The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

Image Annotations Just Got Easier!


Annotations are an important part of what authors do with Scalar, and indeed, an important part of the platform’s overall feature set. Scalar comes equipped with a full suite of annotation tools allowing users to annotate images, video, audio, even text and source code files. Individual media objects can be annotated countless times; individual annotations can be applied to countless media objects.

But until now, Scalar users creating image annotations have been required to manually set their coordinates, width and height. Not anymore! We’ve just finished integrating the open source plugin, Annotorious into our image annotation editor. Creating an image annotation now is as easy as dragging your cursor and drawing out the area of the image you wish to highlight and annotate. And just as before, users are free to create multiple annotations for a single image, drawing their reader’s attention to various aspects of a single photo, screenshot or illustration.

For step-by-step instructions on creating image annotations see our Scalar 1 and Scalar 2 User’s Guides.



Scalar Webinars: Announcing Our Fall Schedule

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture will offer another series of free online webinars this fall.

All webinars will feature our new interface, Scalar 2. Our “Introduction to Scalar” webinars will cover basic features of the platform: a review of existing Scalar books and a hands-on introduction to paths, tags, annotations and importing media. Our “Intermediate Scalar” webinars will delve into more advanced topics including the effective use of visualizations, annotating with media and a primer on customizing appearances in Scalar.

Our fall schedule will include six dates:

Introduction to Scalar: September 17, 10am-12pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: October 01, 10am-12pm (PST)
Introduction to Scalar: October 15, 4pm-6pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: October 29, 4pm-6pm (PST)
Introduction to Scalar: November 12, 10am-12pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: December 03, 10am-12pm (PST)

Hurry, spaces are limited!

Register here.

Take Scalar 2 for a Spin!


Scalar 2, with its redesigned reader interface, is nearly ready for launch—but if you’d like to try it out now, you don’t have to wait any longer. In order to get additional feedback as we put the finishing touches on the release, we’re making it possible for you to switch any of your Scalar books over to the new interface now.

You can start with a clean slate by creating a new book, heading to the “Book properties” tab in your Scalar Dashboard, and selecting “Scalar 2” under “Interface.” Existing books authored in Scalar 1 can be moved to the new interface as well; just make sure to check our list of considerations before making the switch.

New features

The new interface has been completely rebuilt to give your books greater visual impact while making them easier to read, navigate, and edit. Among our new features: an interactive main menu; more robust visualizations; new ways to add media to pages; a new page editor and many more page layouts. For a full list of new features, see the section Scalar 2: What’s New? in our User’s Guide.

Interactive Table of Contents

An interactive table of contents now allows readers to browse the overall structure of a book without ever leaving the current page. Accessed from the top left corner of the header, readers can click on an item’s right arrow to reveal its related content (paths, tags, comments, or annotations). It’s a great way to “walk” through a book’s paths and sub-paths to get a better sense of their contents.

New Page Layouts

To increase the readability and versatility of Scalar books, we’ve added a number of new layout options to the new interface, including image headers, splash pages, media galleries, maps, and other features. The new Google Map layout, for instance, plots the current page plus any geotagged content it contains or tags on a map embedded at the top of the page. A new “Structured Media Gallery” view organizes media from multiple paths into groups of thumbnails which display their media when clicked.

Image Header Layout Structured Media Gallery Layout Google Map Layout

For a full list of new page layout options, see Selecting a Page’s Default Layout in our updated User’s Guide.

Optimized for Mobile Devices

Scalar’s new interface has been optimized for reading on tablets and smartphones. Media on smaller screens is now scaled to full width in a compact layout that’s easy to scroll through. What’s more, tablet and mobile readers can now take advantage of the new interactive table of contents to browse the structure of a book while remaining on the current page. Finally, the updated, streamlined page editor now brings Scalar authoring to mobile platforms as well.

To see Scalar 2 in action, check out these books:

Complex TV


Once you’ve had a chance to try out Scalar 2, we’d love to hear your feedback on what you like and where we can improve. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. And enjoy!

ANVC Receives NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Grant


We are proud to announce that The Alliance for Networking Visual has been awarded a Digital Humanities Implementation Grant from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This grant will fund the Alliance, in partnership with Critical Commons,, and the University of California Press, for a two-year project to implement workflow features into Scalar aimed at further facilitating the publication of multimedia digital works within both established and emerging publishing genres.

With this grant we plan to integrate directly into the Scalar environment a suite of editorial, review and copyediting tools necessary for edited and peer-reviewed publications; the enhanced integration of Scalar with our partner media archive Critical Commons to create a reliable and easy-to-use system for uploading and embedding image files and video clips while maximizing the protections of fair use for scholars and publishers; and continued improvements of our authoring environment to better leverage the enhanced features and look of our soon-to-be released reader interface towards scalable yet customizable publications.

We’d like to thank everyone at the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities for their generous support and for the opportunity to develop Scalar to these ends.

Scalar Up Close: Visualizations

Scalar | Index Visualization

Scalar gives authors the tools to create essay- and book-length works in ways that take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital writing, including nested, recursive, and non-linear structures. For this reason, the platform includes built-in visualizations to help both authors and readers navigate those structures.

Scalar’s visualizations enable one to see the contents of a book rendered in multiple ways. Each visualization can be made the default view for a page, making it possible to integrate visualizations directly into your book. For authors working with book-level structures that may not be immediately apparent at the page level, a visualization is a good way to help readers conceptualize the “shape” of their content.

For example, the index visualization shown above displays all content in the book in a grid format where each square represents one piece of content. Content is color-coded by type. Most importantly, links between content are displayed on roll-over. Rolling over the square for a path will reveal all the contents of that path; rolling over the square for a tag will show all the items it tags. What’s more clicking a content element selects it, keeping its relationships visible even when rolling over other content, allowing multiple sets of relationships to be viewed simultaneously. As with all visualizations in Scalar, double-clicking a title opens the associated content.

Thus, visualizations act not just as way for authors and readers to identify and understand the macro- and micro-structures of a book, but as a way to navigate those structures. The tag visualization (shown to the right) can be an effective tool in this regard. In general, structure, in Scalar becomes especially powerful when it’s used not just as a way to organize content, but as a way to model theoretical relationships. For example, let’s say you’re writing about three characters in a movie and the types of shots the director uses to frame them. While in a traditional book you would typically expound on those relationships in prose, in Scalar you could create a page for each character, a page for each shot type, and then tag the characters with the shot types. In Scalar, those connections become navigable pathways within your book and the tag visualization itself acts as an auto-generated interactive diagram of the relationships between the characters and shot types.

For more, see the section on Visualizations in our User’s Guide.

Scalar Workshop at The University of Washington’s Simpson Center for the Humanities

Seminar Room | Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities

Craig Dietrich and Curtis Fletcher from the ANVC team headed back up to the University of Washington for another summer Scalar workshop at the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

The Simpsons Center continues, as last summer, in its generous support of students and faculty constructing born-digital research projects, and in particular, of projects designed to be either partially or fully realized in Scalar. In Seattle, we once again found graduate students and faculty at the Simpson Center engaged in thoughtful and imaginative digital scholarship. Our one-day workshop included an intermediate Scalar seminar, individual design meetings with project leaders and lively discussion about computational platforms and the speculative nature of the humanities.

Many thanks to Kathleen Woodward and everyone else for having us!

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The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.