Collectively, digital solutions vendors in India are functioning like a major hospital. Most of the time, they are expected to jump in at critical moments to bring urgent solutions to publishing projects, much like emergency medicine personnel handling trauma and unscheduled patients. At other times, the vendors are tasked with reviving old titles by converting them into ePub files, adding interactivities, and updating the content, which sounds like major operations involving organ transplant or blood transfusion. They are also called on to perform quality audits on finished projects by other vendors, much like dispensing second or third medical opinions. Or to slice (and dice) content and remove codes and tags like surgeons in operating theatres.

Whatever the issues (and emergencies), these vendors are armed with plenty of tools, expertise, and experience (as well as cures) to handle the projects that come through their doors. Here, they illustrate their most unique and challenging projects, and talk about the steps taken to deliver within the deadlines.

Cenveo Publisher Services

For Cenveo Publisher Services, creating Section 508-compliant products for Georgetown Law supports Georgetown’s mission to ensure digital equality and content access for all. “Footnotes in these products can span pages. We can create an overlay on text in the digital format but this doesn’t work seamlessly with assistive technology,” explains marketing director Marianne Calilhanna, adding that “we structure footnotes such that screen readers automatically read the footnote after the citation, and then logical reading order picks up the core text.”

But some readers find the reading process disruptive and do not want to immediately read every footnote. Calilhanna says: “We are working to provide an option that allows readers to skip the footnotes entirely. This, however, is not as simple as it sounds. We use JavaScript to display footnote text in a pop-up window. Once the footnote text is read, the reader has the option to close the pop-up window and continue reading with no disruption to the reading order.” The footnote, she adds, is tagged as an artifact to prevent the screen reader from duplicate reading. “We can structure the content but JAWS (Job Access With Speech) reading behavior with pop-up content is sometimes ambiguous while NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) does not fully support pop-ups. We continue to work with Georgetown Law to understand what their community needs in terms of accessibility. We will explore additional options to serve them as more feedback is gathered and understood.”

Continuum Content Solutions

One ongoing contract with a leading content provider has seen the Continuum team converting PDFs of magazine and newspaper pages into article-level XML format. Some of the leading French and Spanish daily newspapers such as L’équipe and La Vanguardia are produced as XML feeds. The team presently produces about 350 monthly magazines and 38 daily newspapers under this contract. “We convert and produce about 6,500 pages daily within a two-to-four hour window from file receipt to deliver customized article-level XML with page-level metadata,” explains CEO Amit Vohra.

“We are also working with a publisher to create digital collections for humanities and social science research to provide comprehensive archival solutions, conversion, and digitization services as well as to offer services in replicating microform collections,” Vohra adds, explaining that the current contract covers 200,000 pages of historic newspapers, serials and magazine pages to METS/ALTO XML and greyscale JPEGs image files. “Scanned images are processed using specially developed tools for cropping, de-skewing, splitting of two- and four-up pages, identifying illustrations and captions, correct-zoning, and article-level segmenting. Then there are tasks involving correction of headlines after OCR, and page sequencing.”

DiacriTech

Constant editorial changes late into the project development stage causing publication delays and undue stress at an international publishing house (as well as on DiacriTech’s team) had led to the proposed trial run of XEditPro as the unified editorial/production suite. “There was initial resistance, of course, but the editorial and content team on the whole saw the value in it, and went ahead with the trial,” explains executive v-p Mahesh Balakrishnan. “Since the editorial team can make changes while the title is in production, and the changes are done in a ‘live’ and transparent manner, the stress on the production team is marginally lower. For one project, the final turnaround time was reduced by three weeks. But the best part was that the digital transformation and seeding of the online platform was seamless and quick. The first 11 titles were a success, and the client is increasing the number of titles for the next rollout.”

It was a different story with another project, which involved constantly changing entries that had to be updated regularly. “The client’s model was to print an annual edition and then send monthly updates to subscribers,” executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath says. “This was time consuming and expensive, and the client noticed that their typesetting vendors often miss marked-up revisions. Our solution was to move the content to XEditPro and set up an automated typesetting template. The publisher now has their authors and editors work collaboratively online within XEditPro to make edit. This workflow has given them better control on the content integrity, schedule, and cost.”

Exeter Premedia Services

When a leading UK-based scholarly publisher need to automate publishing of research articles of National Institute of Health’s funded authors directly into PubMed Central, they turned to Exeter’s cloud-based platform Kriya. This enables authors to get their works archived in PubMed Central and made available for open access. “This integration is now available as a part of the Kriya platform solutions,” says COO Sowmya Mahadevan, adding that “by using Kriya, publishers and authors do not need to have the technical know-how to push articles to PubMed Central.”

Then there was a mid-sized online journal publisher that required the ability to integrate their publishing workflow with their partner’s rich media injection service tool. Mahadevan, whose team customized the interface, says: “Kriya now hosts the articles seamlessly online with links to video, images, and metadata from the rich-media delivery partner without any intervention from the client.”

Hurix Digital

The Hurix Digital team was given four weeks to convert 100,000 Arabic textbooks from PDFs to fixed-layout format for McGraw-Hill Higher Education. “Dealing with the right-to-left Arabic script was the first challenge,” says CEO Subrat Mohanty, adding that the team also had to “ensure that the back-end work does not disrupt the user experience at any point”. The process was automated to accelerate the work and meet the stringent timelines. “The new e-books were sent to our QC team to ensure that everything was in order. Then, the files went to our client, who then obtained approval on the content from the UAE government prior to sharing them with the audience.”

The second project, for a children’s book publisher, involved 3,000 ePub titles. “Our client had the raw data but needed an e-reader for their files. Our task was to provide a bespoke platform to host the ePub files within a tight deadline,” says Mohanty, whose team was able to meet the client’s requirement with little difficulty.

Impelsys

A Decision Support Tool for healthcare professionals, especially nurses, was among Impelsys’s most interesting projects in the past year. “This tool is a part of an interactive online and mobile resource that supports nurses with evidence-based clinical information at the time and location of decision-making. Each task, covering a variety of conditions or situations, has to be completed by the healthcare practitioner within 20 to 30 minutes,” explains Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for technology services and presales. “The topics were commissioned and reviewed by experienced editors in liaison with academics, nurse leaders, and senior practitioners. “This Decision Support Tool helps nurses in evaluating their own knowledge, and in standardizing patient care across organizations as well as improve the quality and safety of the care provided.”

Another project called for an assessment solution, Enterprise Assessment Repository. “One of our clients that provides online healthcare education solution offers online assessments across multiple portals. The quizzes are dynamically generated from the enterprise repository, which also allows the client to explore licensing opportunities with other education providers who can request assessments on the fly for their own users,” adds Majithia. “We have several clients that have already implemented this platform, or are in the process of implementing it.”

Integra Software Services

The Integra team recently completed one huge journal production onboarding project that covers 310,000 pages. The client is one of the world’s largest academic and scholarly publishing houses with more than 2,500 journals across humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and science, technology, and medicine sectors. “The client wanted to consolidate its vendor supply chain while maintaining consistent quality, accelerating journal publishing cycletime, increasing operational efficiencies, and optimizing production costs,” explains founder and CEO Sriram Subramanya. “Our proven and field-tested scalability frameworks coupled with complete alignment and understanding of the publishers’ needs have enabled us to hit the ground running and deliver the project well ahead of the deadline.”

A pilot using Microsoft HoloLens device, on the other hand, was about an app on maternity nursing curriculum. Says Subramanya: “Each topic in the curriculum is laden with interactive simulations, 3D animations and assessments. There are pre- and post-test components, various interactive practice sessions, and collaborative learning components. We improved the learning outcomes through AR/VR application to teach complex medical and nursing concepts, and allowing students and faculties to visualize and manipulate things that they cannot see in the real world. So the entire learning and teaching process of maternity nursing becomes a risk-free virtual-world experience.”

Lapiz Digital Services

Complex language projects in typesetting and e-book conversions are the norm at Lapiz. “We are talking about non-Latin languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean,” explains president V. Bharathram. “If the font is not available, then we draw the font and embed the same in the layout. Creating macros for alt-texts, writing scripts for proofreading, and checking the final layout for discrepancies are becoming part and parcel of a typesetting or conversion project. Staying in the business means that we take each project—challenging or not so challenging—as an opportunity for our team to showcase their expertise, improve their skills, build the know-hows, and strive to do it better, faster, and more cost effective than the previous project.”

Lumina Datamatics

One major education and technology client called on Lumina Datamatics for a project that required 60-plus interactive simulation modules. “These modules, which provide real-time experience to workers in the welding industry, required customized audio recordings, voice-overs, and real-time metrics. The client also came with a strict budget and short turnaround time,” says executive director Sameer Kanodia. “Our Integrated Core Team Model was used to provide the development team direct access to the subject-matter knowledge base. This model reduces revision cycles, increases quality, and yields faster delivery to market.” By using the simulation modules, the client reported a 40% improvement on learning outcomes, and a 30% reduction in both costs and training time.

Lumina Datamatics’s RightsPlatform, a unique platform that allows publishers to monetize photos, videos, audios, figures, and graphs, was deployed for another project. “We partnered with John Wiley Sons to enable the discovery and legal use of Wiley’s vast collection of images and figures. It allows for the use of RightsPlatform as a niché software—with an abundance of medical assets—to cater to the pharmaceutical industry. With RightsPlatform, pharmaceutical companies can cut through the bureaucratic red tapes in acquiring niche images, and this has reduced research time by half,” adds Kanodia.

MPS

Setting up a centralized composition service for a leading STM publisher with 1,100 journals containing 250,000-plus articles in over 12,500 issues was complicated. DigiComp, MPS’s automated composition tool, helped to speed up the entire publishing process by providing centralized composition services within a much shorter turnaround time. “MPSTrak supplier module with an advanced BPM engine for workflow tracking, automated routing, alerts, and dashboard reporting was deployed along side DigiComp QC Tool, which is a configurable QC tool for automated validation of PDF proofs,” explains CEO Rahul Arora. “The results are standardized products with improved and consistent quality of XML and PDF outputs. Our solutions also bring about consolidation of vendors, optimized workflow, automated production, and reduced time to market.”

The implementation of an XML-based editorial and review platform across various processes in the journal production workflow was the highlight for another project. “It was for a leading scientific society promoting research in physics, with a worldwide membership of around 50,000 physicists,” adds Arora. The platform for inhouse copy-editors and production editors was later extended to cover freelance copy-editors and authors. “The entire production process is powered by DigiCore, MPS’s cloud-based digital publishing platform, which consists of tightly integrated editorial, proofing, and composition systems that provides short turnaround times.”

PageMajik

For an American medical book publisher, PageMajik offered a shortcut to the often circuitous and arduous traditional proofing process. “There were a lot of PDF annotations and marked up hardcopies moving back and forth amongst reviewers. So we deployed our proofing tool wyCiwyg—What You Change Is What You Get—to allow editors and proofreaders to view the PDF and a corresponding XHTML side-by-side, and make all the edits they want in the latter,” says CEO Ashok Giri. “Changes were taken into InDesign and the PDFs regenerated—all without disturbing any of the already completed design as much as possible. As much as 70% savings in proofing time and 100% accuracy in transfer of changes was realized.” Internal QA processes of page composition had also benefitted from wyCiwyg in a similar fashion.

Another client, also from the U.S., is a journals publisher who has used a special PageMajik module to identify page elements in very precise ways, check manuscript completeness, and run customized language rules to ensure adherence to style guidelines. “By using this module, we were able to automatically tag reference sub-elements with an accuracy of about 95%, and automatically validate these against online databases,” explains Giri.

TNQ

TNQ is collaborating closely with a group of the world’s foremost biologists, and working towards a paradigm shift in the way textbooks are consumed by students across the world. “We are working on building a platform that makes learning biology simple and intuitive using interactive methods,” says CEO Abhigyan Arun, whose aim is to make the resource available to the student community at no cost to them, especially in the less-privileged parts of the world. “We are providing consulting services and the technology framework for this endeavor. Projects like these are at the heart of TNQ, giving us reasons to live beyond the exhilaration of revenue and growth, inspire us, and propel us forward.”