2 (X)HTML5 and CSS3 for print and digital products?

May 2011  [1]

Given that the present/future of publishing is digital (I include Print on Demand in this), it would seem a good idea to focus on and develop the potential of (X)HTML5 (strict) and CSS3 for all publishing (print products, EPUB, mobile, etc) rather than going down the DTP and ‘traditional’ XML route. The argument for this:

  1. Separation of structure from format is key to digital publishing processes, and this is already an established practice in web technology (XHTML and CSS).
  2. XHTML *is* XML, which as we know is key to being able to create ‘mashups’ and reconfigure content in new ways and for new products and channels.
  3. XTHML is also the underlying technology of EPUB.
  4. Web designers and developers have many years of experience in designing for screens, so would seem to be the right people to be working on digital products (and it may be easier for them to learn principles of print design than perhaps the other way round?).

[Interesting work in this area: The IGP:FLIP publishing system; the 2010 MPub project at Simon Fraser University; Pressbooks, a startup doing ‘Simple Book Production’ using WordPress (which I’m using for this book!), Wikipublish (LaTex), and ICKMULL, the MPub tool; and River Valley Technologies’ pilot project, and of course there may be others.] There are essentially two questions:

  1. Can (X)HTML5 and CSS3 be used for good print design and output?
  2. Does (X)HTML5 sufficiently satisfy the requirements for XML and ‘future-proofing’ of content?

Any thoughts on (X)HTML5 (strict) and CSS3 as the production workflow and technology for book and other publishing in the digital age?


  1. I originally wrote this as a discussion on the Tools of Change LinkedIn group. If you are interested in the subsequent debate and contributions from various experts in the field, please join the TOC Group to read the comments.

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