HTML5 technology spurs 'write once, publish many' model

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The publishing benefits of deploying HTML5 technology were discussed last month at MPA Digital: Technology, a one-day conference that focused on how media companies can use technology to manage magazine content on print and digital platforms. HTML5, a browser-based programming language that is able to deliver content on most Web-enabled devices, is designed to make online content easier to distribute and more interactive. “You don't have to have one set of developers doing stuff on a computer and another set doing it for iOS,” said Don Peschke, CEO of August Home Publishing, who moderated a panel discussion on how publishers are building successful HTML5 programs. In late 2011, August Home Publishing introduced an HTML5 universal Web app for some of the company's five magazines, which include Woodsmith. Peschke said the HTML5 app is able to determine on which kind of device the user is accessing the magazines' content and then provides functionality for “click,” “swipe” or “tap.” “The advantage from our side was we could develop one thing from the editorial group and publish it across any browser-based device,” he said. HTML5 technology, which can be used as an alternative to Adobe Flash, helps to bridge some of the production challenges publishers face in creating content that can be distributed simultaneously to both the Web and mobile devices, Peschke said. “With the proliferation of devices, screens, and browsers and platforms, the quest is to code once and deploy anywhere,” said Pete Marsh, exec VP-global strategy for software company Atex. “HTML5 provides that development platform that, when coupled with CSS 3 Media Queries and JavaScript, gives you the ability to create a much more efficient development environment.” He added: “You don't have to worry about changing your work flow, duplicating content or creating extra steps in the publishing process as you try to deliver your content to new channels.” HTML5 technology uses so-called “responsive design” techniques. Responsive design is a combination of technologies, such as HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which enables publishers to write once and deliver their content across multiple screen sizes and digital platforms. “Your pages can refresh faster so that the overall performance is generally better,” Marsh said. “There are two caveats there. In order to make responsive design work, you have to load your full-size images first in order to be able to have those images resize for each device. The other thing that you should remember is to make sure that your CMS platform is responsive design-enabled.” Frank Livaudais, chief technology offer at CDS Global, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hearst Corp., stressed that HTML5 technology is not a “ratified standard yet,” although its adoption rate among the various Web browsers continues to grow. “The nice part about [HTML5 apps] is that when you update your site or application, your users can be updated as soon as they come back to the page without another app approval process,” he said. “The downside is you have to have Web access and you have to worry about different browser experiences across the different devices.”
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