Cross-device platform publishing doesn’t exist. Not yet anyway.

Having recently been commissioned to carry out a study of the digital publishing platforms1 currently available, one aspect has become abundantly clear: everyone is chasing the dream.

The dream, depicted as a kind of candy wrapper in posters on the walls of so many publishing exhibition booths, is of a mechanism by which source content is input (one side of the candy wrapper), some magic happens (the candy itself) resulting in packaged experiences available seamlessly across desktop browsers, tablets and mobile phones (the other side of the candy wrapper).

Aspiration?

Sure, platforms exist that cater well for specific devices, and some that cater well for multiple devices, but none by using the same original, designed content, played in a form that works cross-device.  Maybe this is an unrealistic expectation. The tablet user interface for instance, inherently differs from the desktop interface. Swiping makes no sense on the desktop, whilst mouse-over makes no sense on a tablet. Purely from a design perspective then, surely it is impractical to cater for both? And what about differences in format? A page/window/panel/screen (delete as inappropriate) on one device will have a different aspect ratio on another.

In design resource alone, brands looking to publish across as wide a gamut of devices as possible are faced with an expensive undertaking. Cost pressure alone is driving demand.

It may be that initial releases require compromise in design. Alternatively, compromise may be in functionality. Either way, platforms will exist because demand dictates. And whoever caters for the demand, and does so well, is likely to do very nicely.

1Where ‘platform’ is used to describe a mechanism by which source content is input, edited, transformed and published to multiple devices in a format sympathetic to the high design value of a glossy magazine and capable of harnessing the interactivity of digital media.

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4 responses to “Cross-device platform publishing doesn’t exist. Not yet anyway.

  1. If you look beyond tools and look elsewhere, corporate publishers have been publishing to multiple devices using XML for years. Yes it requires knowledge of the device to determine how to best map the content and someone skilled enough to write an effective XML transformation, but it is being done.

    Ann Rockley
    See Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy for more information.

    • Hi Ann, Sure – publishers have been outputting to xml for years and as you say, it requires knowledge of the device etc. I’m talking about outputting interactive content, cross-device and from a single source.

      • Interactive is definitely more difficult, but again probably worthwhile looking at what the eLearning/mLearning field are doing. While much is focused on traditional web and Apple products for mobile, they are breaking down the roadblocks to cross-device interactive learning. They face similar issues and have begun to resolve them with more comprehensive tools.

  2. Interesting steer. Will take a look. Thanks.

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