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About Release 3.0

Release 3.0 is a major version of the ONIX for Books standard, initially released in 2009 with corrections in 2010. This was the first release since 2001 that is not backwards-compatible with its predecessors.

This extensive revision of the format had two key drivers: the need to improve the handling of digital products (specific guidance on describing digital products in ONIX is available), and the recognition that the price of maintaining backwards-compatibility has been the increasing number of ‘deprecated’ elements that had to be maintained in ONIX 2.1 – and supported by ONIX receivers – even though they are no longer recommended for use. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken to introduce important improvements in other areas, particularly in response to the increasingly international nature of the book sector, although there remain many data element groups where little or no change has been considered necessary.

For full background, an overview of the message structure, and a summary of key differences between Release 2.1 and Release 3.0, read the Introduction to ONIX for Books 3.0.

To download the latest Specification, XML schemas, a detailed Implementation and Best Practice Guide, samples and supplementary guidelines, go to the Release 3.0 Downloads page.

Of course, since its initial release in 2009, ONIX 3.0 has itself been further developed, via a series of minor releases. Each has introduced new but optional functionality, and has retained full backwards compatibility with earlier releases. Detailed summaries of each of the revisions are available:

  • changes between 3.0 and 3.0.1
  • changes introduced in 3.0.2
  • changes introduced in 3.0.3
  • changes introduced in 3.0.4
  • changes introduced in 3.0.5
  • changes introduced in 3.0.6
  • changes introduced in 3.0.7
  • changes introduced in 3.0.8 NEW

Or for a summary of dozen or so key areas of change between ONIX 2.1 and the latest version of ONIX 3.0, read on:

Removal of redundant elements All elements that were marked as ‘deprecated’ in the latest revision ONIX 2.1 have been deleted, together with other elements that have been made redundant by the introduction of new features in ONIX 3.0.
Description of digital products The handling of digital products (delivered online or by download rather than on a physical carrier) has been completely re-thought, and has been integrated with the handling of physical products. There is new provision for describing usage permissions or constraints, whether enforced by DRM technology or not. Such permissions and constraints can be specified at ‘product’ level, or they may vary at different price points. 
Handling of multiple-item products, series and sets ONIX 3.0 takes a new approach to the description of series, sets and multiple-item products, which solves some acknowledged problems in earlier releases.
Publishers’ marketing collateral New data element groups have been introduced to cover the much greater variety of marketing ‘collateral’ that publishers are now making available over the Internet, or that publishers and aggregators are citing in order to support more effective online selling. Collateral material can be geographically targetted at specific markets.
Sales and distribution in international markets The former Supply Detail, Market Representation and Sales Promotion data element groups have been reorganised into a single major ‘Product Supply’ group to enable the status of a product in different markets to be more clearly and accurately described.
Products related to a single work With the introduction of the ISTC, products can now be related to a parent ‘work’ to identify groups of different editions of the same text.
More flexible pricing Pricing models have become notably more complex since the introduction of ONIX 2.1, and continue to develop futher in 3.0. For example rental prices and usage constraints based on differential pricing are supported.
Multi-lingual metadata Most textual metadata can be provided in multiple languages ‘in parallel’, within a single record.
Chapter-level metadata To support requirments for digital audiobooks, chapter-level metadata has been extended to cover time-based audio chapters as well as page-based print chapters.
Blocked records for more efficient updating At a more technical level, ONIX 3.0 Product records are ‘blocked’ in a new way which will permit updates to be sent more efficiently without complete record replacement.
New schema options The ONIX for Books schema definition is now offered in the ISO standard RNG schema language as well as in W3C DTD and XSD Schema languages, and a ‘strict’ schema using XSD 1.1 and embedded Schematron is also available.
Promotional events (from v3.0.7) Version 3.0 extends the ONIX data model to cover evens such as author signing events, readings, media interviews and festival appearances.
Replacing ‘sidecar files’ in POD manufacturing and digital integration workflows (from 3.0.8) ONIX 3.0 can carry extended specification metadata and file manifests for communication with POD manufacturers, e-book and digital audio conversion houses.
New acknowledgement messsage A simple new message intended to allow recipients of ONIX messages to confirm receipt or to send details of errors back to the original sender.
Implementation and Best Practice Guide EDItEUR now provides extensive guidance on implementation and best practices, which is intended to act as a global benchmark for implementors, to reduce the variation between different interpretations of the standard in different countries, and to ensure that ONIX 3.0 messages are as interoperable as possible on a global scale.

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