Daniel Perera: «Semantic Cross Publishing preserves the aesthetic potential of publications by transferring the content rather than the final art.»
Daniel Perera has been working in the field of editorial computing since 1990. In 1994, he was selected by QSystems as the support director for QuarkXPress in Spain, where he specialized in IT systems, computing, digital authoring, technical writing, quality control, product management, and project management until 2002. During this period, he directed the implementation of multiple production systems in nine newspapers in Spain and Mexico. After the dot-com bubble burst, and the closure of QSystems in 2002, he partnered with another former employee in 2005 to revive the brand and develop a brand new editorial system from scratch: Q4.Digital Metamorphosis of Publications«.We spoke to him about liquid publishing and the importance of content as a monetizable object or a vehicle for services. We also spoke about formats and other constraints that arise when publishing electronically. Daniel Perera aims to eliminate the digitization process and introduce a «single flow» to any editorial environment through his course at Cálamo and Cran, «
What is Semantic Cross Publishing?It is a publishing technique and workflow that connects any content from an InDesign publication to digital platforms and formats, and vice versa, thanks to the semantic nature of the content itself. Describing content in conceptual terms by XML code allows systems to manage, publish, format and/or add functionality to that content independently in each environment. This technique relies on a technology named XML tunneling, which is implemented in the core of Q4, our editorial system. In practice, the paper editorial process is equiped to become a digital one, eliminating the digitalization process that always follows the traditional publishing process.
What is the importance of combining paper and digital editorial processes?digitized during traditional publishing processes, saving companies both time and money. Additionally, this minimizes the need for dependence on external services or specialists. On the other hand, you gain control. Currently, paper operators have no control over the appearance of the digital product. They are blind until someone else does the conversion. With Semantic Cross Publishing, everyone can see the real appearance of both worlds from the very beginning. Additionally, the correction and closure cycles done in paper become real for digital as well, because there is no manipulation of content by humans. This ensures quality and improves control like no other technique. Sumario1: «Currently, paper operators have no control over the appearance of the digital product. They are blind until someone else does the conversion. With Semantic Cross Publishing, everyone can see the real appearance of both worlds from the very beginning.» Moreover, there are cascading benefits in the medium and long term that, from my point of view, are less flashy but more significant. Firstly, we no longer need to consider changing paper publications to improve our digital processes. I have encountered situations where publishers experiment with simpler paper layouts to digitize better, which carries enormous risks. Semantic Cross Publishing preserves the aesthetic potential of publications by transferring the content, not the final art. Moreover, by encoding everything in XML, the resulting digital product can be as versatile, spectacular, and functional as desired. The limitations of other approaches disappear. However, the most important long-term benefit, which is often overlooked, is that content becomes the centerpiece of publications. With the SCP workflow, content is transformed into a semantic objects during production, which are then used to generate various outputs. Unfortunately, many publishers currently prioritize the final art over content in their sales strategies. In Calamo & Cran’s course, it is made clear that content is often neglected in strategic plans because it is tied to final art. In contrast, the SCP workflow creates new objects in Q4 called Information Entities that correspond to each publisher’s semantic field and are stored in Q4’s database. This allows users to manage content effectively and take it to other systems as needed. By prioritizing content, Q4 provides editors with a foundation to explore new and innovative ways to exploit it. What is a single workflow and what are the advantages of working with it? What problems arise in interprocesses? Both print and digital publishing involve modifying the content. When print and digital publishing processes are separate, one process must wait for the other to complete before beginning. Otherwise, the changes that will occur in the final stages of the main workflow will cause repetitive, uncomfortable, and error-prone tasks in the secondary workflow. This creates delays in the secondary workflow, as there is a «minefield» that arises between the two workflows, with potential for information distortions, communication delays, and necessary verifications. Sometimes, operators in the primary workflow do not consider the secondary workflow as important, leading to significant delays and a «typical accordion jam on the highway» scenario. Moreover, when the secondary flow is digital, the costs are higher than those of the paper flow, due to the specialization and tools used, which causes costs to skyrocket. This leads some publishers to outsource certain tasks to countries with better economic conditions, but this also has consequences in the form of control expenses, delays, mistakes, and technical limitations that ultimately become normalized as inevitable, but do not disappear. With a single workflow, there is only one editorial process, and the content is always one, but connected by technology in its different expressions. There is a master content in XML in a database, which is fed both by editing in InDesign or in other platforms, thus eliminating dependencies and all the inconveniences I have mentioned. Sumario 2: «Some publishers choose to outsource certain tasks to countries with better economic conditions, but this also results in costs related to control, delays, mistakes, and technical limitations, which ultimately become normalized as they are inevitable.» What skills does an editor need to learn and use the Semantic Cross Publishing workflow? To take the course, the only thing a person needs is to know InDesign and how to use TextEdit or Notepad. The course explains in general the diversity of formats, the underlying role of HTML5 in many of them, and the enormous importance –consequently– of XML. Then, a practice is carried out to create an XML schema. Through the practice itself, the students will realize the keys to this approach, actively participating in an XML coding that will surprise them with its simplicity and immediacy. By the end of the course, they will have experienced an example of SCP flow, and will realize that it is identical or very similar to the production strategies they already know in the world of InDesign. Who is this course aimed at? The course is designed for those who are familiar with InDesign and work on publications that contain repetitive patterns of information. This aspect is often overlooked by many professionals, as they tend to focus on the individual pages rather than the overall semantic structure of the publication. The course includes a practice exercise that involves identifying semantic objects in a double-page layout. The course would be beneficial for layout artists and editors working in various fields, including newspaper or magazine publishing, narrative or textbook publishing, or corporate communications.It is very important in several ways, the most visible being cost savings, elimination of latencies and dependencies. Suddenly, there is no need to digitize paper publications because they are already