What’s an Editor?

The editor of a specification can mean many things to many people, so considering that I’m starting ramble on about EPUB here, and we have a new revision revving up, it might be worth clarifying what I do… while sitting in my pyjamas all day.

Working as the editor of the EPUB specs doesn’t put me in a position of authority over the format, to make that clear right off the bat. I don’t have decision making power over what the working group decides to implement, or any kind of veto: the benign dictator editor label does not apply.

The IDPF’s is a democratic process. The current revision is run by a Chair, Markus Gylling, and two Vice-Chairs, Garth Conboy and Brady Duga. These guys are like the umpires, making sure the game is played by the rules and making any necessary calls.

Below their level are the sub-group leads. I won’t try to list all of them off (they’re on the EPUB revision wiki), but each is responsible for a particular specification, or a subset of functionality within a specification. The sub-groups tackle the issues that have been raised between revisions, with the leads guiding the discussions.

When a working group comes to a resolution, the proposal is either brought up at one of the weekly conference calls for the larger working group to consider (when significant) or put to the working group via the mailing list (minor tweaks).

If the chairs are in agreement with the proposal, and there are no objections from the broader working group, or a majority is in assent, the change then lands in my lap to write into the specification documents.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m just the guy who gets told where to place commas. Implementing a proposal can take significant changes, but the limits will have already been circumscribed by the working group.

But I’m not here to bore you with the inner workings of the IDPF. I just wanted to clarify what it means to be an editor in my case, and why I preface my opinions on this blog by noting they’re things I’d like to see happen.

There’s no secret cabal running the EPUB show, and my voice is just one of many that go into evolving the standard.

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