Web archiving is often done after the fact – a digital publication is designed, built, published and only then, archived for preservation.

But what if the archiving process became part of the publication pipeline, complementary to online publishing, or an alternative distribution medium free from hosting requirements and available for offline use?

Parametric Press, a digital magazine focused on interactive, data-driven content has been experimenting with this approach from the beginning. With the release of each issue, they’ve also simultaneously released a downloadable high-fidelity web archive, which can accessed and viewed online or offline using ReplayWeb.page and the ReplayWeb.page app.

The magazine highlights interactive, browser-based articles created using the Idyll, an open-source authoring tool that helps writers produce digital work that combines text with interactive graphics and data visualizations. To use it, authors write in a markdown dialect that’s been imbued with a reactive variable system and syntax to embed dynamic JavaScript components. Idyll comes with a set of useful components but users can also bring their own as well, using libraries like React, D3, or P5.

Parametric Press utilizies and builds upon Idyll and is designed to serve as a platform for digital writers who want to incorporate more of the interactive potential of the web into their work. For example, in the newly released second issue, authors utilize simulations and data visualizations to highlight different aspects of the climate crisis. All of the project’s code is open-source and available as a technical blueprint for others wishing build their own interactive publishing platform.

As the issue was being prepared, I worked with Matthew Conlen, senior editor of Parametric Press and creator of the Idyll project, using Webrecorder tools, including Webrecorder Desktop, to capture each of the articles. Webrecorder’s high fidelity web archiving ensures that all of the interactive elements, visualizations and even external maps created in Idyll can be captured and replayed.

The complete web archive of this issue is packaged in the WACZ format and available for either online or offline use. The WACZ file of course also be hosted elsewhere, such as in a digital preservation system or any static hosting service.

You can thus access the interactive content in Parametric Press Issue 02 in the following ways:

Web archiving can be seen as a process of encapsulating online content and making it available as a standalone digital object that can be reproduced in the browser and eventually stored in digital preservation systems.

For traditional print-based or static publications, this can also be accomplished by creating a PDF or EPUB. But for dynamic publications, we hope that the approach taken by Parametric Press can serve as an example for interactive publishing. By releasing publications as web archives, publishers can blur the line between an archived version and the published version, creating self-contained, offline-accessible and preservable digital objects of their publications along from the beginning.