site has some good resources. They just added an EPUB Best Practices Guide (in, not surprisingly, EPUB format, so you can download Digital Editions if you want to get right to reading it).

IBM Labs Announces ProAct, Text Analytics for Call Centers

Researchers at IBM’s India Research Laboratory have developed software technology that uses sophisticated math algorithms to extract and deliver business insights hidden within the information gathered by companies during customer service calls and other interactions. The new business intelligence technology, called ProAct, is a text analytics tool, which automates previously manual analysis and evaluation of customer service calls and provides insight to help companies assess and improve their performance. ProAct provides an integrated analysis of structured information such as agent and product databases and unstructured data such as email, call logs, call transcription to identify reason for dissatisfaction, agent performance issues and typical product problems. Based on the Unstructured Information Management Analysis (UIMA) framework that IBM contributed to the open source Apache Software Foundation in 2006, the ProAct technology was initially developed as a service engagement. Now the new algorithms are being packaged in software and deployed in many IBM call center customers around the world. UIMA is an open source software framework that helps organizations build new analysis technologies that help organizations gain more insight from their unstructured information by discovering relationships, identifying patterns, and predicting outcomes. IBM uses UIMA to enable text analysis, extraction and concept search capabilities in other parts of its portfolio of enterprise search software products, including OmniFind Enterprise Edition, OmniFind Analytics Edition, and OmniFind Yahoo! Edition. http://www.research.ibm.com/irl/

MuseGlobal Completes Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 Integration

MuseGlobal announced the adoption of its content integration platform by Microsoft’s SharePoint Server 2007 enterprise suite. With Muse technology, SharePoint customers are now able to present local and licensed content to their enterprise users in a controlled and protected environment. The Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is an enterprise portal platform that makes it easy to build and maintain portal sites. Through consolidated access to existing business applications and content, companies can drive consistent performance of common business tasks, and SharePoint’s integrated Web content management capabilities enable people to publish Web content with a content authoring tool and a built-in approval process. MuseGlobal search integration and management systems enable institutions to build search products and services, unifying a wide range of content sources into custom search solutions. http://www.museglobal.com

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