LShift awarded Technology Strategy Board funding for Progressive Publishing System

On December 2, 2011

LShift is proud to announce that a significant grant from the Technology Strategy Board has been awarded for the design and development of the Progressive Publishing System (PPS).

PPS will allow authors, designers, and publishers to automatically convert existing electronic documents into standard e-publishing formats. Existing conversion processes rely on a high degree of manual intervention, require a mixture of costly, and often proprietary, software components while delivering unreliable results.

LShift, along with its project partners Mute and Minibar Ventures, applied for the funding at the beginning of 2011. We had already developed a series of in-house technologies to accelerate and automate the creation of our own documents and so joining forces with Mute (a leading arts and technology publisher) and Minibar Ventures (a highly regarded technology start-up advisor) meant that we would be guided in applying our own efforts to other publishing scenarios and have access to existing market intelligence.

With the vast range of electronic document formats, unique production workflows and various methods for handling a document’s “metadata” (information describing each document) LShift saw the development of PPS
as a complex problem well-suited to its expertise. PPS will allow developers to extend the range of supported conversion formats as they change and emerge over time. Not only will complex document structures be supported (such as tables of contents, indexes, footnotes, endnotes and image data) but so will any descriptive data associated with the document. PPS will also support and preserve the data required by direct distribution and sales platforms (Amazon, Neilsen etc.) for content creators and publishers.

Along with its extensive metadata tools, PPS will allow users to preview converted content and ‘teach’ the system custom conversion rules as idiosyncracies in authorship or materials are discovered over time. The platform will ultimately allow collaboration and document management features to facilitate contributions from individuals and groups into any point of the writing, design and editorial cycle of a document.

The system will go into private beta in February 2012 with several publishers who are active in diverse content creation and distribution channels. They include traditional book and magazine publishers through to organisations with a high-profile online presence but who wish to automate the conversion of legacy materials.