It's time for Wizards of the Coast to create an relatively simple digital license for online tools, or alternatively, make an arrangement to sell the data files themselves.
|Source: Fantasy Grounds|
Here's the simple premise.
Whether is it spells, monsters, PC skills, feats or abilities, etc, all of these things are basically snippets of formatted text. Tools like Fantasy Grounds, Hero Lab, etc, would be able to import text files containing this content from the Player's Handbook (or Basic D&D). Those tools already do this for other RPG rule sets (like d20, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, etc).
Fantasy Grounds is also already doing this with 5e. It allows the user to import the Basic PDF and it attempts to parse spells and other information out of the file. It appears to be a pretty clever hack to find the blocks of content using markers (such as formatting cues) from the PDF file itself.
Wizards of the Coast could very easily provide formatted text files for either these software providers to resell for their tools, or sell the files themselves.
|Source: Hero Lab|
Why doesn't Wizards of the Coast do this?
It entirely unknown except that they have some kind of aversion to offering their products in any form that can be easily copied. However, this issue no longer applies with Basic D&D. The data is already out there and companies like Fantasy Grounds are going to allow thier customers to take advantage of Fair Use in order to get that data into their software. This means that Wizards of the Coast is already losing out on a potential revenue stream when they could be selling the D&D Basic digital content to these tool providers (or their customers), if not the full Player's Handbook.
It's time for Wizards to get its digital $#!t together. This is yet another place that could be an easily, low effort revenue generator. It's time for Wizards to offer us a way to play D&D over the internet, not by building completely new tools, but by allowing us to use the ones already on the market.
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