The publishing business is always about battling time. It is about putting content together and having a group of people collaborate to ensure that the content meets consumer requirements within the shortest time possible. The entire publishing ecosystem faces margin pressures, and a shorter time to market will effectively reduce the cost of a product while increasing its bottom line.

Publishers have always been looking for more efficient solutions. Apart from dealing with internal workflows and outsourced processes and coordinating with a multitude of vendors for each specialized task, publishers also need to track all these through their own systems or via their vendors’ platforms. Coordinating these tasks during the Covid-19 pandemic and within the WFH environment has been challenging to say the least.

But what if all these tasks are made available within a secure environment? How about a cloud-based publishing solution designed to efficiently and effectively streamline related workflows while meeting ever-changing consumer demands?

A platform powered by intelligent automation to elevate and strengthen the quality book and journal publishing process while empowering users through technology and innovation is definitely a move in the right direction. An XML-first workflow is becoming more popular, and while that is good, it is simply not enough. From the publisher’s standpoint, such a workflow lies behind the screen and remains opaque.

It is time to bring the whole process to the stakeholders involved in the content development workflow and make it more open, collaborative, and easy to use. This means having WYSIWG-structured authoring tools within a collaborative environment, traceability, tracking, reference management capabilities, publisher-based customized workflow, and digital asset management, with multiple output options, such as proofs, XML, EPUB, HTML, marketing PDF, bookmarked PDF, and print PDF with auto-generation capabilities.

Many large publishers have their own CMS, and an ideal publishing suite must be able to provide e-deliverables such as XML and HTML at any point in the production lifecycle to allow them to check the rendering on their platforms. Whether the publisher wants it or not, this is a very important criterion to consider, since this ensures that a single-source integrity is maintained throughout the publishing process. The system should also be API-enabled to interact with publishers’ existing workflows in order to ensure proper integration. To this end, process integration and the ability to support it is only possible when the solutions provider has a strong technology background and foresight.

At the same time, the publishing solution must offer an easy-to-use interface with an intuitive Word-like environment that enables authors, content contributors, and editors to collaborate seamlessly. Grammar and style-checking widgets will help to improve sentence structure and content readability. Then there must be options to use standard shortcut keystrokes, with a menu for context-sensitive commands, or tools for tech-savvy authors to compose in LaTeX or use at their discretion. A powerful equation editor in a WYSIWIG environment that takes in LaTeX/MathML for math and scientific formulas will be a great addition. The icing on the cake will be to have MathML3 support in the backend, irrespective of the path used to author the formulas.

Editors must also be able to make changes with a comprehensive tracking tool that provides an item-by-item revision history listing the changes made and by whom. Here, an audit trail is a useful feature. A form-like interface with dedicated toolsets simplifies the task of managing metadata, references, math, and complex equations while offering opportunities to increase the quality standards of the content. Version control of the content in various stages of the editorial and production workflow is also a vital part of a cloud-based system. Context-specific styling and formatting options such as those in InDesign or LaTeX will help in making content composing easy and user-friendly. When these processes are made simpler, the training curve on the vendor or publishing side becomes significantly shorter and less expensive.

Next, the ability to create accessible publications by incorporating accessibility features in the initial stages of the production workflow is important, especially with WCAG 2.2 coming soon and with the growing awareness within publishing circles that more content must be made accessible, aside from meeting regulatory requirements. The ability to make customized books, which is a huge and lucrative market, is becoming more important for publishers. An ideal cloud-based system must therefore be able to clone any given title for the next edition or update, chunk text from multiple titles, and reformat, auto-paginate, and reindex on the fly. This is a valuable and time-saving function.

Having an interactive dashboard for tracking manuscripts at a micro level using click-to-filter and drill-down features will make the publishing process more transparent and faster. It will enable stakeholders to work seamlessly across different time zones. Automated workflow notifications that can be customized is essential.

But there is no need for publishers to stress over their traditional workflows or to search high and low for a custom-built software. Why reinvent the wheel when there is already a built and constantly updated system available? Enter XEditPro, DiacriTech’s unified cloud-based publishing suite, which has all the answers and more.

XEditPro, currently in version 4.1, is constantly updated with new features and tools. It combines editorial and production functions to reduce the total cost of content while bringing publications quickly to the market. It is a proven system that is truly single-source with multiple outputs. Publishers, big and small, have benefitted from this publishing solution in terms of increased profitability and work efficiencies. One leading global publisher, who has been using XEditPro successfully for the past three years, considers it “the most powerful content transformation system that [he has] evaluated among the limited options in the industry.”

A.R.M. Gopinath, executive v-p at DiacriTech

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