Beginning the "StartwithXML: Why and How" project

Today we start an exciting new industry research and education project: “StartwithXML: Why and How.”

No publisher of any size or scope can be beyond the XML conversation that is now taking place across the industry. That content must be kept in a repository of XML files has become common understanding. And all the content-generation tools we use — Word and InDesign and PDF prominently among them — enable an XML export, so publishers are finding they can create a post-production XML’d version of their content for their archive.

That alone is necessary, but not by itself sufficient, to achieve even the first goal of making conversion — to a different book output like large-print or to the Web or to any of many ebook formats — cheap and easy. You can use Word or PDF to get to XML, but without the discipline of a StartwithXML workflow, you will often — usually — get an output that working with XML discipline wouldn’t have allowed you to create. If you don’t apply the discipline, the XML output doesn’t solve your problem. And even if it did, it only scratches the surface of what XML can potentially offer to publishers in getting them closer to new revenues and cutting costs.

The “StartwithXML” project will explore all the issues of moving to a StartwithXML workflow through interviews and case studies with publishers and with the channel partners they will be working with to reach new readers in new ways. We’ll be looking at what benefits can come to a publisher today from working this way, and what important steps to the future are enabled for those doing this (and cut off from those who don’t.)

I am introducing the project this morning (Friday, 12 September 2008) at the BISG Annual Meeting. That talk covers the who, what, why, when, and how. The discussion will be continuing in this space from now.