With very little fanfare, the Guardian has launched G24, its rolling PDF newspaper service announced just over a month ago. Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s a no-brainer that any CMS should be able to do… or a stroke of editorial genius. Probably both.
The G24 page lists five editions: Top Stories, World, Media, Business and Sport – each updated on a rolling basis, generated from the content added to the Guardian Unlimited network of websites. The idea, of course, is that you print off a 10-page edition as you’re heading to or from the office, and you have a bang-up-to-date ‘newspaper’, on actual paper.
I’m not sure how automated the process is… but there are a couple of rough edges, which imply that humans were not involved in the page layout. Certainly there’s a more than close correlation between the top stories listed on sport.guardian.co.uk, and the stories included in the Sport PDF, for example. Same stories, same order.
You only have to look at the numbers of people fighting for a free copy of Metro each morning at any Tube station entrance, to see there is an appetite for this sort of thing. It won’t appeal to the most tech-savvy, though, who are probably already reading the various news websites over the airwaves. (Apart from when they’re underground, obviously.)
But yes – being blunt, it’s the sort of output you would expect any decent CMS to be able to do. There are plenty of tools to turn plain text and/or XML into PDFs automatically. But innovation isn’t always the ability to do something… it’s having the idea to do it, too.
I like it, but I don’t expect to use it much. Consuming live news on-the-move is precisely why I bought a web-enabled PDA. But definitely, good on them for doing it… and don’t be surprised if other newspapers decide to follow suit, very quickly.