Convoluted RFPs (request for proposals), complex NDA (non-disclosure agreements), abstract briefings and impossible deadlines are nothing new to India-based vendors. In fact, they thrive on the difficult and challenging, as shown by the following projects (or abbreviated case studies) that fully encapsulate their capabilities and unique solutions.
At TNQ, more is being done to enhance its proofing platform Proof Central, which already has more than 80% author acceptance across journal types and subject categories, including math-heavy content. "Its adaptability to books and other types of scientific content such as reference works is being addressed," says CEO Yakov Chandy. "The lack of structured workflows for book content, and authors' and editors' obsession with the page design and look are the major tasks that Proof Central is enhanced for."
"We built lightweight workflow components for authors, editors, book project managers and typesetters to easily move around the content that they all modify and jointly manage. We then developed a pagination system to couple with Proof Central. With this system, authors can change the structured content that Proof Central presents, see the changes as they introduce them, and toggle to the page look. With this system, everything is executed on the client side." This adaptation will give book authors and their publishers the fast turnaround they want without sacrificing control of the aesthetics.
Providing a seamless delivery solution for 60,000 journal pages in Spanish was the challenge from one of the largest STM publishers in the world. Scaling up our operational capabilities for Spanish language composition services topped our agenda, recalls executive director Vinay Singh, adding a hybrid production model was set up to handle the project. Technical editing and composition, for instance, were done offshore with content editing and project management handled by native Spanish experts. "Two of the biggest lessons learnt from this project were how best to set up onshore resources in the shortest time possible and re-engineer existing workflow to meet high-volume ramp-up for a totally different language without compromising on efficiency or quality." The team ramped up the capacity in just 45 days to start delivering the volume of work given.
One recent project from Australia required the Swift Prosys team to do post-scanning tasks such as text splitting and cropping of around one million documents and 680 books. "We had to clean up the text before converting it into PDFs. For some of the handwritten registers from the Parliament archives, we had to perform data capture as well," says managing director Mohan Thas Shanmugam, whose team has started to produce ePub versions of complex academic titles for OUP (South Africa). "We had delivered 75 titles so far, and we have already developed an automation program to reduce the production time by 30% for the next batch."
Initially, the South African client supplied only PDF files, which took the team a long time to convert into ePub. "So we asked for the InDesign application files, studied the styles and formatting, and went about redesigning the workflow to generate ePub pages that match the print pages. The time spent studying the originating files was well worth it."
Producing hour-long online instructor-led training (ILT) courses on management and engineering subjects based on the curriculum set by a university faculty or learning institute is nothing new at SourceHOV. "We have produced student guides, ancillaries and learning objectives as well as the glossary, the definitions and study notes. For the instructor, we have created PowerPoint-based instructor's guide with an accompanying Word document containing various teaching styles and techniques to help with a specific module in the class. Flashcards, self-check questions, question banks, videos, online activities and assignments—we have done all these products and more," says business development director Gary Rodrigues, citing several examples to show SourceHOV's deepening involvement in its publishing clients' product evolution and development. Many of the above products, Rodrigues adds, can be presented within an interactive format such as HTML5, multimedia, or as interactive exercises that are integrated into the publisher's or organization's LMS.
Quick Sort India
Twenty days was the time given to the Quick Sort team to convert 350 academic titles (of around 100,000 pages) into various formats for iOS, Android and desktop. "A dedicated team of 50 people was tasked to reconfigure our proprietary workflow to meet the client's specifications while another team from the Technology division developed a script to reduce turnaround time and increase conversion accuracy. We were able to start delivering the first batch of the e-books within 24 hours from receipt of the project," explains president A.R. Nallathambi, adding that the U.S.-based client serves more than 1,000 universities globally. "We also had to embed curated videos into the finished e-books, which have expanded features such as search, highlight and bookmark capabilities alongside various features that students need in their course work."
Another project, this time for an Open Access academic publisher in Europe, required the Quick Sort team to edit, compose and deliver journal content in XML/HTML and ePub. Recalls Nallathambi: "It started with just two journals. Now, we are working on 69 journals with about 50,000 printed pages across all STM fields. We have reduced manual processes by 50% just through usage of inhouse tools and purpose-built scripts, and so the copyediting and composition processes have become more automated and standardized. Our productivity has also increased by 300% compared to 2007, when we first started on the project."
For a Pearson South Africa project covering more than 40 titles in math and English for the K-12 segment, the diverse African cultures came into play especially during the designing and illustrating stages. "The latter was a big challenge since different parts of the continent have different cultures, and they have very specific art styles and color preferences. Each book also has two or three iterations," says associate v-p Abha Shah, whose team took just 60 days to complete the full project of textbooks, workbooks and readers of more than 5,000 pages and 4,000 illustrations.
Another project, for Collins's Big Cat ELT series, saw the team developing content based on a very specific and comprehensive style guide and illustration needs. "We developed 60 workbooks in British and American English, and converted the readers into enhanced e-books," adds Shah.
The Newgen team has worked on a project to align 15,000 video lectures with an advanced engineering syllabus for students revising for exams. "In those final weeks of cramming, students do not have time to watch one-hour lectures; they want to go straight to the clip that answers their current practice test question," says president Maran Elancheran. "We use text-to-speech technology to create lecture transcripts, and natural language processing of these transcripts to synchronize the video with the syllabus and a test bank. Subject matter experts review and refine the selection of video content to improve the algorithm, and students can vote on the relevance of content to their current need, so the system continues to evolve."
Prior to replacing one U.K. publisher's 12-year-old legacy production management system with MPSTrak, the team first spent two weeks gathering information and brainstorming with the publisher's production staff. "Then we recommended two master workflows that cater to the 80 journals that they have and the 8,000-plus articles that they produced annually. We also built a comprehensive configuration module so that the internal production managers can design and specify user-interface screens, workflow rules, validation checks, and other business rules to fit the unique needs of each journal," explains chief marketing officer Rahul Arora, pointing out that while upgrading technology was the prime reason for the new platform implementation, "the publisher was amazed by the new functionalities that come as a part of MPSTrak."
For another client, a U.S.-based educational publisher, the team worked on a science program—five grades with three components per grade—that called for full-service project management, including content development and production, image research and permissions, and creative art production. A tight schedule and the production of a large number of illustrations were the biggest challenges for this project.
GoClass, LearningMate's mobile curricular product framework, has been used to rapidly build publisher-owned products with custom interfaces and additional functionalities. "In one case, we were able to shave close to 14 months off an existing development schedule, which helped our customer to establish an early leadership position in the K-12 market by acquiring over 40 district pilots in less than three months," says marketing director Danielle Holmes, adding that GoClass can help accelerate development for those looking to build fully integrated digital-first classroom curriculum solutions.
Most recently, LearningMate's Assessment and Content Engine (ACE) was deployed to develop Davis Edge, an adaptive learning platform designed by F.A. Davis Company to engage nursing students with curriculum and assessments in a personalized environment. Explains Holmes: "Using ACE as a framework, Davis Edge pairs deep content utilization and learning data sensors with insightful dashboards to help instructors guide nursing students through program mastery."
Lapiz Digital Services
The team recently completed a large PDF-to-HTML conversion project involving 50,000 pages and more than 36 languages. "The biggest challenge was the input language. Chinese, Thai, Armenian and Korean are unique, and conversion may result in missing characters, which then required human intervention to identify and fix them. So the conversion tools had to be fine-tuned frequently to ensure higher accuracy. At the same time, for a few of the languages, sourcing for native-speaking proofreaders was tough especially when the project was running on a very tight schedule," says COO V. Bharathram.
Another project, which is ongoing, involves producing a large number of interactive applets for a textbook publisher. "Thorough understanding of tablet-based development and its capabilities to bring learning concepts to the classroom are the key to this project. Our team has to embed the applets into the dynamic learning and teaching system. They also have to work collaboratively and seamlessly with the client's team across geographic locations to understand the nuances of the project. Clear communication, prompt responses, and attention to quality and schedule are the cornerstones of this large-scale project."
For Elsevier, the KiwiTech team built a platform that allows users to access journal articles on their mobiles and tablets. "We built the back-end to process all content and the front-end for iOS and Android, with the apps created in such a way that they can be reused for different journals," says CTO Gurvinder Batra, adding that his team has helped to roll out more than 160 journal apps using this system.
Most apps, he adds, depend on service carrier or Wi-Fi for connectivity. "So what happens if there is no carrier or Wi-Fi availability? How does one communicate via a smartphone in such cases? These are the questions behind the development of an app—for Loud-Hailer—that uses BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy] to allow people to connect with others in situations such as a blackout."
One interesting (and challenging) project that passed through Jouve India recently required the team to deliver high-quality HTML5-based interactive exercises using predefined reusable building blocks. "Aside from ensuring that the exercises are fully customizable and compatible with most browsers and e-book readers, we also have to build in robust support for rich-media components such as animation, audio, video, and images," says CEO Sanjiv Bhatnagar.
Integra Software Services
To develop a three-hour e-learning courseware on the global issues of international aid, the Integra team had to incorporate gamification elements that offer complex branching scenarios with 25-plus decision trees. "Complex animations had to be created and embedded using videos, which had to be compatible for both mobile and PC screens. So it was all about responsive design backed by HTML5, and created to enable further code, file and asset modification at client's end," says Sriram Subramanya, managing director and CEO of Integra.
Another e-learning courseware project, also delivered on HTML5, was on healthcare communication for medical publishers, and was based on a two-day workshop. "We had to split the materials given into 14 chapters and create a workshop-like learning environment for doctors, nurses and hospital administrative staff. Scenario-based videos provided topic relevance while end-of-chapter assessment evaluated the learning outcomes. Our team had a four-month period to design, develop and deliver the courseware while keeping in mind that the busy learner will learn on his or her own, unaccompanied by an instructor. Grabbing the attention from the get-go was a crucial factor in this project," adds Subramanya.
Helping one major STM publisher to make their rich content available to learners across the globe—hence expanding their geographic reach—was the highlight of one recent project at Impelsys. "Audience-specific portals catering to several countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and, recently, South America, are all powered by iPublishCentral. As a part of this growing partnership with the publisher, we have also built a customized e-book platform for Brazil by leveraging the iPublishCentral technology," says marketing manager Shubha Khaddar, listing easier banner management, refined report generation, and better tracking of promotional materials and free trials as some of the key features of the Brazil portal. "This project highlights the flexibility of our platform solutions, and the confidence placed in our services and solutions by some of the world's biggest names in publishing."
For U.S.-based publisher of rich learning content, Voyager Sopris, the challenge faced by Hurix was to retain the client's existing distribution platform while providing the capability to create interactive e-books with assessments and rich media. "The client also wanted teachers to be equipped with analytics that are useful in assessing their students' progress and learning needs," explains executive v-p for sales and product solutions, Srikanth Subramanian. "The solution was to deploy Kitaboo Cloud, which allowed the client to add their own HTML5 interactivities, use the widgets to create new assessments, and use Kitaboo's Audio Sync feature to create read-aloud books. Our platform also allowed essential e-book analytics to be shared with teachers, including time spent on reading, number of pages read, notes created and shared, and also which interactive elements have been used."
In the case of Norwegian publisher Gyldendal, where the challenge was to convert its considerable legacy content into e-books, its editorial team was able to carry out the e-book production internally using the cloud version of Kitaboo Publisher. Gyldendal's Tibet Server for e-commerce was integrated with Kitaboo Publisher, and so they did not have to change their existing system in order to benefit from the new solutions.
"It is clear from these two projects that the biggest advantage of Kitaboo Publisher is that clients get to harness all of its capabilities while retaining their own ecosystem, thus saving money and time on both technological and management fronts."
For a client wanting to create math-heavy digital and print products simultaneously, the team created a LaTeX/HTML workflow that compiled PDF and HTML5 files in tandem while enabling revisions to be done directly to the originating LaTeX files. Animation and simulation were also created and embedded into the HTML5 files. In the final stage, the files were transferred into the client's content management system and checked for math rendering.
Another project from a schoolbook publisher with an English Reading program required the team to provide full-service project management involving instructional design, storyboarding, designing, photo researching and asset development. The biggest challenge, says executive v-p B. Mahesh, was the short turnaround time of 45 days. "Since the product was targeted for multi-platform delivery and sales, we developed it using HTML5 and deployed it for both online and CD-ROM distribution."
Cenveo Publisher Services
"We helped launch a brand-new, Open Access, online-only journal from scratch in less than eight months," says marketing director Marianne Calilhanna, adding that Cenveo Publisher Suite with XSLT was used to produce standardized PDF and XML files for an early-release deliverable 24-hour post-acceptance. The workflow also delivered the final full-text XML, and copyedited and composed articles within 10 days of acceptance. "The latest JATS DTD with ORCID, FundRef and reviewer comments were included, together with video and component DOIs, which were generated on the fly. The journal runs on Drupal/Jcore platform provided on HighWire Press."
The team also completed the full-service production of McGraw-Hill's premier medical reference text, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Edition. "This edition involved copyediting of more than 17,000 manuscript pages and complex composition of over 4,000 pages. Our team also took on proofreading and indexing of this massive tome, which covers 486 print-book chapters and 137 online chapters. There were also more than 2,200 figures and 1,200 tables in this book," notes Waseem Andrabi, senior director for global content services, adding that the project managers collaborated with more than 600 authors and six lead editors.